Archive for category Islam

The ‘Allah’ Issue in Perspective – Part 2

By Kee Thuan Chye
14 Jan 2014

Yesterday, I looked at the ‘Allah’ issue from the time it started to what it has become today, and how we are now trapped in a web of confusion spun from diverse interpretations of the Court of Appeal’s decision on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by The Herald, as well as the “one-policy, two-countries” implication arising from Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 10-point solution.

In the midst of such confusion, how do we judge who is right – those who claim that ‘Allah’ is exclusive to Muslims or those who insist that it is their constitutional right to practise their religion the way they have been doing it for ages, including referring to God as ‘Allah’?

How do we deal with the rising fervour on both sides, Muslim and Christian, as they seek to defend what they think is right? With Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of The Herald, who said on December 27 that Christians would continue to use ‘Allah’ in all Selangor churches, and with the Solidariti Umat Islam Klang members who protested in public against his statement?

How do we deal with Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria’s demand for the arrest of the Malays who turned up at a church in Klang to show solidarity with Christians? Read the rest of this entry »

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Show courage in ‘Allah’ row, Zaid tells Pakatan

The Malay Mail Online
January 14, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) must stand firm in its support of non-Muslims’ use of “Allah” and not allow itself to be cowed by fears of a backlash from the Muslim community, former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today.

The former PKR member said the pact should have shown the courage to support the proposal of three Selangor DAP assemblymen to amend the state law at the centre of the current religious row, instead of criticising them for their “hastiness”.

“Pakatan can only lead the country if it is brave enough to offer solutions to the difficult religious and ethnic issues that Umno seems adept at creating.

“Pakatan can only be stronger if they can take on Umno on these issues by presenting comprehensive solutions and not shying away as they are prone to do,” he wrote on his blog today. Read the rest of this entry »

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First Cabinet meeting of the year is the farce of the decade – decision not to have a decision!

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak disappeared for ten days just before 2013 and the start of 2014, leaving behind a government which seems not only clueless but rudderless about the clutch of five national crises which came to a head during this period – nation-building, economic, educational, security and on good governance.

When Najib resurfaced to chair the first Cabinet meeting of the year after a disappearance of 10 days – will the Prime Minister’s Office please inform Malaysians where he went to as no one knows where was our Prime Minister between Dec. 25 to January 5! – Malaysians heaved a sigh of relief, expecting that there would at last be leadership and direction to end the drift and lack of leadership and vision in the critical 10-day transition from 2013 to 2014.

But a great disappointment was in store for Malaysians for there was only deafening silence from the Cabinet the whole of yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Besmirching Allah’s Name By Trying to Protect It

By Imam Muhammad Musri

I’m not Malaysian. I haven’t visited Malaysia. Nor have I engaged in intense academic study about Malaysia. So I don’t claim to be an expert on all the local dynamics that led Malaysia’s high court in October 2013 to declare it illegal for non-Muslims to refer to God as Allah, which led recently to hundreds of Bibles being seized from a Christian group because they used the world “Allah” to refer to God.

But I am a Muslim scholar and an Imam who has memorized the Qur’an. And I’m fully convinced that the Malaysian court’s decision runs counter to the core values and spirit of Islam. Moreover, I call on the Malaysian high court when it hears the appeal on February 24, to correct what I believe is a tragic mistake.

My understanding is that, because of their use of the word Allah to refer to God, certain non-Muslims have been accused of trying to mask their true identity and, by stealth, woo Muslims away from the Islamic faith.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Silence is golden for some Barisan leaders in latest ‘Allah’ row, say analysts

by Eileen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
January 09, 2014

Several top Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders are sitting out of the latest row over who can use the word “Allah”, believing reticence is better than stepping on a political landmine, say analysts.

There have been no statements from top leaders of MCA, MIC and Gerakan, who mainly represent non-Malays and non-Muslims in BN, since a firestorm ignited over Christians insisting they are not bound by a Selangor royal decree and the seizure of some 300 Malay and Iban Bibles by the state Islamic authorities.

