July 6, 2012
Now JAKIM’s Turn: Mulling over Banning Book launched by Prime Minister Najib?
by Zulaikha Zulkifli@http://www.malaysiakini.com
A novel launched by the Prime Minister last Tuesday might be banned for purportedly spreading Shiite teachings.
This was confirmed by Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) Deputy Director for planning and research Mohd Aizam Masod, who said the department was now deliberating on the novel Perempuan Nan Bercinta by prominent novelist Faisal Tehrani.
“Yes there are (discussions)… There have been complaints and JAKIMis in the process of taking action. Just wait two or three days more,” he said when contacted yesterday.
According to literary activist and writer Uthaya Sankar SB, speculation of the likely banning arose on June 6 when a JAKIM officer urged the public to lodge police reports against the book during a forum by the Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM).
When contacted, Faisal said that he is certain that his novel will have a “longer life” considering that the premier himself had recently said that writers should be free to produce their work.
“The PM even referred to (Islamic modernist) Syed Jamaluddin el Afghani’s vision as a benchmark before he launched Perempuan Nan Bercinta,” he said of the the launch, along with 29 other books in Putrajaya.
For now, Faisal (left), who is a lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said he will continue to write and conduct academic research.
He is due to hold a press conference tomorrow to announce his entry as an honorary member to Kavyan, a literary group for Indian writers writing in Bahasa Malaysia headed by Uthaya.
If the ban is imposed, it will be the second book by the author, whose real name is Mohd Faizal Musa, to be banned in less than a year. His book Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang was banned by JAKIM last December, while he had faced difficulties over a screenplay which he wrote for a made-for-television production earlier this year.
The film, directed by well-known actress and director Erma Fatima, was eventually approved and screened on February 4. The Anugerah Seni Negara’s contract for the serial novel Ketupat Cinta, published by Malay daily Harian Metro, was also terminated in June 2008 after strong protests by then-Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin.
The novel Perempuan Nan Bercinta is about a feminist who becomes inspired by a Professor to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah Az-Zahra, but the professor is later persecuted by religious authorities.
Fatimah is highly venerated by Shiites and is considered “the Mother of the Imams”. She was married to Ali, whom the Shiites believe was chosen by the Prophet as the latter’s successor.
The book hits the market this week and retails for RM35.