بسم الله الر حمن الر حيم
Islam was destined to become a world religion and to create a civilization which stretched from one end of the globe to the other. Already during the early Muslim caliphates, first the Arabs, then the Persians and later the Turks set about to create classical Islamic civilization. Later, in the 13th century, both Africa and India became great centers of Islamic civilization and soon thereafter Muslim kingdoms were established in the Malay-Indonesian world while Chinese Muslims flourished throughout China.
Islam is a religion for all people from whatever race or background they might be. That is why Islamic civilization is based on a unity which stands completely against any racial or ethnic discrimination. Such major racial and ethnic groups as the Arabs, Persians, Turks, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Malays in addition to numerous smaller units embraced Islam and contributed to the building of Islamic civilization. Moreover, Islam was not opposed to learning from the earlier civilizations and incorporating their science, learning, and culture into its own world view, as long as they did not oppose the principles of Islam. Each ethnic and racial group which embraced Islam made its contribution to the one Islamic civilization to which everyone belonged. The sense of brotherhood and sisterhood was so much emphasized that it overcame all local attachments to a particular tribe, race, or language--all of which became subservient to the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of Islam.
The global civilization thus created by Islam permitted people of diverse ethnic backgrounds to work together in cultivating various arts and sciences. Although the civilization was profoundly Islamic, even non-Muslim "people of the book" participated in the intellectual activity whose fruits belonged to everyone. The scientific climate was reminiscent of the present situation in America where scientists and men and women of learning from all over the world are active in the advancement of knowledge which belongs to everyone.
The global civilization created by Islam also succeeded in activating the mind and thought of the people who entered its fold. As a result of Islam, the nomadic Arabs became torch-bearers of science and learning. The Persians who had created a great civilization before the rise of Islam nevertheless produced much more science and learning in the Islamic period than before. The same can be said of the Turks and other peoples who embraced Islam. The religion of Islam was itself responsible not only for the creation of a world civilization in which people of many different ethnic backgrounds participated, but it played a central role in developing intellectual and cultural life on a scale not seen before. For some eight hundred years Arabic remained the major intellectual and scientific language of the world. During the centuries following the rise of Islam, Muslim dynasties ruling in various parts of the Islamic world bore witness to the flowering of Islamic culture and thought. In fact this tradition of intellectual activity was eclipsed only at the beginning of modern times as a result of the weakening of faith among Muslims combined with external domination. And today this activity has begun anew in many parts of the Islamic world now that the Muslims have regained their political independence.
Farther east in the Malay world, Islam began to spread in the 12th century in northem Sumatra and soon Muslim kingdoms were establishd in Java, Sumatra and mainland Malaysia. Despite the colonization of the Malay world, Islam spread in that area covering present day Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Phililppines and southern Thailand, and is still continuing in islands farther east.
The Islamic world remains today a vast land stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with an important presence in Europe and America, animated by the teachings of Islam and seeking to assert its own identity. Despite the presence of nationalism and various secular ideologies in their midst, Muslims wish to live in the modern world but without simply imitating blindly the ways followed by the West. The Islamic world wishes to live at peace with the West as well as the East but at the same time not to be dominated by them. It wishes to devote its resources and energies to building a better life for its people on the basis of the teachings of Islam and not to squander its resources in either internal or external conflicts. It seeks finally to create better understanding with the West and to be better understood by the West. The destinies of the Islamic world and the West cannot be totally separated and therefore it is only in understanding each other better that they can serve their own people more successfully and also contribute to a better life for the whole of humanity.
The destinies of Islam to Malaysia
Sandwiched between the island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, the Strait of Malacca is the artery for commerce between China, Japan, India, Arabia and East Africa. In the Middle Ages, these Straits were the hub for trade and commerce just as much as they are today.
Riding on the monsoons, ships from as far away as Canton, China visited Malacca from January to May. From July onwards, the monsoons reversed the flow of winds, facilitating the return of ships to India and Sri Lanka. The monsoon patterns in the Arabian Sea similarly allowed ships from Aden and East Africa to trade with Gujrat and the Malabar Coast of India.
The interior of the Malay Peninsula is endowed with bountiful resources. Lush forests, coconut groves, a rich soil, an abundant supply of rain and a population endowed with perseverance, hard work and hospitality make this land an idyllic tropical resort. Through the ages, ships have used the coast of this peninsula to dock and transact business. If one were to visit this area around the year 1400, one would find Chinese, Indians, Omanis, Yemenis, Persians and Africans intermingling with traders from Sumatra, Java, Bali and Canton, exchanging goods and establishing trade relations.
China exported silk, brocades, porcelain and perfumes. India offered hardwoods, carvings, precious stones, cotton, sugar, livestock and weapons. From the interior of Malaya came tin, camphor, ebony and gold. Sumatra provided rice, gold, black pepper and mace. Java was the source of dyes, spices and perfumes. Cloves were exported from the Malaccas and sandalwood came from Timor.
Muslim merchants dominated international trade in the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the East China Sea. A common religion, impeccable business integrity and universal transaction laws based on the Shariah had enabled the Muslims to establish a trade network linking the coastlines of East Africa, southern Arabia, the Persian Gulf and the Malabar coast with the islands of Indonesia and the southern coast of China.
As early as the 8th century, there was a Muslim trading post in Canton. The coastline of Malaya was cosmopolitan wherein merchants from Malabar, Arabia and Africa lived and interacted with the indigenous Malay population and Chinese mandarins.
