The Evils of Theocracy

July 17, 2016

 Shafiqah Othman Hamzah

The Evils of Theocracy


UMNO’s showy Muslims

What is a theocracy? A theocracy is a government in which God or a Higher Being is seen as the supreme ruler and government officials are regarded as divinely guided. In a theocracy, religion or faith plays the dominant role.

While I am perfectly aware that constitutionally, Malaysia is a secular country, it makes me uncomfortable to see the attempts certain elitists have made to slowly turn our beloved country into a theocracy. They started by demonising the terms “secularism” and “pluralism”; two ideas that promote the harmonious co-existence of different faiths and beliefs.

This is all an attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate while failing to realise that Islam has never provided a blueprint for what an Islamic state should be. Even when the Prophet was the leader of Medina, he never claimed that it was a divine rule. He ruled based on principles of justice and equity, and that was as Islamic as an Islamic state should be.

Perhaps theocracies can work in minor-scaled governance, but a country under theocratic rule is bound to fail and history has shown us that many times.

Since a theocracy sees no separation between government and religion, your religion becomes your government and your government becomes your religion. Political religion must die because people should be able to stand against their government without being seen as standing against religion.

I do not and will never support a theocratic government, not because I do not believe in Islam as a way of life, but because it has been proven time and time again that religion has been used as a pretext for conflict and oppression.

At the heart of every religion is the aim to cultivate spiritual well-being and inner values such as kindness, honesty, patience, and forgiveness; all values that promote unity. However, when religion becomes institutionalised and politicised, it becomes an ultimate evil.

Theocracy heavily excludes religious pluralism, something which is essential to a multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Malaysia. Where religion is supposed to promote the idea of humility, theocracies promote the idea of superiority whereby one religion is better than the rest.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in believing that your religion is the Divine Truth, but giving it precedence over all other faiths by law automatically creates a society filled with xenophobia, intolerance and hostility.

Religion is submission to a Higher Being. A theocracy, even though it claims to be religious, is submission to a government, no more no less. Especially in Malaysia, people should be allowed to point out foul politics without being seen as attacking Islam.

Religion being used in politics is nothing new, even in Islamic history, such as the Umayyads (the largest theocracy in history) prosecuting, and even executing, the Qadaris, who stood against their tyranny, by using the ideology of the Jabriyyah who justified their rule as divinely sanctioned.

Religion was used as a tool to silence anyone who was against the government or their plans. Some examples of that being done today would be when a JAKIM sermon says that anyone who defies the government will be damned by God, or when Pahang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Rahman Osman called DAP kafir harbi for opposing hudud.

Ever since we were young, we were taught not to question religion, so when we grew up, we blindly accept the religious rulings and sayings made by the elites. What we were not allowed to question was not religion per se, but the version of the religion practised and propagated by the ruling party.

In a society that stigmatises rational thinking, a theocratic government is especially dangerous because they can very easily control its people.

Not only does a theocratic government give precedence to one religion, it gives precedence to only one version of that particular religion. In the case of Malaysia, that version would be mazhab Shafie of Sunni Islam. We end up not only discriminating against other religions but also our own brothers and sisters in faith who do not follow the same version of Islam. This is against the inclusive spirit of Islam itself.

The saddest thing about Malaysia is that our governance is at a constant tug-o-war between secular and theocracy, and we’re slowly losing to the latter.I have always believed in using religious values in politics but do not politicise religion.

I salute and admire those who have fought long and hard to save Malaysia from ever going down the same road as the likes of Iran. This is a fight we should not be giving up anytime soon. So who’s with me?

Rejoinder: Exposing Isma’s theocratic acrobatics–The Sheer Hypocrisy of it all

Farouk A. Peru


I was most unsurprised to see that the confused racist/Islamofascist group, ISMA, had responded to my fellow MMO columnist Shafiqah Othman Hamzah.

Shafiqah had  an article on the evils of theocracy where she exposed the pretences of the Islamic priestly class. What did surprise me, however, was how ISMA defended its case. ISMA declared that Islam is not consistent with a theocracy and proceeded to paint a rosier than rosy picture of Shariah. It then proceeded to call our Constitution “Islamic constitutionalism”! These arguments were nothing more than theocratic acrobatics, as far as I am concerned, and their shambolic nature needs to be exposed.

A Model Incorruptible Malaysian Muslim courting Wahhabism. No wonder he has many young rent seeking fans who share his “Cash is King” political philosophy–Din Merican.

The author of this essay calls herself a “Wanita Isma activist.” Norhidayah begins with a snarky remark to Shafiqah, claiming she “googled” her definition of “theocracy.” Shafiqah chose a literal definition of the term but it was not an impractical one. It was a definition wholly consistent with the attitudes and practices of the Islamic priesthood who see themselves as walking deities on Earth even if they do not explicitly say so. They even style themselves as warith al-anbiya (inheritors of the Prophets) claiming that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had deemed them so.

