Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger


April 20, 2016

(@KLIA on the way back to Phnom Penh)

Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Dr. Zakir Naik, the controversial Muslim televangalist, is no stranger to Malaysia. He was here first in 2012 to deliver lectures in Johor Baru, Shah Alam, Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur. According to the organizers of the first lecture series, their objective was to promote harmony among people of various religions.

He is now into his second lecture tour series here. Presumably his objective to spread the message of peace, love and brotherhood among the various religions and Islam remains unchanged.

But perhaps his presence is also to emphasise the superiority of Islam over other religions; and as stated in the website of the Islamic Research Foundation of which he is President and founder, “about the truth and excellence of Islamic teachings – based on the glorious Qur’an and authentic Hadith, as well as adhering to reasons, logic and scientific facts”?

His main claim to fame (and contrariety)  in Malaysia comes from being recipient of the Ma’al Hijrah Distinguished Personality award by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah in 2013 for his significant service and contribution to the development of Islam. He has also received various other awards and honours – all from Islamic governments or organizations.

That said, his standing with some non-Muslim governments and organizations is less creditable and more controversial. The religious television channel, Peace TV, which acknowledges him as its main ideologue as well as driving force, has been banned by his own government, the Indian government, for its anti-Indian malicious content.

This is a reasonable statement

The station has also been in trouble with various broadcasting authorities for some of its content and Dr. Zakir himself has been banned from entry to the United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore – in the UK, for allegedly “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by making statements that attempt to justify terrorist activity and fostering hatred.”

It could be that Dr. Zakir has been unfairly targeted and victimized for his religious zealotry and popularity with the Muslim community. He has claimed, for example, that he has been quoted out of context for his views on terrorism.

But if he has been misquoted or has recanted for his earlier views on Al Queda and his support of Islamic terrorism, what are his perspectives on Islam and other religions which have enabled him to gain such a huge following among Muslims all over the world, and have him placed so high up on the pedestal?

Peace Preacher or Hate Monger.

Critics who have followed his lectures and preaching – Dr. Zakir, following the example of Christian telemarketers, describes himself as “a dynamic international orator of Islam and comparative religion – have expressed concern over his conservative and extremist views on a wide range of subjects, including apostasy and the propagation of other faiths in Islamic states, both of them major issues in Malaysia.

On the former, he is said to have argued that Muslims who convert from Islam should not necessarily receive death sentences, but that under Islamic rule those who leave Islam and then “propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam” should be put to death. Another source states that according to Dr. Zakir “there is no death penalty for apostates in Islam, until the apostate starts to preach his new religion; then he can be put to death.”

On the latter, Dr. Zakir has noted that while he appreciates that people of other religions allow Muslims to freely propagate Islam in their country, “the dissemination of other religions within an Islamic state must be forbidden because (he believes) other faiths are incorrect, so their propagation is as wrong as it would be for an arithmetic teacher to teach that 2+2=3 or 6 instead of 2+2=4.”

Similarly Dr. Zakir has argued, “regarding building of churches or temples, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worship-ping is wrong?”

Similarly, The Times of India in a profile piece on Dr. Zakir has argued that “the Wahabi-Salafist brand of Islam, bankrolled by petro-rich Saudi Arabia and propagated by preachers like Naik, does not appreciate the idea of pluralism.”

The article quotes Muslim scholar Wahiduddin Khan: “Dawah, which Naik also claims to be engaged in, is to make people aware of the creation plan of God, not to peddle some provocative, dubious ideas as Naik does.”

He adds: “The wave of Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have only added to the Muslims’ sense of injury. In such a situation, when a debater like Zakir Naik, in eloquent English, takes on preachers of other faiths and defeats them during debates, the Muslims’ chests puff with pride. A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives

A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives it a sense of pride. Never mind if it’s false pride.”

Whether Dr. Zakir should have the right to be in Malaysia and to speak on comparative religions may be controversial but in our part of the world apparently lacking appropriate Islamic “wise” men and leaders to look up to, hopefully it is not false pride that Dr. Zakir is peddling but the doctrinal and institutional re-caliberation of the religion so that Malaysians can be reassured of its contribution to our religious and racial peace and harmony.

