Archive for category Islam

For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 5, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Several Muslims say Islamic laws should not be used to regulate their personal lives in areas like sex, what they eat, or even what they read, after a publisher failed to challenge at the Federal Court a Shariah enactment used to seize a book on Islam.

Communications manager Ahmad Ariff Azmi, 27, who is currently living in Australia, noted that Muslims in Malaysia suffer from restrictions, such as identifying with alternative schools of thought as religious authorities only allow the practice of the Shafi’i school.

“I don’t think faith needs a regulatory authority,” Ahmad Ariff told Malay Mail Online, when asked if Shariah laws should not regulate areas like praying, drinking, dressing or having sex.

“There are too much politicking and corruption rife in Malaysian governance that can also be found with the individuals governing these religious institutions. It is Allah’s law; you as the individual have to self-regulate and interpret within yourself to what you think will please the Creator and ultimately gain your eternal salvation,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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When sermons become hate speeches

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
2 October 2015

During the recent Aidil Adha celebrations, it was reported that the Pahang Mufti Department allowed some very detestable things to be broadcasted.

The sermon aimed at the opposition, in particularly; Malay Muslims who joined DAP by insinuating that they had gone against Islam by joining the political party.

The script stated, “The separation is because they priorities political parties, such as Umno, PAS, PKR and even the new Gerakan Harapan Baru more than Islam.”

“Furthermore, there are Muslims who joined DAP, which is clearly against Islam.”

Therein lays a problem most Malaysians are too afraid to admit: the contentious issue where sermons are being misused as political propaganda and have seemingly swayed from the authenticity of religious teachings. Read the rest of this entry »

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There is no such thing as Islamic racism

Zan Azlee
The Malaysian Insider
18 September 2015

What version of Islam is Tan Sri Annuar Musa referring to when he said that racism is based on Islam? I want to know because if Islam really calls for racism, then I’ve been a bad Muslim!

The Umno Supreme Council member said this in his speech when he attended the ‘red shirt’ rally (aka Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu) on Malaysia Day.

In his speech, he also said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were very touched by the show of support by the rally goers. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Lessons From Our Encounter With Islam

M. Bakri Musa

The smooth assimilation of Malays into Islam was the result of both “down-up” and “up-down” dynamics. The average Malay peasant in his or her interactions with the ancient Muslim traders saw the value of this new faith. This message then spread laterally among the other villagers and later upwards to the nobility and ultimately the sultans. They too saw the merit of this new religion and that acceptance trickled down to the masses. The result was the quick transformation of Malay society.

Today in the retelling of the arrival of Islam to the Malay world, there is not a dissenting voice. All agree that it was a positive development, for the faith as well as for Malays. We also agree that our culture adapted well to Islam.

Those sentiments have more to do with the human tendency to romanticize the past, especially one perceived as being glorious, rather than a true reflection of the reality. We spare ourselves from looking more critically at our past for fear that we would discover something that could blight that pristine image and sweet memory. Read the rest of this entry »

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Political funding and transparency: an Islamic perspective

– Maszlee Malik and Musa Mohd Nordin
The Malaysian Insider
21 August 2015

It is widely accepted that the practice of good governance leads to higher investment and growth, hence development. And political accountability has been highly regarded as one of the sine qua non elements in the governance equation.

Transparency in party financing as well as asset disclosure are amongst the crucial characteristics of political accountability in many developed nations.

A myriad of researches and reports have shown that the lack of openness in money and politics has often contributed to the corruption of political finance.

Thus, policymakers aspiring for sustainable national development must seriously address the transparency of money in politics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stop demonising human rights

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
21 August 2015

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this at an international Islamic forum: “Even though universal human rights have been defined… in our country, human rights are defined in the context of Islam. Though it is difficult to defend internationally, we must defend our definition of human rights.”

Throughout the forum, he continued to demonise several communities – especially the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered – which echoed the diatribe he unleashed at the National Quran Recital Competition a little over a year ago, where both ideals of humanism and liberalism were reduced to being “retrograde as it glorifies human wants and desires”.

