August 23, 2012
Secularism, Islamic State and The State of Islam
by Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa, Executive Director, Islamic Renaissance Front
To many Muslims and especially the Islamists, the term secular is a very repugnant term and this abhorrence to anything secular stems mainly from the previously bitter experience of secularism in Turkey that had led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate; the last Caliphate in the Muslim world.
The fall of Ottoman Caliphate led to some Muslim scholars to push for a new entity known as an Islamic State. The concept of an Islamic State was not known in the Islamic world before that. The main proponent for an Islamic State was none other than Muhammad Rashid Redha, a great Muslim reformer in the early twentieth century. The main intention of Redha was to stem the onslaught of Western Imperialism.
History has shown that while secularism was born in the West, its values spread across the world in many different continents and societies. According to Louay Safi, a scholar at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, secularism denotes a set of notions and values whose aim is to ensure that the state is neither engaged in promoting specific religious beliefs and values, nor uses its powers and offices to persecute religion.
To prevent state officials from using their political authority to impose a narrow set of religious attitudes and values on the larger society, and to foreclose the possibility of using religious symbols to agitate one religious community against another; a separation must be made between political authorities from religious affiliation.
The Islamic State Conundrum
It is an unshakeable belief among many Islamists that the establishment of an Islamic State must be the first and foremost agenda in any political struggle. It is only when an Islamic State is established that Hudud Penal Code could be implemented.
Since the issue of Islamic State and Hudud is intertwined and will become more prominent every time the General Election is around the corner, it would be pertinent for us to revisit this issue. To many proponents of Islamic State, in particular those in the Islamic Party PAS, the concept of Islamic State is basically a replica of the medieval ideas promoted by al-Mawardi in al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Ordinances of Government).
Barring the Erdoganists in PAS, the Ulama wing has been preaching this medieval concept that has been ingrained even in the younger generations especially among the religious educated. It basically fails to tackle some fundamental issues in the twenty first century. It fails to discuss the concept of constitutionalism, human rights and citizenship as an integrated framework that is very fundamental in modern states. It is of note that it is constitutionalism that provides a legal and political framework for the preservation of human rights, freedom and equality among its citizens.
However in an Islamic State as envisioned by many Islamists — the religious educated especially — citizenship is classified between Muslim and dhimmis, namely non-Muslims who pledged submission to Muslim authority and therefore granted protection in exchange for a payment of a special tax known as jizyah. Dhimmis are basically the opposite of harbis that generally mean non-Muslims who are hostile to Islam.
In classical texts of Islamic State like Mawardi’s al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, the dhimmis are prevented from riding horses or donkeys within the city limits. In modern days, this may be equivalent to driving cars in the city. And that they wear distinctive clothing in public and bells around their necks when visiting pubic bathing facilities. The question is would such discriminatory policies be acceptable in the modern era.
It must also be acknowledged that an Islamic State will surely be based on Islamic values. This would entail to banning all forbidden things in the Quran. Many Muslim ideologues like Mawdudi, for example, believe that it is impossible for such a state to limit its framework because it is a totalitarian state encompassing the whole human life and moral theory. So nobody has the right to stand up against the state and thwart any encroachment of the state in personal matters. Obviously this is very similar to a fascist state.
Going by the current discourse in Malaysia, one gets the impression that the priority of an Islamic State is then to impose a set of rules known as hudud. This obsession with hudud stems from the understanding that hudud is divine law in the Quran that is imposed upon believers. Many people believe that hudud is a set of codified law that can be imposed without resorting to human agency at all. This is an obvious fallacy since the Quran only lays down some basic texts that require human agency to interpret them.
The formulation, adoption and implementation of legislation are always matters of human judgment and reasoning. Therefore their intended implementation is subject to human error and fallibility and can always be challenged and questioned. The problem will arise when such laws are deemed sacred and of God’s divine will and any sort of criticism will be deemed as heresy.
On this matter, Prof Hashim Kamali (left) has argued that hudud Allah in the Quran is a broad concept that is neither confined to punishments nor to a legal framework. It provides a comprehensive set of guidelines on moral, legal and religious themes. Whenever the Quran specified punishments for the offences, it also made provisions for repentance and reformation. Whereas juristic doctrine has either left this totally out or reduced it to a mechanical formality that can hardly be said to be reflective of the original teachings of the Quran.
