Image of Moderate Islam in Malaysia tarnished

December 25, 2013

Farouk Musa:Image of  Moderate Islam in Malaysia tarnished

by Hazlan Zakaria@http://

The hardline stance that religious authorities and the Barisan Nasional government in particular are taking has tarnished the image of moderate Islam in the country and is causing others to view Muslims and Islam with apprehension.

“The way we think made Islam here not attractive anymore, unlike in the west Din and Faroukwhere Islam is attractive to non-Muslims because of the freedom and fairness in Islam,” Islamic Renaissance Front chairman Dr Farouk Musa told theantdaily.

For one, he said, the principle of “no compulsion in religion” was what made non-Muslims comfortable with the religion as practised in the West.

“(But here) now we see the government interfering in personal faith; you must be sunni and ahli sunnah wal jamaah, how can it be like that? Faith is between you and God. It is an individual thing.”

He warned that this was what happened to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, flushed from their electoral victory, had no respect for the rakyat as a whole and ignored non-Muslims and failed to stop religious persecution.

Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, Farouk said, did not show that he was a ruler for all of Egypt when he became President, but his actions show that he was only a ruler for the Muslim Brotherhood, ignoring others and leading to his downfall.

Farouk noted that as of now, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was also showing the same symptoms as he appeared to be only a PM for UMNO Malays and presides over religious intolerance.

The Islamic thinker stressed that the important thing in Islam was to be just, and to be just not only to Muslims but non-Muslims and Muslims of other schools of thought.

“Like Syiah followers being persecuted, for them it is worse than being non-Muslims. We do not show the face of Islam that is moderate.Neither do we exhibit other qualities that Muslims should,” Farouk said, zooming in on cleanliness which is supposed to be an Islamic trait.

“Islam values cleanliness, but we Muslims here are not the cleanest. Why? It is because we do not embody the teachings of Islam but only observe the rituals blindly without understanding.”

The same, he said, was true of the “implementation of our so-called Islamic economy.”To us Islamic economy is only that there is no usury,” he added.

But this, argued the scholar, was not true as there were other principles of Islamic economy like attaining fairness and social justice.

However, he lamented that ulama and religious authorities failed to see the big picture of social justice leading to zakat or tithe funds which were meant to help the poor being used to buy various assets.

Islamic tithe or zakat is supposed to be finished in the year it was collected and for aid to the poor and those in need, not accumulated annually or used for management expenses like buying buildings and assets.

zakatRed Tape in the Zakat Business

“Red tape is also making it more difficult for the poor to apply for aid. Then they get angry if the poor go to the church for assistance,” Farouk lamented.The same, he argued, was true for the understanding of Malaysian Muslims towards hudud or Islamic criminal law.

“The focus is only on the mechanics of the punishments like cutting off of a thief’s hand but not understanding the underlying principles of fairness and justice behind it,” he said.

What is more important than the mechanics, he believes, is setting the framework to achieve justice and fairness first. The hardline stance and uncompromising way that Islam seems to be practised in Malaysia, he argued, was because Muslims here paid too much attention to rituals and literal readings of the teachings of Islam.

And sadly, as the rituals are observed, most did not understand the reasoning and message behind the rituals but followed blindly, much as many recite the Al-Qur’an by rote without really understanding what it means.

The teachings of Islam as well as the hadith and sunnah are taken literally without looking for the context and explanations.Such literal and ritual-focused practice, Farouk said, led to the rigid version of Islam that we have in Malaysia today.

All in all, a recipe for disaster, as it may lead us down the path to extremism.

Seen in India. Christmas, like Ramadan, is the perfect interfaith footbridge for Muslim-Christian fellowship.

Seen in India. Christmas, like Ramadan, is the perfect interfaith footbridge for Muslim-Christian fellowship.

18 thoughts on “Image of Moderate Islam in Malaysia tarnished

  1. It is hard to disagree with Dr Farouk Musa on Islam in Malaysia. The state of Islam here is depressing. Muslims, for example, are scared to visit their friends today. Dr. Kamsiah and I were at two open house functions. There were less than a handful of Muslim couples at one and only the two of us were at the second function. It is telling indeed.–Din Merican

  2. I had only one Muslim friend greeting me Merry Christmas on Facebook. The rest of the greetings from Muslim friends are all not from Malaysia, mainly from Indonesia. UMNO has finally succeeded in making Islam an unfriendly religion where Muslims themselves have little faith in their own beliefs and made to feel distanced from other religions. Well done to Najib…

  3. When Najib took power, these things were warned. Why would NOT prodigal inheritors keep abusing social reserves like religion in this country when they have already abused financial and legal reserves? Why are people complaining when it was perfectly predicted?

    This country keep repeating debating failures that was already predicted – the NEP, the judiciary, the police, the education system, and yes Islamisation. Since when were all the failures NOT predicted from the start?

    Pointless to debate. Najib & Co is leading to nothing but more problem. The issue is why is he allowed to keep going when we all know the inevitable conclusion? Why the lack of resolute decisiveness?

  4. How come all these so-called Muslim scholars’ ‘progressive thoughts’ are always reported in the non-Malay media to the ‘converts’ but not to the people who should read about these most.