Islam has always been a religion that upheld peacefulness, egalitarian values and humanism. Islam is never the type of religion that curbs personal liberties and freedom.

By definition, Islam in Arabic means submission and surrender to Allah, the Almighty. The Quran upholds the sanctity and absolute value of human life (Surah 6: 151) and reiterated that “the life of each individual is comparable to that of an entire community and, therefore, should be treated with the utmost care” (Surah 5: 32) – both clearly representing the essence of universal values. Read the rest of this entry »

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Himpunan ulama progresif serlah keterbukaan politik Islam

A Shukur Harun
The Malaysian Insider
18th August 2015

Sehari suntuk mengikuti sekumpulan ulama progresif dalam majlis Nadwah Ulama Nahdhah Jadidah 2015 (Nunji ’15) di Shah Alam Sabtu lalu mendedahkan kita kepada keterbukaan fiqh yang merangkumi politik Islam sesuai dengan keadaan masyarakat majmuk di negara ini.

Nunji ’15 itu berjaya mengumpulkan ulama yang berfikiran terbuka dan mendukung aspirasi Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB) yang bercita-cita membawa rakyat Malaysia kepada Islam sebagai “Rahmatan lil Alamin” (Rahmat seluruh alam) dengan sifatnya yang teguh, anjal, toleran dan adil.

Ini satu perkembangan baharu dalam memahami kemurnian tasawuur Islam, terutama mengenai hukum-hakam yang dilihat sering diselubungi kejumudan dan shadid (keras), menyebabkan wajah Islam yang sepatutnya ceria dan ramah menjadi bengis, malah menakutkan. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Arrival of Islam as a Momentous Event in Malay Culture

M. Bakri Musa

The arrival of Islam was “the most momentous event in the history of the Malay archipelago,” to quote Syed Naquib al-Attas. It came not through the point of the sword but peacefully through trade. Islam did not land in a cultural and religious vacuum as Malays were already steeped in Hindu and animist traditions. Nor did the Arabs come to emancipate our ancestors; there was no messianic zeal or even an inclination to engage in their salvation.

Those Muslims came only to trade; there was no intention to dominate or colonize. Their Islamic faith and the prevailing Malay culture interacted through gradual and mutual accommodation. The result was that “the local genius of the people shone through” in the melding of the two, to quote Farish Noor, respected scholar and frequent commentator on Malaysian affairs.

This was vividly illustrated with my matriarchal Adat Perpateh. It coexisted peacefully with traditional male-dominated Islam, demonstrating a brilliant and workable synthesis of the two. Malays did not repudiate our traditional ways to become Muslims, and Islam was not adulterated to accommodate Malay culture. Both were remarkably malleable to and adaptive of each other. Read the rest of this entry »

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My hopes for Gerakan Harapan Baru

Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
30 July 2015

Disgruntled members of PAS, Malaysia’s sole Islamic political party, are working to form a new political party. There has been some debate over whether the word “Islamic” or the word “Muslim” should be in the name of the new party.

The debate is academic, since the two words will not be permitted by the Registrar of Societies. Indeed, some years ago Malaysia’s Malay political party, Umno, agitated to remove the word “Islam” from the name of PAS (“Parti se Islam Malaysia”) and to forbid the use of the words Islam or Muslim in the name of any political party in Malaysia.

Umno has made no effort to include an Islamic element in its name. Umno is aggressively race-based, presenting itself as defender of the Malay race. Nevertheless Umno does claim it is a party of Muslims. The claim is legitimate since Malays are required by the Federal Constitution to profess the religion of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts At The End of Ramadan – On Being A Muslim

M. Bakri Musa

A Muslim is one who subscribes to the five pillars of our faith – attests to the oneness of Allah and Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w., as His Last Messenger (shahadah); prays five times a day; fasts during Ramadan; gives zakat; and conditions permitting, undertakes the Hajj.

