Archive for category Islam
Free Malaysia Today
November 14, 2014
Global Movement of Moderates hold roundtable discussion on the moderate approach of democracy versus war.
KUALA LUMPUR: Democrat Islamists can be a solution to curb extremism worldwide as they provide a moderate approach in today’s global world through the ballot box, said academicians and politicians.
International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik said Democrat Islamists, made famous after the Arab Spring, allowed Muslims to control their fate through the ballot box rather than war or in the hands of leaders who were dictators, thus ending any grievances they might have had.
“The idea of democrat Islamists has existed for a long time. Radical groups emerge because they found there was no hope for Muslims to enjoy justice, human rights and good governance,” he said at a roundtable discussion on Democrat Islamists organised by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) together with IIUM’s Fiqh Department.
Chairman of London-based Al-Hiwar TV channel Dr Azzam Tamimi, said that the success of the Arab Spring was a promising event that allowed for democracy in the Middle East and at the same time made the militant group Al Qaeda into an irrelevant movement.
“The success of the Arab Spring as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt was very promising, showing that this is the way forward. Some of the leaders of Al Qaeda were actually stressing fear that this model was succeeding, because it was proving them wrong,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
8 November 2014
The militant group known as Islamic State (Isis) successfully recruited hundreds of Muslims, including Malaysians, for its terror attacks by capitalising on social media and online propaganda, but experts believe that civil society can reclaim the Internet and beat the terrorist group at its own game.
“The challenge of the Isis propaganda is that it is appealing, sexy, counter-cultural, anti-establishment,” said Abdul-Rehman Malik, a London-based journalist, educator and organiser.
“The role of us in civil society is to be savvier about what Isis is, and to subvert their narrative through humour, through bold moves.”
He told The Malaysian Insider that this responsibility did not have to lie with the government alone, but any person who had access to the Internet could join the fight against Isis.
Rehman has spent nearly a decade leading a British non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Radical Middle Way, which utilises Internet forums to engage British youths to counter the jihadist message. Read the rest of this entry »
COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
8 November 2014
It is no longer a question of what else will certain groups of Malay Muslims take offence to in Malaysia.
Anything from a) places of worship of other religions must not be built in Malay-majority areas and b) alcohol cannot be sold in shops in Malay-majority areas, and even pictures of idols cannot be placed alongside Halal signs – has raised hackles among Muslim groups.
For them, it is not ridiculous to say that such things can shake their faith or affect their image. No detail is too small or trivial for them to assert their dominance or flex their muscles to get their way.
But the so-called guardians are also the same guys who won’t think twice of about plundering the nation or visiting an entertainment outlet and then insisting on a halal meal. Read the rest of this entry »
– Rizvi Shihab
The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014
One of the many challenges facing the current government is re-establishing Indonesia’s unique geographical, cultural and ideological identities.
Presently, there is a concerted governmental effort to augment Indonesia’s power by introducing its “maritime-axis” foreign policy to fully take advantage of its strategic geographical position.
But in addition to this maritime emphasis, I believe Indonesia needs to start disseminating its ideological character globally as a world ambassador of religious moderation. Members of the international community often wonder about the silence exhibited by the majority of moderate Muslim countries. This provides opportunity for Indonesia to step up and become the leader of this quiet group.
If the United States is known as the ethnic melting pot, Indonesia should strive to be acknowledged as the religious melting pot where members of all faiths live in tranquil harmony. Read the rest of this entry »
The Malaysian Insider
6 November 2014
When Malaysia’s urbane Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak travels abroad, he invariably touts his country’s widely accepted reputation for moderate Islam, but that image is taking a beating at home.
Increasingly strident Islamist pressure, often initiated by Najib’s own government, is causing deepening dismay in the traditionally tolerant multi-faith country.
The trend is rooted in the decades-old regime’s attempts to strengthen its weakening grip amid repeated electoral setbacks, as a formidable opposition taps into broad sentiment for liberal reform.
But the ruling establishment is setting the country on an uncertain path, critics warn. Read the rest of this entry »
Greater democratic space and a just and inclusive economy are the two great challenges for democrats, whether socialist, Muslim or any other denomination
I would firstly like to thank the organisers for allowing me the opportunity to address this distinguished audience gathered here at the inaugural “World Forum of Muslim Democrats” conference.
The objective of the forum, as stated in its concept paper, is to “moderate and ameliorate the negative voices of intolerance, extremism and exclusivism with the voices of moderation, tolerance, understanding and inclusivism.” Our discussion here is most timely, given the recent rise of religious bigotry and extremism all over the world.
In war-torn Middle East, a militant force that originated as a regional branch of al-Qaeda has forcibly gained control over parts of western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, styling their unrecognised territory as the “Islamic State.”
Whilst claiming religious authority over Muslims the world over as a born-again “caliphate,” the Islamic State has in fact been carrying out a systematic campaign of sectarian brutality particularly against Muslim minorities. Just yesterday, reports have come in about the massacre of 322 members of an Iraqi tribe in the western Anbar province, including some 50 women and children whose bodies were dumped unceremoniously into a well.
Though the Islamic State has committed great crimes through its inhumane “executions” and ruthless massacres, they have committed a greater crime by misusing the name Islam in the propagation of its abhorrent ideology. Read the rest of this entry »
– Jamil Maidan Flores
The Malaysian Insider
3 November 2014
In that wide swath of land that straddles the border between Iraq and Syria, some 31,000 jihadists are fighting under the black banner of the so-called Islamic State (Isis).
Some 15,000 of them are foreign fighters from 80 countries, mostly European. As of early this year, they included some 200 Malaysians, 100 Indonesians and dozens of Filipinos.