“It is a no-win situation for them, so in this case, silence is golden,” Professor James Chin, a political analyst with Monash University Malaysia, told The Malaysian Insider.

He also said that component parties were caught in a bind as anything they say would offend either religious or political groups. Read the rest of this entry »

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Was AG Gani Patail remiss in his duties in failing to carry out a comprehensive briefing of top government officials on the 10-Point Solution to resolve the Bible controversy which would have averted the Jais raid on BSM?

It has been reported that the Selangor police have wrapped up their investigation against Father Lawrence Andrew over his allegedly seditious remarks on the “Allah” issue.

According to a report on Astro Awani, Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said that the investigation papers for the case will be submitted to the Attorney-General’s office as early as today.

The police chief also confirmed that the case is being investigated under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948.

Including Andrew, the editor of Catholic weekly The Herald, a total of 99 individuals have had their statements recorded on the issue.

Malaysians are asking why the police acted so swiftly on the Father Lawrence case when it has as yet to act on the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and the confiscation of Malay and Iban Bibles, which were not only illegal and unconstitutional but clear violation of the 10-Point Solution endorsed by the Federal Cabinet in April 2011 to resolve the Bible controversy.

The Jais raid and the confiscation of the Malay and Iban Bibles would not have taken place if there had been good understanding and proper respect for the 10-Point Solution, both in letter and spirit, by both Jais and the Malaysian police. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jais wrong as Allah ban only for Herald, not Bibles, say critics

by V. Anbalagan
The Malaysian Insider
January 08, 2014

Selangor’s religious authorities were wrong to seize Malay and Iban language Bibles and must return them as the ban on using the word Allah is only for the Catholic weekly Herald, say lawyers and politicians.

They said the Bible, be it in any language, was never banned in Malaysia and as such, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had no right to seize the holy books from The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) last Thursday as the Allah issue only centred on the Herald case.

Human rights lawyer Andrew Khoo Chin Hock said the Court of Appeal ruling last October that barred Herald from using the word Allah had included Bibles in the 10-point solution endorsed by the federal Cabinet in 2011.

“So Jais’s raid and seizure has no basis at all because the 10-point solution covers the holy book,” Khoo told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the agreement that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government had made with the Christian community ahead of the Sarawak state election. Read the rest of this entry »

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The preacher and the part-time PM

by Mariam Mokhtar
Jan 6, 2014

Najib Abdul Razak: Entrepreneur. String-puller. Property speculator. Globe-trotter. Magician and part-time prime minister. Being the Malaysian PM is without doubt, a dream job.

Pampered while crossing the globe in luxury, dining at the finest restaurants, lounging in the best hotels and bedecking his spouse in the finest jewels.

The nation is on the cusp of another racial and religious conflict, but Najib is nowhere to be seen, or heard; a testimony to his expertise in performing the disappearing trick, he is the poor-man’s Tommy Cooper.

Be warned! Competition is fierce for this dream job. Although the job seems to be up for grabs every five years, just like a crooked race, the fix is in and the outsider always seems to win.

Today, when community tensions are simmering, and pro-Umno Baru NGOs are threatening Christians, Najib has again failed to censure the extremists. His head is stuck firmly in the sand, his lips are sealed together and he is hiding behind the extremist NGOs.

The recent troubles may appear to be a steep escalation in religious extremism, but they aren’t. The timing of the assault on the Christian community is critical. The Perak mufti’s intervention is revealing.

What we see is Umno Baru’s dirty politics at play. What appears to be a radical rise in extremism is an illusion being staged by pro-Umno Baru NGOs, and given excessive publicity by the mainstream media. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious bigotry rearing its ugly head

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
Jan 5, 2014


At present we are witnessing religious bigotry rearing its ugly head. As a Muslim, I am asking myself what kind of Islam is my fellow Muslims are trying to portray.

