Archive for category Islam

Ridiculous to stop non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’, says Muslim Brotherhood leader

by Mohd Farhan Darwis
The Malaysian Insider
19 October 2014

Prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” is ridiculous, says Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Dr Tareq Suwaidan.

He said this was because there was no law or ruling within the Islamic realm which prevented the use of the word by non-Muslims.

“I have been following this development in Malaysia, this use of the word ‘Allah’… there is no law in Islam that says so,” he told a forum organised by PAS international committee last night.

He noted that there were many instances in Islamic history where non-Muslims had been encouraged to use the Arabic word “Allah”.

“Do not be confused, this is just wrong, I have hundreds. No, thousands of proof on this,” he said, in front of a crowd of 100. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amid fears over IS, academics claim ‘Salafism’ now usurping Malay culture

by Pathmawathy Subramaniam
The Malaysian Insider
October 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Academics warned today of the rise of “Salafism” in Malaysia, an ultra-conservative brand of Islam that they claimed has been seeping into local Malay culture and traditions, and driving the country’s dominant ethnic group further off the path of moderation.

Singapore-based sociologist Dr Syed Farid Alatas said that the Salafi movement — whose followers believe that the earliest teachings of Islam represent the purest form of the religion — defines Islam based on a “narrow point of view” and rejects the religion’s “intellectual traditions”.

The Salafi movement subscribes to the “most extreme of form of extremism”, the National University of Singapore (NUS) associate professor added, citing the growing influence of the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria and Iraq as an example.

“This is an imbalance of regulation and respect for the sanctity of personal life,” he told about 100 participants at a roundtable discussion on the threat of religious fundamentalism organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) today.

In the Malaysian context, Syed Farid added that there now appears to be “great deal” of rejection of previous cultural practices that were once accepted as the norm among Malay-Muslims here.

In its place, locals are now adapting to the Salafi way of life, which they accept as “legitimate and in line with Islam,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorising the Christian minority

Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 17, 2014

OCTOBER 17 ― De facto law minister Nancy Shukri sparked an outrage when she said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted over his threat to burn Christian bibles because the authorities had concluded that the Perkasa president was merely defending Islam.

According to her, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had decided that Ibrahim’s alleged call for Muslims to torch Malay-language bibles containing the word “Allah” was in line with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the proselytisation of other faiths to Muslims.

Malaysian law does not address hate crimes per se; Ibrahim was investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code that outlaws wounding the religious feelings of another.

News portal Free Malaysia Today quotes Ibrahim as saying at a press conference on January 19, 2013: “Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them.”

The Malay right-wing group chief was purportedly responding to a claim that Christian bibles were being distributed to students, including Malays, at a secondary school in Penang.

The government’s explanation that Ibrahim was merely trying to protect the sanctity of Islam gives the false impression that Islam is under attack in the country, and hence, it is fine to do whatever it takes ― even burning the holy books of a minority religious group ― to defend it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can state Islamic authorities decide what you can’t read?

By Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
October 9, 2014

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 9 — In a landmark case that will determine the extent of the freedom of expression in Malaysia, the country’s top court will weigh today the constitutionality of a state Shariah law to ban “religious” publications deemed against Islam.

Local publishing house ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and its director Ezra Zaid are challenging a Selangor state law that essentially criminalises any person who “prints, publishes, produces, records, or disseminates in any manner any book or document or any other form of record containing anything which is contrary to Islamic Law”, or “has in his possession any such book, document or other form of record for sale or for the purpose of otherwise disseminating it”.

If found guilty under Section 16(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, the offender faces a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or two years’ prison, or both.

In addition, Section 16(2) of the same law empowers the state Shariah Court to order any book, document or other form of record to be “forfeited and destroyed”, even when nobody is convicted under Section 16(1). Read the rest of this entry »

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In hunt for Malaysians joining Islamic State, a faceless menace

by Yiswaree Palansamy

Malay Mail Online
October 6, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — It could be anyone. The next Malaysian leaving to join the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria could be the besuited man reading from his tablet computer sitting to your right on the train to work.

Or it might be the typical college-goer, clad in jeans and a T-shirt, seated your left and scrolling through his smartphone.

This is how obscure the profiles of young Muslims aspiring to join jihadist militant movement that police investigators are discovering in their bid to stem the tide.

According to Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorism division senior official Datuk Ayub Khan, gone are days when those involved were the stereotypical bearded men wearing serbans and carrying prayer beads.

“They come from various backgrounds now. Not a specific group like in the case of now defunct terrorist group, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), or Malaysian Mujahideen Movement, where religious schools were used to recruit for jihadists cause.

