Archive for June 23rd, 2012

Is there a need for more interfaith dialogue in Malaysia? (Part 1)

— Dina Zaman
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 23, 2012

JUNE 23 — Malaysia is not unique in its multicultural make-up, and the problems it faces. What makes Malaysia unique is Islam is the largest practised religion, (not unlike Indonesia) with a huge percentage of people who practise other faiths and beliefs. Article 3 of the Federal Constitution declares that Islam is the religion of the Federation, and that this does not affect the other provisions of the Constitution (Article 4(3)). Therefore, the fact that Islam is the religion of Malaysia does not by itself import Islamic principles into the Constitution but it does contain a number of specific Islamic features:

States may create their own laws to govern Muslims in respect of Islamic law and personal and family law matter. States may create Syariah courts to adjudicate over Muslims in respect of State Islamic laws. States may also create laws in relation to offences against precepts of Islam but this is subject to a number of limitations: (i) such laws may only apply to Muslims, (ii) such laws may not create criminal offences as only Parliament has the power to create criminal laws and (iii) the State Syariah Courts have no jurisdiction over Islamic offences unless allowed by federal law (see the above section). Much has been said about the country and its tolerance for the many faiths practised by its people. Malaysia makes for a fantastic advertisement on multiculturalism, and the infamous Malaysia, Truly Asia advertisement seen on television is proof of that. Read the rest of this entry »