 

President Barack Obama nominates Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court


March 17, 2016

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

President Barack Obama nominates Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court

by The Editorial Board

If you tried to create the ideal moderate Supreme Court nominee in a laboratory, it would be hard to do better than Judge Merrick Garland.

In nominating Judge Garland to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, President Obama has taken his constitutional duty seriously, choosing a deeply respected federal appellate judge with an outstanding intellect, an impeccable legal record, and the personal admiration of Republicans and Democrats.

And yet, within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement in the Rose Garden on Wednesday morning, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, was again outrageously claiming that Mr. Obama made his pick “not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election.”

He again vowed not to hold hearings until after Mr. Obama leaves office. But there is no reason to believe that Mr. McConnell and his party will hold hearings at all. What they have claimed is blanket authority to veto any nominee before hearings or a vote takes place. This is a dangerous new role for the Senate, one that could turn the court into nothing more than a group of black-robed politicians.

Under normal, even routinely partisan, circumstances, Judge Garland would sail through confirmation hearings and be confirmed by the Senate in a matter of months, if not weeks. That was obvious to Senator Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican from Utah who sits on the Judiciary Committee, who in 2010 called Mr. Garland a “consensus nominee” and said there would be “no question” that he would be confirmed to the Supreme Court with bipartisan support.

Just last week, Mr. Hatch repeated his praise, saying that if Mr. Obama wanted a real moderate, he “could easily” name Mr. Garland, but predicted that “he probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election.”

But we are no longer operating in the realm of sense or normality. The Republican Party is staring down the very strong possibility that Donald Trump will be the party’s presidential candidate. And now, its leaders, in a stupendous show of political malfeasance, are putting the Supreme Court’s constitutional duties on hold while they make dishonest claims about “letting the people’s voice be heard.”

There is some irony to the Republican rejection of Judge Garland, a 63-year-old white man, who might be considered too moderate for Democrats hoping that the next justice would have a more liberal legal record. It is a choice that does not bring more diversity the court.

In his 19 years on the bench, Judge Garland has established a solidly centrist voting record that reflects no strong political ideology. He has sided with the government in cases involving habeas corpus petitions from detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and has voted against criminal defendants more often than his liberal colleagues have. He has generally voted in favor of deferring to the considered decisions of federal agencies. In civil rights cases, he has voted in favor of plaintiffs who have claimed rights violations.

None of this matters to Senate Republicans, who have pledged that there will be no hearings, no vote — and with a few exceptions, not even the courtesy of a meeting with Judge Garland. They have said that if he were to appear before the Senate, he would be treated like a “piñata.”

This intransigence is unlikely to win votes for the party in November. Americans strongly oppose the Republican blockade, which is unprecedented in the nation’s history. As Mr. Obama said Wednesday, “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up-or-down vote.” If they do not, he said, the process of nominating Supreme Court justices — one of the most important jobs of any president — will be “beyond repair.”

Mr. Obama has picked a strong nominee, who won bipartisan support in his confirmation to the appeals court. If the Republicans refuse to accept him, they will face one of two scenarios: a nominee selected by Hillary Clinton, who may well be more liberal, or one chosen by President Donald Trump — a racist, vulgar demagogue who many Republicans have said is unfit to run the country.

The Supreme Court vacancy and why President Barack Obama is bound by the US Constitution to act


February 18, 2016

What you need to know about The Supreme Court vacancy and why President Barack Obama is bound by the US Constitution to act

The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, there is now a vacancy that must be filled on the Supreme Court — and President Obama has a Constitutional responsibility to nominate someone to take his place.

The Supreme Court is a vital institution of American democracy and, since the founding of our country, the President of the United States has had the responsibility to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court every time — and any time — there is a vacancy on the bench. It then falls to the United States Senate to confirm that nominee before he or she can take her seat on our nation’s highest court.

The confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice is a solemn responsibility that the President and the Senate share under the U.S. Constitution. It is not a political opportunity that reflects “left” or “right,” Democrat or Republican. It’s a serious obligation to make sure that an indisputably qualified person of integrity is nominated and confirmed to sit on the highest court in the land.

The President plans to offer his nominee for the Supreme Court to the Senate — and the Senate has more than enough time to confirm that nominee.

Here are the facts:

FACT: Six Justices have been confirmed in a presidential election year since 1900.