“It is all encompassing- from those in the private sector, your local grocery shop owners and even businessmen,” Ayub told Malay Mail Online. Read the rest of this entry »

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Secularism and a more honest Islam

Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
4 October 2014

Secularism and liberalism are not unfamiliar terms in this country, although how Malaysians understand them is a different matter altogether.

In the halcyon post-Merdeka days, our founding fathers would proudly proclaim such ideals to be their philosophical bedrock, so much so that the word liberal actually appears in the preamble to the Rukunegara (national principles). To be secular and liberal was to be constitutional and inclusive.

Things have changed much since then. Today, the very same terms are used deleteriously as a mark of shame, such that it has become the proverbial scarlet letter of the Malay-Muslim society. To be secular and liberal is to be ungodly and aberrant. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jamila Rahim better off in DAP than Isma, Umno, says Khalid

by Puteri Sabira
Rakyat Times
5 October 2014

PAS Central Committee member and Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad says that Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) has no place in Malaysia with its extremist views.

Khalid has hit out at ISMA that had described DAP’s new recruit, Jamila Rahim, as a “confused Muslim” and challenged her to prove that the DAP would bring her any closer to achieving her goal of justice.

“PAS is definitely is a better choice for Muslims, but people are entitled to join any political party, I think it’s better for Jamila (left) to join DAP rather than ISMA or Umno,” he told The Rakyat Times when contacted.

Khalid stressed that DAP is a party that champions justice and holds firmly to its principles.

” Transparency, justice and integrity are part of Islamic teaching, therefore it’s crucial for people to uphold these values as long as it was in line with Islam,” Khalid added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sentiment divided at haj pilgrimage over role of Islamist militants

By Amena Bakr
Reuters
October 3, 2014

ARAFAT Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Former Egyptian army officer Suliman Ouda minced no words as he climbed Mount Arafat, denouncing Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq as terrorists.

But Syrian engineer Ahmed Orabi, standing nearby on the hill where Muslims on their haj pilgrimage beg God’s forgiveness, disagreed.

“Islam is about peace and kindness, not murder and violence, and I don’t consider these fighters in Iraq and Syria to be Muslims,” Ouda told Reuters as he joined the mass of pilgrims early on Friday. “They bring shame to the word Islam.”

Orabi, in his 40s, served time in Syrian prisons for criticising the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before fleeing to Turkey. One of his sons was still in jail.

“If the Islamic state, or Nusra, or any other group can fight the government, I’m in full support of them,” he said in a hushed voice.

“Bashar is the terrorist here, Iran is the enemy. And although I can’t raise my voice today and say that, I’m crying out to God in my heart to give victory to those brave Islamic fighters.”

The haj, a hectic journey that brings millions from around the world to Mecca and Mount Arafat, is tinged this year with concerns over the threat posed by Islamist militants who threaten to target allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia. Read the rest of this entry »

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At haj, Saudi Arabia clerics step up anti-Islamic State drive

By Amena Bakr

Reuters
MINA Saudi Arabia
Oct 4, 2014

(Reuters) – Taking aim at Islamic State, Saudi Arabia has mounted a battle for hearts and minds at this year’s haj, warning pilgrims that the hardline group is “evil” and seeking to recruit their children to fight in Iraq and Syria.

As millions of pilgrims visited the holiest sites in Islam on the second day of the annual pilgrimage on Saturday, global leaders condemned the fourth beheading of a Westerner by Islamic State insurgents.

Saudi Arabia declared Islamic State a terrorist organization in March and sharply stepped up denunciations of the group after its fighters made rapid territorial gains in Iraq in June. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eat. Pray. Jihad. Malaysians fighting for IS in Syria say Prophet demands it

The Malay Mail Online
September 29, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 ― Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim chose to leave his job at a Malaysian construction company to fight alongside jihadists in Syria for a reason he says is 1,400 years old: The Prophet Muhammad demands it.

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, once advised a companion to fight in the area that makes up modern-day Syria and predicted that Allah would send an “army of mujahideen” to the region, Ahmad said. He said he’s there to avenge Muslims tortured and killed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“We are portrayed as terrorists but I don’t care as this affair is between me and God,” UK-educated Ahmad, 38, said via Facebook messages from near Kfar Zeta in Syria’s Hama region. “Many of the end-of-times battles will happen around Syria. That’s among the reasons why I am here.”

As nations around the world grapple with the threat of Islamic State, the Southeast Asians fighting in the Middle East pose a risk in several ways, security analysts say. They could return and breathe new life into militant groups in a region with a history of extremism and occasional large-scale terror attacks, and they could radicalize friends and family at home via social media, aided by slick Islamic State promotional videos.

