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Stereotyping of Muslim Converts: A Preliminary Study on Chinese Muallaf

Stereotyping of Muslim Converts: A Preliminary Study on Chinese Muallaf

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1
STEREOTYPING OF MUSLIM CONVERTS:
A PRELIMINARY STUDY ON CHINESE MUALLAF By Razaleigh Muhamat @ Kawangit
 Abstract
This article set outs to look the situation of Muslim converts stereotyping in  Malaysia which focusing on the Chinese Muslim converts. It was sure that their  Muslim culture applying becomes dilemma when they convert from their own
religion to Islām. It suggests that when these converts begin to practice Islām,
their behavior changes in line with the identity of the Malays. This is because
 Islām equates to Malay in the Malaysian context. Whilst they a
re welcomed by their Malay counterparts, it is nevertheless hypothesised that they was influenced by the situation of ethnic stereotyping
1.
 
CONCEPT OF CONVERT IN ISLAM: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The word ‘Muslim converts’ means those who are changed their previous religions to Islām and become Muslim. In Islām, they are called
‘Muallaf’ 
. The Encyclopedia of Islām explained that the word
 Muallaf 
 took from Arabic language
‘Al 
-
 Muallafa Qulūbuhum’ 
 
which means “those whose hearts are won over” or “those hearts that need softening”
1
. The term applied to those former opponents of the rophet Muhammad s.a.w who are said to have been reconciled to the cause of Islām by presents of  or  camels from rophet Muammad’s share of the spoils of the battle of
 Ḥunayn
, af 
ter Muammad’s forces
had defeated the
 Ḥawāzin
 confederation, and divided out at the
 Al-Dijrana
. The list included the Meccan
Leader Abū Sufyān and his sons Muaᶜwiyya and Yazīd and various Bedouin chiefs from the tribes of western A‘rabia. On the other hand, the actual phrase is connected with Qurān in the
Sūra Al 
-Tauba
: 60, which means:
“Zakāt 
2
 
is for: the poor, the destitute, those who collect it, reconciling people’s hearts (Muallaf), frees
 slaves, spending in the way of Allah, and travellers. It is legal obligation from Allah. Allah is all knowing,
all wise”
 
From the above phrase,
 Muallaf 
 should be given
 
 Zakāt 
 
in purposes ‘to won’ and ‘to soften’ their hearts to follow Islām as a way of life. To give better understanding about
 Muallaf 
 especially their categories in Islamic view, the word should be discussed together with
 Zakāt 
. This such two things determined in Islam as including in
 Fiqf 
3
 section.
1
 C.E Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, W.P Heinrichs and C.H Pellat. 1993.
The Encyclopedia of Islām
. New Edition. Volume VII. New York: Leiden. Page: 254
2
 
 Zakāt
or known as Islamic religious tax, one of the five basic pillars of Islam. All adult Muslims of sound mind and body with a set level of income and assets are expected to pay
 Zakāt.
 
 Zakāt 
 and will be paid yearly on certain
types of property determined by religion (Islām).
 Zakāt 
 is payable, at different rates on basically five items of income and assets which are crops, harvests, herds, gold and silver, and merchandise.
 
3
 
 Fiqh
refers to the study of the law in Islam and was defined in the side of  jurisprudence as the knowledge of the rights and duties whereas human beings are enabled to observe right conduct in this life and to prepare themselves
 
2 There are several discussion among the Islamic scholars showed that the term
 Muallaf
also includes non-
Muslim, but only in the purpose of to get their hearts to Islām, for example, al
-
Qarādāwī
states that there is a group of infidels being courted in the hope that they accept Islam such as the case of
Ṣafwān. During the opening (al
-
futūh) of Mecca, Ṣafwā
n was given a period of four months by the
rophet s.a.w to consider about accepting Islām. When the battle of
 Ḥunayn
occurred, he took part in it.
The rophet s.a.w then learnt Ṣafwān his sword and gave him a few camels, taken from a valley.
Consequently,
after that incident, Ṣafwān became a good Muslim.
4
 The adi
th
ṣohīh referring to the event
appears in the Sunan al-
Tirmī 
dhi, which means:
 From Ṣafwān, son of Umayya, who said: “On the day of Hunayn war, the Prophet had given me
 something. Truly, he was the person whom I hated most but he always gave me (something) until he really
became the person that I love most”
 
The adi
th
mentioned above explained that Rasūlullah s.aw had transformed Ṣafwān who hated
him most at first, but through love, care and
material showered on him by Rasūlullah s.a.w, his hatred changed to love. Similarly, there is another adi
th
ṣohīh collected by Shawkāni and cited by Ahmad with
the
 sanad 
 from Anas:
5
 
“Truly, the Prophet never asks something except for the importance of Islām unless he was definitely able to fulfil it. Once, a man come and asked him something, he then was told to take a large part of the Zakāt,
(goats) which occupied between two mountains. So, the men went back to his
 people
 and said: My people, all of you
 should embrace Islām, for Muhammad (loves) gave something as though a person was afraid of hunger”
 
