This week I come across two very good articles in Freemalaysiatoday and would like to share it with i3 community.
Masjid Negara, the ‘umbrella’ mosque for all Malaysians- Tajuddin Rasdi May 1, 2019 8:30 AM
Masjid Negara’s dome is not based on Islamic elements and thus the architect’s choice of the folded plate was a breath of fresh air in mosque design not just in Malaysia but in the world.
The “umbrella” roof of the National Mosque was later replicated by other mosques in Malaysia. To those who insist that the dome be critical in a mosque design, Masjid Negara stands in complete opposition to this simplistic fallacy.
The choice of a non-ethnocentric reference or a non-regionalistic, pan-Muslim Malay or Arabian architecture has succeeded in showing Islam as a cross-civilisational faith and not one stuck in one particular ethnic group.
Another “democratic” aspect of the mosque that is non-existent in many mega mosques in Malaysia is its openness in elevational view, making it welcoming. Most large mosques strut their castle-like features and present an elevation of elitism and exclusivity with imposing gateways and fences.
Some even have a moat to cross like a real sieged castle. All these monumental expressions create the image of exclusivity from the surrounding urban context and could drive people away.
Not so with Masjid Negara. There are no imposing gateways or fences and this allows the mosque to welcome everyone to come and rest or take a short nap in its generous verandah with the image of a calming pool of water and the soothing sound of the water fountain.
Such relaxing, down-to-earth and unpretentious atmosphere cuddles the user into a blissful slumber of peace and meditation. No other mosque evokes such friendliness and relaxed acceptance for all who come.
What is the significance of Masjid Negara to racial unity and religious co-existence in harmony with our sacred constitution?
Masjid Negara was funded by many non-Muslim Malaysians. Our forefathers of other races and faiths showed loyalty and allegiance not only to Malaysia but also their acceptance of the special position of Islam.
In the midst of some Malays calling others “pendatang” and speaking the language of “jihad”, Masjid Negara reminds present-day Muslims of the true meaning of Islam, of living in harmony with those from different cultures and religions.
Zakir Naik and the radicalisation of Malaysia Baru- Dennis Ignatius May 1, 2019 10:15 AM
Non-Muslims, in particular, have every reason to detest Naik and other radical preachers because they (non-Muslims) are the principal targets. As the police have repeatedly warned, both foreign jihadis and local extremists tend to target non-Muslim places of worship. Naik himself has built his reputation on belittling other religions and promoting the view that non-Muslim places of worship have no place in Muslim countries.
But don’t expect the government to send him packing anytime soon. Naik has so skilfully woven his narrative into the fabric of Malay ethno-religious nationalism that his removal now would be seen as an assault on Islam, Malay rights and Malay civilisation. No Malay politician would dare do it. As it is, even the arrest of one of his proteges is deemed to be an affront to the Malays.
Malaysia Baru a passing phase
What all this says is that the Malaysia Baru that many of us are celebrating is simply a passing phase, a prelude to a more radical religious state. With no leader of consequence willing to defend the secular constitutional foundations of our nation, democracy’s days may well be numbered. The future, it seems, belongs to the likes of Zakir Naik.
The future belongs to the like of extremist and bigotry if only we allow it to happen. So my fellow Right-minded Malaysian speaks up against all form of bigotry and extremist. Share our commonalities and together we will and shall build a better Malaysia.
As we await the holy month of Ramadan this month, I wish all our Muslim brothers and sisters a blessed Ramadan Mubarak. May we live in harmonies at peace and ease with others and oneself.