PUTRAJAYA, Oct 31 – Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today one factor that drives more Muslims into becoming jihadists is the inability of Islamic countries to defend the Ummah. He said this alleged failure of the Islamic countries frustrated Muslims, and ordinary people who had no power might think that the only way they could contribute was by going to fight as a jihadist.

“In order to persuade people to join them, they will say it is for jihad (holy war) and fighting for Islam, but it is not going to produce the desired results,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the International Islamic Forum here today. Dr Mahathir, who is also the president of the Perdana Leadership Foundation, said they also promoted the idea of going to heaven by dying in a fight as qualifying to become a ‘syahid’ (martyr).

“In the Quran, it is said clearly that all Muslims are brothers. But, how will you go to heaven when you are killing fellow Muslims?” he asked. “We must go back to the Quran and understand that there is a limit that we can go to and we should not let others hijack the understanding of Islam,” he said. Earlier, Dr Mahathir delivered a keynote address on “Global Outlook – Islam Amidst the New World Order: Where Do We Stand?” in conjunction with the Putrajaya International Islamic Arts and Culture 2014.

The four-day event, with the theme ‘Wonders of the Islamic World’, began yesterday, and is filled with 200 programmes and interesting activities. The festival features events such as the exhibition portraying the Wonders of the Muslim World; Exhibition Al-Aqsa: Forms of Prayer; Prayers with Habib Syech Assegaf; Muslim Women’s Fashion Show and International Islamic Book Expo.

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