For more than two centuries, it has been standard practice for Congress to confirm a president’s Supreme Court nominee, whether in a presidential election year or not. Of the six justices confirmed since 1900, three have been Republicans. The most recent Justice to be confirmed in an election year was Justice Kennedy — appointed by President Reagan — who was confirmed by a Democratic-controlled Congress in February of 1988.

FACT: Every nominee has received a vote within 125 days of nomination.

Since 1975, the average time from nomination to confirmation is 67 days. In fact, since 1875, every nominee has received a hearing or a vote. The longest time before confirmation in the past three decades was 99 days, for Justice Thomas, and the last four Justices, spanning two Administrations, were confirmed in an average of 75 days.

The Senate has almost a full year — more than 300 days — to consider and confirm a nominee.

 

FACT: It will be harmful and create unsustainable uncertainty if Congress fails to act on the President’s nominee.

The Supreme Court could go the better part of two Terms with a vacancy if the Senate rejects its Constitutional responsibility. It’d be unprecedented for the Court to go that long with an empty seat. Here’s why it’s harmful:

The Court’s 4-4 decisions have no value in establishing precedent on which future decisions can rely. They also cannot establish uniform nationwide rules. That means if multiple courts ruled differently on an issue before it arose at the Supreme Court, a 4-4 ruling would leave those different rules in place in different states. The result is an unsustainable uncertainty — for the law, for individual liberties, and for our economy.

As President Obama said, “The Constitution is pretty clear about what’s supposed to happen now.” Watch his remarks:

 

Malaysia’s Mullahs and UMNO Leaders: Don’t be Simpletons and Lazy Bums


January 4, 2016

Malaysia’s Mullahs and UMNO Leaders: Don’t be Simpletons and Lazy Bums

by Zainah Anwar

http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/sharing-the-nation/

zainahanwar2011

Last time I checked, we still live in a democracy with the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. We do not live in a theocratic dictatorship that some of us seem to imagine. So let’s end this grandiose claim that we speak in God’s name and let’s stop invoking God’s wrath on anyone and anything different. We need to find ways to conduct a sane, constructive and productive discussion on Islam.–Zainah Anwar

I wish for more than anything else as we enter 2016 is for Malaysians to make a conscious decision to be civil, informed, and fair-minded in managing our differences, in particular on matters of religion.

To threaten to rape or kill someone for just having a different opinion, to declare a group of eminent establishment figures who have and are still serving state and society with distinction as deviants, and threaten them with a fatwa indicates the depths of ignorance, misguidance and hysteria we have plunged into when talking about Islam.

Really, the only way one can shut up any public debate on matters of religion is for the government to decide to end the use of Islam as a source of law and public policy to govern our lives, in private and in public. It’s as simple as that.

The stark reality, however, is we live in a country where in the name of Islam, we can be sent to prison, fined, lashed, shamed, fatwa’ed and pronounced as deviants and apostates. What are considered personal sins in the eyes of God have been turned into crimes against the state. And we are supposed to remain silent and be silenced while our fundamental rights and liberties are abused and rule of law is violated by some self-appointed God’s “soldiers” on earth?

mullah-harussani-and-najib

Two of a Kind–Islamic Dodos

Last time I checked, we still live in a democracy with the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. We do not live in a theocratic dictatorship that some of us seem to imagine. So let’s end this grandiose claim that we speak in God’s name and let’s stop invoking God’s wrath on anyone and anything different. We need to find ways to conduct a sane, constructive and productive discussion on Islam (and politics).

First, as a start, can we please stop assuming that the so-called Islamic laws of this country are God’s laws and therefore divine, perfect and unchangeable. They are men-made laws, drafted by mere mortals sitting in government departments and passed by very flawed mortals sitting in Parliament and state assemblies. If they are indeed divine and perfect, why are they amended and continue to be amended, and why are they different from one state to another, let alone one Muslim country to another?

So let’s stop equating the Islamic family law, the Syariah criminal offences law, the hudud enactments of Kelantan and Terengganu and all other laws, rules, fatwas made by human beings to be God’s law, God’s words, and therefore divine and infallible. And to challenge or question them is to challenge God.

Let’s get serious here. Perfection belongs only to God. These codified laws, policies, fatwas and other pronouncements are exercises in interpretation and political choice. To think that just because one invokes God’s name, one becomes the walking, talking embodiment of God and has the right to denounce anyone who disagrees with one’s pronouncement as deviant or apostate is tantamount to shirk – ascribing one as equivalent to God, a grave sin in Islam.