“It is not IS per se that might pose a danger to the region but rather its extreme militant ideology as well as the skills, battleground experience and international networks that Southeast Asian jihadists got from Syria and Iraq,” said Navhat Nuraniyah, an associate research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who looks at terrorism and radicalization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should move a motion when Parliament meets on Oct. 7 to condemn in unambiguous and unconditional terms the extremism, violence and barbarism of ISIS

I commend the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly unambiguously and unconditionally denouncing ISIS and his call on the global community to defeat violent extremism and religious intolerance.

In his speech, Najib condemned the violent extremists that have declared an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, and destroyed lives and communities and destabilised fragile nations and threatened regional security.

Najib said: “They challenge the very notion of the state. They call our youth with the siren song of illegitimate jihad. And they demand all Muslims swear allegiance to their so-called caliph. That demand will never be met.

“We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam.

“Around the world, Muslims have watched in despair as our religion – a religion of peace – has been used to justify atrocities. We have turned away in horror at the crucifixions and the beheadings. We have mourned the sons who have been stolen, and the daughters sold.

“We know that the threat to world peace and security is not Islam, but extremism: intolerant, violent and militant extremism. The actions of these militants are beyond conscience and belief. They violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, and the principles of Islamic law.”

Four days ago, I had given at least three reasons why Najib Razak should unambiguously and unconditionally denounce ISIS in his United Nations General Assembly speech yesterday, viz: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Islamic State militants execute James Foley? (+video)

By Howard LaFranchi
Christian Science Monitor
August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley features a black-robed Islamic State militant claiming – in British-accented English – that the execution is in retribution for recent US air strikes against IS forces in Iraq.

The video also shows another prone and bound captured American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and issues a warning that he will suffer the same fate if the US pursues its military campaign against fighters for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

But while the IS militants who made and disseminated the gruesome video may have aimed on one level to halt the US air strikes, experts in Islamist terrorism and its messaging say the group had a range of objectives and audiences in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Minister, who really is ISIS?

KJ John
Malaysiakini
Aug 19, 2014

Malaysia is not an Islamic state or a Muslim nation-state, but a Muslim-majority country which is well regarded by most of the world for our unity-style moderate government and our consistent principled stand on global issues; within the larger paradigm and context of a Muslim world which appears often confused or inconsistent on universal issues and values; mostly internal but some global inaction as well.

While it is not my purpose to highlight any failures of our Foreign Affairs Ministry, we have to manage Malaysia’s reputation which had been put on a global scale which is still much respected for our principled position, as exemplified by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, especially on the issue of a racist South Africa.

Today however, we appear somewhat inconsistent in a number of foreign policy issues and global actions. For example, for me it is still not very clear if and whether the government of Malaysia did pay a few hundred millions for the release of our cockpit recorders for the downed MH17. Is then negotiating with International terrorists’ part of our new foreign policy?

For another instance, we have not ratified many international agreements and conventions; can the minister please explain the delay especially since we are now fighting so hard to sit not only on the UN Human Rights Council but also seeking to occupy one of the UN Security Council’s non-veto seat. Read the rest of this entry »

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On authorities’ alleged selective prosecution

– Lim Chee Wee
The Malaysian Insider
5 August 2014

Recent attempts to question the authorities’ purported inaction over cases involving non-Muslims’ alleged disrespect for Islam will only heighten racial tension. This is most irresponsible and unnecessary at a time when we can do with more goodwill among the different races.

On Sunday, Mingguan Malaysia in a column by Awang Selamat and Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii had suggested that the authorities practiced selective prosecution by not acting against those who had insulted Islam. The argument was that Islamic preacher Shahul Hamid was swiftly picked up for questioning after a video of him insulting Hindus went viral on social media. Meanwhile, two individuals who had made disparaging remarks about Islam are still on the loose. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should be a voice of moderation to fulfil the aspiration of our 1957 Merdeka Proclamation to make Malaysia “a beacon of light in disturbed and distracted world”

The call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in Shah Alam yesterday for unity between followers of Islam’s two biggest schools, Sunni and Shia, is probably the first good news not only for Muslims but also for Malaysians in this year’s Ramadan as the past 12 days of the holy month in the Muslim calender have been dominated by negative voices of unreason – raucous, divisive and extremist – threatening the very fabric of Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-religious nationhood.

Najib’s message to the Muslim world to learn to set aside whatever differences among the different denominations and coexist peacefully if it intends to guarantee its own future applies equally true and pertinent to the diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia if the Malaysian nation is to fulfil its Merdeka promise in 1957 to be “a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world” and not to become a basket case instead in the international arena.