Many religious issues are unfortunately being mishandled by the BN government. The muted prime minister lacks political courage to find any effective solution to heal the wounds.

The issue of shia, the ongoing fiasco over the use of ‘Allah’, the attempt to amend Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution declaring the sect of ahlul sunnah as an official version of Islam, the statement by Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria linking the participants of peaceful assembly in Dataran Merdeka as traitors, thus it would be lawful to execute them, the raid by Jais leading to the seizure of Malay Bibles and the arrest of two Christian adherents, are but few examples depicting the fragility of religious issues.

Islam has nothing to do with all this. Neither has Christianity, I sincerely believe. Unfortunately, Islam has been always misjudged through the prism of irresponsible acts of its adherents.

It has been said that Islam is being hidden by Muslims themselves through their conduct and behaviour.

To quote Alexender Pope, “a little knowledge is dangerous thing”.

Knowledge of Islam or rather the lack of it, has contributed to this state of affairs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Politics and religion a tinderbox of tension

Anisah Shukry | January 3, 2014
Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia’s leaders and Islamic scholars are just using Islam to serve their own interests, says former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia would be better off separating religion from politics, rather than using matters of the faith as a tool to crackdown on political dissent, said former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

Weighing in on Harussani Zakaria’s statement that those who protested at the New Year’s Eve anti-hike rally were bughah (traitors), Mohd Asri said he was disgusted at the blatant misuse of religion by “so-called scholars”.

“Religion has been used as a political weapon to the point that an announcement was made permitting the bloodshed of the weak. I’m not asking for separation of religion from politics, because that is not a habit of Islam.

“But at the same time, if religion is merely used as a weapon to serve political interests, it is better for the two to be separated,” the Islamic scholar wrote on his blog yesterday.

Harussani, who is the mufti of Perak, reportedly said yesterday that it was haram (forbidden) for Muslims to participate in the mass protest against the rising cost of living.

“…all the protestors should be arrested for being traitors to the government and accordingly in Islam, bloodshed is permitted on the bughah,” Harussani was quoted by Malay daily Berita Harian. Read the rest of this entry »

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Muslim-Christian ties deteriorate while extremists celebrate

by Sheridan Mahavera
The Malaysian Insider
January 04, 2014

What’s up with the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais)? This seems to be the catch-all phrase when describing its raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia office on Thursday where some 300 Bahasa Malaysia and Iban Bibles were seized.

And the more some leaders and pundits struggle to come up with answers through the fog of silence that shrouds Jais, the more it looks like “politics” instead of “law” emerges as an explanation.

This latest incident also highlights (again) the persistent contradictions and problems in the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) handling of the “Allah” issue.

Also, it reflects a deep gap in the understanding of Islam, not just among Muslims, but also the authorities who are supposed to be in charge with regulating its practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Abide by the Federal Constitution; Focus on achieving harmony and unity — Bar Council Malaysia

Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar
The Malay Mail Online
January 3, 2014

Jan 3 — The Malaysian Bar is concerned by reports that Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (“JAIS”, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department) had on 2 January 2014 conducted a raid on the office of the Bible Society of Malaysia (“BSM”), confiscated more than 300 copies of the Alkitab (Bahasa Malaysia bible) and Bup Kudus (Iban bible), and arrested the President and the Office Manager of BSM. It is also reported that the President and the Office Manager have been required to present themselves to JAIS officers on 10 January 2014.

It is alarming that the religious body or enforcement agency of one religion would purport to have jurisdiction or purview over other religions. This is not what is envisaged under the Federal Constitution. The actions of JAIS are purported to have been carried out pursuant to the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment No 1 of 1988 of Selangor (“said Selangor Enactment”), in particular sections 9 to 13 thereof.