Second, let us understand a few key terms that are now bandied about freely and interchangeably. There are distinctions between Syariah, fiqh, hukum and qanun. Syari’ah literally means the way, the path. What we mean by Syar’iah, is God’s revelation to Prophet Muhammad as embodied in the Quran, encompassing ethical values and principles to guide humans in the direction of justice and correct conduct. No person nor institution has the authority to claim certainty in understanding the divine will. Only God possesses perfect knowledge.

This led to the development of fiqh, which literally means understanding. It is the process by which humans attempt to derive legal rules from the Quran and the Sunnah (practices) of the Prophet. The classical Muslim jurists developed rigorous methodologies and principles to establish a legal system that they believed could best reflect the divine will. And yet none of them ever claimed certainty over their opinions and rulings. Certitude belongs only to God. So while Syari’ah, God’s revelation, is immutable and infallible, fiqh is changeable and fallible. Much of what we call “syariah law” today is actually fiqh, a human construction.

Hukum are legal determinations, rulings in any given case. Qanun are codified laws and regulations enacted by a government. So what we are actually talking about when we dispute over khalwat, moral policing, cross dressing, hudud, and family laws are actually qanun laws based on fiqh, our human understanding of God’s teachings. They change with time and circumstance. We are not talking about Syari’ah. We are talking and questioning the role and motivations of human agency and the methodologies used in drafting and implementation of those laws that have led to injustice and conflict of laws in our constitutional democracy.

So the next time a self-appointed soldier of God tells you you don’t have a right to question or have a different opinion, ask him exactly what is it that you are not supposed to talk about – Syari’ah, fiqh, hukum, qanun?And which category of laws that shouldn’t be questioned? Ibadat (rules that regulate the relationship between humans and God) where there is little room for disputation, or mu’amalat – rules that regulate the relationship of humans with one another? Much of the debate and contestations going on now in Malaysia are about mu’amalat laws – where jurists of over 1,000 years ago have favoured human reason, human experience, and discretion to serve the well-being of society, depending on time and place. We all know the famous example of Imam Shafi’i who changed his legal rulings when he moved from Iraq to Egypt – because of different circumstances and social conditions.

If we are truly serious, sincere and honest about wanting to use Islam to build a just society, and to reform unjust and discriminatory laws, we can mine the Muslim legal tradition, packed with juristic concepts that make reform possible.

There are maslaha (public interest), ikhtilaf (differences of opinion), istihsan (choosing the best opinion in the interest of equity and justice), istislah (choosing the best opinion in the interest of public good), and oh yes the much bandied maqasid al-syariah – the objectives of syari’ah to preserve life, faith, progeny, property and intellect.

How do we apply these principles to solve the problems and contestations we face in the context of 21st century multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia, to ensure that justice is done?

Islamic legal theory is complex and rich. So let’s not be simpletons and lazy bums when we talk and think about Islam. When you can’t debate those who challenge you, silencing them with threats and fatwa shows nothing but ugliness. This is not the way to maintain respect for your claimed authority nor the way to build love and confidence that Islam indeed has the answers, as some people like to claim.

Let’s build some pride and knowledge in our own legal tradition, instead of defiling it with shrill sloganeering that Islam is under threat, and Muslims are under siege.

In the end, what we need to ask is what is the purpose of Islam and what is the purpose of these so-called Islamic laws? We as Muslims make the effort to comply with the divine will for a purpose – to do good, to bring about justice, to contribute to the well-being of society.

The more I read and learn about Islam, the stronger is my faith in a God and a religion that is just. I am proud of the verses in the Quran that talk about men and women being each other’s protector and friend, that promote monogamy in order to prevent injustice, that advocate a relationship based on love and compassion.

Who decided these egalitarian verses should be shunted aside and who decided that verses open to be interpreted as men having authority over women and men having the right to four wives and to beat their wives be the only verses to govern a marital relationship? Where is the justice of Islam when in the 21st century we remain governed by a discriminatory legal framework that bears little reality to the lives of women and men and the family today?

