Message to Islamic Bimbo Harussani: Islam is not an Exclusive Club

March 10, 2016

Message to Islamic Bimbo Harussani: Islam is not an Exclusive Club

by Azrul Mohd Khalib

Warning: If this column starts to sound like you have read it before and you think that you are having a déjà vu moment, you are probably right. It sometimes feels like a broken record dealing with and responding to our recalcitrant and wayward religious authorities (in particular this holier than thou Mufti of Perak).

We have just been told that it is a crime to publish, and to read the Quran in non-Arabic languages without accompanying Arabic text.

Stop the press! All printing of the Quran in Chinese, Spanish, Afrikaans, Russian, Chechen, Indonesian and English around the world must cease! After all, if it is supposedly a wrong practise here, it must be wrong elsewhere too. After all, Islam is a global religion.

The recent warning from Harussani Zakaria, Chairman of the Home Ministry’s Al-Quran Printing, Control and Licensing Board, is representative of what’s gone wrong with the practise and teaching of Islam in this country.

While Muslims in other countries are busy making their religion increasingly accessible, friendly and inclusive to those not of the Islamic faith, our religious authorities are moving in the exact opposite direction.

Far from sounding enlightened, progressive and welcoming, individuals such as Harussani are making Islam in Malaysia sound and appear to others as arrogant, irrational, suspicious and disdainful of other religions.

I am almost certain that this kind of paternalistic approach is neither in accordance with the teachings of Prophet Muhammad nor adhering to the principles of Islam. But what do I know? I don’t write or understand Arabic so Harussani can perhaps provide some enlightenment.

You are judged by the company you keep

I am tired of our religious authorities treating Islam like it is some exclusive club and they alone determine who gets to join and the conduct of those who are members. Historically, we have seen this behaviour before where the clergy of an institutionalised religion attempts to impose a monopoly on faith and its teachings under the guise of “only the learned and knowledgeable” (i.e themselves) can communicate with God and not be led astray.

The reality has less to do with God but more to do with the very earthly pursuit of power and control over others. Over the years, the ever-expanding sphere of influence of Islamic institutions in Malaysia have gone increasingly unchecked and it can be argued that through their actions, have repeatedly violated Constitutional limitations and even expressed disdain for those limits. Yet, very few have dared to challenge them and even fewer have stood to defend those who have done so. Just ask Rosli Dahlan and Kassim Ahmad.

I have travelled to many places in the world where Islam has taken root and flourished. Based on my own understanding, Islam is not and has never been about exclusivity and superiority of faith.

It is arguably a violation of Islamic teachings to insist on exclusivity as touted by Harussani as it prevents others from acquiring knowledge, learning and understanding Muslims and Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, through his own documented practises and teachings, practised inclusivity, humility, and believed in the importance of knowledge and most importantly, sharing it with others.

Exclusivity results in misunderstanding, ignorance, conflict, bigotry and irrational fear. It breeds contempt for others and arrogance.

One of the most common complaints and gripes by the Islamic authorities and clergy in this country is that they are frequently misunderstood and that others must seek understand and learn about Islam.

Fair argument, until you make important texts like the Quran inaccessible. Read the notice from the Kementerian Dalam Negeri again and you will realise that what it is actually saying is that reading the Quran is off limits to non-Muslims (need to take Islamic ritual ablutions to touch and read the Quran) and to those not proficient in the Arabic language.

Speaking of reading, I have struggled to explain to those who are non-Muslims how it is possible for a person to be able to read the Arabic in the Quran yet not understand a single word of it.

Because that is how the Quran is often taught (can a person be taught when the language of the lesson itself is not understood?) here in this country.

Harussani’s statement itself affirms that you can read without understanding and it is okay. I really don’t understand that and never have. Wouldn’t it be meaningless without understanding the words of what you are reading? Maybe it’s just me but that is my individual cross to bear.

Oh, final question for the mandarins of the Kementerian Dalam Negeri: is it also a crime to download digital versions of the Quran such as eBooks or apps in other languages? Are we allowed to think for ourselves or do we need to ask for your permission?

Those who demand for exclusivity and impose such restrictions and monopolies of knowledge convey a lack of depth in their awareness and understanding of how Islam is practised elsewhere around the globe and of its co-existence with other world religions.