These are estimates, of course, but there’s little disagreement on their accuracy, give or take a few hundreds. Give or take a few scores, in the case of the Southeast Asian fighters.
Most of them are young, some with a bright future ahead of them. In spite of air strikes by the US-led coalition that kill hundreds of them in a single sortie, they increase in number every day. In the United Kingdom alone, as many as five young Muslims leave everyday to go to Syria and fight under the black banner. Read the rest of this entry »
by Azly Rahman
Nov. 1, 2014
The current debate between Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) and Sisters In Islam (SIS); the former a masculinist-Islamist-para-jihadist group and the latter a feminist-Islamist study group, seems to present an interesting case-study analysis of Malaysia’s own 16th Century ‘Protestant- Lutheran Reformation’ breakthrough.
Ironically it is a debate on the word ‘liberalism’, seemingly as confusing a concept as ‘democracy’ and also of ‘Islam’. Here is why, as I see it, the debate is interesting and Malaysians should pay attention to it:
Malaysian Muslims are yet faced with another challenging situation; one which presents an interesting extrapolation of the historical dilemma the Muslims have been facing intellectually.
Coming soon would be a public intellectual crisis that involves the grand and subaltern voices in Islam. Those of the Wahabbi, Salafi, Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, and the ‘denominations derived from traditional and indigenous practices’ (the tariqats primarily) will come out in the open to assert the ‘truth-ness’ of their perspective and practice of Islam.
Essentially now, Islam seems to have many ‘denominations’ based on cultural, geographical, political, economic, and intellectual factors – as a consequence of globalisation. Muslims are all part and products of the various authorships of these ‘denominations’ – thanks to the power/knowledge matrix of the evolution of Islam. These denominations are even mutating, depending on class and consciousness of the adherents. Read the rest of this entry »
by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Malays could be next in line after the Chinese to leave the country, in a bid to escape the growing religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism that leaves little room for free thought and dissent, according to activists and observers.
While Malaysia bills itself as a moderate Muslim nation, recent developments have demonstrated an increasingly conservative and hard-line approach to Islam here that is intolerant of cultures and practices not sanctioned by religious groups and authorities.
Malaysians for Malaysia convener Azrul Mohd Khalib said the Friday sermons prepared by the religious authorities that paint non-Muslims as enemies of Islam, as well as the use of labels such as liberalism, pluralism and humanism to vilify fellow believers, have dismayed and scared Muslims.
“Thinking Muslims are being marginalised and persecuted,” Azrul told Malay Mail Online yesterday.
“It is creating a climate of fear, suspicion and prejudice. Because of that, Muslims who do not prescribe to that belief system do not see themselves as being welcomed or even tolerated in this country,” the social activist added.
Azrul said many Muslims have started emigrating in the past 15 years based on anecdotal evidence, noting that Islamic authorities prohibit dissent and discussions of the country’s predominant religion. Read the rest of this entry »
Interview Conducted by Hasnain Kazim
How does Islamic State think? How do its followers see the world? SPIEGEL ONLINE met up with an Islamic State recruiter in Turkey to hear about the extremist group’s vision for the future.
The conditions laid out by the Islamist are strict: no photos and no audio recording. He also keeps his real name secret as well as his country of origin, and is only willing to disclose that he is Arab. His English is polished and he speaks with a British accent.
He calls himself Abu Sattar, appears to be around 30 years old and wears a thick, black beard that reaches down to his chest. His top lip is shaved as is his head and he wears a black robe that stretches all the way to the floor. He keeps a copy of the Koran, carefully wrapped in black cloth, in his black leather bag.
Abu Sattar recruits fighters for the terrorist militia Islamic State in Turkey. Radical Islamists travel to Turkey from all over the world to join the “holy war” in Iraq or Syria and Abu Sattar examines their motives and the depth of their religious beliefs. Several Islamic State members independently recommended Abu Sattar as a potential interview partner — as someone who could explain what Islamic State stands for. Many see him as something like an ideological mentor.
He only agreed to an interview following a period of hesitation. But after agreeing to a time and saying he would name a place in due time, he let the appointment fall through. The next day, though, he arranged another meeting time, to take place in a public venue. And this time, he appears: a man with brown eyes behind frameless glasses. He seems self-confident and combative. He orders a tea and, throughout the duration of our meeting, slides his wooden prayer beads through his hands. Read the rest of this entry »
Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign
The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.
What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.
The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.
Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible? Read the rest of this entry »
by MASTURAH ALATAS
October 27, 2014
On Sunday, 19 October 2014, as I was scrolling through Facebook posts, one image struck me in a way no other has in a long time. I have several Malaysians on my friends list, so it is not unusual for me to see pictures of hijabed Malaysian women show up in my news feed.
But this one of a young Malay woman, her head covered with a yellow tudung, was completely different. It accompanied a Malaysian Insider report headlined ‘ ‘I want to touch a dog’ event an attempt to insult Malaysia’s clerics’. What was striking about the image was that it showed this woman actually holding a dog, a Pomeranian, its open mouth, tongue dangling, just inches from her smiling face.
The event was held in the middle class suburb of Bandar Utama just outside Kuala Lumpur, and drew hundreds of participants. It was aimed to break the taboo that many Malaysian Muslims have against dogs, remind participants that dogs are God’s creatures, too, and educate them about dog rescue and cleansing practices after handling a dog.
I instantly recognized the subversive value of the image. A Malay touching a dog? But we are told that Malays don’t touch dogs because they believe their religion, Islam,—in particular the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Malaysia—tells them that dogs are unclean. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
by Puteri Sabira
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 »