Who decided that the Prophet’s marriage to Khadijah, a widow 15 years older than him, and who was his sole beloved wife until her death should not be the model of marriage in Islam? Who decided that the Prophet’s marriage to Aishah should continue to be used to justify child marriage in Muslim society? Who decided that the part of the verse that talks about marrying two, three or four be used to justify polygamy as a God-given right in Islam, and marry only one and that will be best for you to prevent you from doing injustice is ignored?

These are all human-made decisions. Not God’s. Alas, the ugly truth is, too many of those in power abuse God and Islam to serve their own personal interest to remain in power, to enrich themselves, to remain privileged and protected.

As we descend into an Orwellian society where right is wrong and good is bad, and where Big Brother watches our every move, let us who believe in justice and reason take strength in one foundational idea in Islamic jurisprudence, attributed to Imams Shafi’i and Abu Hanifa: “We believe that our opinions are correct, but we are always cognizant of the fact that our opinions may be wrong.

We also believe that the opinions of our opponents are wrong, but we are always cognizant of the fact that they may be correct.” And in our search for solutions, let us be resolute and be guided by the words of the 14th century jurist, Ibn Qayim al-Jawziyyah, “The fundamentals of the Shari’ah are rooted in wisdom and promotion of the welfare of human beings in this life and the Hereafter.

Shari’ah embraces justice, kindness, the common good and wisdom. Any rule that departs from justice to injustice, from kindness to harshness, from the common good to harm, or from rationality to absurdity cannot be part of Shari’ah even if it was introduced by interpretation.”In the end, only God knows best. So let’s not play God on this earth.

 

 

Kassim Ahmad on The Medina Charter


December 9, 2015

Kassim Ahmad on The Medina Charter

by Kassim Ahmad (published with permission and at the request of the author)

Kassim Ahmad in Kulim, KedahThe Medina Charter, written and promulgated by Prophet Muhammad for the multi-religious ten thousand-strong citizens of the city-state of Medina in 622 A.D is truly a remarkable political-constitutional document. The claim made by Professor M. Hamidullah that it was the first written constitution (FN1) in the world is not without basis. Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens (FN2), written on papyrus, discovered by an American missionary in Egypt in 1890 and published in 1891, was not a constitution. It was an account of the constitution of the city-state of Athens. Other legal writings on the conduct of ancient societies have been found, but none can be described as a constitution.

The Medina Charter is the first, and in this it preceded the American Constitution of 1787, considered by Western authorities as “a landmark document of the Western world … the oldest written national constitution in operation” (FN3) by more than a thousand years! It also preceded the English feudal bill of rights, the Magna Carter of 1215, by almost six centuries!

Not only is the Medina Charter important in the sense that it is the first written constitution; it is also modern in the sense that it was promulgated for a plural society, giving equal rights to every citizen as well as giving them a say in governmental matters, as we shall see.

Considering all these, it is amazing that those Muslim leaders and writers who talk and write about the Islamic state seldom refer to this important seminal political document of Islam.

It is to be remembered that Muhammad had become a prophet, reciting God’s revelations to his fellow-Meccans, for twelve years before he and his followers migrated to Yathrib, two hundred and ten miles to the north of Mecca. There was going to be another ten years to his mission before he completed the delivery of the Divine message to the Arabs and to mankind in God’s final scripture, the Quran. So this Medina Charter was provisional in the sense that it could not contain all the provisions of statecraft contained in the Quran. Yathrib was later to known as “The City of the Prophet ” or simply Medina. The reason for the migration was the growing opposition of the Quraisy aristocracy to his teachings and the receptive attitude shown by some Yathrib pilgrims to Mecca at this time.

The whole text of the Charter has been reproduced, word for word, by Ibn Ishaq and Abu Ubaid in their respective books from the original preserved by Ibn Abi Khithamah. (FN4)

The Charter consists of 47 clauses, but due to different numbering, Prof. Hamidullah counts it to be 52 (FN5). Clauses 1, 2 and 39 state the formation of a sovereign nation-state with a common citizenship, consisting of various communities, principally Muslim Arabs from Mecca (the Muhajirin or Immigrants), Muslim Arabs from Yathrib (the Ansar or Helpers), other monotheists form Yathrib (i.e. the Jews) and others who must be at that time still pagans. These constitute a unified citizenry (Arabic term, ummah), having equal rights and responsibilities, as distinct from other peoples.

