Frequently Asked Questions
What is Islam Hadhari?
1. Islam Hadhari means “civilisational Islam”. According to the Prime Minister, Abdullah Hj. Ahmad Badawi, “Islam Hadhari is an approach that emphasizes development, consistent with the tenets of Islam, and is focused on enhancing the quality of life.” (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Islam Hadhari: A Model Approach for Progress and Development, Kuala Lumpur: MPH, 2006, 3)
2. High on the agenda of Islam Hadhari is poverty eradication through balanced economic development, strengthening the Muslims’ faith, and raising the status of Islam in the world.
3. Renewal and reform are essential ingredients of Islam Hadhari. Islam Hadhari also seeks to provide a correct alternative to the rigid, exclusive, hard-line, and extremist misinterpretations of Islam that are propagated today by deviant groups. Such misinterpretations pose a great threat to Muslims’ own understanding of their religion, to say nothing of the non-Muslims’ understanding of Islam. Islam Hadhari seeks nothing less than a return to the pure, original teaching of Islam, unfettered from the biases and unwarranted accretions that have found their way into people’s understanding of religion.
4. It is an approach that emphasises the comprehensive and all-encompassing understanding of Islam. The civilisational perspective of the Islam Hadhari approach encompasses material, spiritual, intellectual, political, scientific, and cultural aspects of human development.
5. The Islam Hadhari approach is in line with the universal values of the Qur’an and Sunnah and serves not only the Muslims but also the non-Muslims. According to Mohammad Hashim Kamali, “Islam Hadhari is an approach toward regeneration and renewal of society and civilisation of the 21st century, in accordance with the noble values and injunctions of Islam.”
What does the word ‘Hadhari’ mean?
1. The word Hadhari means “civilisational.” Some see Islam primarily as a set of rituals. Islam is, however, much more than that. Islam is a comprehensive code of conduct and a way of life, an organic whole that we call civilisation. This very important aspect is often overlooked in the traditionalist discourse about Islam.
2. Islam Hadhari approach stresses the civilisational aspects of Islam to enhance the comprehensive development of the society.
Where did the Islam Hadhari approach come from?
Islam Hadhari was introduced in Malaysia by the current Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in 2004. But he was not the first to use this expression. Many Arab scholars had used it before him. Distinguished Arab writers such as Said Ramadhan al-Buti, M. ‘Abid al-Jabiri, Wahbah Zuhayli, and Rashid Ghannuchi began to employ the term “Islam Hadhari” in the 1990s in preference to other expressions such as “political Islam” or “militant Islam.” The expression Islam Hadhari offers a Muslim response of peace and harmony in contrast to Samuel Huntington’s thesis of the inevitability of a “clash of civilisations.”
Why was the Islam Hadhari approach introduced?
1. Islam Hadhari was introduced to solve a range of pressing problems. It was also introduced to provide an alternative to the extremist interpretations of Islam being bandied about today by fanatical groups. The Islamic revivalist discourse of recent decades had often voiced sectarian, local and partisan interests and it was legalistic, ideology driven and imitationist that failed to speak for the wider ummah and the broader universalist teachings of Islam. Islam Hadhari is an attempt to change that.
2. As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Badawi put it, “Clearly, the ummah has a duty to resolve its own internal problems. A good starting point would be the eradication of extremism, radicalism, and sectarian violence. Islam can tap into its rich intellectual heritage and directly challenge the extremist doctrines that have been linked to Islam in the last few years.” (Ibid, 69)
Is Islam Hadhari a new religion?
1. Islam Hadhari is not a new religion. It is a new approach to the understanding of Islam, which declares faith and piety as the first and foremost of its component principles. The Islam Hadhari approach has been launched in part because traditionalist approaches tend to neglect the true dynamism and progressive character of Islam. Muslims need to face up to the challenges of modernity. Islam Hadhari calls on the Muslims to be active participants in the building of a better future and civilisation for all.
2. The modern world presents many challenges, such as globalisation, freer markets, and the borderless world. Muslims need to adopt effective approaches to face these challenges. Islam Hadhari is an approach that aspires towards regaining the sense of comprehensive and creative thinking, as well as ijtihad, and marks a departure from the tenacious hold of indiscriminate imitation and taqlid.
What are the main principles of Islam Hadhari?
The main principles of Islam Hadhari include the following:
1. Faith and piety as a foundation of Islamic civilisation
2. Just and trustworthy government
3. Free and independent people
4. Vigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge
5. Balanced and comprehensive economic development
6. Good quality of life for the people
7. Protection of the rights of women and minorities
8. Cultural and moral integrity
9. The safeguarding of natural resources and the environment
10. Strong defence capabilities
Is Islam Hadhari a new mazhab (legal school)?
1. Islam Hadhari is not a legal school or new mazhab. Muslims need to recover the original teaching of Islam and to implement it in society for the benefit of all. This is the basic idea of Islam Hadhari. Islam permits regeneration and renewal (tajdid) of its understanding and mission and this is what Islam Hadhari is all about.