On another note, not only is hudud in direct conflict with the Federal Constitution but in the context of a multiracial and multi-religious society, such a proposition also raises the issue of whether the nation should be governed by two sets of laws: one for Muslims and the other for non-Muslims.
The real problem of having laws such as hudud is that it is presented as mandated by the divine will of God. This make such laws immune to any criticisms whereas in actual fact they was merely the product of some literal interpretations of a certain group of scholars that failed to see the maqasid or higher intentions of such laws in attaining the ideals of justice. Criticisms against such laws have been made by many Muslim intellectuals such as Prof Hashim Kamali and until today, have not received any rebuttals from the proponents of hudud.
Sharia must neither be privileged nor enforced as a source of state law and policy simply because they are believed to be the will of God. Prof Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim argued in “Islam and the Secular State” that the belief of even the vast majority of citizens that these principles are binding as a matter of Islamic religious obligation should remain the basis of individual and collective observance among believers. But that cannot be accepted as sufficient reason for the enforcement by the state because they would then apply to citizens who may not share that belief.
Why a Secular State
Secularism does not mean the exclusion of religion from the public life of a society. The misconception that it does, is one of the reasons many Muslims tend to be hostile towards the concept.
Calling for a state to be secular is not similar in any ways to the call for secularising the society. A state should be secular in the sense that it is neutral to all the differing religious doctrines. As Abdullahi An-Naim argued that the state neutrality is necessary for true conviction to be the driving force of religious and social practice, without fear of those who control the state.
A secular state must embrace democracy. And democracy cannot be based on Sharia law, as that on the contrary would denote a theocracy. A secular state would allow every living Muslim a true freedom. Freedom to pray and fast as he or she ought to, freedom to follow the footsteps of the Prophet as he or she sees fit and freedom to submit to the will of God as he or she understands it.
Mustafa Akyol in his book “Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty” wrote a chapter on Freedom to Sin. In it he argued that Muslims should rethink the meaning of the phrase “amar ma’ruf nahi munkar” or simply “commanding the good, forbidding the wrong”. They need to make a clear distinction between “crime” and “sin”. While combating crime can be made via legal means, sins should only be through civil means like preaching.
The argument does not arise from an antagonistic attitude against piety but from a true appreciation of what piety is all about: a sincere belief free from coercion. Any regime that imposes piety because of the belief that it is part of the doctrine “commanding the good and preventing the wrong” like Saudi Arabia for instance, is basically creating a community of hypocrites than genuine piety.
Genuine piety only arises through personal choice. And that choice only becomes possible when there is freedom. In other words freedom to sin is a necessary medium to be sincerely pious. The erudite Muhammad Asad made it very clear when making his commentary in his magnum opus “The Message of the Quran” regarding verse 25 of al-A’raf or Faculty of Discernment where he commented on the story about Adam and Eve temptation when he said:
“The growth of his consciousness — symbolised by the wilful act of disobedience to God’s command — changed all this. It transformed him from a purely instinctive being into a full-fledged human entity as we know it — a human being capable of discerning between right and wrong and thus of choosing his way of life. In this deeper sense, the allegory of the Fall does not describe a retrogressive happening but rather, a new stage of human development: an opening of doors to moral consideration. By forbidding him to “approach the tree”, God made it possible for man to act wrongly, and therefore, to act rightly as well. And so man became endowed with that moral free will which will distinguish him from all other sentinel beings.”
The Way Forward
The arguments regarding this topic could go ad infinitum. However the main intention is just to stir a debate among the protagonists of Islamic State to that of a Secular State. One thing which is very clear and succinct, there is no mention about an Islamic State in the Quran. With that in mind, we have to work on the best form of government that will be tenable to all the different races and religions in our country.
If we still want to continue fighting for an Islamic State, we have to agree on one basic fact. Not a single particular Muslim whether the Grand Syeikh of al-Azhar or Saudi Mufti could claim to have a theocratic authority. Considering that Muslims have been divided into different sects, ideas and views, the only system that would be fair for all would be the one that would include all of them in the political process. Taking also into consideration the significant non-Muslim community in our country who should never be considered as second-class citizens, then a secular state that embraces democracy is the most logical option.
We have to agree that secularism, as the separation of state from religion is probably the minimum requirement for participation in the sphere of civic reason. Secularism needs religion to provide a moral guidance for the community and in turn, religion needs secularism to mediate the relations between the different communities that share the same political space and space of civic reason.