Significant for its absence is any explicit reference to the Koran, the complete and final guide from God “for all mankind, at all times, and till the end of time.”

The essence of the Koran is Al-amr bi ‘l-ma’ruf wa ‘n-nahy ani ‘l-munkar. It is referred to many times in the text. The approximate translation is, “Command good and forbid evil;” or in Malay, “Biasakan yang baik, jauhi yang jahat.” Succinct and elegant in both languages as it is in the original classical Arabic!

As this central message is not one of the five pillars of our faith, no surprise then that it is frequently missed by the masses. It is also often lost in the thick tomes of religious scholars, erudite sermons of bedecked ulamas, and frenzied jingoisms of zealous jihadists.

Enlightened scholars of yore had suggested that the Koran’s essence be the sixth pillar, after and presumably below Hajj. That did not gain traction. Read the rest of this entry »

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After ‘failed’ PAS, Mat Sabu says new party will be Malaysia’s Islamic Renaissance ‘beacon’

by Kamles Kumar
Malay Mail Online
July 11, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — PAS’s ousted progressives plan to muscle their way ahead of the Islamist party back to the forefront of Malaysian politics with a new party one leader has described as a “beacon” of the Islamic Renaissance movement both locally and to the world.

The leader – Mohamad Sabu, who is more popularly known as Mat Sabu – said the current PAS leadership has deviated from the party’s original Islamic ideals, become corrupted by material wealth and lost its way.

The new yet-to-be-named movement of “new hope” or Gerakan Harapan Baru as it is referred to, will pick up the slack for the Islamist party, the former PAS deputy president said.

Speaking to Malay Mail Online in an interview yesterday, Mat Sabu said what he wants is to reunite “akidah” (creed) with “akhlak” (morals), both of which he said have been separated from one another due to corruption and materialism.

“If this new party is just to replace Umno or PAS, I don’t agree. But we must introduce that akidah and akhlak must go together in this party.

“Our akidah and akhlak is separated already. Now my struggle is I want to combine both of these back,” Mat Sabu said. Read the rest of this entry »

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New Islamist party has higher purpose than hudud, says Mujahid

Looi Sue-Chern
The Malaysian Insider
11 July 2015

The new political party being mulled by a group of “purged” progressive PAS leaders will take the position that Islam is bigger than just the Islamic penal code or hudud.

Former PAS central committee member Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Islam instructed its believers to preserve the greater peace, instead of bulldozing laws.

“This was why the late spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat put hudud on hold. He understood this very well. He knew that the issue had not been settled.

“Is hudud everything? It is just a criminal law,” he told The Malaysian Insider in an interview at his office in Parit Buntar. Read the rest of this entry »

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IKRAM Iltizam Cakna Perkembangan Politik Semasa

Ustaz Haji Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus
Timbalan Presiden
Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia

Mengikuti perkembangan politik dan pembangunan semasa negara, Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM) sebagai sebuah pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang prihatin dan cakna kepada keadilan sejagat, keharmonian masyarakat dan kesatuan umat selaras dengan perjuangan IKRAM untuk memastikan ‘Malaysia Menuju Negara Rahmah’, ingin menegaskan pendirian-pendirian berikut untuk kebaikan bersama warga Malaysia:

IKRAM meyakini bahawa sistem pemerintahan berteraskan konsep dwiparti merupakan satu keperluan demi memastikan proses tatakelola kerajaan yang baik berteraskan akauntabiliti, ketelusan dan proses semak dan imbang sentiasa menepati prinsip-prinsip ‘Siyasah Syar’iyyah’ (politik berinspirasikan Syariah).