2. As the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Badawi answered this question in his book Islam Hadhari: a Model Approach for Development and Progress, (2006, p. 3) “Islam Hadhari is not a new religion. It is not a new teaching nor is it a new mazhab (denomination). It is an effort to bring the ummah (the world wide community comprising all adherents of the Muslim faith) back to the basics of Islam, back to the fundamentals as presented in the Qur’an and the hadith which form the foundations of an Islamic civilisation.” He also wrote that, “Malaysia offers a modest working model of renewal, reform and the beginnings of a ‘renaissance’ in the Muslim world.”
What are the objectives of Islam Hadhari?
1. Islam Hadhari seeks to go beyond ritualism and legalism in the practice of Islam and recover the full and rich experience of this great religion. Islam Hadhari seeks to rectify the imbalances of colonialism and internal decay caused by decline of ijtihad. Renewed emphasis needs to be placed on aqli or human sciences, as during the time of imitation (taqlid), most of the emphasis has been placed on naqli or transmitted knowledge. As a result of this lack of balance, the Muslims have fallen behind in the area of science and technology. Once the balance is restored, Muslims will emerge stronger, God willing, and better prepared to face the challenges of globalisation.
2. God designates the Muslims as “a justly balanced community” (Qur’an 2:143). It is incumbent on Muslims, therefore, to take a balanced approach to life in all their activities. A balanced approach requires that no aspect of human development be neglected at the expense of any other. For example, the acquisition of the knowledge of religion must be complemented by the mastery of modern sciences, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, health sciences, and others. Without the knowledge of religion, Muslims will be unable to prosper. Without the mastery and application of modern sciences, they will be unable to progress. Albert Einstein went on record to say: “science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
3. In an Islamic system of education, the study of modern sciences complements the acquisition of religious knowledge. The two types of learning must be integrated. One can be a devout Muslim and, at the same time, be well versed in knowledge and skills required for participating successfully in a modern economy. There is no reason to suppose that a good Muslim has no need of modern sciences, on account of their allegedly secular character. On the contrary, one can be a better Muslim if one has not only a sound knowledge of religion, but also a mastery of modern science, technology, and skills to equip him/her to meet the requirements of the modern, highly competitive job market and the global economy. Science in itself is neither secular nor Islamic. It is how we use or apply science that is either Islamic or otherwise.
4. Islam Hadhari advocates the regeneration of the Muslim civilisation by placing renewed emphasis on Islamic principles that tended to be neglected, for one reason or another, in the past.
5. Islam Hadhari calls for renewal. This renewal or tajdid must benefit everyone, not only the Muslims. Islam Hadhari calls for the renewal of Islamic civilisation through a rigorous pursuit of knowledge.
6. Islam Hadhari aims to strengthen faith, piety, integrity and character. It also attempts to restore the balance in the understanding and practice of Islam as a world civilisation to counter the claim of the present world order to global supremacy.
7. By focusing on a cluster of values and principles of great importance, Islam Hadhari provides an integrated approach to sustainable development and progress.
Is Islam Hadhari ‘liberal Islam’?
Islam Hadhari is not liberal Islam. Liberal Islam is an expression sometimes applied to the vision of Islam espoused by some “progressive” Muslims, who may have embraced some western values through their education in western countries.
Does Islam Hadhari focus only on worldly pursuits?
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi addressed this question in his speech at the 56th UMNO General Assembly (2005) as follows: “There are those who slander Islam Hadhari by claiming it only focuses on worldly pursuits. This is patently false. The first principle of Islam Hadhari, faith and piety in Allah, clearly confirms this as the core of Islam Hadhari and the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the first points of reference.”
Does Islam Hadhari mean that Muslim women will be allowed to wear short skirts and stop wearing head-covering?
1. Two of the principles of Islam Hadhari, namely faith and piety, and cultural and moral integrity both advocate morally upright and dignified behaviour for women – indeed for all individuals.
2. Islam Hadhari is not a license to engage in immoral conduct, nor for violating accepted norms of privacy and dignified behaviour.
3. On the contrary, Islam Hadhari aims to strengthen the moral and spiritual values of Muslims.
4. Under Islam Hadhari, women as well as men have to observe Islamic standards of decency.
How can Islam Hadhari benefit Muslims?
1. Muslims are urged to strengthen their faith in God and their knowledge of Islam.
2. Successful implementation of Islam Hadhari will, hopefully, contribute significantly to a more responsible, transparent, just and accountable government that serves the people through greater dedication and efficiency.
3. People’s sense of dignity and standing in the world can be expected to grow stronger when they become more independent, intellectually competent, and morally upright.