Secularism is able to unite diverse communities of belief and practice into one political community simply because the moral claims it makes are minimal. And secularism is able to tolerate differing view in a religiously diverse community while maintaining its political stability. Whereas such a situation is probably just a dream in an autocratic Islamic state envisioned by many Islamists.
* Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa is a director of the Islamic Renaissance Front.
Thanks, Din. This is the clearest piece I have read on democracy, secularism and the Islamic state. Really essential reading for all.
Well done, Dr. Farouk. You have been very clear on the Islamic State Conundrum. Our problem is that we Malay Muslims tend to be literalists and dogmatists when it comes to the issue of Islamic governance. The fear of secularism is totally irrational. The problem is the state of Islam and Saudi Arabia in the forefront of this problem, using its wealth to legitimise and propagate its brand of Islam (Wahhabism). Malaysia tends to look up to the Saudi, instead of looking at Turkey and elsewhere.
What we need to re-open our minds and deal with the issues with less emotion. It is time we put REASON back as the basis of our discourse. The Quran is for eternity and unchanging, but its injunctions must be interpreted according to the times and circumstances we live in. This is the 21st century. That is my two cents worth.–Din Merican
Islam requires the total submission of the individual to the general will as interpreted by the mullahs of the Islamic world. That puts western liberal democracy with its emphasis on the individual and individual liberty on a collision course with Islam.
wonderful, wonderful wonderful. It is time that moslems read this and understand where we have gone wrong.
The secular West are the real moslems.
“Louay Safi, a scholar at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, secularism denotes a set of notions and values whose aim is to ensure that the state is neither engaged in promoting specific religious beliefs and values, nor uses its powers and offices to persecute religion.”
How more in harmony is secularism with Gods laws?
I only have two salient points to share after reading up on this matter over the years:
1) Every Muslim or Muslim group have divergent ideas of what they understand and expect out of an “Islamic State”;
2) I have not found any concrete evidence that the Prophet of Islam (pbuh&hf) having stressed that every Muslim is duty-bound to make this “Islamic State” materialise anywhere they live. For me, if he had stressed it to be duty-bound, I cannot imagine how hard lives will be for Muslim minorities around the globe. The reader is encouraged to read more on the scattering of Muslim minorities to appreciate what I just wrote.
” The Qura’n and the Sunnah have both combined to form the Syariah laws, which many ( Western ) scholars have expressed the view that it had tended to grow ” rigid “, leading to Obscurities of the inner essence of the faith, and Venerating outward symbolism…..rather than appreciating the inner beauty of the religion…..” – an Excerpt
No religion can accept a secular state… the two words have diametrically opposite meanings. So why not do what the West did in the Reformation? They have never looked back… neither will the Muslims.
By all means let us see anyone debate the “Islam and the Secular State” issue… but it is as futile as the other current favourite topic… whether Islam is compatible with democracy.
Social problems in the Islamic World dwarf religious ones… so let us get priorities right.
Yabadabado. This issue is holding up progress of the ummah. Separate religion from the state and maybe we can see things clearly.–Din Merican.
One school of thought has it that Islam is more than just a religion. It touches all aspects of life. It governs relationships between individuals and between individuals and the community. You cannot then separate religion from the state. Any attempt to separate the secular from the religious (read: Islam) is doomed to fail.
I disagree Mr bean. It was that way under the Prophet Muhammad. Communities flourished. He laid down laws for the communities to live in. We can do it once again. Once we have done so and we truly uphold the command ments of fairness and equity we will be able to be fairier than any democracy. We just havent done it yet coz there are men busy trying to impose their Ego on others . Yes I know there will always be but once the momentum gets going then they will be the minority.
Islam is a way of life means exactly that. If you are a true moslem then you impart Jusitce and equity to ALL regardless. it doesnt mean, impose your worship unto others. it means equality and fairness for ALL.
These discourses and investigations initiated will ensure that we examine again the commands deeply and will open up an entriely new era for the world and then the islamic world will floursih once again.
it can only bring Good.
The Malaysian model is not an experimentation with any of these concepts. Malaysia is never meant to be anything but a secular state. Otherwise why would the parliamentary draftsman draft Article 3 the way he did? “Islam is the religion of the federation” as opposed to Islam is the “state religion”? Islam is not even the “officlal religion”. This is not an exercise in semantics. The differences are real and they have the backing of history. The country’s Founding Fathers had very clear intention as Malaya was a country of substantial minorities in which no one race was in a clear majority like it is today. How could they have ignored the fact that more than 50% of the people were not Malays and Muslims?