Norhidayah, on the other hand, chose to distance herself from a literal definition, preferring to look towards European history for hers. From that tradition, she found definitions by historians and policies and practices by the Catholic Church which she equates to as theocracy, something which is “not consistent with Islam.” Let us analyse these policies and practices one by one.

The first of these is that the Catholic Church broke its adherents down to castes and classes, the nobility and the peasant. Does this not occur under the Islamofascist Shariah law? Of course it does but under another guise.

Under the classical theory of the Islamic State (which Daesh is fighting for today), non-Muslims cannot participate fully in society. They cannot be judges nor even soldiers let alone leaders of states. Not only that, they cannot even marry Muslims without first converting to Islam. Therefore Norhidayah’s argument is totally invalidated here.

This man has a RM1 billion budget to play around with

The second policy and practice led to the position of wealth and power for the priestly class. They were wealthier and more powerful than kings, says Norhidayah. I would respond with the following: Malaysia is not even a theocracy now, as Norhidayah would admit, yet our ulamas have tremendous wealth and power. Even our pendakwah bebas can drive luxury cars and command five-figure fees for their lectures (so much for following the Sunnah of austerity!). JAKIM, the ultimate ulama organisation, has a budget of a billion ringgit and yet cannot or will not produce its accounts. That is a heady dose of power. So how are Muslims different from the Catholic Church?

Norhidayah’s rosy view of Shariah is either utterly delusional or an audacious lie. Next, she claims that Islam operates under the parameters of given texts. Hence, Islam cannot be considered a theocracy because rulers cannot operate on their own whim claiming to be acting on God’s behalf.

Who does he think he is, this Islamic simpleton?  Harussani is a danger to Malaysia.To think that  the erudite HRH The Sultan of Perak entertains him.

Let us accept her premise for now before we deconstruct it below. If rulers cannot operate on their own whims and Islamic texts are considered divine, who is doing the ruling? The answer would be “God.” Therefore, by Norhidayah’s own reasoning, Islam is quite literally a theocracy. God has the power. But it’s not really God who is ruling.

Norhidayah also seems to forget the glaring factor of interpretation. She quoted the hadith of Muadh ibn Jabal which claims that Muslims are to rule with the Quran and Sunnah. This is technically incorrect. Muslims are forever bound to rule by their interpretation of the two. There is far from a single volume of Shariah codes which all Muslims follow. And Muslims are not restricted by them either.

In Shariah law, there are mechanisms through which one may “remove” the boundaries of Shariah. For example, the sole legitimacy of Islam (Quran Chapter 3 Verse 19). Some scholars see this verse as “abrogated” by verses which acknowledge the validity of other faiths (2/62 and 5/69).

Therefore, they were not “bound” by the Quran. They simply manipulated it to suit their political agenda, the way ISMA is doing so today. Had they been bound by it, they would have to formulate an interpretation which harmonises the two ideas but instead, they simply cancelled out what did not suit them. My own understanding is that the word “Islam” is simply the path to peace, present in all religions.

Lest we forget: this man who first declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state and Anwar Ibrahim supported him before he was unceremoniously removed by his political mentor in 1998. UMNO and PAS politicians are the same. So, “Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword”.  –Din Merican

So is Malaysia a theocratic or religious country? We need to consider the following – under the theocracy we are considering (the classical Islamic one), there is no half way point. Either you are fully Islamic (that is, operating fully under Shariah law) or you are not Islamic at all. That is why PAS whose ulama are all from the same mindset strives to establish their Negara Islam. It is indeed all or nothing for them. That is the only way they can find employment.

Therefore with that thinking, Malaysia is currently a secular nation. As Shafiqah asserted though, we are experiencing a creeping theocracy. The current stage we are in is on the level of psychological influence. The increased number of Malay-Muslims who are followers of Islamofascist scholars have increased. And this is what we need to reverse if we are to retain our sovereignty.


16 thoughts on “The Evils of Theocracy

  1. There is something very wrong with secularity vs theocracy debate. Erdogan came to power promising democratic reform but turning autocratic Islamist, the secularist resorted to arm struggle. On a bigger picture, the US (and other Western states), under even the most liberal leaders is unable to even forge a meaningful dialogue and path with the Islamists, instead seeing liberal Western leaders as opportunity of their weakness rather than opportunity of self reform.

    Secularity in Islamic world breed corruption and abuse but theocracy makes it even worst. There just is something very very wrong.

  2. The strength of USA is based on the concept of separation of church and state. When church becomes part of government, it leads to under-development and backward thinking.

  3. Isn’t it strange that we have an Almighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient God who could create and rule this unimaginably vast Universe for trillions of years couldn’t give a proper, simple, easily-understood set of Rules and Guidance to a miniscule bunch of beings He so lovingly created and living in a tiny corner to govern themselves without first killing each other all claiming to do it in His Holy name?

    An “Islamic State” is definitely not Halal because Allah or His very last Prophet never said there should be one.

