Malaysia PM makes impassioned appeal for moderate Islam

Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak Prime Minister of Malaysia addresses the audience during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2013. – AFP Photo
Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak Prime Minister of Malaysia addresses the audience during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2013. – AFP Photo

UNITED NATIONS: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak pleaded Saturday for Muslims to unite against extremism, warning that sectarian violence risked tearing the Islamic world apart.

“I believe the greatest threat to Muslims today comes not from the outside world, but from within,” he told the UN General Assembly.

Najib voiced outrage at violence between the Sunni and Shia sects in Syria, Iraq and Pakistan, noting that nearly 5,000 Muslims died in conflict in the three countries in the holy month of Ramzan.

“It is time to end the killing and concentrate instead on building a common agenda for peace and prosperity,” he said.

“I believe that peace-loving Muslims – the overwhelming majority of Muslims – should unite against the extremists who use our religion as an excuse to commit violence.” “Our task is to reclaim our faith by articulating clearly the true nature of Islam – the religion of peace, of moderation, of tolerance,” he added.

Najib said he was committed to “mutual respect and inclusivity” in Malaysia, which is more than 60 per cent Muslim ethnic Malay with sizable Chinese and Indian minorities.

Malaysia is generally known for its moderate form of Islam, although conservatives have occasionally banned concerts by Western artists and tensions have risen over custody of children whose religion is disputed.

Najib's choice of subject at the world body marks a shift in tone from former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his strident denunciations of the West during his 1981-2003 tenure.

US President Barack Obama, who has been seeking greater ties with Southeast Asia, will travel to Malaysia next month on the first visit by a US leader to the country since 1966.

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Comments (71) Closed

Sep 28, 2013 11:47pm

Talk is cheap. Look at your own backyard.

Gram Massla
Sep 29, 2013 12:21am

Malaysia, a moderate Muslim country? The world thrives on ignorance. Noises made about banning concerts have nuisance value, nothing more. No Muslim in the West will tolerate the type of apartheid policies of Malaysia, where Muslims are favored, by law, in every facet of life, were to be practised in the West. Muslims seem know the value of secularism and fair play when they live in the West. Najib Razk asking for toleration is a joke. But then the "bumiputera" politicians are so used to handouts that they cannot see hypocrisy if it slapped them on their colective faces.

Sep 29, 2013 12:16am

Mr.Najib's advice is potent with peace,tolerance among not only muslims but all other religions of the world.

Sep 29, 2013 03:06am

Every one talks about "moderate Islam" but no one ever differentiates it. What is moderate Islam? This has become a buzz word that originated from the west.

Sep 29, 2013 05:36am

Sep 29, 2013 07:15am


Sep 29, 2013 07:24am

Is Malaysia's president himself a sunni or shia.

Sep 29, 2013 07:53am

Wow. For the first time an elected leader from a Muslim country had the guts to say as it is. The problem for Muslims is from within and not from outside. Let's see these peace loving muslims join together to root out the terrorists within their community and the nations which support them in S. Asia and Middle East or in the muslim world

Sep 29, 2013 10:42am

its about time to let common sense prevail in the Islamic world !! Please stoe wasting Human blood of any caste and religion.

Sep 29, 2013 10:46am

If the Malaysian PM wants moderate Islam, why has he banned/outlawed Shias in Malysia? Its hypocritical to outlaw a particular school of thought in his own country and preach moderation to the Islamic world

Sep 29, 2013 11:15am

A sensible voice. He seems to be taking up the role which till recently was being occupied by Turkey. It is heartening to see the real issue faced by Islam today being addresses so boldly but heart breaking at the same time to hear Pakistan being grouped among the problem countries of the world in this respect.

Sep 29, 2013 01:51pm

Hilarious that this man can give a speech on moderate Islam and warn about global sectarianism, while at the same time, in his country, Shias are persecuted and arrested on grounds of being deviant sect of Islam and practicing deviant Islam. Pathetic and munafiq.

Sep 29, 2013 02:57pm

What is this moderate Islam anyway? Is it the misinterpretation of Islamic teachings or what?