Najib ‘s call for the unity of Sunni and Shia is particularly welcome as Middle and Moderate Malaysia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had been most upset by a campaign of persecution and vilification of Shia Muslims, with calls at the UMNO General Assembly last December to spell out the definition of Islam as “Sunna waL Jamaah” in the Federal Constitution as well as recent developments in Syria and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ struggle not over, moderate Muslims should lend support, says UN official

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
6 July 2014

The struggle for the right of non-Muslims to use the word Allah in Malaysia is not over, a United Nations official said, suggesting that moderate Muslims and intellectuals get on board to lend weight to the church’s fight.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said many Muslims believe the court ruling undermines the credibility of Islam.

“A vast majority of Muslims will agree that it undermines Islam by turning Allah into a personal name of the Islamic God,” he said in a phone interview from Germany.

Muslim scholars and clerics, both locally and worldwide, have criticised the ban, pointing out that the word predates Islam and it meant “God” in Arabic.

Former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, known to supporters as the “voice of reason” and to critics as a “promoter of liberalism”, was one of those who had criticised the ban. Read the rest of this entry »

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Militant Leader in Rare Appearance in Iraq

by Alissa J. Rubin
New York Times
July 5, 2014

BAGHDAD — Wearing a black turban and black robes, the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic state that stretches across eastern Syria and much of northern and western Iraq made a startling public appearance, his first in many years, at a well-known mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to a video released on Saturday whose contents were confirmed by experts and witnesses.

Until then, there had been very few photographs on the Internet of the insurgent known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But on Friday he delivered a public sermon in a city once under American control with an audacity that even Osama bin Laden never tried.

Previously he had been all but invisible, seemingly reluctant to risk a public appearance as his group grew in strength and he became the United States’ second-most sought-after terrorist, after Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda. The United States government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The victories gained by the militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were built on months of maneuvering along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which define a region known as the cradle of civilization.

But on Friday at the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque, Mr. Baghdadi appeared confident, calm and measured as he urged the faithful to fast during Ramadan and undertake jihad. He also asserted his position as caliph, or spiritual leader, of the Muslim faithful, calling himself “Khalifa Ibrahim,” or caliph Abraham, a reference to the prophet Abraham, who appears in the Quran. Mr. Baghdadi’s militant group declared its territory in Iraq and Syria a caliphate, or Islamic state, on June 29. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arab Spring, Jihad Summer

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
2 July 2014

Welcome to IS. No typo; the final goal may be (indiscriminate) regime change, but for the moment name change will do. With PR flair, at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or ISIL – the Islamic State of the Levant – to some) solemnly declared, from now on, it will be known as Islamic State (IS).

“To be or not to be” is so … metaphysically outdated. IS is – and here it is – in full audio glory. And we’re talking about the full package – Caliph included: “the slave of Allah, Ibrahim Ibn ‘Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badrial-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi by lineage, as-Samurra’i by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship”. Or, to put it more simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

IS has virtually ordered “historic” al-Qaeda – yes, that 9/11-related (or not) plaything of one Osama bin Laden – as well as every other jihadi outfit on the planet, to pledge allegiance to the new imam, in theological theory the new lord over every Muslim. There’s no evidence Osama’s former sidekick, Ayman “the doctor” al-Zawahiri will obey, not to mention 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. Most probably al-Qaeda will say “we are the real deal” and a major theological catfight will be on. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Caliphate Fantasy

by Khaled Diab
New York Times
July 2, 2014

The jihadist insurgent group ISIS, or as it now prefers to be called, the Islamic State, appears well on the road to achieving its stated goal: the restoration of the caliphate. The concept, which refers to an Islamic state presided over by a leader with both political and religious authority, dates from the various Muslim empires that followed the time of the Prophet Muhammad. From the seventh century onward, the caliph was, literally, his “successor.”

The problem with this new caliphate, which, an ISIS spokesman claimed on Sunday, had been established under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Islamist militant leader since the early days of the American occupation of Iraq, is that it is ahistorical, to say the least.

The Abbasid caliphate, for example, which ruled from 750 to 1258, was an impressively dynamic and diverse empire. Centered in Baghdad, just down the road from where ISIS is occupying large areas of Iraq, the Abbasid caliphate was centuries ahead of Mr. Baghdadi’s backward-looking cohorts. Abbasid society during its heyday thrived on multiculturalism, science, innovation, learning and culture — in sharp contrast to ISIS’ violent puritanism. The irreverent court poet of the legendary Caliph Harun al-Rashid (circa 763-809), Abu Nuwas, not only penned odes to wine, but also wrote erotic gay verse that would make a modern imam blush. Read the rest of this entry »

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