Defining The Moderates In The Malay Muslim Community – Are Majority Of Us Extremists?

It is indeed funny to see how the star lined up a band of people whom it called the voices of moderation.

Well I don’t care about the non-Muslim (not Malay) in the line up because it is none of my business to interfere with how they want to define the term moderation, but it is kind of appalling to see the Malays in the list. They are

  • Marina Mahathir
  • Zaid Ibrahim
  • Razali Ismail (chairman of Global Movement of Moderates)
  • Zainah Anwar (Sisters in Islam co-founder)
  • Karim Raslan
  • Azmi Sharom
  • Anas Zubedy
  • Wan Saiful Wan Jan
  • Sharyn Shufiyan (Tunku Abdul Rahman’s great granddaughter)

I want to clarify that I have nothing against them personally. What I am against is the people who put them in the list and claimed that they are the voices of moderation that represent the Muslims whereas many Muslims (including me) and Malays are against their thinking and ideology. What more when some of them are well known for carrying ideology that is against the main stream understanding of Islam. Take for example the ladies in the list, whom none is wearing tudung. Zainah Anwar is also known to claimed that covering one’s hair is unnecessary in Islam, whereas the mainstream Muslim understanding all over the world is that it is compulsory. So how can the person ever claimed that Zainah Anwar is the voices of moderation for the Muslim while clearly she is the minority. If Zainah Anwar represents the voices of moderation for the Muslim, does that mean 90% (or probably 99%) of Malaysian Muslim women who believe hair as aurat which needs to be covered in public are the extremist? This is indeed insulting.

I am not sure if the person who put up the list is a Muslim or not, but for me, as a Muslim, it is a blatant misused (and wrongly used) of the term moderation for the Muslim. Firstly, the term moderation is a very misunderstood terminology. Secondly, for the Muslim, the term moderate is a religious definition where there are hadiths from the prophet S.A.W. that explains about the meaning of moderation. Therefore, to put these Malays (Muslims) as role model of moderation is an insult to the Muslim especially when some of them is known to have ideology and understanding of Islam that is against the understanding and practice of the mainstream Muslim.

It is Tolerate, not Moderate

When I dropped the word Moderate into Google, this is what I got


Moderate, by its adjective definition is the average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree. You cannot have an average if you only have one extreme. For example, what is the average of 10? No one can tell you. But if  you ask what is the average between 1 to 10, then the answer is 5. So we can say that 1 is the extreme to the left and 10 is the extreme to the right. So 5 is the moderate value which is in between the two intensities!


The misconception comes in the noun definition. It says that moderate is a person who holds moderate views, especially in politics. Now the problem is that views in politics are subjective. What someone view as moderate may not be viewed as moderate by others. For example, to the non-Muslim, a Muslim who is not wearing tudung is a moderate Muslim. To the many Muslims, she is not a good Muslim. To the non-Muslim, a person who drink only in social occasion is a moderate drinker. To the Muslim, if a Muslim drink at any occasion, he is a sinner. People like Marina, Zainah and Zaid Ibrahim may think that they are the moderate, but to the many they are the liberals and to some they are the deviants.

The more correct definition that fits them is Tolerate. These people are not moderate, they are just more tolerable, for example, some are more tolerable to western lifestyle where they don’t mind to wear bikini or drinking in a party with alcohol. So does in political view. Some are more tolerable to opposing views.

There is no point arguing who is indeed the moderate. We can never agree to such a subjective matter. What is unbecoming is for the Star to put up these people and claimed that they are the voices of moderation among the Muslim. it is like the Star trying to shovel the definition Moderation into the throats of Muslim. Who is the Star to tell the world that those people represent the moderate voices of Muslim in Malaysia? That is why I say it is insulting.

A Religious Definition

Islam has clear definition moderation. It is in the Quran and there are numerous hadiths from the Prophet s.a.w. about moderation.

In the Quran, Allah S.W.T. says

“We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Qur’an, 2:143) 

In one of the hadith,

‘Abdullah ibn Masood (Allah be pleased with him) reported that once Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) drew a line in the dust with his hand and said, “This is the straight path of Allah.” Then he drew a series of lines to the right of it and to the left and said, “Each of these paths has a devil at its head inviting people to it.” He then recited (Qur’an 6:153), “Verily this is my straight path so follow it and do not follow the (twisted) paths.” (Collected by Ahmad, Nisai and Darimi; see Mishkat ul-Masabih, 1/166)

If you look back at the adjective definition, you will understand better the concept of moderation in Islam. In every moderation, there is always an extreme left and extreme right. So the moderate is the middle path in between the extremes. Picture speaks a thousand word. By looking at the picture below, you should understand better. This is off course according to Ahlul Sunnah definition.


What it clearly tells you is that Zainah, Marina, and the other ladies in the list are not the moderate according to the Muslim standard. They are indeed the extremists, the liberals!

I will list few more examples of moderation in Islam

Priesthood, complete refrain from marriage Marriage up to 4 wives (in this respect, Sister in Islam by Zainah Anwar is against polygamy, so she is not the moderate) More than 4 and unlimited number of concubines
Relationship with Non-Muslim
Extreme enimity against non-Muslim irrespective of whether they have peace agreement with the Muslim or not. Treat and deal with those who have peace agreement with Muslim with kindness, honor, respect. Befriend those who are an obvious enemy to Muslim who are known of ploting to destroy Islam and the Muslim
Monastery life, i.e. spend whole life doing nothing except in prayer and worship Balance between worldly life and time spend in prayer and worship of God Only focus on world life and ignore worshipping of God
People who give everything and left nothing for themselves Give some part of their wealth for charity and keep the remaining for own use Do not give charity or alms at all

So it is not difficult to understand moderation in Islam. It is something very clear cut and obvious. There is a law in Islam. Some will take it extremely lightly and some will take it rigidly. The moderate is the one who take the middle path.

Trying to tell Muslim how to practice Islam

This is the alter ego and ignorance of many of the non-Muslim today. What exhibits by the Star is the result of this alter ego. They believe these few figures are the “moderates” so they put them as the moderate voices of Malaysia without an iota to think if the mainstream Muslim actually agree with them. Arrogance is one thing, but such ignorance is unacceptable. Even for those non-Muslims, do you think they really represent the voices of moderate among the non-Muslims? Don’t they know that Zainah is one of the most loathe personality among the mainstream Muslim community in Malaysia. How can you ever shovel such person into throats of Muslim forcing them to accept her as role model. This is an utter demonstration of low class journalism.




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