When the religious right witthin UMNO broke away to form PMIP, UMNO has had to counter their influence to stop any erosion of the Party’s base.. First by ratcheting up the religious rhetoric. From there it was but one short step to
Malaysia having a secular constitution to what pin heads within the academia came to view rather conveniently as hybrid between the secular and the non-secular. When the Old Goat recruited the head mullah from PAS (which by
then has become the new acronym for PMIP), Anwar Ibrahim, there began a process of Islamization. The process was complete when the Old Goat suddenly came out with his unilatetral proclamation, unsupported by anything history has had to offer, that “Malaysia has always been an Islamic state”. And so it came to be that the religious right within UMNO successfully used Article 3 to gain a foothold and transformed Malaysia to what it is today.
Ironically, the mullah responsible for the speed with which Islamization of what was once a secular nation had taken hold found himself isolated and then booted out of the Party by none other than his mentor. Would there be a mid-course correction in the direction UMNO has set for the country, under a Pakatan government led by this mullah? Asked and answered.
If the objective is to amend Article 3 a national referendum is needed. A simple two-thirds majority of votes in Parliament would make a mockery of democracy. Just because you can does not mean you do. But it is too late for that. The mess is complete.
If parliamentary draftsmen intended to make Malaysia a secular state, then a mention of any particular religion as in “islam is the religion of the federation” in the constitution is a contradiction. I cannot see how we can ignore this contradiction, and one sided happily assumes constitution means to create secular state. Neither is separation of government and religion institution is stated in the constitution.
Having say that, the constitution does not specify Malaysia to be theocratic either.
The nation actually turns up to be neither secular nor theocratic. It becomes a place where politicians achieve superpower by molding governance power and religion credibility into one.
Is it what you mean by “the mess is complete”?
What do we think is the “perfect union” envisioned by our founding fathers?
This is the comment I got from Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa via e-mail and I agree:
“Your readers are the educated lot and I always enjoy reading their comments. Thanks again!”
Thanks, guys. We have to keep it up.–Din Merican
We have to simply see it as a problem of Semantics, basically between the word ‘ Religion/Syariah’ , and the word ‘ Secular ‘. What is Secularism anyway, but of things and matters concerning this temporal existence, ie : worldly preoccupation of our existence.
There can be no doubt at all that our Constitution is indeed Secular. Religion as a deeply personal matter has to be seperate, and the desire by Muslims to ‘impose’ Syariah on the world is completely awry.
The word Syariah is simply the outward form of Islam to govern the conduct of citizens who are ‘muslims’;, in this strict sense it may be called,or should be, the ” Islamic” secularism , it is not contradictory – b’coz citizens of other faiths have their own outward mode of worship, rites & rituals.
So what actually Allah want us to apply if what is being enlightened in the Holy Quran is said to be not complete?
Ariffin, read the article carefully.The issue is the inability of Muslims to use akal. –Din Merican
“If parliamentary draftsmen intended to make Malaysia a secular state, then a mention of any particular religion as in “islam is the religion of the federation” in the constitution is a contradiction” — Shiou
In the ’50s many Malays felt threatened as they suddenly found themselves a minority in their own country. Malays were not prepared to accept independence at any cost. They would only accept independence if constitutional provisions are introduced among others to safeguard their position. The constitutional position of their religion (read: Islam) is one. Article 153 is another. Hence you find the introduction of constitutional provisions preventing the proselytization of Malays and Muslims; the establishment of a Malay constitutional monarchy, state ceremonies given a Malay and Muslim character, sultans acting as respective heads of the Muslim religion in their states etc. A constitutional provision like Article 3 making “Islam the religion of the federation” stops short of making Islam the state religion but would give the much needed constitutional safeguard the Malays were looking for.
But that did not prevent right wing elements within UMNO, and PAS from putting their foot in the door – which was what Article 3 did. It gave them a foothold. We now know that with the benefit of hindsight. Would the parliamentary draftsman have drafted it that way given what has hapeened since? I doubt lt.
