Archive for category Islam
January 8 2015
As they went on their rampage, the men who killed 12 people in Paris this week yelled that they had “avenged the prophet.” They follow in the path of other terrorists who have bombed newspaper offices, stabbed a filmmaker and killed writers and translators, all to mete out what they believe is the proper Koranic punishment for blasphemy. But in fact, the Koran prescribes no punishment for blasphemy. Like so many of the most fanatical and violent aspects of Islamic terrorism today, the idea that Islam requires that insults against the prophet Muhammad be met with violence is a creation of politicians and clerics to serve a political agenda.
One holy book is deeply concerned with blasphemy: the Bible. In the Old Testament, blasphemy and blasphemers are condemned and prescribed harsh punishment. The best-known passage on this is Leviticus 24:16 : “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”
By contrast, the word blasphemy appears nowhere in the Koran. (Nor, incidentally, does the Koran anywhere forbid creating images of Muhammad, though there are commentaries and traditions — “hadith” — that do, to guard against idol worship.) Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has pointed out that “there are more than 200 verses in the Koran, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called ‘blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet’ . . . but nowhere does the Koran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.” On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” Khan says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.” Read the rest of this entry »
by David D. Kirkpatrick
New York Times
Jan 8, 2015
CAIRO — Islamist extremists behead Western journalists in Syria, massacre thousands of Iraqis, murder 132 Pakistani schoolchildren, kill a Canadian soldier and take hostage cafe patrons in Australia. Now, two gunmen have massacred a dozen people in the office of a Paris newspaper.
The rash of horrific attacks in the name of Islam is spurring an anguished debate among Muslims here in the heart of the Islamic world about why their religion appears cited so often as a cause for violence and bloodshed.
The majority of scholars and the faithful say Islam is no more inherently violent than other religions. But some Muslims — most notably the president of Egypt — argue that the contemporary understanding of their religion is infected with justifications for violence, requiring the government and its official clerics to correct the teaching of Islam.
“It is unbelievable that the thought we hold holy pushes the Muslim community to be a source of worry, fear, danger, murder and destruction to all the world,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt lamented last week in a speech to the clerics of the official religious establishment. “You need to stand sternly,” he told them, calling for no less than “a religious revolution.”
Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language. Promoted by groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, that discourse echoes through Muslim communities as far away as New York or Paris, whose influence and culture still loom over much of the Muslim world.
“Some people who feel crushed or ignored will go toward extremism, and they use religion because that is what they have at hand,” said Said Ferjani, an official of Tunisia’s mainstream Islamist party, Ennahda, speaking about the broader phenomenon of violence in the name of Islam. “If you are attacked and you have a fork in your hand, you will fight back with a fork.” Read the rest of this entry »
7 January 2015
Terrorism feeds on society’s fears – and the relentless questioning of Muslims’ loyalty plays into its hands
It’s hard to admit to a reaction other than sadness to the murder of 12 people, especially when it takes place in a city that feels so close by. The images of sprawling bodies and masked assailants on familiar-looking streets gives the tragedy an extra edge of horror.
Yet in the moments after the news broke about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I found it impossible to ignore a sinking feeling: the recognition that we were being pulled further into a cycle of distrust and division.
It grew as I read through the responses online. The straightforward reaction from far-right extremists was the hashtag #killallmuslims, which would have been easy to ignore as empty words if it hadn’t reminded me of the firebombing of mosques after the Lee Rigby murder. Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2015
Today’s fanatics are blind to the compassion and care in the prophet’s life. Their ignorance must be tackled head on
The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam and the very freedoms that allow 30 million Muslims to prosper in the west.
Free speech is not a western concept: it is a universal craving of the human soul. The gunmen ran away shouting that they were “avenging the prophet Muhammad”. How dare they? We cannot let the murderers define Islam.
In seventh-century Mecca, it was the prophet Muhammad who fought for free speech to proclaim one God as the creator of life and worthy of worship. The city’s pagans were his violent persecutors.
