Subject Our Muftis to Oversight and Discipline

June 27, 2016

Subject Our Muftis to Oversight and Discipline

by Farouk A. Peru
The Mufti of Pahang

The loudness of Islamic opinion has gained so much traction in Malaysia. I once sat through a phone-in religious programme in which a caller asked a minor league scholar if he should wait till the azan (call to prayer) finishes before actually breaking his fast or can he take the first bite when it starts.

Even my mother, whose reverence for these scholars far exceeds my own, was shaking her head in disbelief. But this is what happens.

Islam is a simple set of principles about the essentials of life. We can use our divinely bestowed reason to solve everyday problems.

Someone needs to tell the Health Ministry that as well since JAKIM is not trained in medicine. They will not be able to say if vaccinations are Islamic or not as the health ministry is asking them to do. The health ministry must themselves tell us if vaccinations are beneficial to humanity. If they are, then they are Islamic. Full stop.

When we give too much voice to the Islamic opinion, they turn Islamofascist on us — just like any other human authority — then become oppressive and authoritarian. What this means is, they have and will use their power and authority to further their own interests.

The main culprit of this is the Mufti of Perak, Harussani Zakaria. Last year, he deemed it forbidden for Qurans to be promulgated without the accompanying original text regardless of the fact that most Muslims can barely read it.

His opinion effectively killed off the “Let’s Read The Quran” campaign and helped him retain sole rights over the divine text. This was nothing more than a capitalist manoeuvre designed to corner the Malay-Muslim market.

Presently, the Mufti of Pahang, Abdul Rahman Osman, is following suit. Abdul Rahman has claimed that supporting the DAP is sinful because they are, kafir harbi (infidels at war with the Muslims). They are deemed so because they oppose Islamic law. There is so much wrong with the mufti’s statement that we need to refute it from a number of angles.

Firstly, on the obviously political bias being employed by Abdul Rahman. It must be remembered that the largest political party most unfortunately for the nation is the Malay-Muslim UMNO. Despite PAS’s .pressure to implement Shariah law, UMNO has resisted all this while.

If UMNO was truly committed to its implementation, they would have cast aside their coalition partners for the sake of “Islam.” No, they chose to remain in power (back then MCA and MIC actually mattered) and put Shariah in second place. Are they kafir harbi or at least munafik (hypocrites)? Not a peep from Abdul Rahman. Secondly, is Abdul Rahman himself implementing Shariah?  Ok, I admit he cannot ratify the barbaric hudud laws but where is his denouncement of Malaysia’s Las Vegas in his home state? I don’t recall any condemnation from him because his Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) is being compromised?

If he was a staunch believer in Shariah, he would have resigned and have no part in this policy. He is no better than those who served YAPEIM and enjoyed golfing holidays at their expense.

And finally, the term kafir harbi (warring infidel) itself.  This term was used in medieval Islam to address people from other nations who were warring against the corrupt, imperialistic and absolutely monarchical Islamic state.

It was a politically motivated classification designed to stir up the masses and keep them supporting the corrupt state. It is the same with kafirdhimmi (infidels who pay tribute to the state). They are the disempowered people within the Islamic state. They were denied the highest official roles due to their faith, just like ethnic minorities are denied the same.

When I read the Quran, I see that neither kafir harbi or kafirdhimmi are used. Rather, the Quran’s use of the term kafir is trans-religious, just like its use of the word mu’min (believer). In other words, a person’s behaviour determines whether they are a believer or otherwise, not the religious tribe they subscribe to.

If we analyse Judgement Day scenarios in the Quran, we will see that it is our actions which save us. No religious tribal privileges existed then. Therefore, calling any non-Muslim kafir is wrong. As wrong as assuming all Muslims are mu’min. Let God be the judge.

The institution of muftis in our country is an archaic one and will hold us back from true progress. To be fair, there are progressive muftis like Dr Asri from Perlis but even so, we do not need this institution any longer. Rather, the Malay Muslims must learn to think independently about Islam.


17 thoughts on “Subject Our Muftis to Oversight and Discipline

  1. I think, fundamentally and generally, all state Muftis are qualified insofar as theoretical or academic knowledge about Islam is concerned. They are appointed as state Muftis primarily because of their qualifications but qualifications alone is not enough to make a state Mufti the main representative or spokesman on behalf of all Muslims in the state he represents. That is why , of late, we have state Muftis making statements that are deemed controversial, wrong or even, seditious. Ironically and sadly, when such things happen, no action are taken against them. This has to stop immediately before these few ‘rogue’ state Muftis make the situation worse.