  4. Islamaphobia is a rising problem that will have a far more impact on global muslims, particularly the well educated and upwardly mobile ones, than the rest of humanity. Acts of Islamic extremism and terrorism are causing so much mayhem – suicide bombings of high density places, machine gunning and salutary beheadings – all of which kill thousands of innocent people, that is pushing the West to restrict the inflow of Muslims into their countries as well as monitor their local Muslim communities. Thousands of Muslim elites and professionals (and their families) will increasingly be denied of opportunities to work and live in the entire Western world. Even getting Western education is going to be difficult.

    The educated class has to voice their concerns and condemn the extreme nature of rhetoric coming from the ulama class. The latter need to be checked and confined to a limited role that does not usurp the powers of the Sultans and a constitutional government.

    The Holy Quran seem to contain verses that call for the killing of the infidels. It is being argued that the justification of this invocation need to be seen in the context of the earlier times that necessitated it. But has this any relevance in today’s world?

    Imagine thousands of young tribal and urban children being fed with this constant message justifying the killing of infidels (non-believers of Islam, in fact) and they growing up imbibing the message. They will likely contribute to a chaotic world, not a peaceful one.

    How could an educated Muslim parent mitigate the negative effects of this particular unfortunate message. Just blanko in black this verse in the household copy of the Quran so that your young growing up children will not get to read this. As they grow up and get curious they may want to find out on their own what it is that was blacked out. When he reads what it was, he probably would think his parents did the right thing to conceal the message. There is also the likelihood that when he himself gets married and have children he may delete the very verse his parents did.

  5. Frankie

    The Americans and the Westerners had killed more people on earth then all the Muslim theocratic states combined.They almosed wiped out the Indians in the Americas,killed 80millions people in both world wars and million others in smaller wars such as Vietnam,Koreas,Iraq,Afghanistan,Libya,etc.I doubt theocrasies are the reason for all these but far more likely the insatiable human desire for material wealth and power to be the more likely reason.

  6. Politicians/corporate-religious-society leaders/the rich may all consider that their respective Almighty are at their beck and call and thus many may not have any fear or respect for the Almighty or Creations and may have policies to enrich ownselves be any means be they illegal or immoral.

  7. As a Christian, I support separation of church and state not because I believe it is what the scripture advised. But, rather, I understand that I have no scriptural support that there would be another who would be fit enough to represent God.

    Electing a person democratically is a mere desire to minimize destructions during an inevitable need to change leadership, as what I gathered from Karl Popper.

    I would advocate democracy to my cousin in faith based on the suggestion that a free environment could be the best environment for the pious Muslims to live out their obedience willingly most beautifully in a time when the Islamic Ummah is in turmoil everywhere in this world.

    I am of strong opinion that Islamic nations should not ban any form of Islamic teachings. But, rather, Islamic nations should be encouraged to facilitate rigorous debates amongst different school of thoughts.

    • Religions and States have never been separated as both use each other to further their own agenda. Christians used Crusaders to increase their numbers, Moguls used power to expand Islam. State Rulers are also known to use Religions for own political purposes as can be seen even in US where the present Presidential aspirants are courting the religious leaders to garner for votes.


    • Religion may not have made then any better but may be an insult to the animals to equate themeith them. Remember animals do not have any religion and thus do not use religion to kill other animals or use religion for power or greed.

  8. Classic whataboutery from my fellow commenter Abdul Jalil. What does that have to do with the article under discussion?

    Has looes been banned from commenting, Dato’ Din? Please consider lifting the ban, at least some of her (his?) postings were entertaining diversions at times.

    To add to the discussion, I think people in general crave things that are absent in their societies- sort of a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ thing. Consider Iran, where the government is a constitutional theocracy. Having forced religion upon the masses throughout the decades, the people grew sick of the preaching and have stopped listening. Iranians are probably the least-religious folk in the Middle East.

    Conversely, in Egypt where groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were banned and religion taken out of the public sphere, citizens clamour for a greater role for faith. You can see why the Brotherhood got elected to power after Mubarak was deposed.

    Here’s an interesting article about Iran from the Economist, originally published in 2014:

  9. Augustine
    What I was trying to point out is that theocracy is not the main problem facing mankind but the danger is mankind itself wether it call itsef secularist,Muslim,Christian,Hindhu,Buddhist,atheist,etc.Unfortunately most of us only are so bias and and conveniently look at the other side to put all the blame.

  10. /// Political religion must die because people should be able to stand against their government without being seen as standing against religion. ///

    Spot on. Worse still, citizens who stand against a corrupt government will be seen as going against god.

  11. //The: Spot on. Worse still, citizens who stand against a corrupt government will be seen as going against god.

    Spot on. Citizens who stand against a corrupt government will be successful with God’s blessing and assistance.

  12. /// Steven Wong July 18, 2016 at 11:15 am
    Take religion away and all these people are just animals roaming in the wild. ///

    Were the people from ancient civilization such as India and China roaming in the wild B.C.?

    OTOH, give them religions and they became worse than animals – slaughtering each other in the name of gods. The Crusades, The Inquisition, the Shias and Sunnis killing each other, the Buddhists and Muslims at each other throats in Thailand, ad nauseum.

    Take religion away and people will have a chance to treat each other as one. Race already divides. We don’t need another artificial division.

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