Malaysia at the edges of religious fanaticism with Hudud


July 2, 2015

Malaysia at the edges of religious fanaticism with Hudud.

by Markus Russin

http://www.asiasentinel.com/opinion/threat-islamic-law-malaysia/

Political expediency may deliver up harsh punishments that nobody wants except politicians

The political debate in Malaysia appears to be trapped in menace as the specter of Kelantan’s barbaric hudud law, which advocates 7th-century punishments including amputation for theft and stoning to death for adultery, among others, continues to loom over the country.

Najib and Hadi-The HudsNajib courts disaster with Hudud

A paper by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, known as JAKIM, that was discussed on The Malay Mail Online a few weeks ago has further aggravated the already tense situation by stating that the highly controversial law, if implemented at the national level, should apply to all citizens of Malaysia regardless of religion and in spite of the fact that hudud must never exist in the first place.

For the time being, hudud can still be avoided as it has not even become law in Kelantan yet, let alone on the federal level. Its recurrent appearance on the political stage, however, shows that it is merely the symptom of an underlying disease, rather than the absurd product of a few twisted minds that can be trivialized or even ignored.

This disease is never directly addressed by the nation’s highest officials who insist on putting a God for whose existence there can never be any proof at the center of their concerns instead of a populace that, unless one adheres to solipsism, is very real and increasingly isolated from the rest of the world due to the dangerous Islamic ideas of its leaders.

That Malaysia might eventually – and quite soon – collapse on a social, cultural and humanitarian level is not solely caused by the current threat of hudud. And dodging this legal madness alone will not prevent further disintegration in a country that is already plagued by deplorable chasms separating ethnicities, religions and political groups.

Malaysia has arrived at a critical point in its history and whether or not it can survive in the future will be a direct result of the decisions made by its highest officials today.

What might happen to a Malaysia with hudud during the next few decades is of course difficult to predict and would depend on a myriad of factors. Yet, attempts at drawing a picture of the future as it could develop is crucial in order to understand what is at stake for a nation that could be the beacon of understanding and humanitarianism within Southeast Asia, but has consistently failed to live up to this expectation.

This is a rough sketch of such a future. The most likely development that has been in the making for decades is perhaps the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from the Peninsular part of the country. Justified complaints that any implementation of hudud would violate the Malaysian constitution and therefore potentially nullify the historical agreement that bans the governments of the Bornean states from leaving the federation have spread during the current controversy.

Tan_Sri_Harussani_ZakariaThe Ayatollah of Perak

That secession is considered a real threat by the elite around Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was clearly expressed by the updated Sedition Act, which explicitly outlaws the promotion of independence for Sabah and Sarawak. From a humanitarian point of view, however, leaving Malaysia and forming an independent nation would probably be the only sensible decision for Bornean policymakers.

Independence would open the gates for a degree of open-mindedness and social inclusiveness that the current political mainstream and obsession with Islam in Putrajaya renders completely impossible. Although Islamic tendencies will remain to be a problem – particularly in Sabah – the newly founded nation would have the potential to become the freest country in Southeast Asia and rise to be a catalyst for positive change in the region. In particular, it would further isolate the religious dictatorship of Brunei whose sultan seems determined to reinvent his country as a humanitarian wasteland.

The comparatively small population of Malaysia’s eastern states might result in a challenging economic situation for a nascent nation. It would therefore be paramount to openly welcome immigrants and nationalize them quickly. Particularly if hudud should ever hit Malaysia on the federal level, an influx of ethnically non-Malay migrants from the peninsular states can almost be guaranteed. Many of them might arrive without any regrets at all as they would be leaving behind a homeland that has never really wanted them in the first place.

Ethnically Malay citizens of the western states might consider Borneo as well; and furthermore find another safe haven in Indonesia, particularly if the current Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo can lead the country farther away from its oppressive past and strengthen its economy. The virtual lack of a language barrier paired with the option to live a moderate form of Islam that is becoming increasingly discouraged in Malaysia or drop the religion altogether could attract many.