Today Muslims live freely in every European country because of the very freedoms that the terrorists struck at. Without the freedom to blaspheme and believe, Muslims would be seen as heretics and would be unable to flourish as faith communities in the west. The pogroms and wars of religion in Europe’s history bear testament to European life without freedom. Read the rest of this entry »
January 8, 2015
It may suit cynical politicians to push the ‘clash of civilisations’ line, but such polarised thinking is simplistic and can be deadly
It has already started – the talk of a clash of civilisations. After the horrific Paris attack in which 12 people were killed, there is a palpable sense of a Europe on the edge, teetering between righteous anger and tense restraint. Many of the subsequent reactions have fallen along the predictable lines of reasserting the difference between “us” and “them”.
But the Paris attack was not yet another front in the “clash of civilisations”. The term civilisation in itself is meaningless in this context. What civilisation do the terrorists represent? It is understandable that, on the face of it, the attack highlights the perpetrators’ and the victims’ starkly opposed values, one barbaric and silencing, and the other enlightened and freedom loving.
But this is a false dichotomy. It omits a far more uncomfortable and complicated truth about racial tension in France, immigration, and how Muslims are settling in an increasingly secular Europe where the resurgence of rightwing parties has further racialised religion. Read the rest of this entry »
7 January 2015
Jihadi Kalashnikovs murdered journalists in Paris, but their aim was at stifling liberty of expression everywhere. The condemnation must be unequivocal
Events in Paris today were beyond belief, indeed beyond words. The adjectives are simply not there to capture the horror unleashed by weapons of war in a civilian office. But the murder of at least a dozen French citizens, including 10 journalists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was beyond belief in another sense too.
Whatever faith-based or other objections there may once have been to the publication’s provocative editorial judgments are now entirely beside the point. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” runs the famous formulation. When men and women have gone to their deaths for nothing more than what they have said, or drawn, there is only one side to be on. The hooded thugs trained their Kalashnikovs on free speech everywhere. If they are allowed to force a loss of nerve, conversation will become inhibited, and liberty of thought itself will falter too. Read the rest of this entry »
Jan 7th 2015
WHEN news came of today’s appalling terrorist attack in Paris, I was in the middle of drafting an Erasmus post with some thoughts on the question: can we expect Islam to undergo its own version of the Reformation, or to produce its own Martin Luther? The subject is addressed, in quite an intelligent way, in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, an American journal, and it is a topical one because various modern figures, from the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen to Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have been described, however improbably, as Muslim answers to Martin Luther.
Today’s ghastly events in France make the question even more pressing, because some people will undoubtedly say: this is proof, if proof were needed, that Islam is incorrigibly and by its very nature violent, intolerant and incapable of accepting the liberal ideal of free speech. And if that view gains traction, many Muslims will in turn conclude that in the face of such unremitting hostility, there is no point in even trying to explain their faith to others or seeking accommodation with their neighbours. So the stakes are very high. Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2015
It was a bloody attempt to wipe away a smile. But they will never kill satire, writes Simon Schama
The murder of satire is no laughing matter. The horrifying carnage at Charlie Hebdo is a reminder, if ever we needed it, that irreverence is the lifeblood of freedom. I suppose it is some sort of backhanded compliment that the monsters behind the slaughter are so fearful of the lance of mirth that the only voice they have to muffle it is the sound of bullets. Magazines such as Charlie Hebdo are in the business of taking liberties, even outrageous ones, but they exist so that we never take the gift of disrespect for granted.
Liberty and laughter have been twinned in the European tradition for more than three centuries and have together proclaimed as precious the right to ridicule. Graphic satire first arose as a weapon in the atrocious and prolonged religious wars that divided Catholics and Protestants. Read the rest of this entry »
Stratfor Global Intelligence
January 8, 2015
Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.
Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.
Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »
By P Ramasamy
Jan 3, 2015
ADUN SPEAKS On Monday Dec 29, 2014, the PAS government in Kelantan had wanted to introduce amendments to the Syariah Criminal Code 1993 – or in other words, pave the way for the introduction of hudud law.
Following this, there would be a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament to be passed before the hudud law is enforced by both the federal and state agencies. PAS hopes that its 21 MPs and other Malay Muslim MPs will vote for this bill to become law. All that is required is a simple majority of 112 members’ support in Parliament.
