Religiosity–False and Ridiculous–in Malaysia


June 9, 2017

Religiosity–False and Ridiculous–in Malaysia

by Dr. K. John@www.malaysiakini.com

I am genuinely angry and tired of much “false religiosity” which is found in many cultures and belief systems in Malaysia. I call all such unexamined cultural beliefs, worldviews; whether one is consciously aware of the existence of such implicit beliefs, or assumptions, or lack thereof.

Recently two examples of false religiosity were made evident in the Malaysian public square. I have addressed one of them through a previous column. Find it here.

Image result for Dr Asri and Zakir Naik

Zahid Hamidi and other Disciples of Zakir Zaik (Dr Asri Zainal Abidin–5th Left)

It related to misinformation and misguided statements made by Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, the current Mufti of Perlis. If I am not wrong, the post of any mufti is a public service appointment on behalf of the state government and they usually act as formal advisors to their rulers.

In this column I will address the second example of the same kind and quality of false religiosity.  But, before that, let me state a more positive note.  One of my connections (a Muslim friend) sent me a good and correct teaching (by WhatsApp) about what is truth in Islam, as an Abrahamic religion. I am glad such clear teaching is available, and many thanks to modern technology. He was responding to that earlier column.

In January 2017, the media reported that Khalid Samad, MP for Shah Alam was found guilty of a charge by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department, or JAIS, in the syariah court case for “illegal preaching”. And, as a consequence of such a punishment, it was also reported by the media that he may also be disqualified from being an MP, according to Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law, Shad Saleem Faruqi.

More recently, in a similar vein and mode, this past week, JAIS again made a statement criticizing a local mosque which invited another elected member of Parliament to address them publicly inside their local mosque. JAIS used the name of the Sultan of Selangor, saying that he was “angry” about the matter. JAIS also issued a statement publicising the matter and then decrying the so-called wrong-doing and highlighting the anger of the Sultan of Selangor. My question: is not anger also sin, especially in the month of Ramadan?

Image result for MP S Sivarasa

What Offence Did MP S. Sivarasa commit doing his duty as Subang Member of Parliament? Matters can become ridiculous in Malaysian politics under Najib Razak

I have serious problems with such false or mislabelled religious jurisprudence which denies any human being the full rights of citizenship, and especially that of  Members of Parliament. Khalid Samad is a Muslim representative but the latest charge is against R Sivarasa who is MP for Subang, and the mosque is well within his constituency. Sivarasa was performing a formal function as a people’s representative disbursing public funds.

Khalid Samad was sharing his faith and virtues in terms of Islamic thought, philosophy, and his personal life experiences with Palestinians as a result of his recent visit to Gaza. I therefore ask, so what is wrong with what he or Sivarasa did in the mosque?

Image result for MP Khalid Samad

Can someone explain to me, in serious theological or logical terms, what is wrong with such sharing of truths from his heart about his first-hand experiences learned in Gaza? Or, why could Sivarasa not be present as a people’s representative within a mosque?

Do mosques belong to JAKIM or JAIS?

Do these mosques actually “belong to JAIS”? Are all mosques then under their direct administrative jurisdiction? I was under the impression that there is no Islamic equivalent of ecclesiology. Where in our Rule of Law system is such a hierarchy of jurisprudence provided for?

If such mosques are in fact directly under the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) which is a federal government department with a minister in cabinet, what is the legal basis of such provisions? Why and how then was the one green lung behind my house converted by JAIS into a mosque after the fact? (For more information on this issue, please refer to this article and a reply by the state legislative assemblyperson for Kampung Tunku.)

What can be there be any legal or religious basis of such thinking?  Are all mosques in Malaysia funded and therefore built by JAKIM with zero funds from federal income tax revenues? Or, is it totally and fully funded by zakat or other such funds?

How then would such a financial administration and authority system be established within the nine Malay states? What about Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak? Is there a specific state enactment which establishes all these mosques under the full control and determination of some form of state Islamic administration? I ask because I am now a Selangor resident; who is seriously upset about the state administration of both land and religion.

JAIS’s simplistic thinking too may be simply partisan and political. To them, Khalid Samad had no certification to preach at this mosque. Did he really preach or teach the wrong Islamic doctrine? Really, and is not every Muslim allowed to stand up and speak about his experience of faith after a standard prayer at any mosque?

