Voice of Islamic Moderation from the Malay World By Mohd Kamal Hassan (Perak, Malaysia: Emerging Markets Innovative Research, 2011. 358 pages.)

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Nurhidayahti Mohammad Miharja

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Abstract

Mohd Kamal Hassan’s Voice of Islamic Moderation from the Malay World
presents a selection of eleven essays written over the past decade in response
to the challenges from a globalization steeped in the post-9/11 climate. Intended
mainly for a non-Muslim audience, it seeks to represent the voice of
Islamic moderation (al-wasaṭīyah) from the multi-ethnic, multi-religious
Malaysian context. One hopes that discussions on this important character of
Islam will provide a collective vision of holistic wellbeing and, at the same
time, recognize Malaysia’s pluralistic nature. The Islamic perspective on the
unifying theme of moderation’s universal ethos pervades its three sections –
“Promoting the Common Ground amongst Religions and Cultures,” “Changing
the Muslim Mindset: A Civilizational Approach,” and “The Meaning and
Implications of Islamic Moderation” – with a focus on the search for its progressive
integration into all aspects of life.
The first section opens with an analysis of “The Expanding Spiritual-
Moral Role of World Religions in the New Millennium.” This chapter raises
multiple social, moral, environmental, political, and economic concerns related
to pursuing an aggressive economic agenda within the folds of globalization
while ignoring religion-based ethics and the human need for a spiritual
guiding vision. Under the siege conditions of globalization’s “swiftness, totality
and irreligious mission” (p. 83), there is an urgent need for world religions
to play – as well as be given – a more assertive role in formulating
holistic action plans. States are thus urged to allow religious-based ethics and
spiritual values to expand into public life, from business to international trade
and relations, politics and educational institutions.
Hassan, however, notes that both proponents and opponents of the separation
between spiritual values (private) and this-worldly affairs (public)
need to fully understand each other’s position in order to appreciate the ...

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