    What state Muftis need is good PR and if they lack such skill, they should be sent for professional training or courses. State Muftis must be able to consider the impact, either good or bad, before they make public statements, especially when criticising non-Muslims vis-à-vis going against or being anti-Islam or anti-Muslim. They should also be able to appreciate the situation and forsee accurately how things they say affect the non-Muslims. If the appreciation is done properly, state Muftis would be able to decide before they make public statements that are or may be considered controversial and they can avoid such embarrassment or worse still, avoid committing a seditious act (action should be taken if they do that).

    The Mufti of Pahang, Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman, has committed an act that is considered ‘harmful’ by calling some non-Muslim and an opposition political parties as ‘kafir harbi’. Some even consider what he said as ‘seditious’ and many Malaysians, non-Muslims and Muslims are calling for appropriate action to be taken by the police against him.

    All state Muftis have a very highly respected prefix known in the Muslim world before their names and their titles, Tan Sri or Datuk, whatever, which is ‘Sohibul Samaha’ or SS in short, for example, SS YBhg Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria and SS is even placed before YBhg to denote it’s importance. It denotes that he is a learned person who holds the highest position in the state and is the reference point, key person, highest representative or spokesman on Islam in the state that he represents. His words and decisions are firstly factual, accurate and true and secondly, he does not make mistakes. His words will never cause any trouble to anyone, norvuneasiness or unhappiness to Muslims and non-Muslims in the state and even outside the state. He also advises the state Ruler on all matters pertaining to religion, Islam.

    If a state Mufti cannot keep up to that name and requirements then, he is either not ‘qualified’ to be the state m Mufti or he must be a lousy state Mufti.

  2. The idea of containing these opportunists and exploiters seem simple – oversight, regulation. BUT who and how? At the end of the day you are talking about interpretation of religious text and faith, how do you oversight and regulate? Its the crux of the birth of secularity and its rise. Even with the best of people and well written rules, it will not contain them because the problem with faith is, it cannot be accounted for, the very defintion of faith..

    My arguments against Islamic statist is always – why do you need so much faith in the business of govt and even society? If you need so much faith in the business of govt and society, its very likely the govt is doing too much, people should be able to get along with each other and get what they personally need without needing so much from so many other people.. At the core of why, as a conservative, I am against Islamic statism is because its too much govt..

  3. Only vulgar and crude language will get through these bastards parading like man of cloth representing divinity. They all but religious .Their kins should be fucked and insulted by non Muslims only than they will realize they are nothingness idiots.

  4. Intermediaries (Imams) were needed in the olden days when society was backward and many were illiterate. In this internet age they have become simply redundant. One travels furthest if he reads and researches on his own. I suspect the office of Mufti was created for the religious mind conditioning of the people according to the dictates of the State or Monarchy.

  5. The mutfi’s comment is bad enough, but what is even worse is the total silence of the government after these seditious and provocative comments were made.

    Webster’s dictionary gives the first definition of “infidel” as “one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” So because I am a Christian, I guess I can call Harussani “kafir” and infidel. But I don’t — because it is a word out of the Dark Ages. In the modern world, we should show respect and tolerance for other religions. That’s why it is so shocking to hear Harussani utter these words, and even more shocking to hear the government’s silence as he refers to non-believers as infidels and enemies.

    Harussani’s comments should be condemned. Furthermore, he should be removed from his position as state mufti. For the state mufti to make these comments gives an imprimatur or official approval to what he said.

    It reminds me of Ridhuan Tee, who also is on the government payroll as a lecturer at the national defence university. People who make comments like this should be fired from their government positions. If not, it shows that the government condones and accepts what they say.

  6. The Mutif institutions,,( and often JAKIM) has exceeded his role, meddling in medical issues that is beyond its realm and comphension in name of Islam. It is dangerous to health of the Muslims and has insulted the office of Sultans who rule over it for the interests of Muslims.

    They totally irresponsible.

    Millions of Muslims health and lives are at stake.

    The heads of state should made a stand against the Mutifs and their prescribed roles.