IKRAM yang bergerak atas dasar prinsip menyuruh yang makruf mencegah yang mungkar (amar makruf nahi munkar) akan terus menjadi kumpulan pendesak dan pengimbang kepada semua pihak samada daripada pihak pemerintah atau pembangkang, agensi kerajaan atau swasta terutamanya yang melibatkan organisasi yang mengendalikan amanah kepentingan awam dan yang melibatkan penyalahgunaan kuasa pentadbiran, ketirisan dalam penggunaan wang awam dan seumpamanya. Read the rest of this entry »

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Khalid warns PAS’ growing trend of exclusiveness

Jun 30, 2015

PAS will be seen as theocratic and autocratic if it continues to be exclusive by recruiting members only from among religious studies graduates, warned Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.

In his latest blog posted today, the professional faction leader cautioned the growing trend of exclusiveness, which rejects non-ulama members.

He said this contradicted with the teachings and attitude of late spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who emphasised the cooperation of ulama and professionals in the party.

Such exclusive attitude will cause the community to stay away from the Islamic party, Khalid cautioned.

As a consequence, PAS will fail in its duty as a political party, which should be open and act fairly to all parties, he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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My Ramadan Prayer For Malay Salvation – Get Rid of JAWI and JAKIM

M. Bakri Musa
29 June 2015

Ramadan brings exuberant displays of piety among Malays, consumed as we are with personal salvation. There is however, little reflection on our salvation as a society.

Hellfire or the ultimate punishment for us as a society would be to be dumped into the rubbish bin of mankind, dependent on the charity of others while living in a land so blessed by Almighty. The irony, as well as the fact that others thrive in Tanah Melayu, would make the punishment that much more unbearable.

We have ruled this country for over half a century; all instruments of government are in our hands, sultans as well as prime ministers are all Malays, and the constitution is generous to us. Yet we remain in a sorry state, reduced to lamenting our fate and blaming the pendatangs.

This lamentation is heard with nauseating frequency, coming from sultans and prime ministers to pundits and kedai kopi commentators. Seizing on that, some (and not just non-Malays) gleefully trumpet their own sense of superiority or denigrate the Malay culture and character.

A former chief minister of Trengganu, a predominantly-Malay and oil-rich state, asked how could we who have lived here for centuries, control the government, and are in the majority feel threatened by the immigrants. The fact that he posed the question reveals how clueless he was in addressing it. Alas his is the caliber of leadership we have been cursed with. Read the rest of this entry »

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This Ramadan, a reminder of Islamisation

Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
June 28, 2015

JUNE 28 — To paraphrase a friend, Islamisation is no longer creeping in this country. Instead, it is marching down the streets banging the drums, and at no time is it as obvious as Ramadan.

There is just something about the combo of a blessed holy month with millions of hangry adherents that brings out the self-righteous and judgmental ones.

It is undeniable that there is a shift of public sentiment this year, with more and more Muslims publicly saying that fasting is their burden of faith alone, and non-Muslims should not be subjected to the same restrictions in public.

But perhaps we are not there yet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Salafism – Politics and the puritanical


Islam’s most conservative adherents are finding that politics is hard. But it beats the alternative

WERE it not for his bushy beard and trim moustache, Nader Bakkar could be mistaken for one of Egypt’s secular liberal politicians. The young spokesman for the Nour party is tolerant, reasonable and smart—he is about to begin a fellowship at Harvard. “We are reformers, not revolutionaries,” Mr Bakkar (pictured left) says of his party. “Compromise is not a bad word.” But his facial hair conveys a different message. Mr Bakkar and his party adhere to the ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam known as Salafism.

In the West that brand is most associated with extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), whose members are sometimes called Salafist-jihadists; or the intolerance of Saudi Arabia, where adherents are called Wahhabis. The Saudis have used their oil wealth to spread the influence of Salafism across the Muslim world, funding Wahhabi-inspired mosques and madrassas—and, at times, extremist groups. As a result, some think Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement.