PAS’ proposal to the introduction of the amendments in the Kelantan state assembly has created serious issues within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. DAP has vehemently opposed hudud, and has threatened that its introduction would spell the end of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
PKR, while not wanting to oppose hudud on religious grounds, had maintained that hudud is not part of the common framework of understanding between the three parties within the opposition coalition. Read the rest of this entry »
Tan Siok Choo
The Sun Daily
29 December 2014
WITH 2014 drawing to a close, I have several questions about issues that arose this year but could impact Malaysia’s future.
Question 1: Why does Putrajaya persist in maintaining Malaysia’s growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 won’t be affected by plummeting prices of oil, a commodity that contributes significantly to federal government revenue?
Budget 2015 was prepared when Brent oil – the benchmark for Petronas’s Tapis blend – was in triple digits. Analysts estimate federal government revenue next year is based on an oil price of US$105 per barrel.
Last Friday, amid thin trade, Brent oil for February settlement closed at US$59.45 a barrel.
Labelling the World Bank’s revised forecast of 4.7% GDP growth next year as “too conservative”, top Malaysian policymakers announced the 5% to 6% economic growth target for 2015 will be maintained.
Admittedly, plummeting oil prices could be beneficial – it could stimulate global economic growth and reduce fuel costs for motorists and for sectors like airlines and truckers. Even so, shouldn’t Putrajaya prepare for the worst rather than adopt a wait-and-see attitude? Read the rest of this entry »
COMMENTARY by Jahabar Sadiq, Editor
The Malaysian Insider
17 December 2014
Yesterday, 132 schoolchildren and nine adults were mowed down by gunfire in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. A day earlier, two hostages died as Australian police ended a siege at a Sydney chocolate shop.
The link between both? It was done by people who professed to be Muslims. It was not a matter of what sect or school of thought they belonged to, they were simply Muslims like a majority of us here in Malaysia.
The Peshawar gunmen belonged to the Tehrik-E-Taliban or Pakistan Taliban out to seek revenge against the Pakistan army for an offensive that began last summer and resulted in some 1,000 deaths.
This was an insurgency’s pure revenge and hate against the government of the day. It was also the same group that shot Pakistani schoolgirl and now Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, purportedly because women do not need education in an Islamic caliphate or state.
In Sydney, an Iranian asylum seeker named Man Hosni Monis with a criminal past invoked his Islamic credentials when he took over the Lindt chocolate cafe that ended up in tragedy.
It really does not matter if both incidents have nothing to do with Islam as we know it. Or linked to more than a billion peace-loving Muslims across the globe. For the world, it is all done and declared in the name of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »
By Hafidz Baharom
Dec 18, 2014
I was recently roped in to support the ‘I Am #26′ petition, a subsequent reaction to the letter of the G25, a group of eminent Malays who long for thorough moderation and not just words without action.
Written by a columnist for The Malaysian Insider, it has at the time of my writing this gained 3,760 signatories in the last four days, averaging 1,000 people a day.
And quite wholly, I agree to what the petition stands for, because it is, in fact, what an Islamic society is supposed to be; thorough, enlightened and in the spirit of brotherhood or sisterhood.
Personally, the five points of the petition to the prime minister requires urgent and immediate attention, and as such, I am wondering what the hesitance is about. Read the rest of this entry »
— Nadira Ilana
Malay Mail Online
April 23, 2014
APRIL 23 — I’m just not sure what’s a ‘nice’ way to have a conversation about a set of laws that legitimises amputations, slavery and public stoning in God’s name. There are many reasons why I think that hudud has no place in the modern world.
Hudud neglects what we know today about economics and social science. We know that robbers don’t all rob because they’re bad, it’s because they’re often poor, sick or desperate. We know that sociopathy and psychopathy are personality disorders and that people are a product of their environment therefore evil acts are not Satanic manifestations in men. In that respect, not all women and men can be judged the same.