Sep 29, 2013 04:08pm

Unless and until far reaching reforms are carried out in Islam nothing much is going to change in way the Islamic world is struggling to cope with the 21st century realities.

Anyways,nice to hear some one in power in a Muslim country advocate moderation and saner approach to religion!

Sep 29, 2013 04:16pm

@pakistani: do u think that taliban can live peacefully with other muslim.and let us not talk about pakistan ,no one can save pakistan, coz it is in last stage,,,

fida sayani
Sep 29, 2013 05:10pm

In today's world it has become a kind of fashion for the leaders of Islamic countries under pressure from Christian west to use the word Moderate Islam, which is like insulting Islam. Islam is neither moderate or secular or militant or any other name, therefore my advice to them is to refrain from using such words to portray Islam.

Syed Zafar Kazmi
Sep 29, 2013 05:18pm

Malaysian prime minister speeh carries a humanitarian note for a for a society ridden of sectarian violence. His heart bleeds for death caused by sectarian violence in Syria, Iraq and Pakistan. He is absolutely right in his grief about this mass loss of human life and needs to be addressed everywhere, not just Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. Wherever discriminatory laws exist, equality of religions and rights do not exist such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Malaysia itself, where there is a ban on the practice of Shia Islam, the populations feel oppressed and deprived of their most fundamental right. Laws should be modified, abrogated and new laws created to elevate the discriminated citizenry to one single level of treatment in respect of their respective religions and its practice. There have been widespread protests throughout the Middle East and only recently but they were brutally crushed. Otherwise

Sep 29, 2013 05:57pm

Ahmadiyya Jamat is the only option left to Muslims. Join hand with the Khalifa of Islam to spread the message of peace and tolerance. There is no other divine leadership left for muslims.

Sep 29, 2013 06:06pm

It is a good starting point by at least admitting that there is a problem of extremism, intolerance in principle and in its practices. It has been in all world religions. In the world of Islam, Sunnis and Shias have slaughtered each other in different times. This history can not be denied. Whereas it is a fact, how do minorities like Non-Muslims feel in Muslim societies?

So one has to recognize facts and then action against these abominable acts.

Sep 29, 2013 06:54pm

As a token of mutual respect, Malaysian prime minister should allow Shia muslims to practice their faith and build their mosques in Malaysia.

abu musa
Sep 29, 2013 07:01pm

@pakistani: zionists vl never happen to occur on earth .i mean peace nd prosperity.

Sep 29, 2013 07:10pm

Hope, this voice of visdom would be heard in Muslim World. Muslims are killing Muslims in the holy name of Islam and try to find culprits elsewhere. We only have to open our eyes and see the truth in face.

Sep 29, 2013 07:11pm

why islamic country are in mess????did you soul searched what went wrong????

Sep 29, 2013 07:23pm

Good and true message from the Malay PM. Now to follow this up with actions at home where Indian and Chinese Malays are openly and legally discriminated against in favor of the "bhumiputra" or Muslim sons of the soil. A Muslim-Malay is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim unless the non-Muslim first converts. To ignore this diktat, the Malay Muslim is dragged into Sharia court and will lose job, social benefits, housing loans etc. Muslims are given preferential treatment in starting business, loans, housing, college admissions etc. Malaysia may be light years ahead of their Dark Age brethren in the Islamic Crescent, but its discrimination against its very own non-Muslim citizens is well known. Economic Jihad and Jiziya is part of the Malay fabric.

Mohammad Bajwa
Sep 29, 2013 07:50pm

Noble thoughts but not possible as these radical ideas are injected by the religious leaders and nourished by the society and family, privately if not publicly.

Dr. D. Prithipaul
Sep 29, 2013 09:50pm

There is no such thing as a moderate Islam. Islam is Islam. In every Muslim country it functions as a national-islamism. The real peaceful form of Islam is to be found in a minute minority among the Sufi adherents, who out of fear must live in hiding. The millions and millions of hajji and praying actually feed their Imaan with the frenzy of killing as a means to earn paradise bliss.