  7. How to have oversight when the Minister for Islamic Affairs is flagrantly violating the rules of Islam e.g. use of Zakat funds and spending zakat money. The other likely group of people tasked with oversight are the DG of JAKIM, IKIM, and JASA. But they act more like politicians instead of civil servants and thus instead of provodong oversight they further aggravate the situation. So in essence the Muftis dont have any oversight except by the Sultans of the respective states. So far none have reined in their Mufti especially the one from the Silver State and now from the Casino State.

  8. Fundamentally, all state Muftis in the country are qualified to hold the posts. They all are, theoretically and academically, insofar as religion (Islam) is concerned, are conversant and they are suitable for the job. However, what many are lacking is good PR and the ability to anticipate the reactions or impact statements that they make may cause, especially those controversial ones. They should be able to think and decide when to make or not to make certain statements,especially those that may hurt or offend non-Muslims in the country. What most of them need is to attend professional training or courses in PR so that they know what to say and when to say them and also what not to say.

    Once a controversial statements are made, which the Mufti of Perak Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria often does, it will be a hassle to defend them or to explain them and a ‘label’, normally not a good one, will be placed on him and this will stick for life.

    Recently, the Mufti of Pahang, Abdul Rahman Osman, did the same thing and this time it caused a furor claimed that supporting the DAP is sinful because they are, kafir harbi (infidels at war with the Muslims). This has made many non-Muslims ‘up in arms’ against him and some are demanding that he be charged for sedition.

    Abdul Rahman has tried very hard to explain himself but whatever he says, they won’t be able to make the non-Muslims change their perception and they felt that the statement he, Abdul Rahman, has made is deemed to be very insulting.

    As a Muslim, I hope that such incidents will not be repeated and that state Muftis have to be more careful when making statements and try not to make controversial ones that may hurt or offend non-Muslims even though those statements may be right, when viewed as a Muslim especially from the Mufti’s angle or position. If at all they have to be made, be discreet and try to confine them to practitioners, i.e. the Muslims only.

  9. Violent religious extremists are a true menace to civilised societies:

    Those who incite violence (verbally or in writing) should not be left
    off the hook either. These include clerico-fascist propagandists in the
    government-controlled mass media in 1Malaysia.

  10. No point condemning these Muftis. It is not them speaking. They are just mouth-pieces slavishly serving whatever flavor-of-the-month political agenda.

    You think these salaried religious functionaries, un-employable elsewhere, dared to say such things without being told to do so, knowing they could lose their cushy jobs?

    All these serves only one sledgehammer purpose, and that is to tell the non-UMNO supporting Malays, particularly Mahathir and Co, and non-Malays, (particularly DAP), that organised religious violence, whether under the guise of the NSC or not, can and will be visited upon them if they don’t back off from their present campaign against you-know-who.

    Nothing new, ,just a classic case of hijacking Islam for a political purpose.

  11. Are state muftis competing among themselves to b in the good book of the powerful, at sacrifice of peace and harmony in this country? B4 this outrageous inflammatory statemnt fr Pahang Mufti, Perak Mufti nearly caused a riot by sms Muslims to besiege a church in Ipoh for allegedly proselytizing muslims wch was found to b untrue. The church was surrounded n ppl inside threathened. When confonted why Perak Mufti sentvsch sms, Mufti said he got the alert of proselytizing fr an unknown woman whom he cud notvidentify. This Perak Mufti was never disciplined!

  12. The chosen ones with no Substance…..merely the superficial outward ‘heavy garbs ‘ give the appearance of ‘ piety ‘ ( called the learned ) , when suddenly the Authorities realize (or now realizing ) , they NEED the young imams to do a better job….. looks like an admission of inadequacy , but will never admit their incompetence or worthy of these lofty ‘ posts ‘ created merely to give legitimacy to their political masters….

    Bunch of Pretenders , with skin=deep credentials…..deep within they know they are without substance , and dare even to legitimize wrong-doings…..of whom they serve…….

  13. Speaking for myself , from before I find no logic that when a problem of faith is presented officially for their Fatwa , the only edict issued forth , is in the same monotone : Simply ‘ haram ‘ or ‘ halal ‘ , with no reasons or reasoning offered to elucidate their edict. The matter in question is just left hanging there…..

    Anyone affected by the fatwa is left languishing and often breathless , not knowing which turn to take….. Question is : is the edict substance or only form ?

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