4. Muslims should exert themselves to excel in the mastery of religious knowledge as well contemporary sciences.
5. Islam Hadhari calls for balanced economic development and an equitable distribution of wealth. This is in the interests of all Muslims and Malaysians and helps to maintain political stability.
6. Islam Hadhari seeks to realise a good quality of life for all Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
7. Muslims should be free of the accusations that under an Islamic system minorities and women are oppressed. Islam forbids oppression.
8. Through elevating moral and cultural integrity, Muslims will have made great strides towards eliminating the scourge of corruption and moral degradation. Malaysia has a very good image in the Muslim world but it can set better example for others to emulate.
9. Through better management of natural resources, Islam Hadhari promotes a more responsible and sustainable development of resources, as well as better protection of the environment.
10. Stronger defence capabilities will help to safeguard the territorial integrity, security and welfare of Muslim nations.
How will Islam Hadhari benefit non-Muslims?
1. Islam Hadhari re-assures the non-Muslims that Islam advocates social harmony and strengthening of the bonds of the human fraternity of Muslim and non-Muslim compatriots. Except for the first principle of Islam Hadhari, namely faith in God Most High and piety, all the remaining principles of Islam Hadhari promote the welfare of all citizens regardless of religion and race.
2. Islam does not differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims in respect of their entitlement to justice and basic rights, economic well-being, and participation in the pursuit of common good.
3. Islam explicitly recognises religious pluralism and the rights of non-Muslims to practice their religion and customs.
4. Muslims are forbidden from oppressing anyone, including non-Muslims. The Qur’an in sura al-Mumtahinah (60:8) directs the Muslims: “God forbids you not to be fair and just with them (non-Muslims) …” Indeed Muslims are enjoined to be fair to the followers of other faiths who desire peace. Muslims are strongly also advised to be good to their neighbours. Muslims are forbidden to oppress anyone.
Under Islam Hadhari, will non-Muslims have to become Muslims?
1. Non-Muslims cannot be compelled to become Muslims under Islam. In the Qur’an God Most High unequivocally states that “there shall be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah 2: 256); and again, “One who wishes to believe let him believe, and one who wishes to disbelieve, let him disbelieve.” (al-Khaf, 18:29)
2. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia (Article 3 and Article 11) also guarantees freedom of religion to all people, irrespective of their religious persuasion.
Does Islam Hadhari mean that Malaysia will become an Islamic state?
1. An Islamic state does not have a formal name or definition other than its commitment to a set of principles such as justice, consultative and participatory governance and the pursuit of the moral and material welfare of the people.
2. In this essentialist sense Malaysia to a large extent already qualifies as an Islamic system of government. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and the majority of its citizens are Muslims. The five pillars (arkan) of Islam are upheld in Malaysia. Islamic family law applies to Muslims in Malaysia just as Malaysia has also developed an Islamic financial system. At the same time, non-Muslims are at liberty to worship according to the requirements of their respective faiths.
3. The government is committed to supporting Islam and Islamic institutions such as Muslim places of worship (mosques and suraus), Islamic education (kindergartens, schools, colleges, institutes and universities), Islamic banking, Takaful (Islamic insurance), Tabung Haji (pilgrims’ fund), Baitulmal and others.
How does the implementation Islam Hadhari take place?
1. The implementation of Islam Hadhari requires, first of all, creating and raising awareness about it among the people.
2. It then becomes the responsibility of all citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim, to implement the principles of Islam Hadhari in their own life and community. Moral and cultural integrity, as well as a just and clean system of government that serves the people with honesty and dedication are high among the priorities of Islam Hadhari.
3. A rigorous pursuit of religious knowledge, as well as the mastery of present-day sciences, are indispensable requirements of Islam Hadhari. Muslims are called upon to look toward the broader civilisational goals and values of Islam if they are to regenerate their civilisations.
Is IH just a slogan or is it a serious project?
1. Islam Hadhari is not just a slogan or a passing trend. On the contrary, it is a very serious project because the issues it is concerned with, such as poverty, disease, corruption, illiteracy or the neglect of knowledge, are all serious issues.
2. In order to succeed in today’s challenging world, Muslims need to think of new and innovative ways of solving their problems. Islam Hadhari is a clarion call for a comprehensive regeneration and civilisational renewal of Islam to meet the challenges of today’s world.
3. Islam Hadhari provides the impetus towards comprehensive religious, moral, economic, political, and scientific development of the ummah and Malaysia.
What can I do to promote Islam Hadhari?
1. First, obtain accurate information about it. Look at the bigger picture. Avoid being distracted by petty issues.
2. Increase your knowledge and be open-minded to meet the demands of socio-political and civilisational aspirations of Islam Hadhari.
3. Determine which of the principles of Islam Hadhari you are in a best position to implement. For Islam Hadhari addresses each and every one of us, not just the government leaders.
4. Have the courage to discard what you previously may have thought of as knowledge, if it turns out upon closer inspection that a particular view is no longer valid in today’s world.