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Thread: Islam’s special position

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Islam’s special position

    Reading the article and the links below, it is clear that the problems with Islamic State started with Mahathir, while the issue with the word "Allah" started in 2006 during Badawi's time. The Ruling Class will always create diversions and quarrels between the various races in order to divide-and-rule.

    Islam’s special position

    By Ding Jo-Ann, 1 Feb 10

    THE Home Ministry's ban on the use of "Allah" by the Catholic Herald publication has once again raised the issue of Islam's position in Malaysia. Who started it?

    "The special position of d%3D27459+mahamad+naser+disa+special+position+isla m&hl=en&gl=my]Islam[/URL] is enshrined and protected under the constitution," said senior federal counsel Mahamad Naser Disa during arguments in Herald's suit against the Home Ministry in the High Court. "Allah is the holy name and a special verse in Islam. Any deviation to the holy verse of Allah is an insult to the religion of the country and the Federal Constitution," he argued.

    But does the constitution really place Islam in a "special position"? Was that the understanding of our nation's founding leaders? And if not, how are these conclusions being justified?

    Special position?

    Some of the Herald's critics have been lambasting the Catholic Church for suing the government over the use of "Allah". As Mahamad Naser argued, they say the Herald's insistence on the use of "Allah" diminishes Islam's "special position" as enshrined in the constitution.

    Muslim Lawyers Association president]Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar[/URL] cites his reasons for affirming Islam's special position in the constitution:

    1. Article 3(1) says Islam is the religion of the federation.

    2. Islam is specifically mentioned in other parts of the constitution such as:

    a. Article 11(4) relating to the control or restriction of the propagation of other religions among Muslims; and

    b. Article 12(2) which allows the federal government to assist Islamic institutions.

    3. No other religion has been specifically mentioned in the constitution except Islam.

    But does the constitution actually state that Islam has a
    "special position"?

    4. The majority in Malaysia are Muslims.

    Zainul concludes that although Article 3(1) says other religions may practise their religions in peace and harmony, due to Islam's special position, they can only do so without interfering with the peace and harmony of the practice of Islam.

    The constitution

    But where does it say in the constitution that Islam has a "special position"?

    The correct answer is actually, nowhere.

    This is unlike the "special position" of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak which is explicitly spelt out in Article 153 of the constitution.

    By that measure, Christianity and Islam would both have special positions in Malaysia

    It cannot be said that as Islam is the religion of Malay Malaysians and since the Malay Malaysians have a "special position", therefore Islam also has a special position. By that measure, the religion of native Sabahans and Sarawakians, many of whom are Christians, would also have a special position.

    In any case, if the constitution's architects meant Islam to have a special position beyond what was stated in Article 3(1), wouldn't they have made sure that the constitution said so?

    The constitution in fact, suggests otherwise. Article 3(4) states that "nothing in [Article 3] derogates from any other provision of this constitution." This means that Islam as the religion of the federation does not diminish any other part of the constitution, including the fundamental liberties enshrined in Part II, in any way.

    Historical documents

    Contemporaneous documents during the drafting of the constitution also demonstrate that Islam was never meant to have a "special position" as claimed. There were in fact clear assurances that other faith communities would not be hampered in the practice of their religions.

    "There was universal agreement that if any such provision [on Islam being the religion of the federation] were inserted it must be made clear that it would not in any way affect the civil rights of the non-Muslims," said a report by the Reid Commission, the drafters of the Malaysian constitution. (Corrected). The Reid Commission held extensive consultations with various interested parties, including the Alliance which preceeded the Barisan Nasional, and the Malay rulers.

    Indeed, Universiti Malaya historian Joseph M Fernando cites written evidence that Umno representatives specifically assured their non-Muslim counterparts that Article 3(1) would have "symbolic" significance rather than practical effect.

    Fernando quotes the remarks of former MCA president Tun Tan Siew Sin in Parliament: "[Islam as the religion of the federation] does not in any way derogate from the principle, which has always been accepted, that Malaya will be a secular state and that there will be complete freedom to practise any other religion."

    Court judgment

    A 1988 Supreme Court decision by former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas also clarified what "Islam as the religion of the federation" means.

    After an examination of the historical facts and documents relating to the constitution, his judgment stated: "...we have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law, where morality not accepted by the law [does not enjoy] the status of law."

    Honestly speaking...

    So why is the senior federal counsel from the government taking a position contrary to the constitution, historical documents and a Supreme Court judgment? How could he argue against the historical documents that say that Article 3(1) was not meant to give Islam a "special position" in Malaysia and that non-Muslims are guaranteed freedom to practise their own religions?

    Do we become an Islamic state everytime a prime minister says so?

    To be fair, Mahamad Naser may only be supporting the position of his superiors. After all, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have all stated that Malaysia is an Islamic state. This is in direct contrast to Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first prime minister, and Tun Hussein Onn, our third, who expressly said that Malaysia is not an Islamic state.

