Archive for category Islam

A Christmas wish

Lyana Khairuddin
The Malaysian Insider
23 December 2015

It is really easy to get caught in the hype and commercialisation of Christmas.

Let’s be realistic here, Christmas no longer represents merely a religious holiday that marks the birth of Jesus, but rather an occasion for merrymaking with friends over food, that great unifier of mankind.

Of course, in Malaysia, our turkeys are halal-certified and our merrymaking involves being served orange juice in wine glasses. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Indonesia winning its fight against Islamic extremism?

By Mike Thomson
BBC News, Jakarta
19 December 2015

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but are its local Islamic traditions in danger of being overtaken by fundamentalism?

As I thread my way through crowds of worshippers at central Jakarta’s grand Istiqlal Mosque, traditionally dressed religious students grab my arms and pull me towards them.

“Take your photo with me!” shouts one. “No, first with me!” shouts another. Several small cameras appear as I am propelled to the centre of their smiling, boisterous group. All raise their thumbs in the air as the cameras start clicking.

I have visited many mosques around the world and I cannot remember ever getting such a warm and friendly reception. Though when I relate this experience to Yenny Wahid, founder of a Jakarta-based research centre on religion and daughter of the late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, she is not surprised.

This, she says, is an example of a particularly Indonesian approach to Islam, known as Archipelago Islam.

“It really puts an emphasis on moderation, on tolerance, on protecting minority rights and basically has a big emphasis on a life of harmony,” she says. “So, it’s not strange when you see a woman in a headscarf walking hand in hand with a nun here.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s ISIS conundrum

Joseph Chinyong Liow
Brookings
April 2015

The recent emergence of an ISIS recruitment video featuring young Malay (possibly also Indonesian) speaking boys attending religious classes and engaging in weapons training in ISIS-held territory has caused a furor in Malaysia. Estimates of the number of Malaysian fighters in ISIS vary from between 60 to almost 150, depending on who you ask. The high end of these figures approximates the number of Indonesian fighters that are also believed to be in Syria and Iraq. Yet the population of Malaysia is barely one-tenth that of Indonesia. In other words, Malaysians seem to be joining ISIS at a higher rate than Indonesians.

This state of affairs is all the more perplexing given how often Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, waxes lyrical on the international stage about moderation and how Malaysia is the epitome of multi-ethnic and inter-religious harmony, as he continues to press a nebulous “Global Movement of Moderates” agenda.

What accounts for the appeal of ISIS in “moderate” Malaysia? Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia: Clear and present danger from the Islamic State

James Chin
Brookings
December 16, 2015

Two weeks ago, an internal Malaysian police memo was leaked to the media. The leak came after Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he and several other Malaysian leaders were on the IS hit list. The memo gave details of a November 15th meeting between the militant groups Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic State (IS), and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), in Sulu, the southern Muslim-majority part of the Philippines. Attendees passed several resolutions at the meeting, including regarding mounting attacks in Malaysia, in particular Kuala Lumpur and Sabah in eastern Malaysia. The report mentioned that eight Abu Sayyaf and IS suicide bombers were already on the ground in Sabah, while another ten were in Kuala Lumpur.

While the news shocked many Malaysians and foreigners living in Malaysia, for Malaysia watchers, it was nothing new. There is general consensus in Malaysian security and intelligence circles that IS and home-grown Islamic radicals are planning a terrorist attack in Malaysia. For the past two years, in fact, Malaysia’s security services managed to disrupt at least four major bombing attempts. Their targets are mainly symbolic, such as beer factories and government buildings. Others were senior political figures and tycoons to be held for ransom and propaganda. IS regards the Malaysian government (and neighboring Indonesia) as un-Islamic and a pawn of the West.

While the Malaysian government is lucky that its intelligence services are on top of the situation, there are recent signs that they may be overwhelmed by the scale of the threat and the number of operatives involved. Read the rest of this entry »

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PAS loses shine with campus students

by Zulkifli Sulong
The Malaysian Insider
14 December 2015

Groomed by PAS in university for a future in politics, four close friends who lived and studied together, and were part of the Islamist party’s campus network, have decided to abandon the party and affiliate themselves with other political parties instead.

In events that mirror developments at the national level after PAS progressives left to form Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), the four friends, Khairul Najib Hashim, Mohammad Amar Atan, Fahmi Zainol dan Adam Fistival Wilfrid, said they found PAS to be stifling.

The Universiti Malaya (UM) student activists said the PAS network, also known as “jemaah” (congregation) on campus was controlling and restrictive. Read the rest of this entry »

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Retraining Ustazs into Global Communicators

Professor Dr. Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi
UCSI University
8th December 2015

In my previous article, I had suggested that most Muslims have a disturbing attitude that the only civilization that they are concerned with is only the 1500 years of Islam in the Muslim world. Muslims seem to look down and even reject the sum total of human civilization as ‘jahili’ or ignorant.

I think this is the wrong attitude to take and my reading of the Qur’an and hadiths does not conclude such a stand. The problem with most Muslims is simply that they let their thoughts and ideas be formed by the religious scholars trained in the limited mindset of the Madrasa.

Muslims are either too lazy to read and understand the Qur’an and hadith on their own or they are being frightened by the clerics that studying these sources without the ‘proper’ guide of ustazs will make them go astray and incur the wrath of Allah The Most High.