It was into this universe that providence injected a prince. Around the year 1390, a prince from Java, Parameswara, was forced to flee his homeland. Landing on the west coast of Malaya with a loyal following of about a thousand young men, the prince lived off piracy for almost ten years.
At that time, Siam (modern Thailand) was the imperial power in the area. Parameswara drove out the Siamese and established the town of Malacca in 1403. The name Malacca derives from the Arabic word Malakut-meaning market place. The Arabs had maintained a trading colony there since the 8th century.
Once settled, the prince encouraged peaceful trade. The fame and fortune of the trading post grew until it attracted international attention. The Muslims dominated the trade in the Indian Ocean. Arabic had become the lingua franca of traders in this region. Islam was gaining a following in the islands of Indonesia.
Across the Straits from Malacca, the powerful Muslim kingdom of Acheh was emerging. Local folklore has it that around the year 1405, Prince Parameswara fell in love with a princess from the court of Pasai, accepted Islam, married her and changed his name to Sultan Iskander Shah.
Thus it was love that brought Islam to Malaya. The bride brought with her good fortune for Malacca. The following year, the Emperor of China, Chu Tin (1403-24) sent a delegation under admiral Yin Ching, offering trade and friendship. The offer was gladly accepted as the Sultan was under increasing military pressure from the Siamese to the north. More courtly transactions followed. In 1409, the great Chinese admiral Zheng Yi (commonly known as Admiral Ho) visited Malacca at the head of a large flotilla of great ships. Admiral Zheng Yi was the greatest seaman of the 15th century. He was a Muslim.
The Emperor of China, realizing the importance of Islam in the Indian Ocean region, had appointed him as Admiral of the great voyage. Zheng Yi continued with his flotilla to Acheh, Sri Lanka, Calicut, Bijapur, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Zanj (East Africa), Zanzibar, Shofala and then southwards, crossing what is today the Cape of Good Hope to the west coast of Africa. Admiral Zheng Yi brought an invitation for Sultan Iskander Shah to visit Peking.
In 1411 Sultan Iskander Shah visited China, was warmly received and was given presents of silk, gems, horses, gold and silver. Malacca also received a “most favored nation status” from China and entered into mutual defense agreements to ward off further Thai encroachments into the Malay Peninsula.
Upon his return, Sultan Iskander Shah ruled as a benevolent monarch. He invited Muslim scholars from as far away as Mecca, honored them and encouraged the spread of Islam. Malacca became not only the hub of international trade but also a center for Islamic learning and a rich prize that was to be fought over in succeeding centuries by emerging European Empires.
Sultan Iskander Shah died in 1424. His grave is not to be found because the Portuguese, when they captured Malacca in 1510, they dug up the graves of all of the Sultans of Malaya and destroyed the tombstones. But the legacy of Sultan Iskander Shah lives. He was a prince who brought Islam to Malaya for the love of a beautiful princess
Source : by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD : Scholar, scientist, inventor, historian, legislator, Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed is the founder patron of this Encyclopedia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia has proven that its system of governance, based on moderate Islam, has worked and can be a good model for other countries in the world to emulate, especially Islamic countries.
He said in view of what was taking place in the world today, it was important to ensure that the system of administration adopted was working.
The key consideration, he said, was that "if you have a system, would it work to produce good and effective governance?"
Najib said this as a panellist at the Global Movement for Justice, Peace and Dignity Conference, here, Wednesday.
The session was recorded by BBC World News to be aired by the channel at a later date. It was moderated by BBC journalist Zeinab Badawi.
The other panellists included Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Paramadina University of Indonesia president Dr Anies Baswedan and Arab Business Council co-founder/vice-chairman Khalid Abdulla-Janahi.
Najib said a good and effective governance could deliver the goods and services to the people.
"A good system allows the people to participate in the system, it empowers the people to decide their own destiny.
"In case of Malaysia, it is very much like Turkey. Without having to blow our own trumpet, we have a modern system, much like Turkey.
"Therefore, we can offer the Malaysian model because it has worked. From a relatively poor nation whose economy was based on agriculture, we have moved to industrialising the economy.
"Now, we have planned initiatives for the next phase. We have a very detailed roadmap of transformation. The next wave of transformation is to become a high-income nation," said Najib.
He said the success of a system was not just about numbers but also about whether it could improve the quality of life, and about good values, ensuring fairness, rule of law, being inclusive, having social safety net and caring for the poor.
"These are the things that we have put in place in Malaysia. So, in this regard, I believe we have something to offer to the world."
Nevertheless, he said, every nation would have to look at its needs based on its own peculiarities and had to make adjustments to the values, to empower the people to a more prosperous and better future.
When asked by Zeinab Badawi whether the Malaysian model was a better model for an Islamic country than the Turkish, Najib's response which drew laughter from the audience was, "I have to be careful on this as I am in Turkey."
The Malaysian prime minister said it was an important thing for Malaysia to choose its own destiny.
"And the way we have developed our political structure is that Islam plays an integral part in the country's policies and administration.
"We cannot separate Islam from the government in Malaysia. But having said that, it is also Islam that is moderate that we apply in Malaysia. For example, Islam in Malaysia is not associated with violence, Islam in Malaysia is benign and that is being practised by and large," he added.
The conference was jointly organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia and International Movement For A Just World (JUST) in conjunction with Najib's three-day official visit to Turkey from Feb 21-23.
source : Feb 24 2011 (Bernama)