My understanding of the history of Islamic thought is that such sharing in the mosque was always encouraged, while it was dependent on the listeners to ponder the accuracy of such preaching or teaching. Is not this human attempt to control and manipulate religious thought reaching serious and partisan levels? Is that true Islam?

G25 and a moderation movement

G25 is a community of ex-public servants of Muslim faith who publicly made a statement committed to pursuing a just, democratic, peaceful, tolerant, harmonious, moderate and progressive multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious society in Malaysia. They extolled two simple and clear Islamic principles or virtues:  ‘wassatiyah’ (or moderation) and ‘maqasid syariah’ (the higher intentions of a comprehensive well-being of the people) which affirms justice, compassion, mercy, and equity.

Image result for tawfik tun dr ismail

The Gutsy, Outspoken and Moderate Muslim  Tawfik Tun Dr. Ismail (TTDI)

It was one Old Putera G25 member, Tawfik Tun Ismail who framed his personal views about JAKIM and then went to declare them publicly. TTDI, as he is fondly known among Old Putera, first questioned the role and full legal authority of JAKIM in its current capacity as a created and established federal department. JAKIM is a federal department set up under the Prime Minister’s Department of the government of Malaysia.

The then-media publisher The Malaysian Insider which published that story and raised the issue too has since been closed down. All these records of truths of interest can still be found on the internet though. I fully agree with TTDI and want to support G25 as a true movement for moderation.


KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.

8 thoughts on “Religiosity–False and Ridiculous–in Malaysia

  1. Let’s talk about FGM (Female Genital Mutilation,aka Female Circumcision), which has a Fatwa by JAKIM, that says that it is mandatory. The Mufti of Perlis doesn’t think so. That accounts for some confusion ya?

    Yes, it’s prevalent among the Malays – or didn’t you know?

  2. http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/09/asia/pakistan-china-isis-teachers/index.html
    “As China’s international influence is growing, terrorist organizations target Chinese for ransom or just to create a sensation. Cases of Chinese being kidnapped have increased,” the paper said in an editorial.

    Reading Dr KJ John’s article, and thinking about the above.

    This quote came to mind.

    // Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. (Usman B. Asif)

    I wish I know the Quran more, so that I can help my cousin-in-faith strength to harness fear for something positive in days of caution.

    A simple search did not help 😦

    // https://quran.com/search?q=fear
    // Sorry, there was an error with your search.

  3. Human emotions, even those in public domain, on public issues, public power, socialism, cannot all be rationalised. The Greek democracy does not argue it can, merely that it’s best to do so (i.e. rationalise publicly).

    It is precisely the impossibility to rationalise all human emotions, the idea of secularity, separating irrational faith from public power, becomes so superior to conduct of state and public affairs. This idea is similar to math, science and technologies that took over human development for last century and half over those pre occupied with resources, size and state control. One is a faith in self improvement and self determination, the other is cynical insecurity to political power over others and over entitlement as well as irresponsibility.

    The promise of Hadi’s PAS and their co- conspirator in UMNO is the latter. Their vision and idea is Iran that has already failed. Their current course merely desperate over entitlement and not realistic political future.

  4. Quote:- “Female Genital Mutilation,aka Female Circumcision), which has a Fatwa by JAKIM, that says that it is mandatory”

    Why would anyone want to cut away a divine creation of Allah?

    That’s like cutting away an ear or the nipples?

    I am seriously curious about male circumcision. What’s the religious reason for it, if any?

  5. In all honesty, it’s a ambivalent religion practised by a failed race residing in a kleptocratic state. Need I say more?

  6. Wayne, if you think circumcision for religious reasons is ridiculous (you may wiki it), wait til you discover why and how the Hellenistic Jews tried to ‘un-circumcise’ themselves..
    Ouch!

  7. Religion or rather Islam is the last and final ammo in the BN arsenal in winning elections. Thus Islam have been hijacked in Malaysia to suit the governing party’s agenda and hope for reelection. The Quran and the Prophet pbuh never mentioned mazhabs or schools of jurisprudence or division between Sunnis and Shias. Its all added on after the demise of the Prophet pbuh. Muslims should go back to the two sources of faith i.e. the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet.

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