Editorial: The Good News from Malaysia

Pakatan Harapan Chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Nov. 22, 2022, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Credit: Omar Alif

By Omer Bin Abdullah

January/February 2023

As we were finalizing this issue, an auspicious bit of news emerged: King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Malaysia appointed Anwar Ibrahim, 75, prime minister after his party, Pakatan Harapan which had emerged as the largest one in Parliament, formed a political coalition to attain the majority.

It was the crowning moment of his 22-year struggle to lead the nation to a better future.

This news is of special significance to ISNA, given Anwar’s long association with its predecessor MSA, when the student Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia organization was thriving under his leadership. 

Anwar has continued to maintain close relations with Muslim American organizations, and they have returned the favor. For instance, after he fell out with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and was jailed, ISNA invited his wife Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to address its annual convention. Interestingly, Mahathir, aged 97, ran against Anwar in this recent election and lost.

Anwar is one of the few contemporary Malaysian leaders who enjoys worldwide recognition. ISNA and Islamic Horizons wish him the greatest success with his stated mission of SCRIPT: Sustainability, Care and Compassion, Respect, Innovation, Prosperity and Trust. Indeed, this futuristic document could put Malaysia on the path to inclusive democracy and economic progress.

Unfortunately, domestic violence (DV) is perpetually in the news, especially in a society where quite a few people consider owning guns as essential as breathing. Domestic Violence Awareness Month, launched nationwide in October 1987, is always carefully observed. However, DV remains, showing no signs of decreasing.

We invited Dr. Basheer Ahmed (former professor of psychiatry, Southwestern Medical School, Dallas) to enlighten our readers about this issue. Hopefully, the wisdom he shares will inspire us to devise more effective efforts that transcend intervention.

Abusive behavior, he points out, is most likely learned at home. If abusers grew up in an abusive home environment, their children might consider it a domestic norm.

Quran 9:71 proclaims that all human beings — without exception — are equal, that men and women are spouses and that no one has a level of authority over others. Quran 4:19 describes the marital relationship as one of tranquility, kindness, mutual love and affection, respect, caring and mercy. Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The perfect believer is one who is the best in courtesy and amiable manners, and the best among you people is one who is most kind and courteous to his wives.” And yet many Muslimas continue to experience these tragedies. Domestic violence does not end until outside intervention takes place.

Despite serious attempts to educate and help both the abusers and the abused, however, intimate partner violence (IPV) prevalence rates are rising. In the Islamic context, an “intimate partner” refers only to the husband or the wife. 

Although many avenues of healing are available, among them psychiatric consultation, the most important antidote is to help Muslim achieve taqwa — being conscious and cognizant of God, truth and piety, and holding God in awe (commonly mistranslated as “fear”). 

As is often the case, good and bad came together. The sad news is the demise of Dr. Mohammad Nejatulllah Siddiqi, 92, the eminent economist and truly the father of Islamic banking. In addition to spending his career sharing his knowledge and guiding banking and finance practitioners, he has left many learned treatises, articles and speeches behind that will help Muslims institutionalize Islamic banking in their countries.

Other articles focus on Francophone and Native American Muslims, colorism within Muslim communities and the role — positive or negative — of matchmakers.

Tell us what you thought by joining our Facebook community. You can also send comments and story pitches to horizons@isna.net. Islamic Horizons does not publish unsolicited material.