Archive for October 7th, 2012

What Islam Says, and Doesn’t Say

Omid Safi, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of “Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters” and the editor of “Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism.”
The New York Times
October 5, 2012

Modern nation states utilize political models that were unanticipated in any of our premodern scriptures. It is anachronistic to ask whether “Islam” endorses constitutionalism or democracy. Islam as such does not proscribe any one particular system of government. (Of course “Islam” doesn’t do anything, Muslims do. We human beings are the agents of our religious traditions.)

Rather, there are general ethical principles that have to be guaranteed under any system of government that Muslims adopt, like social justice; protection of life, property, and honor of humanity; accountability of rulers to law; distribution of wealth; and protection of minorities. All systems of government are imperfect, and it is not only good but also healthy to be perpetually vigilant against abuses of any form of government. However, it may also be the case that a genuine and robust democracy is the least imperfect of all imperfect political models today, as others before us have said. Read the rest of this entry »


Muslims Have Pushed for Democracy

Richard W. Bulliet, a professor of history at Columbia University, is the author of “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization”
The New York Times
October 4, 2012

If democracy is to be born in the Muslim world, religious political parties will be the midwives.

Elections do not necessarily mean democracy, of course. Most majority-Muslim countries, including monarchies like Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco, hold elections. Usually nationalist regimes instituted them, and nationalist leaders transformed them into instruments of dictatorship, partly by banning religious parties.

Muslim political parties have been the strongest and most consistent force urging genuinely free elections in majority-Muslim nations.

The question is whether a Muslim party, once elected, would inevitably make a mockery of that process by creating a religious dictatorship.The question in both the Western and the Muslim world, however, is whether a Muslim party, once elected, would inevitably make a mockery of that process by creating a religious dictatorship. Read the rest of this entry »


Rejected by Religions, but Not by Believers

by Reza Aslan, an associate professor at the University of California is the author of “No God but God” and “How to Win a Cosmic War”
The New York Times
October 5, 2012

The question of whether Islam is compatible with democracy is nonsensical at its core, first because it ignores basic empirical evidence (the five most populous Muslim countries in the world are all democracies) and second because it presumes that Islam is somehow different, unique or special — that unlike every other religion in the history of the world, Islam alone is unaffected by history, culture or context.

Anyone who would answer “no, Islam is not compatible with democracy” does not even deserve a response; this is merely recycling the same old tired and disproven stereotypes about Islam that are frankly starting to get boring.

The truth is no religion either encourages or discourages democracy. Indeed, because religions are in their nature absolutist, all religions reject the principles of liberalism and popular sovereignty that are at the heart of the democratic ideal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nothing political in Penang dialogue, say pastors

By Opalyn Mok
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 07, 2012

Penang church pastors have refuted allegations that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had engaged them in political talk recently. — File picture GEORGE TOWN, Oct 7 — Penang church pastors refuted today allegations in Utusan Malaysia that Lim Guan Eng had engaged them in political talk during a recent dialogue session, the latest black mark against the Umno daily in its reporting of the state chief minister.

The DAP secretary-general has been under fire by Umno leaders and Utusan Malaysia columnist Awang Selamat for allegedly telling Christians to stand up to injustice.

“There were no political speeches made during that luncheon dialogue session between the state government and us,” national co-ordinator of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Pastor Sam Surendran told a press conference here this evening.

“I was present at the lunch dialogue session and all the pastors here also attended the session and we are refuting any claims that the chief minister had delivered any politicial speeches on that day,” he added.

The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia had claimed Lim delivered a political speech at a church to garner votes for the upcoming elections. The news report had also quoted the Bishop of Lutheran Evangelical Church Rev Dr Solomon Rajah and National Church Council president Rev Dr Thomas Philips allegedly criticising Lim for using churches as a place to win votes. Read the rest of this entry »


This week has been a great Public Relations triumph for MACC but a major setback for the war against corruption, particularly “Grand Corruption”

This week has been a great Public Relations triumph for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) but a major setback for Malaysia’s war against corruption, particularly “Grand Corruption” by top political and public personalities.

How much of Malaysian public taxpayers’ money was spent for MACC to host the 6th International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities (IAACA) and General Meeting 2012?

It was clearly well-spent for MACC and the Barisan Nasional Government from the harvest of superlative praises showered on Malaysia – which were all music to the ears of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the MACC officers, from the plaudits by the IAACA participants commending Malaysia’s “serious efforts” at tackling corruption to praises for the Prime Minister himself “as someone very serious about the priority he has given to fighting corruption”.

Those who do not know the true situation would be excused for thinking that Malaysia must be one of the top 20 if not top 10 countries in the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking and score in terms of being least corrupt nations in the world.

But the facts tell a very different story. Read the rest of this entry »


Voices of reason

— Foong Li Mei
The Malaysian Insider
Oct 07, 2012

Oct 7 — Tired of politicians’ mudslinging and dirty tricks? We are, too. Thankfully, the panelists at REFSA’s recent forum showed that our country still has political leaders who rise above the muck to focus on working for the best interest of Malaysia.

Her crisp and confident voice swept through the packed hall with grace and conviction. It was nothing like the ferocity fired from the top of the lungs that one has come to expect whenever a political figure is handed a microphone.

She emphasised that politicians should not be given full control of the country’s finances. She spoke of the need for an independent authority to release a pre-Budget report that serves as a reference point for the actual Budget, much like the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) in the UK.

She urged Malaysians to remain vigilant over government spending, and insist on having a say in how tax monies are spent. Read the rest of this entry »


Stubborn Umno ‘killing’ race relations

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | October 7, 2012
Free Malaysia Today

Umno’s refusal to adapt to the changing socio-political setting in the country is its own doom.

The Malaysian people have already shown that they no longer accept the Umno solution.

The coming together of various races during Bersih 3.0 earlier this year sent shivers along the spine of the Umno leadership unless of course they misread or simply refused to read the signals sent by the tens and thousands of participants who voluntarily rallied.

Umno’s approach to ‘unity’ is something like the Nazi final solution. It thinks it can achieve national unity by pitting one race against one another.

Today the Chinese, tomorrow the Indians and later all other non-Malay Malaysians.

Eventually, it will apply the same gas-chambering treatment to the Malays who dared challenge and reject Umno.

The Malays who are opposed and reject Umno are classed as either not having sufficient Malayness or apostates. The majority of us reject this fascism. Read the rest of this entry »