The said Selangor Enactment is stated in its preamble to have been enacted pursuant to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, which provides that State law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam. The purpose of the said Selangor Enactment is therefore an enactment against the propagation of other religions to Muslims or the proselytisation of Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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For 2014, church leaders seek respect, equality before Constitution

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
January 2, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — As religious tensions from the five-year-old “Allah” controversy spilled over into the new year, senior Christian clergymen here have appealed for mutual respect from Malaysian Muslims with a reminder that they too have the right to practice their faith according to the precepts of their own religion.

Asked for their wishes for the year ahead, several church leaders here said they want the constitutional rights of Christians recognised and an end to the hate-mongering fueled by the tussle over on word – “Allah” – which has divided Malaysians along geographical and racial lines.

“We are not expecting Malaysia to be a Christian country. The main thing is respect.

“Respect and recognise that each individual has the right to choose whatever they believe,” said Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing, president of the evangelical Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).

“That’s the central tenet of human rights,” the head of Sabah’s second-largest church told The Malay Mail Online in an interview on his hopes for 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious without religion

– Muhammad As’ad
The Malaysian Insider
December 28, 2013

To be a religious believer we have to follow certain strict rules which cannot be violated. For instance as Muslims we believe that Allah is the only God and the Prophet Muhammad is His messenger; we must regularly observe the five daily prayers, zakat, fasting during the month of Ramadhan, and the haj at least once in a lifetime — all these are the five pillars of Islam. As Muslims, we cannot evade those five pillars except for some specific exceptions.

Another important step is to make religion a part of our life. The number of Muslims in this country is remarkable. How can we say that we are not religious?

However, Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index showed that Indonesia was ranked 118 out of 176 countries; worse than in 2011 when Indonesia was ranked 100. The Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI) even issued an edict in 2000, stating that bribery, corruption and gratification are forbidden.

Nonetheless, these rules fail to deter corruption. For instance, the treasurer of MUI, Chairunnisa, who is also a lawmaker of the Golkar party, was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) along with the former Constitutional Court chief Akil Mochtar. We probably have religious piety but we certainly do not have social piety.

In terms of religiosity, we are quite remarkable. We can see many Indonesian people celebrating religious activities, rituals and commemorations. Nevertheless, this religiosity does not seem to influence our life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malays should be less dogmatic

– Hafiz Ahmad
The Malaysian Insider
December 24, 2013

The recent series of racial and religious polemics have caused a big storm in our country. It is worse when some politicians take advantage of these issues to become heroes so that people will applaud them as true Islamic/Malays protector. In return, they expect to get more votes in the next election.

They know that the Malays easily become irrational when it comes to racial and religious issues. The Malays have been trapped in a dogmatic circle for too long thus preventing them from thinking rationally.

I am truly impressed with Mujahid Yusuf Rawa’s effort, organising a dialogue to strengthen the bridge between Islam and Christianity; others, including the ulama and ustaz and those in Islamic institutions such as Jakim and Jais, have failed to do it.

The Malays are terrified with a lot of imaginary enemies then suddenly Mujahid came up with an idea to have a dialogue with this “imaginary enemy”. I feel such a relief when knowing there is at least one politician with thoughtful idea. This is the true Islamic teaching and understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Corruption, not liberalism, is Malays’ real enemy

– Hafiz Ahmad
The Malaysian Insider
December 22, 2013

The Malays are in a state of delusion. They cannot differentiate between their real problems and the delusional ones. I could not understand why they are paranoid with liberalism, pluralism, Shiism and Christianity, as these have no effect in their daily lives.

Some Malays don’t even understand what liberalism really means. If anyone can explain what is the real threat of liberalism in our lives, I will be very grateful. Please enlighten me, I’m so confused.

While people are struggling to put food in their mouths, there are those busy pointing their fingers at the 9% Christian population, claim that Christians are trying to establish a Christian state in Malaysia.

With the exception of Vatican, there is no Christian state in this world. Even Italy with a strong Catholic population does not claim to be Christian country.