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15 thoughts on “Message to Islamic Bimbo Harussani: Islam is not an Exclusive Club

  1. Harussani is actually a politician who hides behind Islam. I am surprised that HRH The Sultan has not sent him to pasture. What do you think, our Ipoh mari Tok Cik? –Din Merican

  2. His comments were indeed quite appalling.

    I think Anas Zubedy later explained the issue very well, but of course any self-respecting gomen “mufti” (more “gomen” than “mufti”, however) does not apologise or admit error.

    “Harussani is actually a politician who hides behind Islam.” Don’t they all, nowadays. The Jawatankuasa Teknikal Perlaksanaan Hudud Peringkat Kebangsaan was mooted and is operated from the PMO under Jamal Khir, and yet Najib wants (needs?) the East Malaysian vote.

    A case of wanting to have your cake and eat it, too.

  3. For the sultan to send the mufti “to pasture”, he has to have some idea of what the Islamic religion is about. For that matter, for the sultan to actually rule in favor of and in sympathy with the rakyat, who have kept their end of the bargain by faithfully fawning and scraping in his presence, require him to understand what good governance is all about especially when making pronouncements on the state of the state.
    I put it to you that he has failed, miserably, on both counts.

  4. This Mufti is in essence saying that Allah only understand the Arabic language. He may even be surprised that the Quran had mentioned other Prophets besides Prophet Muhammad pbuh and whose language were not Arabic in the first place.

    There are many verses in the Quran that are supplications and doas and if these can only be recited in Arabic then he is insulting Allah as Allah is all knowing. I think the only exception is reciting the Al Fatihah in Arabic in the daily prayers.

    This Mufti is not fit to be a Mufti and lead Malaysian Muslims and to issue fatwas.his views are too narrow and ‘kolot’ in this digital era and where Islam has expanded to all 4 corners of the globe. Perhaps his Islam is confined to the area known as Sandland in the Middle East. He probably doesn’t know thatntherevare more Chinese Muslims than there are mAlay Muslims.
    Orang Malaya, I agree with you. This Mufti should be fired. He is the problem, not the solution. The Sultan of late has been a big disappointment. He has surrounded himself with advisors who are misleading him leading.

    Tok Cik, you have a problem with this bimbo Harussani. Since I am from Kedah, I will refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Perak. It is up to you and other Perakians to deal with the politics of your state. Salams from Phnom Penh.–Din Merican

  5. Pak Din, I don’t blame HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah. To put it crudely, he owes the man a debt of gratitude. Not wanting to sound seditious, it has much to do with the political coup by Al Jibbor aka Jubbor in Feb 2009 where souls were sold for a fistful of ringgit and the legality of Nazrin’s ascendancy was assured. It’s common knowledge here in Ipoh and Perak. Cheers, bro.

  6. Public canings, banning of Non Arabic Qurans. I see it’s crazy time again, for our jubbah clad countrymen. I just love it when they come back from the Haj with horror stories. Where do these people come up with this BS ? It’s like they have a committee in which they decide who gets to say the craziest thing. There must be a prize or something, that we are not aware off.

  7. ‘you can read without understanding and it is okay’ ini mufti kata. let’s see what allah swt said thru his beloved prophet saw.

    4:43) Believers! Do not draw near to the Prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying nor while you are defiled…

    lagu mana ni bro?

  8. What is so surprising about this? This is what religo-politician do? Before Reformation, the Christians preachers did a lot worst and even today remnant still do some really bad stuff.

    You can try reforming your religion, you can try reforming politics BUT if you try to do both at the same time, well.. life is just too short for it..

  9. Tok Cik,
    Now then you know I hated all royalists especially Raja Petra Kamaruddin…..You have known the history that Perak ascendency did not do properly. You know and I know! My parents used to be very close with Idris…….hehehehe

  10. There will be no end to inequality in Malaysia until khutbahs and tazkirahs in the mosques stop preaching hate of other religion. There are always hatred being preached against Jews and Christians almost on a weekly basis.
    How do you expect people to embrace multireligous beliefs when this is the case. I have for the last few years attended Xmas mass here in Oz and every single year, without fail, the priest have welcomed everyone from other faiths to the mass.
    I am Muslim and I am so envious, waiting for the day that these words are uttered at Friday prayers.
    Exclusivity is spot on. And very very judgemental.

  11. As early as 1215, Pope Innocent III declared “that simple and uneducated men were not to translate the Bible nor venture to preach its doctrines”.

    Thank god I’m not educated.

  12. This is a natural evolution of a process that started with the “Allah” issue… nobody in power bothered… so now we have this… watch out for the next episode…

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