August 28, 2016
The True Meaning of Merdeka (Freedom)–A Quranic Perspective
by Kassim Ahmad
Really Merdeka–Are We Malaysians Free?
This is the 60th year of our independence. We spend millions of ringgit yearly to celebrate this auspicious day of August 31 with parades and the like, with every citizen flying or waving the national flag. We have been doing this year in and year out.
Is this the true spirit that we want to inculcate in our citizens? Of course the parades and such like have their uses. But independence must mean more than that. It must mean the acting out of freedom in our souls. We must act freely to realize our place in the several countries that we are in and in the world — the just and peaceful world that everyone wants.
In this sense of the word independence, we are far from it in the several countries that we are citizens of and in the wider world. We suffer hardships of various kinds and magnitudes. The ultimate hardship would be a Third World War, using nuclear weapons. So far we are in stalemate, one bloc fearing destruction at the hands of the opposite bloc – the so-called mutual assured destruction, the MAD of human madness.
Kassim Ahmad and Rosli Dahlan–Defending our rights to be Free Malaysians
That means our independence is hollow and a fake. That means we are not at peace with ourselves, the OTHER being no more than ourselves. This is a scary and disastrous discovery. Where have we gone wrong?
To answer that question, let me bring two pointers from the Quran. In Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 30, God informs the angels that He wishes to create a human being to rule and change the earth, to which the angles protest, arguing that the human beings would spread evil and shed blood. God simply replies He knows better.
Humans have of course shed blood in the two World Wars and other wars since. But man is also a creator civilizations, the good side of him that God refers to.
The second pointer is from the first Surah, the great human prayer to his Lord. Verses 6-7, states, “Guide us in the right path, the path of those whom You blessed, not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers.”
Let us analyse these two verses. Those whom God Blessed are clear. They are the true believers. Those who incur His wrath are also clear, that is, the deniers of God and their own selves. The strayers are those who think that they are believers, but are in actual fact disbelievers.
So those who are actually free are those who live in this blessed state of freedom, happy with themselves, happy with their environment and happy with their Lord. They are in the abode of Paradise. This is the true meaning of freedom.