I have therefore called many times in my writings to reeducate the ustazs or religious teachers by exposing them to the greater awareness of the rich thoughts and ideas of humanity. Muslims, in brief, must be brought back into the fold of humanity.

It does not mean that Islam is being ‘compromised’ but I have enough experience as an academic that the interpretation of an event or an idea is more meaningful and richer when a larger context is used rather than a small one.

If ustazs were trained in the USA or Britain or Europe, they might have different views and interpretation of the sources of Islam then those trained in the so called Muslim countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia or India or Iran.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Islam in a Constitutional Democracy

— G25 Forum
Malay Mail Online
December 6, 2015

DECEMBER 6 — We, members of G25, at the conclusion of the Forum on Islam in a Constitutional Democracy at PAUM in Kuala Lumpur on December 5 and 6, 2015, agree on the following statement of reaffirmation:

Having discussed the role of Islam in a Constitutional Democracy under four themes namely;

i) The Federal Constitution and Shariah Law.

ii) Issues of Conflict between Shariah law and Civil law, and impact on the Federal /State division of powers in Malaysia’s legal system.

iii) Islamisation and its Consequences.

iv) Islam and Politics.:

Reaffirming our commitment to upholding the Federal Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Nation;

Reaffirming our commitment to upholding the Rukun Negara which articulates the principles and goals that should guide the Nation;

Reaffirming our belief that political stability and economic progress in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation like Malaysia can only be achieved when there is racial harmony, tolerance, understanding and co-operation amongst the various communities; Read the rest of this entry »

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Paris and California Shootings: What Are Muslims Teaching Their Children?

Prof Dr. Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi
7th Dec 2015

In the wake of the horrific events in Paris and California the so called ‘middle ground’ Muslims are quick to denounce them as the work of an ‘extreme’ faction. Well, I have got news for the world. In my thesis, it is these so called ‘middle ground’ Muslims that ultimately give birth to these extremist factions they fear so much.

Perhaps many are in disagreement and in shock to my statement. I will elucidate.

Firstly, what do I mean by ‘middle ground Muslims’? Read the rest of this entry »

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Zaid Ibrahim’s Pristine Jihad and Purest Dakwah

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com
23rd November 2015

[Foreword to Zaid Ibrahim’s latest book, Assalamualaikum. Observations on the Islamization of Malaysia, published by ZI Publications and launched on November 20, 2015 by former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir.]

Muslims believe the Koran to be a guide from God; “for all mankind, at all times, and till the end of time.” That is a matter of faith.

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

This central message is often missed in the thick tomes of religious scholars, erudite sermons of bedecked ulamas, and frenzied jingoisms of zealous jihadists. Meanwhile in Malaysia, Islam is reduced to a government bureaucracy manned by control-freaks intent on dictating our lives. Yes, they are all men.

Their mission has little to do with that golden rule. Theirs is an exercise of raw unbridled power, all in the name of Allah of course. Not-too-bright and self-serving politicians are only too willing to ride this Islamic tiger. Once ridden however, it is mighty difficult to dismount, as the Afghanis and Pakistanis are finding out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yapeim in the spotlight – who, what and why

Malaysiakini
17 Nov 2015

The Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation (Yapeim) was created in 1976 under the Trustees (Incorporation Act) 1952 and is similar to a charity trust fund.

However, Yapeim is not an ordinary charity trust fund as it is supported by the government with the prime minister as its patron, who delegates a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, normally in charge of Islamic affairs, to oversee the organisation.

Yapeim is managed by its president, deputy president and a board of trustees whose members are appointed by the minister.

It participates in various economic activities including running supermarkets, gold trading and in real estate with part of the profits used to fund welfare programmes.

Why is Yapeim in the middle of a controversy now? Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Paris terror attacks highlight a clash of civilisations?

Gideon Rachman
Financial Times
November 16, 2015

Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world

Ever since the late Samuel Huntington predicted that international politics would be dominated by a “clash of civilisations”, his theory, first outlined in 1993, has found some of its keenest adherents among militant Islamists. The terrorists who inflicted mass murder on Paris are part of a movement that sees Islam and the west as locked in inevitable mortal combat.

Leading western politicians, by contrast, have almost always rejected Huntington’s analysis. Even former US President George W Bush said: “There is no clash of civilisations.” And everyday life in multicultural western nations, most of which have large Muslim minorities, offers a daily refutation of the idea that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, that core idea needs to be reaffirmed. And yet a necessary restatement of liberal values should not prevent a sober acknowledgment of some malign global trends. The fact is that hardline Islamism is on the rise — even in some countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh, previously regarded as models of moderate Muslim societies. At the same time, the expression of anti-Muslim prejudice is entering the political mainstream in the US, Europe and India.

Taken together, these developments are narrowing the space for those who want to push back against the narrative of a “clash of civilisations”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tun Dr Ismail’s son wants Jakim abolished

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
9 November 2015

There was a time in the country’s history when the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) did not exist, Putrajaya did not tell Malaysians how to practise their faith, and no one batted an eye when Muslims owned dogs.

And the former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman’s eldest son, Tawfik Ismail, wants those days back.

The main step is to dissolve Jakim, Tawfik said during an interview in conjunction with the release of “Drifting into Politics”, a collection of his late father’s writings during the nation’s formative years, edited by Tawfik and academic Ooi Kee Beng. Read the rest of this entry »

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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
www.bakrimusa.com

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
www.bakrimusa.com

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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