No matter where exactly its individual citizens would attempt to build a better future, huge parts of the economic and intellectual elite would leave Malaysia. In an analogous manner, international investment would move out under hudud because neighboring countries in the region would offer equal or even better opportunities minus the legal barbarism. Sadly, it is probably this last concern that will prevent hudud on the national level because money tends to speak more directly to the hearts of the powerful in Putrajaya than human suffering.

What would a Malaysia look like in which the numbers of ethnic minorities, intellectuals and wealthy citizens will be seriously reduced? It would be a country in which only the most radical elements remain, a breeding ground for Islamism that might eventually become potent enough to topple the current pseudo-democratic government that created it. Malaysia’s future could turn into a partial re-enactment of the sad fate of some Middle Eastern nations that were on a promising path in the middle of the last century, but then were violently pushed back into darkness by religious fanatics.

Of course this is a very gloomy prognostication and perhaps a quite extreme version of what the future might bring. Yet, certain elements of this development can already be felt in Malaysia today.

Apart from the obvious necessity to never allow hudud or anything related to become even a tiny section of the law, the inevitable change that Malaysia needs goes right to the core. Islam must be dethroned as official religion of the federation. And it must not be replaced with any other religion.

When the JAKIM paper mentioned above poses the question how “citizens of a country that exalts Islam as religion of the state assume that it is their human rights to not be placed under the influence of Shariah laws,” it inadvertently exemplifies the problem. Integrity, happiness and opportunity to live a fulfilling life are withheld from Malaysia’s citizens under the current circumstances and therefore the very foundation of the nation is flawed.

The assumption that the state is obliged to do anything for the institution of Islam is based on a constitution that has become the source of racism and religious intolerance on the highest political levels. Such a constitution – and in fact every constitution – needs to be challenged. It needs to prove anew at any point in history that it can create the best possible living conditions for the citizens affected by it and thereby the best possible society.

It is not politics that needs to bend over backwards in order to please an ancient way of oppression that has lost touch with reality. It is religious institutions that have to show that they are not outpaced by humanitarian progress.

Malaysia’s elite can no longer ignore the truth that Islam needs to be challenged, needs to be reformed and in its current form will cause the country to fall apart. If politicians care more about the wellbeing of their citizens than their own political power, there is no other conclusion.

Malaysia has already been pushed dangerously far towards the abyss of religious fanaticism. It is now time for those in charge to talk human rights instead of hudud.

The author, who has lived in Indonesia and Malaysia for the last year and a half, will commence as a graduate student in International Studies at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies of Waseda University in Tokyo.

15 thoughts on “Malaysia at the edges of religious fanaticism with Hudud

  1. Islam has already been reformed since the Prophet received the first commandment from God through Jibrail…Islamic teachimgs and Hudud is based on the holy Quran that need no reform as a divine law for all civilisation.

  2. Someone on this blog recenrtly suggested we let PAS implement HUDUD in Kelantan for five years..,. I totally agree. but for ten years.

    It will be the best way to test out PAS.

    I made a similar suggestion when I said we should not put PR into Putra Jaya in one go but let them manage at state level first. I was berated for this… we all know what happened.

    PAS should be tested in a similar fashion…

  3. ” Malaysia has already been pushed dangerously far towards the abyss of religious fanaticism. It is now time for those in charge to talk human rights instead of hudud.”

    What human rights ? Secularist to remind the muslims in Malaysia ?

  4. “Malaysia’s elite can no longer ignore the truth that Islam needs to be challenged, needs to be reformed and in its current form will cause the country to fall apart. If politicians care more about the wellbeing of their citizens than their own political power, there is no other conclusion.”

    Wait what ?

    Who are these so called “elites” you talking about ?

    UMNO started the Arabization process all the while painting PAS as the Islamic boogieman.

    Post reformasi, DSAI leveraged his relationship with the outlier wings of PAS (who were not exactly moderate but were against UMNO at any cost) to gain a foothold on the changed political landscape and to establish his own supposedly multi ethnic party.