Sep 29, 2013 11:39pm

He mourns for 5000 Muslims. Who mourns for 80 non Muslims in Pakistan and 67 in Kenya?

Sep 30, 2013 02:35am

@rafiq: neither he is MODERATE PERIOD.

Sep 30, 2013 03:59am

Muslims! these killers are not even humans, they are just brutes and beast. They are using the label of Islam and Muslim just to remain within the Muslim or Islamic community to achieve their nefarious design to malign and disgrace Islam and Muslims.

Besides, it is in fact not a Shia Sunni divide and rift. In addition to them there are others Secterian Divides, such as Sufis, Sahafaees, Humblis, Hanafis, Wahabis, Qadianis, Devbandis, Barelvis Etc. Each one of them boast of being Real and Truly Islamic representation.

So much so that we have Kings and Queens as Muslims. Did any of our Prophets (PBUT) proclaimed themselves as Kings, though they all had been chosen by Allah the Al-Mighty!

Sep 30, 2013 04:10am

By banning shia outfits he has set an example for other countries to follow, for how they can also avoid sectarian violence, and hence achieve the desired Islamic state.

IKE Khan
Sep 30, 2013 04:15am

@ramez: I believe it is the view of this news paper.

Sep 30, 2013 04:43am


Well you need to accept true and only Islam, the Islam of Prophet PBU, Siddique Akbar, Umer , Usman and Ali RA.

Do you know Ali RA was right hand of Umer RA during Umer Farooqs government. Problem is that being in US I have seen on YouTube Shia Ulmas of Pakistan insulting Companions and Aisha RA. I am a very libral person and have lots of Shia Friends. The have admitted that insults keep on going.

Syed Haider
Sep 30, 2013 05:12am

Lol, since when is Malaysia a moderate country? Just because they have nice skyscrapers, and look East Asian, they are moderate? I am becoming more and more disappointed by Dawn for hiring and publishing misleading articles and "news." If you (the author and publisher) are incapable of doing proper research, please don't take that out on readers. Shame. We already have spread enough lies about our Muslim "heroes" such as Aurengzeb, Abdalli and people are already unable to coprehend that. Let's not create more lies. Shame on this author, and Dawn.

Sep 30, 2013 05:13am

Najib is either ignorant or a duplicitious politician. Shias are considered as a deviant sect in his own country, Malaysia and are not considered as Muslims just as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait. Stop being deceitful and fix your damn country first.

Sep 30, 2013 06:51am

@Syed Zafar Kazmi: There's only one form of islaam that is going to be accepted from us and that is the islaam of our beloved prophet salalaahualayhi wa salam.

So there's no sects in it if you truly follow the prophet then you can't be a Shia as Shia means sect anyway and Allaah says don't divide up into sects (shias)

Obey Allaah and obey the messenger. That's islaam obeying not introducing New things into this beautiful religion

Sep 30, 2013 06:48am

Malaysia must throw out apartheid laws that give special privileges to Bumiputra Muslims and dehumanizes Hindus, Christians, Chinese and other minorities. The recent spate of violence in Malaysia where heinous crimes like breaking temples and throwing of severed cow heads into Hindu temples must be condemned and perpetrators punished. With simply 60% Muslims, there is no justifiable reason to make this an Islamic country.

Sep 30, 2013 06:51am

@Salman: Temples broken, Bumiputra Muslims enjoy special status, women forcibly converted to Islam for marriage, reverse conversion punishable by death and so on and so forth. These Malayan leaders are rank hypocrites. This country was made by Chinese and Indian labor with British planning. The Malayans did diddly for Malaysia, yet they take the upper hand by force, by only being a slight majority than others. Shame!

Sep 30, 2013 07:58am

Religions are divisive. Down with Theocracies!!!

Sep 30, 2013 08:43am

@ROHIT PANDEY: Islam was never under threat and it will never be. Radicals are present in every religion as we do see left wing parties in Christianity and Judasim as well. If one follows the right path and lead his or her life based on true Islamic values, peace will lead the Muslim world. Suppression brings aggression. The more drones attacks, the more radicals.