As a result, almost of the Islamic scholars agree the non-Muslim as a part of
 Muallaf 
 as a way to
 persuade them to embrace Islām. Unfortunately, they do no
t verify the categories clearly. Only al-
Qurṭubī
mentioned three of them, which are:
 6
 1.
Those who just embraced Islām. They need support in order to build up their confidence towards Islām. al
-
Qurṭubī quoted from al
-Zuhri, who was of the opinion that those included in this group were the
Jews and Christians who had newly accepted Islām, even though they were rich.
 2. Leaders and public figures amongst them and had many friends who were non-Muslims. By giving them a part of the
 Zakāt 
, it was hoped to be able to attract themselves and of their friends and got
them to embrace Islām as was in the case of when Abū Bakar gave
 Zakāt 
 
to Uday bin Ḥatīm and
Zabarqan bin Bdr. Both of them were of high social standings in their society. 3.
The middleman’s who can
 persuade other non-Muslim to embrace and accept Islam such as an act of war. In this matter, they received a part of the
 Zakāt
to become such a middleman.
for the world to come. See more meaning about
 fiqh
 at: Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. 1991.
Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.
 Cambridge, U.K.: Islamic Texts Society.
4
 Understanding from what al-
arādāwī defined about 'infidel'. See more at: Yūsuf al
-
Qarādāwī. 986.
Fiqh al- 
 Zakāt 
.
 
Volume I & II. Lebanon: Mu’assasat al
-Risalah. Page: 595
5
 Al
-
Shawkānī, Muammad bin A
li. 1987.
Nayl al-Aw 
 ṭ 
ar 
 (trns: Ma
ʼ
ammal Hamidy). Volume III. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka alAzhar. Pages: 120-121
6
 al-Qur 
ubī. 94.
Al-Jami 
ᶜ 
 i kām al 
-Quran 
.
 Volume 8. Misr: Dar al-Kutub Misriyya. Page: 180
 
3
After the death of rophet Muammad s.a.w, the companions put their attention on the rights in
receiving
 Zakāt 
 to the
 Muallaf 
. They do not explain anymore the meaning of the group, and these were the reasons, categorizing the
 Muallaf 
. or example, during the time of rophet Muammad s.a.w, Uyayna  bin Ḥisn, al
-
Aqraᶜ bin Ḥabīs and Aᶜbbas bin Mirdās we
re each given a guarantee (a letter) from the
rophet and Abū Bakr that they were given portion of the Zakāt collection. When the letter was brought to the notice of Uᶜmar, he immediately tore the letter. He said:
“The Prophet s.a.w gave you that portion
o entice you to Islām. Now Allah has exalted Islām and there are no longer any bond between you and us. If you are still in Islām, then we accept you but if you are not, and then our tie is through the sword”
7
.
After that Uᶜmar read al
-
Qurān ,
Sūra al 
-Kahf 
:29, say:
“It is the truth from your lord, so let whoever wishes have īmān and whoever wishes be kāfir”.
 
They went back to Abū Bakr and told him what had happened and thus asked:
”Are you the Caliph or Uᶜmar?”
 
Abū Bakr answered:
“Uᶜmar, Inshāallah”
8
.
 
Abū
 Bakr did not refute the sayings and
actions of Uᶜmar, nor did the other companions until that matter achieved the consensus of opinion (
ijmaᶜ)
them all, according to some scholars. There were no comments from Uᶜ
th
man and Aᶜli about that portion
hitherto meant for the
 Muallaf
taken away from them. When Abū Bakr was caliph, he kept giving the part to Uday bin Ḥatīm and the people on his area.
After the companion era, there are a few differences of opinion among the
 Fiqh
 Scholars (
 Ahlu al-fiqh
), for example
s, Hanafī iqh
 
scholar is one of the opinions that the portion for
 Muallaf 
 being abrogated, they thus lost all rights after the death of rophet Muammad s.a.w. They based their opinion
on the
ijmaᶜ
of the companions of the rophet, since Abū Bakr and the
 other companions did not question
the action and saying of Uᶜmar.
9
 However according to al-
Qurṭubī, the Malikī scholars have two
differences of views on this matter,
10
 which are the loss of
 Muallaf 
 rights is due to the strength and the
expansion of Islām a
nd the rights of the
 Muallaf
are permanent as long as their done their work in  persuading other non-
Islām to embrace Islām.
 
According to Shāfi‘ī, there are two opinions on the problem of giving
 
 Zakāt 
 to the
 Muallaf 
: 1.
The new converts to Islām could be
given part of
 Zakāt 
 because Allah has commanded
 Zakāt 
 taken from Muslims to be given back to Muslims and not to be given to people of other religion. 2. The polytheist (
 Mushrikūn
) should not receive any part of the
 Zakāt
even to attract them to Islām.
Although the Prophet s.a.w had once given part of the
 Zakāt 
 to some polytheist in the
 Hunayn
 War but it was actually from the property of
‘faiḳ’
(
‘faiḳ’
is
‘ghanīma’
acquired without the use of force or struggle) and more specifically from the Prophet s.a.w own property.
11
 
7
 Amiur Nuruddin. 1991
.
Al
 Ijtihād Min U 
ᶜ 
mar Ibn al-Khattab 
.
 Jakarta: PN Rajawali Press. Pages: 141-142
 
8
 Ibid
 
9
 Ibid.
10
 Op.Cit, al-Qur 
ubī. age: 8
 
11
 
Op.Cit, Yūsuf al
-
Qarādāwī, age: 67
 

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