Having said that religion is divisive. But then the attempt to separate religion from state is an argument which still raises issues even to this day. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has two clauses namely the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. But I doubt if complete separation is possible or was the intention of the American Founding Fathers some two hundred years earlier. Today you will have to ask Barack Hussein Obama as he is the professor of U.S. Constitutional Law.
If i may Dato’ Din,
@ ariffin yusoff – yes for those who believe, the Qura’n is the final testament, but does not preclude the earlier Scriptures, save where it makes ” corrections” – it makes Exhortations to mankind, but NOT (never) to Impose….
A very basic & fundamental issue here : Look at the irony of Man wanting to ” impose” – Even God the All-Powerfull & the Most Merciful…..gives Man his freedom & options, whether to believe or not to believe in Him, the Al Mighty. If man chooses to believe, there is still freedom to choose in the ” WAY” ( or How ) to believe in Him – In his Mercy & Infinite Wisdom, He gives Man the Choice….
For that reason alone, a Secular Constitution done up in a very ” scientific ” way ( via Scientific Legal Jurisprudence) is the safest, if not the Best option for man to regulate human conduct, conducive to modern-day Democratic processes….its in accord with Islam.
( its ok if you want to Delete it )
this may help you understadn better about the history of secularism,
“Spain’s diverse society introduced the western world to paper, our Hindu-Arabic number system, advanced irrigation, cotton and citrus, architectural glory, and medical discoveries. While Europeans elsewhere wallowed in medieval squalor and ignorance, Spain flourished as the continent’s commercial and cultural center. No less astonishing than Spain’s material glories was the simple fact that her Muslims, Christians, and Jews often lived and worked side-by-side, bestowing tolerance and freedom of worship on religious minorities. These Muslims, Christians, and Jews, co-existing successfully for the first time ever in mainland Europe, offer wisdom, hope, and lessons learned to our modern age struggling to create a peaceful, constructive common society.”
“A Vanished World ”
And this is why it can be done because it has been .
The difference is this, we moslems do nto know our history but the West glorifies theirs and teach ot to their young and carry on their glorious stories. It si time now we learn about ours and how true interpretation of Islam spurred on the first secular state and flourished.
“For more than seven centuries, Christianity and Islam split the Iberian peninsula between them, with Jews forming a third major religious community. Sometimes there was “convivencia” (successful living-together); usually there was fighting, but at least there was mutual learning. Much of modern European civilization came from Islam, mostly via Spain–everything from the lute (al’ud in Arabic) to saffron (az-zafran) to the works of Aristotle and Galen, which survived largely in Arabic translations and had to be reintroduced to west Europe after the Dark Ages. For centuries, Spain was a vast, wide-open pipeline, siphoning civilization to the west. This story is repressed and hidden in too many standard histories.”
One reviewer, EN Anderson, had this to say about this book “A Vanished World” .
Yup, Thomas Aquinas who was so influential with his Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles during medieval times modified the Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism from translations of Muslim and Jewish works from the Moors.
Christianity owes a debt to the great Islamic scholars of that period.
But while the former has evolved through the Reformation and Enlightenment, the latter tries to remain medieval, rooted in superstitious fear and passivity. Why?
Is it a Mimetic process secondary to Ignorance, deliberation or authoritarianism?
You guys figure it out.
Commendable research by Kathy, make more of these kinds of articles which can enlighten Muslims, who generally are beset with ignorance – often they do not want to know truth…..feeling blissful in conditions of lack of knowledge….
Shiou, some of these provisions like ” Religion”, Bahasa & Article 153 are called Appurtenent to the land – affixed to the land – on the incidence of Transfer or Conveyance from Tanah Melayu, to become ” Malaysia “
It does not make The Constitution any less Secular.
afraid fo secularism? It was started by Islam. There you have it. What a revelation dont you think?
Kathy, tell us what you know and think of the story behind the ‘Satanic Verses’. I am curious to hear what you know and what you have to say since you are the expert here.
But please don’t quote Wikipedia. We already know that. But tell us what you think personally. Your own thoughts on the issue. Not someone else’s.
And I’m not referring to the book by Salman Rushdie.
Hi Mr bean, I am no expert. Why do you say that. I hope you are not being sarcastic . LOL. Satanic verses. i havent read it at all. So how can I give you an informed point of view? I havent even seen a copy.