We know that just because four men didn’t witness a rape, it doesn’t mean that a woman has committed adultery. A woman is not the proverbial tree fallen in the forest so a rape kit will do just nicely to prevent her from getting stoned. Consider that if accusations of adultery are punishable too then Mahathir should get a huge walloping for what he’s dragged Anwar through.
Another inconsistency with hudud is that in Islam you can’t amputate livestock if you want to consume their flesh because it’s inhumane but then if a man steals you can amputate his hands. I don’t see the justice here. Taking away the hands of a man who steals because he is hungry is a low blow. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — The South China Morning Post has suggested that Muslim Malays are starting to leave Malaysia as the country’s lurch towards authoritarianism and fundamentalism starts to bite.
A report in the weekend edition of the Hong Kong paper, titled: “Malay Muslims fleeing country as fundamentalism takes hold” painted a grim picture and suggested an exodus of members of the majority race but gave no numbers or hard data.
It cited a female researcher so disgusted with the state of affairs after her shared accommodation with other women was searched for the presence of a man by Islamic authorities on a morality raid that she has resolved to leave the country in two years.
“An anonymous phone call to the religious department alleging a man was seen entering her flat was all it took for the religious officials to descend on her home,” the paper said, adding that six or seven men from the Selangor State Islamic Department (Jais) had entered her flat.
Unaccompanied by any woman, the men were said to have searched all the bedrooms, closets and even under the bed.
“I don’t feel safe in this country anymore,” the researcher was quoted as saying. “It’s like you are guilty until proven innocent. Anyone can make a phone call to accuse another person out of malice or vengeance and, without proof or investigation, the religious authorities will come to your place.” Read the rest of this entry »
Will MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the Sabah/Sarawak BN component parties leave Barisan Nasional if UMNO Assemblymen in Kelantan support hudud implementation in the Kelantan State Assembly special meeting on Dec. 29?
The man who is today preening himself with pride in successfully carrying off the “greatest political coup in UMNO history” will be none other than the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, who hatched his political plot par excellence with a statement in Parliament on March 27 which completely took PAS leaders by surprise – that the Barisan Nasional Federal Government was prepared to assist the Kelantan PAS State Government to implement hudud laws.
This was a plot to save UMNO and BN, which former Election Commission Chairman/Secretary for 25 years have said are in their “death throes”, and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin conceded that UMNO/BN would be ousted from power if the ruling coalition loses just two per cent of voter support in the next general elections – by creating division in Pakatan Rakyat over the issue of hudud implementation.
But there is also a bonus in the plot – in providing a life-line to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is facing relentless attack and the greatest pressure in his five-year nine-month premiership over the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal.
Najib has attracted brickbats over the mega 1MDB scandal not only from Pakatan Rakyat led by MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli but also from inside UMNO led by none other than the formidable fourth Prime Minister of 22 years, Tun Mahathir, and others like Tun Daim.
The Kelantan Special State Assembly on Dec. 29 on the implementation of hudud would be like manna from heaven for Najib, as it would provide precious diversion and distraction from the mega 1MDB scandal! Read the rest of this entry »
– Eric Paulsen
The Malaysian Insider
15 December 2014
Walaupun ditentang hebat pelbagai pihak, PAS dalam kebijaksanaannya masih lagi berkeras sekarang waktu yang sesuai untuk melaksanakan hudud di Kelantan dan akan mengadakan sidang Dewan Undangan Negeri Khas pada 29 Disember ini untuk mengemukakan satu pindaan terhadap Rang Undang-undang Kanun Jenayah Syariah II 1993 (Pindaan 2014).
Hudud merupakan sebahagian undang-undang jenayah Islam yang memperuntukkan hukuman paling keras yang dapat dibayangkan, lantaran versinya di Kelantan termasuklah merejam sehingga mati (dengan batu bersaiz sederhana), kematian diikuti dengan penyaliban, pemotongan anggota badan dan sebatan.
Hukuman sedemikian sudah tidak ada tempatnya pada zaman ini atau mana-mana masyarakat moden dan demokratik kerana ia melibatkan penyeksaan, hukuman kejam dan tidak berperikemanusiaan.