    Report about these in Bahasa Malaysia and make them easily accessible to the Malay heartland and the general Muslim population. Those are the people whom different perspectives of their religion and race, other than UMNO’s version, will make a great deal of difference.

    Unless, of course, these so-called Muslim scholars are too afraid to share their views with the Malays and Muslims in Malaysia, for fear of reprisals and prosecutions by UMNO. If so, these so-called Muslim scholars should just focus on the non-controversial stuff and not waste their time talking / writing about the difficult questions and issues.

  5. This “Allah” thing has had me worried from the beginning. The Roman Catholic Church will not back down as a matter of principle, and the Vatican and its diplomats have been around for about two thousand years, rather longer than UMNO. This issue is spiraling out of control, and on the ground here in Malaysia both sides are getting angry. Total stupidity on behalf of UMNO politicians, always looking for a way to stoke tensions as their time-honoured method of maintaining control, to have ever started this, but now Christians are starting to say hurtful things back. Which is certainly not what Jesus taught us, but alas, that’s human nature!

    It makes me think of Goethe’s famous story “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, where the apprentice is told by his Master to do the house-cleaning while the Master is away and he uses a spell he only half-understands to get the broom going to do all the cleaning by itself. Then the broom goes crazy and starts hopping around causing havoc and in desperation the apprentice tries to chop the broom in two… then two brooms start whacking everything, both out of control…. total chaos, till the Master returns and takes control using the proper spells properly recited…

    Where are the adults here? I don’t see any in the Government!

    I pray for some Christmas spirit….

  6. Sdr Din, this Muslim not visiting non Muslim open house already started quite a number of years ago.
    Now, even my used-to-be-close muslim friends and colleagues don’t send us xmas or cny greetings, nor do they want to come to our houses any more.

  7. You don’t mix politics with religion.

    There is no such thing as MODERATE ISLAM in Muslim majority countries, including secular countries where politics of religion is used to retain power at all cost.

    Unless the Muslims are the minority in a modern, progressive and real democratic country, when they are not be able to abuse their religion for political and personal purposes, then they will behave like all other NORMAL people of various faith.

    Without real, true and courageous Muslim leaders, you don’t expect a Muslim leader/s to fair to other faith, let alone race……they FEAR being accused of being a traitor to their own religion, may be threaten with violence and harm.

  8. It is now common. If you go to an Indian wedding you will think that only Indians live I this country. If you go to a Malay wedding you will think that only Malays live in this country. And if you go to a Chinese wedding you will think that only Chinese live in this country. This thread runs through all our social activities. The only place that will that Malaysia is a multi-racial country is the National Heart Institute. It is refreshing for people like me to visit the IJN, although I do nit like to go there a patient, from time to time.

  9. So by not visiting non-muslims will earn some ‘credit’ to heaven? Then those in politics have earned lots of demerits. How religion is used to scare the people just like the romans used Catholicism to govern people till people could read and then REFORMATION ! Will this change? Nay, its the tool to scare the crap out of people.

  10. So long as you have the religious depts. hiding in corners to catch local couples holding hands to collect the mandatory Rm 3000 fines ,that will be their main task and entertainment (they enjoy doing this “job”) cos it gives them a high.No effort in educating etc.I have seen them in action, raiding residential houses with their lights shining on their vans.They collect a few humans, make a couple of thousand ringgit for their office and sleep well having done a service to “humanity”. But what about Bollywood actors who come with their non Muslim spouses and sleep next to their office? No action.One state give even gave a Datuship to one!

  11. When you start to grade religion according to presumed superiority in whatever manner, the meaning of religious tolerance/freedom begins to vanish. Indoctrination with politically correct religious teachings only leads to blind faith and redundant mindset.

  12. I keep dogs. The non-halal kind of ‘pariahs’ – i.e non-Saluki or Afghan hound. Good grief!

    Hmm.., that’s why there were no Malays – even though there were foreign Muslims at my X’mas eve do? An Iranian even commented that my golden retrievers were ‘most beautiful’, but he was a Shiite – and thus doesn’t count in this land of High and Mighty, where canine licking is absolutely and rabidly life-threatening.

    Yes sotong, Charity by definition is never commercial nor religiocentric. The root word is Caritas (Latin) for the more fundamental and pure gratuitous love by, and of God (Agape, in Greek). At least from the view of many enlightened or semi-enlightened ones. But there are many other types of Charity – almost all of which are Fake.

  13. Thanks to you Dr Farouk for a very good summary of how I felt but not brave enough to say out loud. I am very sure many share the same. UMNO should immediate refrain else Islam will not be in good stead to bring change to the ahlaq and taqwa to mankind as Islam actually should as what RasulAllah’s mission.

  14. This is what happens if you practice moderate Islam. You become a mediocre Muslim. Practice true Islam and Malaysia will stop being a screw up nation. Here we have holier-than-thou who thinks he/she is even holier than the prophet himself. Also, we have Perkasa who claims they are defender of Malays and Islam but could not even get the basics of Islam right despite having those written in the Quran very CLEARLY. Even my 7 yr old niece can understand them.

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