It is also growing more diverse. All Salafists take a fundamentalist approach to Islam, emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers—al-salaf al-salih, the “pious forefathers”—right down to their facial hair. They reject religious innovation, or bida, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law). Salafist scholars, though, are far from homogeneous, expressing different views on everything from apostasy to activism. Most notably, many Salafists now engage in politics despite a tradition of quiescence. But with little to show for their efforts, they must decide whether to push on, withdraw or pursue politics by other means, such as war or terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

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In recurring religious conflicts, Muslim MPs ask where Malaysia is headed

by Joseph Sipalan
Malay Mail Online
June 27, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 ― Muslim lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have raised concerns over the seeming trend of Muslims imposing their beliefs on others, questioning if this is reflective of a wider agenda that is backed by Putrajaya to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.

The federal lawmakers noted that the federal government appeared either unable to stop or even condoning of incidents in which Islamic sensibilities are imposed on the larger society by religious authorities and individuals.

“This issue bothers me because as our forefathers taught us, religion should be about faith and (is) personal,” Umno’s Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Malay Mail Online via text message.

“I suspect the longer-term objective of these groups is to usurp power through religious means and therefore avoid being legitimately elected.

“While I respect their motives and intentions, the elected government of the day must control the actions of these groups and act in the interest of all the citizens of the country,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Umno’s hypocrisy nauseating!

By P Ramakrishnan
Free Malaysia Today
June 16, 2015

Some Umno leaders seem to have taken leave of their common sense. They don’t make sense when they speak and there is no logic in what they say.


The reaction from two Umno leaders exposes their hypocrisy when they came out with their ridiculous statements with regard to the DAP’s willingness to build a mosque in Kampung Pasir Tumboh in Kelantan.

According to Kelantan Umno liaison chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, “The DAP’s plan to build a mosque in Gua Musang is an insult to Muslims in this country.”

Meanwhile, not to be outdone by Mustapa , Kelantan Umno Religious Affairs Bureau chairman Datuk Ashraf Wajdi Dusuki repeated the same silly statement: “The DAP’s plan to build a mosque in Gua Musang is an insult to Muslims in this country.”

Except for coming out with a sweeping statement claiming outrageously that it is an insult to Muslims in this country, none of them has cared to state in what way it would be an insult to Muslims if a mosque was to be built by DAP. Read the rest of this entry »

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Questions after the ulama tsunami in PAS

Abdar Rahman Koya
The Malaysian Insider
6 June 2015

Abdar Rahman Koya works for The Malaysian Insider. He considers himself to have all the qualities of an ordinary Malaysian, a practising Muslim, and an incorrigible cynic.

The much anticipated battle between the so-called ulama and professional factions in PAS, symbolised by the showdown between the two Awangs, has ended.

As expected, the ulama have won. The professionals are defeated, turfed out of almost all leadership positions in the party, in what can be aptly described as the ulama tsunami.

But who are these factions, these so-called ulama and professionals? This is the question few – whether supporters or opponents of PAS – have bothered asking.

The ulama are so called not necessarily because they fulfil the criteria of knowledge and piety, but because they have claimed that title for themselves.

So what defines them? Is it just that they are the ones in robes and turbans whose last names mysteriously have the Arabic “al-“ prefix, even though their looks show no trace of non-Malay heritage?

And even if their birth certificates show nothing more than the standard “bin” required by our guardians of Malay-Muslim demography?

Or are these ulama those whose pictures adorn packs of raisins and other nutritional products, blessed by their special prayers and mantras so that the weak-brained masses will buy them to help pass school exams and supply energy in their daily Islamic rituals?

Perhaps these ulama are simply those who religiously pay their subscriptions to Dewan Ulama of PAS, or some other organisation whose name includes the word “ulama” — such as, ironically, the Ulama Association of Malaysia, once led by none other than Ahmad Awang who is now grouped in the non-ulama faction?

Or – radical though it may be to suggest it – are the ulama actually those who have gained a deep knowledge of religion, even though their formal qualifications are in some other fields?

Those who have thought about and critiqued society, proposed practical solutions to modern-day problems in the light of their religious learning, and earned the recognition and respect of the masses despite failing to ostentatiously clothe themselves in garb assumed to emulate those worn by Arabs in the desert sun? Read the rest of this entry »

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