    Meanwhile the DAP took it a step further by building alliances , with supposedly moderate elements of PAS who were injected into the party through the reformasi movement or those already wanting mainstream appeal.

    All this agree to disagree kool aid that was perpetuated by PR/DAP, worked only because UMNO who soon after the departure of Badawi got the court jester Najib as President and Tok Guru an old school cleric who was probably the last active member of the ulama clique that brought back the fire and brimstone of PAS, and kicked out the young turks who made their alliance with UMNO.

    Tok Guru, flip flopped between religious austerity and funky new age feel goodism all in the service of removing the great pharaohs of UMNO. Until such time that is, Hadi, finally gained ascendance.

    So in different ways the political elites of this country – Malay and Non Malay – were using Islam to further political goals instead of establishing clear lines in the sand , which was the rhetoric of anti UMNO/PAS Establishment parties and NGOs in the past.

    The moral of the tale is, meddling with Islam for whatever reasons is never a good thing. Building political alliances and changing Islam, are mutually exclusive.

  5. We should ask Maae and isa………..Is this Islam?

    Maae and Isa can turn a blind eye till………play numbers game la. Who is the prime minister of india now?

    Isa & Maae,
    watch this again!

  6. Why its always about Islam?What about the Mody’s Hindu bigots where a possession of a piece of beef will result in 5year of incarceration or Chinese treatment of the Uighurs where you are noallowed to board a bus simply for keeping a beard.

  7. Using Hudud as a tool, is like describing decorticate rigidity in a split brained camel.
    The left ear hears and the right eye sees. But it’s the phallus that becomes detached.

    The most disgusting, miserable creature is one that has no inkling he’s a fool who hankers for paradise in afterlife, even as he fails to live this life.

  8. ”Malaysia has already been pushed dangerously far towards the abyss of religious fanaticism. It is now time for those in charge to talk human rights instead of hudud.”

    When I was taking bowling lessons years ago, the instructor said, “Take care of the spares, the strikes will take care of themselves.” Similarly, humans should take care of human rights, the rights of God are taken care of by God Himself.

    Hudud is only a small part of the Islamic law, Allah will not be any less omnipotent or in any way affected if a group of earthlings in a teeny, weeny spot on earth (Kelantan) do not manage to chop off their brethrens’ limbs for theft of things.

    But some people in this country are going insane making hudud the end-all and be-all of religion, if not of human existence. They will not look up and study the instances where the word hudud appears in the holy book and will not reflect on the human condition.

    True, the country’s elite must not think that they will be protected from the medieval mobsters and unthinking believers of human maiming. If the rot is not stopped, the country will fall apart, and they too will fall, along with the rest of us.

  9. “The assumption that the state is obliged to do anything for the institution of Islam is based on a constitution that has become the source of racism and religious intolerance on the highest political levels. Such a constitution – and in fact every constitution – needs to be challenged,” Markus Russin.

    Mr. Russin wrote as if he found a major flaw in the Constitution, but he did not bother to give detail. Actually the same article which says Islam is the religion of the federation also says the rest of the Constitution is not affected by the status of Islam as the religion of the federation. So is it really the Constitution that has become the source of racism and religious intolerance?

    If yes, then you need a revolution. Otherwise, majority of people should just anchor on the Constitution to make one improvement at a time and be proud to be called a conservative (with respect to the nation’s mood).

  10. 1. I have already written and published a pamphlet against Hudud in 2002, titled “Kontrversi Hukum Hudud”. It is a detailed presentation in three parts. They were published in three parts. The first part was published in Utusan Malaysia on 5 Julai, 2002 and the second and third parts in Berita Harian on 12 Julai, 2002.
    2. I again wrote another article titled “Hudud Law, Again!” and posted in my blog.
    3. Two days ago I wrote another article titled “PAS Kena Kembali Menjadi Terbuka dan Progresif”. This article in in my blog. — Kassim Ahmad

  11. I read it, very far reaching article, good for sight

    With best regards

    Harifi Shah Petaling Jaya By IPad

    >

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