Mahathir calls on Muslims to have dialogue with the West

ABU DHABI — The West should look at itself first and what it did to Amerindians and the aborigines before pointing fingers at others, former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohammed, said here yesterday.

By Ahmed Abdulaziz And Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Mon 18 Sep 2006, 9:41 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:25 PM

He was speaking to Khaleej Times after a lecture he gave at the conference titled ‘Breakthrough Leadership — Excellence in a Dynamic World’ organised by Abu Dhabi Police at the Emirates Palace here yester day,

Dr Mahathir said, “It’s not true at all that Islam was spread by the sword. Let’s take the example of Indonesia which is the biggest Muslim country in the world… its people did not become Muslim because of violence. They decided to become Muslims.”

Dr Mahathir was commenting on last week’s remarks by Pope Benedict XVI, which sparked controversy and outrage throughout the Muslim world.

On what should be done to prevent such remarks or acts from recurring, Dr Mahathir said that Muslims should resort to dialogue to help clear such misunderstandings.

“Dialogue will always help and it’s better than going to war,” he stated. He added, “Muslim leaders have reacted. Of course, we should go running down their religion but facts must be stated… facts like the Amerindians, the aborigines etc… should be stated to remind them and stop them from pointing fingers at others. You should look at yourself first,” he stated. Dr Mahathir is an icon in the Islamic world and widely respected as a modern Islamic leader who transformed Malaysia into a technological and regional economic powerhouse. He is one of Asia’s longest-serving leaders, and when he retired in October 2003 he had been in office for 22 years. His lecture also stressed on the state of the Arabs and Muslims in the 15th Christian century and made a comparison with the contemporary situation.

“The Jahiliah Arabs upon embracing Islam developed and prospered and went on to build a great Islamic civilisation. At the time when Muslims were dominant and advanced in all fields the Europeans were wallowing in their ‘Dark Ages’. They were superstitious and backward and lived in absolute squalor. Their laws were primitive and unjust. Their kings were despotic and given to abuses of power. Their people were nothing more than serfs cultivating land for their lords and masters,” he said.

He added that on the other hand, the backward Europeans of the Dark Ages achieved their renaissance at about the times the Muslim civilisation was collapsing and they, the ethnic Europeans began to prosper, to be strong militarily and to establish the European empires which included conquered Muslim lands.

Other speakers included prominent personalities such as Ahmed Hamaid Al Tayer, the former Transport Minister of the UAE. He said that the employers must change themselves to keep pace with developments in the modern world. “We should strive to prepare leaders from within our country, because not all persons can be capable to lead a team or a management,” Tayer added.

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