The reason for the perception of backwardness and archaic thinking of Malay Muslims in Malaysia is because they are too concerned with rituals and practices.
We fret about how to wash body parts, if we step into a mosque with our right foot or the left, or if we lean more of our body weight on our left leg while while sitting on the toilet.
And yes, we also fret about whether a wife is allowed to say no to sex with her husband on a camel, or whether a husband can ‘pull out’ or not in bed.
We think about all of this while the rest of the Muslim world are more concerned with bigger issues like the philosophical and intellectual development of it’s people and religion.
In the other progressive Muslim societies outside of Malaysia, the study, discussion and comparison of different Islamic schools have encouraged better understanding of the faith.
Islamic thinkers around the world are actually constantly discussing the challenges of adapting and interpreting the religion to the times, understanding very well that Islam is for all times.
They discuss and debate different schools of thoughts and interpretations to understand the evolution of Islam better, hence able to mould the religion for current times.
The understanding that Islam is not a stagnant remnant of a time 1,400 years ago and is constantly evolving helps to encourage progressive thinking.
To think of it, the religion was constantly evolving from all the prophets right up to Judaism, Christianity and finally Islam (which is till the end of time).
So there we have proof that the religion is naturally something that can evolve and develop as times goes on. It is the responsibility of the practitioners to make sure it stays relevant.
Rarely will you hear Muslims outside of Malaysia talk about how many times you need to chew before swallowing like the prophet, as if that will determine if you will enter heaven or hell.
It doesn’t help the matter when our own local religious authorities curb the spread of different Islamic schools of thoughts and interpretations that differ from the standard majority.
Any teachings or thoughts that go against the Sunni Shafie teachings are straight out condemned and banned without so much of an explanation to why they do so.
We do not encourage rational and intellectual thought when it comes to the religion because that is seen as a threat to what control the authorities have over the people.
This, to me, go against the entire concept of Islam as a religion of all time. And it is sad to see that the Malay Muslim society leaders themselves are the ones who are the cause of all this.