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Friday, October 8, 2010

Malaysia and the Club of Doom

The article Harris calls a cangkul a cangkul—again drew my attention to the book Malaysia And The Club Of Doom. In the spirit of wanting to understand Islam, the mind of a Muslim and hopefully a good Muslim non-Muslim Consensus, I think it is a good idea to let Malaysians know what that book is all about:

Malaysia and the Club of Doom (The Collapse of The Islamic Countries) is a book published in 2006 by Syed Akbar Ali who argues that countries with a Muslim majority population have collapsed economically, politically and socially.

Theses
With a particular focus on Malaysia, the thesis of the book is that growing Islamisation of the political and social climate in Islamic countries are causing democracy and freedom to be threatened by religious irrationalism. He attempts to show how the curtailing of democracy and freedom of speech have caused those countries to collapse. He further draws a distinction between Islam and its current practises, and offers his perspective that current practises of Muslims are not in vein with the true meaning of Islam with that being the underlying cause for the collapse of those countries.

The book takes pains to stress that many practises that define Islam on the world stage like stringent laws, cruel punishments and irrational beliefs cannot be found in the Quran. Syed Akbar Ali then proceeds to show that many of these extra Quranic beliefs and practises which have brought about the downfall of the Muslims are actually taken from the Bible.

In the Malaysian context, his book also exposes a masquerade whereby certain 'Islamic' laws pertaining to divorce are actually a reworded version of English Law taken from the Marriage and Divorce Act - a left over of British colonialism. The book also dismisses 'Islamic banking' as 'Arabic banking' i.e. conventional banking with Arabic prefixes attached for camouflage.

Author
Syed Akbar Ali 49 years old is a name that is well known among the Malaysian intelligentsia, especially among its Muslim intellectuals. A graduate of an American university and having developed a career in banking Syed was also an often controversial newspaper columnist - pushing the envelope on free and unfettered discussion on religious and political issues in Malaysia.

His debut book 'To Digress A Little' published in July 2005 stirred much discussion in Malaysia for its frank and honest appraisal of Malaysia's affirmative action policies which have now outlived their usefulness.

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