Sep 30, 2013 09:28am

"Live and let others live", I don't think we need anything more than that to make this world a better place.

Burjor Rustomji
Sep 30, 2013 09:30am

Believe in the supremacy of humanity, not religion.

Sep 30, 2013 10:55am

@fida sayani: It is not Islam, it is the Muslims, the followers of Islam, which are real problem. If not extremism, intollerance, how you will describe the Muslims in Pakistan today. It is our actions which are painting a negative picture of Islam and since we claim to be followers of Islam, at the end of day, it is the Islam which is regarded as extremism etc.

Sep 30, 2013 10:57am

@Kamal: Can you claim to know Islam properly? If you can honestly reply this question, then we can go further. Today's Islam, unfortunately, is represented by Taliban or others like them.

Sep 30, 2013 11:31am

When in minority , pretend to be secular. When in majority , declare Islamic country.

Sep 30, 2013 11:35am

What is modern Islam? It is the most modern religion. The Sikha came later, but it is a sect rather than a religion.

Peace lover
Sep 30, 2013 11:48am

Live and Let live(by Bhagawan Mahaveer) instead of kill and die, nature is the great teacher, one who does good to others he gets the same back

Sep 30, 2013 11:54am

@basheer: same with new bottle wont work my friend

Sep 30, 2013 12:44pm


Shehzad Zafar
Sep 30, 2013 12:49pm

@BISWAJIT ROY: Islamic countries are in a mess because of corruption, nepotism and over spending. They are not in a mess due to sectarian issues. Moderate Islam means people who don't believe in basic Islamic principles, don't want to fight for any genuine territorial or humanitarian issues, corrupt armies which are there only for teaching lessons to their own people without any fight with outside forces :)

Sep 30, 2013 03:10pm

@SK: Najib is the leader of UMNO, a supremacist political party, racially and religiously. He speaks differently to international audiences. He and his party practice apartheid like polices over the minorities. Hindu temples have been demolished by his cronies. Churches have been burnt in Malaysia, instigated by his supporters. It is sheer hypocrisy on Najib's part to talk about moderation, he does not practice what he preaches.. To end this bs, name me one Islamic country which treats it's minorities equally, fairly and with justice. It does not take a rocket scientist to find that answer.

Sep 30, 2013 03:23pm

@fida sayani: Great comments.

Sep 30, 2013 05:18pm

@fida sayani:

My advice to you...clear the cobwebs in your thinking.

Read out what ever you have and re read it.

Will it solve a miniscule difference to what the Islamic world through now? Will it make a difference?

When the need of the hour is to prevent blinding violence and chaos sweeping the Islamic world ( which might drag others into it!) you tap out puerility?

Sep 30, 2013 05:17pm


I suppose it means that whatever has been said might not be all that useful for today's go easy on the interpretation...don't squabble over commas,semi colons,colons and periods in the message and don't waste time over every word figuring out the semantics?

In short,take it easy..somethings are just not possible to hold on to?

Sep 30, 2013 06:30pm

Very good advice. Moderate Muslims should unite against any extremism caused by Islamic groups against any one in the world.

Sep 30, 2013 06:30pm

@fida sayani: I think "moderate" term is used to those people who believe in peace.

Sep 30, 2013 06:35pm

@ROHIT PANDEY: Rohit, it was nice for you to comment like this. "Love for All, and Hatred for None" is the motto of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat and we are spreading the Islam brought by our beloved master Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), who was mercy to all mankind and preached the message of God who is most merciful, love HIS creation 70 times a mother can lover her children. Islam is Love, Islam is for Tolerance, and Islam is for Peace. Today Muslim Umah needs to look and share their conscience that how far they have gone from the true teaching of Islam. Solution is in front of them in form of the Khalifa of Islam, but they keep on denying and keep on suffering. Our hearts bleeds for them, and even we are suffering, we are still praying for them and whole mankind.

Sep 30, 2013 06:42pm

@gangadin: If you are sincere, then go to you will find moderate Islam.

