Da’wah For Liberals

It is more than often seeing Leftist-Progressive ideas being blatantly rejected, and it is of to no surprise when we hear that it happened both on global and local scale. We can see this occurrence in the halls of debate, lengthy Facebook posts, and Twitter mentions. Huge thunderous claps and applause accompany speeches given by Conservative-Traditionalist ideologues with hateful undertone. From a normal eye, it is a crazy dystopian sight, but for their ardent believer, it is almost Messianic.

One central question pops out, why do the laity openly and proudly renounce progressive ideas that will undeniably, benefit them too? Why do them behave that way, supporting resolve that will inevitably curtail their own rights?

I believe all of this revolve around da’wah strategies, with an addition of what Prof. Yuval called, the concept of Prison Wall. But before we can understand the nuances, it is fairly important to know how Prof. Yuval characterize beliefs, philosophy, and religion.

For him, anything that is socially constructed by human, are a “myth”. And this “myth” should not be understood by its literal meaning, but rather in a sense that a myth is anything that concern human condition but does not have tangible effect on the overall state of nature. That is, if the whole idea of Human Rights is desecrated thus burned to ashes, it will have no apparent effect to nature, as it relies solely on the human’s imagination.

There is no such thing as intrinsic truth, and that is a truth in itself about everything that human believes. As nihilistic as it may sound, Prof. Yuval succeeded in explaining the fragility of the myth. This myth relies on human effort to be kept alive and well. Without constant care, this myth will ultimately wilt and die. Even though this myth is purely made out of human imagination, the entirety of human livelihood depends on this myth to ensure a stable imagined order. Without posited common law in Malaysia, this Tanah Bertuah will fall into the bosom of instability due to miscalibrated cogs of gear in human social order.

The laity will not accept Leftist-Progressive ideas just because of it is the “right” thing to do, as there is no right thing. Leftist-Progressive ideas are just another myth, frail and fragile.

The complex relationship between humankind’s dire need for a stable imagined order and this order are entirely dependent on the fragile nature of the myth, prompts human to have an active effort to maintain the complexity of myth, strengthening and protecting it.

Now we can make sense of the non-exclusivity vantage point of any world belief, understood that even the most progressive ideas are just as same as the animist beliefs of the Sentinelese.

To maintain the stability of the order that is based in the fragility of a particular myth, human translate the myth into a weltanschauung and wove it into the fabric of reality.

Kaput, regressive Conservative-Traditionalist views have a strong footing in people’s heart because The Prison Wall dictates;

The imagined order is embedded in the material world

Traditional philosophy can be found in age old art, architecture, and music. It is etched on every single angle to represent the central idea.

The imagined order shapes our desire

Traditionalist ideas were already consumed by numerous continuous generations, subliminally form the perceived inner desires.

The imagined order is inter-subjective

To make this myth into a standard practice, it must be believed by a whole lot of people. This eliminate any deviation in the myth and also providing corrective measure.

This triad surprisingly makes a fragile myth into an inescapable labyrinth where whenever you go, you will be always reminded of the governing myth, internalize it and accept the fabricated reality.

This is also the reason why most of people becomes so defensive when we try to reason, rationalize, and question the establish myth. For them, it is the reality, perhaps it is too stupid to question why the sky stays up. The Prison Wall turns human into its agent, protecting it, all while under the illusion of what they do are completely under their own vocation.

Fortunately, the task is never to dismantle The Prison Wall but rather simply replace it with a bigger, more complex, coherent new set of myth.

Now how do we do that?

Surprisingly, the answer lies in the Islamic missionary activity.

The da’wah movement managed to propel Islam as one of the world’s religion, building empires, creating culture, often by means other than the sword.

To give a clearer picture, the inception of Islam in Nusantara were done carefully by preachers guised as traders and diplomats. They managed to make Islam as the main religion in the region by solid grasp of the key concept discussed earlier. The missionaries realized the importance of the said Prison Wall. The laity did not have a deep concern in philosophical discourse of Hinduism or elaborate animist folklore, as they only consume the superficial branch of the myth.

First, the missionaries will try to understand the culture of the native inhabitants. They will place a high regard for the local beliefs, and thus gained the respect from the natives. They will do so by adopting parts of the culture that did not contradict the main tenets of the religion. These preachers will speak their language, dress the way the native dress, and respect the authority that resides there. Ultimately instilling initial familiarity towards the presence of the missionary.

But their next move is pivotal, localization. Localization is the process of integrating new belief system into an already existing belief. Localization were done by slowly adapting regular things associating with old religion and retrofit it into the superficial aspect of the new belief. By doing this, the missionary managed to subtly invite the natives to explore further into Islam. Superficiality replacing superficiality, for example, in the oldest Islamic prasasti found in Terengganu, Allah was addressed as Dewata Mulia Raya.

Although it seems small, but this simple action propagates a huge magnitude of effect. Buttery smooth transition one set of Prison Wall to another as it satisfies all three aspect of the Prison Wall;

  1. The imagined order is embedded in the material world by merging two separate superficial aspect of the myth.
  2. The imagined order shapes our desire by establishing roughly the same weltanschauung of the Malays, which is great regard for the afterlife.
  3. The imagined order is inter-subjective by using the Raja’s influence to introduce top-down ideological work.

In a hindsight, the failure of Leftist-Progressive proponents rooted from the failure of treading the same path. Most of them, based on my observation, maintains exclusivity stance. A tang of irony, when we took into account the inclusivity ideas that they preach. Refused to talk and propagate their idea in Bahasa Melayu and some even ridicule the custom and beliefs of the natives. So instead of merging and providing a smooth transition of a new myth, they created a dangerous wall between them and their target audience. This is a weakness that can be successfully utilized by their opponent, strengthening the sentiments of Us versus Them. Over time one simple reactionary can become the most radical extremist beliefs.

Therefore, may this serve as a reminder, though the same tactic of name and shame can work in the realm of politics, it won’t work to persuade the people to change their Prison Wall. For each, are the ambassador of their own beliefs, it is best to maintain the most welcoming image.