Walaupun PAS dan penyokong hudud tidak bimbang dan secara membuta-tuli yakin semuanya akan baik-baik belaka dengan pelaksanaannya, meskipun tiada asas bagi andaian hudud akan berjalan dengan lancar di Malaysia, sepertimana ia gagal di kesemua negara yang melaksanakan hudud seperti di Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria Utara, Afghanistan dan Pakistan.
Malah, sebaliknya yang benar, hudud menjadi perkataan yang menunjukkan ketidakadilan yang dilakukan atas nama Islam, terutamanya terhadap kanak-kanak perempuan dan wanita.
Kita ketepikan sebentar isu sama ada keadaan adalah bersesuaian di bawah falsafah perundangan Islam bagi hudud dilaksanakan, sama ada ia menepati Perlembagaan atau wajar diamalkan dalam sebuah negara seperti Malaysia.
Ramai rakyat Malaysia mempersoalkan, seberapa adil, saksama dan praktikal untuk hudud dilaksanakan di Kelantan sahaja manakala negeri-negeri lain di negara ini atau warga bukan Islam seolah-olah sepatutnya tidak akan terjejas langsung.
Oleh demikian, saya kumpulkan 20 soalan yang paling kerap ditanya untuk PAS –dan saya berharap PAS akan bertanggungjawab memberikan jawapan yang sewajarnya dan bukan hanya sekadar menyeru nama Allah, yang kebiasaannya menutup ruang dan mengakhiri semua perbincangan lanjut. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
14 December 2014
We the undersigned Malaysian citizens from all walks of life hereby register our hopes, admiration and, above all, our support to the call for rational dialogues that was recently penned by 25 right-minded, inspired and courageous citizens.
The widely-published Letter penned by 25 eminent and determined Who-is-Who in Malaysia certainly ignites a bright and encouraging light at the end of Malaysia’s darkened tunnel of politics.
We concur with the issues raised by this group of distinguished Malaysian Malay-Muslims and appeal to the country’s leadership and especially the ruling political party to address the concerns raised vis-à-vis the “continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in this country”.
Indeed Malaysia’s ability and “responsibility” in “demonstrating that justice is done and seen to be done”, is the very cornerstone of this multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural population once dubbed with hope as the “Rising Asian Tiger”. Read the rest of this entry »
By Zakiah Koya
8:36AM Dec 12, 2014
Former Wisma Putra head honcho Ahmad Kamil Jaafar has vowed that the ‘Eminent Malays statement’ signed by him and 24 others will not be a flash in the pan.
“We will continue to speak up and this (statement) will not be the end of us,” Ahmad Kamil told Malaysiakini.
He said he signed the statement, despite having served in the civil service for many decades, as he felt something must be done to get moderate Malays to stand up to the extremists who are destroying the country’s multiethnic and multireligious make-up.
Ahmad Kamil, 77, was a diplomat for 34 years before his retirement as secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Until recently, he was special envoy to the prime minister.
“All the issues (mentioned in the statement) have been welling up in the society and I was feeling concerned…
“Some of them (in the government) are going overboard and they are talking of arresting the lot (those who questioned the extremists).
“We (the 25 of us) talked to one another and we wanted to take some kind of action that may influence other moderate Malays… I also want to see everyone come back to the country,” Ahmad Kamil said. Read the rest of this entry »
by Eileen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
11 December 2014
A deep fear that her country would become another Pakistan and Afghanistan, where religious extremism is on the rise, prompted Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin to seek other like-minded Malays to sign an open letter asking for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in Malaysia.
But she is also hopeful that the positive response the letter has garnered will be the start of “something big” to help restore moderation and rationality in Malaysia.
In an interview to explain her reasons for signing and disseminating the letter, the former ambassador said she was worried that groups politicising Islam would lead Malaysia down the path of violence if left unchecked.
“I do not want to see what happened in Pakistan and Afghanistan happen to us, where professionals and talented people are so scared of their own future and their families’ future because extremist religion is on the rise and they leave the country taking their money and skills with them.
“If this happens in Malaysia, it is going to affect adversely our economy and we will be left with non-talented people who will lead the country to ruins,” she told The Malaysian Insider. Read the rest of this entry »