Sep 30, 2013 07:02pm

@Kamal: Moderate Islam is respect for other religions and faiths which Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) had practiced during his time. It is not diluting Islamic teaching, but it is enriching the religion. We are in a world where people of different faith have to live together with mutual respect. When you do not respect others and their religion, it is quite natural they also will not respect you and your religion.

Sep 30, 2013 07:59pm

@Tamilselven: Can you tell, who is funding terrorist muslims?

Imtiaz Faruqui
Sep 30, 2013 08:46pm

@Madan: To be a good human being ,first you have to be civilised .

nawaz altaf
Sep 30, 2013 09:22pm

@fida sayani: wow great point! what does najib know? he should definitely pay heed to your valuable input. Whats the big deal if He is running perhaps the only muslim country that is a) stable and b) making constant progress while achieving balanced growth. you post ramblings on online dashboards and that should matter more, right?

Sep 30, 2013 09:22pm
  1. Since Islam is in need of 'Moderation', apparently it is not the most peaceful Religion as projected.

  2. Even this 'Moderation' does not apply to the Shias of Indonesia.

Sep 30, 2013 11:16pm

@Kamal: Moderate Islam is what Islamic principles of faith call for. All other interpretations based on the ignorance of Mullah around the World in general and the saudis and pakistani ulemas in particular are distorted and misguided versions of the religion thereby gaining the notoreity of extremism and terrorism.

Sep 30, 2013 11:18pm

@pakistani: Tell this to your Pakistanis

hamidnawaz khan
Oct 01, 2013 05:48am

@BISWAJIT ROY: yes we know the reason that there are some self interested elements within the Muslims who are being exploited by some states to terrorize the world from Muslims and pursue their own agenda. As you Indians are doing in case of Pakistan. These Muslim terrorists are conducting terrorist operations to prove the world that whatever said about the Muzlims is true as they are barbaric uncivilized and near to be called subhumans

Oct 01, 2013 06:42am

He is right - Muslims must take a hard look at their religion to identify factors that are leading its followers to commit such sins against humanity under the name of their religion and god. No one else can fix Islam, only Muslims can

Oct 01, 2013 07:30am

@Salman: That is the extent of moderation which is possible in a Muslim country.

Forty percent of Malaysia's population is Chinese and Indian....the Chinese control a large segment of the economy.The Indians are poor and marginalized and there is a simmering discontent.

In the 1960's there was an attempt to curb the Chinese economic clout,but the government witnessed bloody riots between Malays and Chinese and toned down it's attitude to the Chinese..Singapore was part of the Malay federation,but was thrown out for it had an overwhelmingly Chinese population-it went on to be an independent country which reached the ranks of the first world in just about 30 years!

Compared to many a Muslim country,Malaysia is liberal,many a hiccough notwithstanding!

Oct 01, 2013 12:01pm

This issue will NOT go away.

There is a reason for it, which no one here is willing to admit.

nations with no other majority religion subscribing people, except Muslims, call themselves Islamic nations and that they also ensure their constitution favours and propagates this religion as the state religion.

This is no joke. This is the truth. As Muslims do not allow any other religion (talk is very cheap , please look for real ground evidence before writing that other non Muslims can live in peace and equality) the room in the nations, they are really creating quasi racist societies based on religious intolerance.

Islam is not a religion for these states, but a political movement too.

Please understand the roots of these problems are much deeper than protesting that Islam is a misunderstood religion, which stands for peace etc. It may be that in teachings, It is NOT at all inclusive, unless you convert.

Oct 01, 2013 01:04pm

@gangadin: There is no such thing as moderate Islam. It simply does not exist.

Oct 01, 2013 09:42pm

@Naseer: Why they can not pray in the same mosque? Why Sunnis and Shites have a seperate mosque? Why have they both divided the one religion called Islam? Why there are many versions of Islam?

Oct 01, 2013 10:18pm

In Malaysia you can go to jail for preaching Shia Islam.

As always, the only nations on Earth where all sects of Islam can pray together and live in peace are non-Muslim countries.

Even though there are equal number of Muslims, India has faced hardly any attacks on Shias or Ahmadis.