    Can the constitution's meaning be changed by prime ministerial decree or popular opinion? If the government says it long enough and loud enough, does that mean we eventually have to accept that Islam being the religion of the federation means it has a special position? And therefore the "peace and harmony" of Islam must be considered first, before the peaceful practice of other religions?

    Instead of trying to read meanings into the constitution which were never there, the government should openly and honestly state its intentions. If its position is that Islam should have a special position in the constitution, it should propose constitutional amendments which can then be debated in Parliament. At least Malaysians would then be clear about the government's stand.

    If the government is unwilling to attempt to amend the constitution to correctly reflect their position, it should stop manipulating the electorate to accept as fact a constitutional myth unsupported by historical evidence.

    For related stories, see In the Spotlight: Political Islam.

    The Nut Graph....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: Islam’s special position - Beware the Talibanisation of Malaysia

    Academics fear for the future of Islam.
    Fri, 28 May 2010 23:51 .By Stephanie Sta Maria

    PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's Wesak Day message for Malaysians centred around religious tolerance, and the Buddhist teaching of following the middle path and avoiding extremism.

    His message came hot on the heels of a recent panel discussion on Islam, which had both Muslims and non-Muslims shifting uneasily over the misrepresentation of Islam in Malaysia.

    Oganised by Sisters In Islam (SIS), the discussion followed a screening of the documentary “Mencari Kartika” (In Search of Kartika) by new filmmaker Norhayati Kaprawi.

    The documentary was inspired by a Merdeka Centre survey which revealed that many Malaysian Muslims supported the caning of Kartika Dewi Shukarnor.

    Kartika was sentenced to caning after being found guilty of consuming alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam. Her sentence was later commuted to three weeks of community service, but her case had attracted criticism from local and international quarters.

    According to Professor Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi of the Mara University of Technology, the “Talibanisation” of the Malay society is currently taking place. He warned that this is cause for great concern.

    “Talibanisation means too much emphasis on symbols – wearing the hijab, growing a beard and discrimination against women – than substance,” he said. “In certain instances, Malaysia has crossed over into extremism, which is very disturbing. But our leaders don't seem to recognise this.”

    “The Muslims who supported the caning of Kartika somehow find an appeal in violence, vengeance and watching other people suffering. They think this is part of Islam but it isn't. These are the fringe aspects of Islam that have become mainstream. And Kartika has become a symbol that has led to a call for the revival of the hudud law.”

    Wayward perception

    Professor Norani Othman, a sociologist at Universiti Kenagsaaan Malaysia and a founding member of SIS, places the blame for this wayward perception of Islam squarely on Malaysia's education system.
    She didn't mince her words when she said the intellectual culture of Malaysian Muslims has suffered a great dumbing down and they have failed to bring themselves into the 21st century.

    “When (prime minister) Najib (Tun Razak) was Education Minister, I appealed to him to review the education format of religious schools,” she recalled. “The students were learning by memorising and critical thinking was not encouraged. I told him that he needed to appoint a committee of experts and scholars to provide feedback on how to improve our education system but he didn't grasp the importance of this.”

    “Indonesia set up such a committee because education wasn't part of the state. The Suharto regime may have been an authoritarian one but it still laid off Islam and, to some extent, Islamic education. So the intellectuals invited the late Islamic scholar Fazlur Rahman for a conference.”

    “Only then did they begin to implement modernisation and a reformation of their religious education. This is why Indonesia has far more thriving and intelligent debates on the implementation of Islamic law.”

    Both professors also noted with dismay the reluctance of the “right-thinking people” to speak up against the “extremists”. Calling it a tragedy of the country and the Malaysian Muslims' social, religious and moral life, Shad warned that continuing to keep silent would give more power to the “lunatic fringes”.

    He pointed out that the agenda of Islam is currently being dictated by this group who force others into silence for fear of being confronted with tough questions. In his opinion, the Malay society has adopted the feudalistic mindset of blindly following the leader. Norani fully agreed.

    “Under the federal constitution, we are all citizens of Malaysia,” said Norani. “If we allow the state too much freedom to politicise Islam, then we are encouraging the 'Talibanisation' of Islamic laws to cow people into silence.”

    “It's time we all stood up and stop saying that it has nothing to do with us. We shouldn't be afaid to speak up against Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS), Majlis Agam Islam Selangor (MAIS) and Perkasa because they are terrorising us into silence.”

    Marina Mahathir, who was also present at the discussion, voiced anxiety over the future of Islam in Malaysia.

    “I believe in an Islam that upholds justice and equality and everything that is good,” she said. “But today both conservative Muslims and non-Muslims view it as a religion that punishes people and oppresses women. I fear that the true Islam will one day be completely wiped out from Malaysia.” FreeMalaysiaToday....

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