Surely, you can buy a copy from a bookshop in your area. Where there is a will, there is a way.–Din Merican
“It does not make The Constitution any less Secular.” Ibnu Baltazar
Despite the original intention of protecting Malays, the “islam clause” inside the constitution did and likely will be denying us the biggest benefit of secular government: preventing politicians amassing dictatorial power through holding moral/religious high ground at the expense of the people. In that sense, the “islam clause” is making the constitution less secular with dire consequences.
We probably need a narrative that articulates very well on Malays protection and secular government simultaneously. We probably need to re-discover a constitutional way to steadily keep politicians away from religion matters: 1) gradual reduction of governmental funding to religion institutions (i.e. mosques mostly) unless those institutions are threaten; less central funding means less politicians involvement. 2) ?
Shiou, slight explaination here : these appurtenent conditions were included, otherwise the Majlis Raja-Raja would not have consented or signed the Merdeka Documents…..
Well yes, question of Abuse is always there, its ever present, in whatever water-tight Constitution you or experts envisage – are we not facing all the abuses manifesting into blatant corrupt practices EVEN in our Secular Constitution of Govt ?
Religious abuses ? If only Muslims can tamper down, to understand the basic & fundamntal messages of Religious texts ( Holy Books, whatever the Religion) is that, they must never be as ‘Impositions” or Compulsion : All holy books are meant as Exhortations : no compulsion in religion
Yes i will Dato’. I have sincerely not been interested in it. But I will and make my thoughts known about it. However knowing me,I probabaly wont be fazed by it.
Mr Bean I will read it and let you know okay.
Oh you are not referring to the book then what verses?
Mr Bean, I beleive we have had this conversation where you asked me once about it a long time ago. I am rememebring now. And I read it and gave my point of view. But let me know the verses and I will get back to you.
I have read it and its is about some verses That Porphet thought was from God and in his earnestness to convert everyone prostrated to the idols. The Angel Gibrail came and chastised him. The Prophet was very sad and God showed mercy upon him.
Is this the one?
Firstly , I have never been exposed or heard of this until our discussion some time ago.
( we have discussed this before Mr Bean, do you remember?).
My opinion is this.
If the Prophet did do this then upon being chosen for this duty of Prophet hood, he is absolved from any wrong doing because of the heavy burden of Prophet hood, (where they all are persecuted and no one believes them and many would want to kill them.)
That is why the Angel Gibrail came and chastised and God forgave him.
It is in our Koran that all the Chosen one of God are humans and make mistakes. Because ofthis heavy burden and duties on earth, they have been protected form doing wrong.
How did monotheism evolve? Modern scholars of religion will enlighten, but not many will listen. The fear is that it will lay bear the lies, but in actual fact it deepens our knowledge and respect to the myths.
It would seem to me, that this discussion on syariah and hudud is heading nowhere, except that most of the Muslims in this blog would be considered to be liberal, thus lacking in ‘akidah’ according to TGNA and Dr Asri.
It is also true that religious fervour and cultural chauvinism is most apparent in recent (not necessary in chronological time) converts.
The recent movement towards ‘sola scriptura’ (by scripture alone i.e. in this case the Quran), or ‘sola fide’, (by faith alone) without the socio-cultural-historical traditions and context of seventh-eighth Arabia will be stillborn due to the trenchant resistance of conservatives. These see Islam, not as a Universal religion, but an exercise in Arabization. They insist on medieval interpretations instead of progressive acculturation. So where do we go from here?
that will change CLF. We will see a different trajectory of Islam developing over time. As for those who assert our lack of aqidah, they will no longer be the keeper of our Soul, not that they have been anyway. They are mere human prone to Egoistic tendencies and control and manipulation.
Malaysia was born out of the Democracy Federal Constitution.
The laws and orders derived from it are neutral.
They apply equally to every citizen, regardless.
Secularism is neutral. They ( Constitution and Securalism ) are compatible.
The Constitution also provides that religious Islam is under the purview of the Conference of Rulers. They should take the initiatives to act and declare the country/states are Secular, according to the Federal Constitution,( also gives birth to the positions and power of rulers), and which embraces Democracy=Secularism=Neutrality, that constituted religious Islam. This is part of the Federal Constitution which the rulers and every citizen are obliged to uphold and follow.
The declaration would clarify the position and the practice of Islam wrt to its compatibility to the neutrality provided under Democracy Federal Constitution. It would help tremendously in avoiding misunderstanding of Secularism among the minds of some Muslims who are ingrained with it , fear ,misinterpretation or otherwise.