Are Malays out of their mind? Muslims comprise 61.3% of the country’s population and Christians only 9.2 %. Where is the threat? It is worse when some religious bigots called Pembina fire up this delusional issue by organizing forums to make Muslims believe there is a threat from Christians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jangan salahguna agama untuk politik – Dr. Asri

December 21, 2013

SHAH ALAM, 21 DISEMBER – Rakyat turun ke jalanraya dan mengadu kepada Tuhan kerana kerajaan sudah tidak lagi mendengar keluh kesah mereka, bukan bermakna rakyat mahukan sebarang bentuk negara tetapi mahukan keadilan.

Demikian analisa bekas mufti Perlis, Prof Madya Dato’ Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin terhadap revolusi berganda di Mesir yang akhirnya menyaksikan Presiden ke-lima negara tersebut, Dr Mohamad Morsi digulingkan.

Beliau mengulas lanjut soal meletakkan label ‘negara Islam’ yang bagi beliau bukanlah perkara yang terlalu penting.

“Pakistan pun ada enakmen undang-undang Islam, tetapi lihat negara dia punyalah kotor. Bukankah kebersihan itu sebahagian daripada Islam. New Zealand lebih Islam daripada Pakistan,” ujarnya dalam wacana ‘Ikhwan Muslimin: Musuh atau kawan’ di sini, hari ini. Read the rest of this entry »

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Zahid Hamidi, stop making Malaysia a laughing stock

– Dyana Sofya
The Malaysian Insider
December 18, 2013

Dear Zahid Hamidi, what happened to innocent until proven guilty?

The controversy surrounding Zahid Hamidi and Mat Sabu where the minister claimed that Mat Sabu is a Shiite, followed by the Ministry of Home Affairs’s 10 pieces of evidence to back the claim, has become the laughing stock throughout the nation.

Soon after, the ministry covered up by saying that the 10 pieces of evidence are only Grade B evidence, and that it would soon provide Grade A evidence to prove the Minister’s claim.

Not just that, Mat Sabu was asked to prove his innocence or rather his non involvement with Shiite movement.

Dear Minister of Home Affairs, what happened to rule of law where one is innocent until proven guilty? Read the rest of this entry »

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Why we must support Mat Sabu

Zaid Ibrahim
The Malaysian Insider
December 17, 2013

The ongoing religious persecution of Mat Sabu and many others before him portends a grave future for religious freedom in this country. We are not only denied political freedom (in the manner that governs the media and the electoral process), but also liberty in matters of personal belief.

We are already witnessing a new wave of attacks against Shias which are more commonly associated with the Middle East and Pakistan. Sunni-Shia warfare has turned the Muslim world upside-down with senseless killings and now it has arrived on our shores, thanks to our Minister in charge of security.

I believe that religious freedom as a legal right has been denied, bastardised and distorted in this country. Many years ago, when Kamariah Ali and her husband pleaded before the judges to allow them to be the kind of Muslims that they understood God meant for them to be, they were denied.

The judges ruled that the State had the right to define Islam, and that only this version was acceptable. The judges went on to say the State also had the right to punish those who deviated from this version of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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In ‘Islamist’ Umno, analysts see a nation torn by religion

By Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
December 10, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — Umno’s increasing focus on Islam will likely spark inter and intra-religious tensions here, and even affect the country’s development, analysts have said as they warned of the dangers of placing one religion, or denomination, above another.

The political observers noted that in recent months, Umno appears to have entered a competition to “out-Islamise” Islamist PAS, the one opposition party seen as its biggest competitor for the Malay-Muslim vote, the country’s key voting demographic.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of libertarian think tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), even said Umno’s 67th general assembly last week seemed very much like a gathering by PAS two decades ago.

“I must say it’s really disappointing to see the Umno assembly becoming like what PAS was 20 years ago,” Wan Saiful told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“PAS has moved on. Umno has suddenly become Muslim again… it’s really sad to see the prime minister outside the assembly talking about progressive, liberal views.

“But, in his own party, at the annual gathering, it’s like attending a PAS gathering 20 years ago,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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