It should not escape anyone’s notice that these two clauses established the first modern nation-state in the world. Although Medina was just a city, its Charter was to last until the beginning of the Umayyad Dynasty in 1661. Western historians cite the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 as the beginning of the modern nation-state era. (FN6)

The Charter provided a federal structure with a centralized authority, with the various tribes in various districts constituting a unit and enjoying autonomy in certain matters of a social, cultural and religious character. Provision for this district autonomy is repeated for each district. (Clauses 3 through to 11 and 26 through to 35) In fact, many matters were left in the hands of the autonomous units, except state security and national defense. (Clauses 17, 36 (a) and 47) Provisions for these centralized subjects are made in Clauses 13, 15, 17 and 44. Only in cases of disputes the units could not resolve, recourse for their decisions had to be made to the Prophet, whose decision was final. (Clauses 23 and 41)

As Prof. Hamidullah rightly stated, ” … this new constitution … brought with it very important, and — to Arabia at least — very revolutionary change and improvement, by providing the people with a central public institution for seeking justice, in place of everyone seeking it with the power of his own hand or, at best, that of his family. This epoch-making innovation … brought an end for all times to the chaos of tribalism and which laid the basis for a wider institution, viz a State.” (FN7)

It should be noted that this loyalty to the State by its plural citizenry constituted a nationalism, or more exactly a patriotism, that is approved by Islam, contrary to what some modern Muslim ideologues assert. It is in line with the teaching in the Quranic verse, “O people, We created you from the same male and female and rendered you into distinct peoples and tribes that you may recognize one another. The best of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.” (FN8)

There were twenty districts each with a chief (naqib) and deputy chiefs (`arif) and its meeting place (saqifah). The city at this time had a population of about ten thousand. Of these, the Muslims made up only a few hundred; half of it were monotheist Jews, the rest being polytheists. (FN9)

It is noteworthy that the Charter ordained equality to its members and protected them against oppression. (Clause 16). The State proclaimed the brotherhood of believers and gave each one a right and support to give protection to any individual, excepting an enemy. (Clause 15). It also extended help to its members in debt or in financial difficulties in regard to payment of ransom or blood-money. (Clause 12). It prohibited help or refuge to be given to a murderer. (Clause 22).

A very important human right is given in Clause 25 where freedom was guaranteed for each community to practice its own religion. The implication of this clause is that each individual was also free to choose his or her religion, in line with the clear teachings of the Quran. (FN10)

Another important principle of statecraft is consultation with the people in all matters. This is stated in Clause 37(a). Unlike in modern democratic polity, the voice of the people, vox populi, regardless of whether that voice represents right and truth or not, is given the highest value. This is a basic flaw in Western democracy. Another important principle of just governance is that no quarter is given to an injustice or wrong-doing. In the Charter, this is stated in Clause 47.

As I stated above, this constitution is Muhammad’s ijtihad at formulating a constitution when he was confronted with the task of administrating the city-state of Medina. At this time, he had not yet received the full Quran. He had therefore to fall back on customs and precedents, and he did. In any case, all constitutions are provisional in the sense that it must be adapted to changing times.

A trace of Arab tribalism can be detected in two clauses where a member together with his family were to be punished because of a crime he committed. (Clauses 25 and 36(b)) This clearly contradicts another clause which states that no evil-doer is punished except for the crime he commits. (Clause 46)

Perhaps, in the light of present Muslim interest in an “Islamic state”, we should point out that this important constitutional document of Islam does not anywhere use the term “Islamic state” of “Islamic society”. The major principles governing an Islamic society are, of course, present — principles like justice, brotherhood and unity of believers, unity and cooperation among citizens of the state, freedom of religion, strict adherence to pacts entered into between parties, cooperation to do good and to prevent evil, encouragement for high moral conduct, consultation as a method of government.

It is also interesting to note that what has been called “Hudud laws”, being part of Islamic Law, is also nowhere mentioned in the document.

It should be noted that the Charter, this first Islamic political-constitutional document, was given to the people of Medina in the name of Muhammad the Prophet (Clause 1) and also in the name of God as well as Prophet Muhammad. (Clause 47) Why two different ways of phrasing the ultimate source of power? It is to be remembered that during the Western Middle Ages, the Church ruled supreme in the name of God, and God’s name was, of course, much misused by hypocrites and opportunists. The modern Western practice of replacing God with the people has, of course, not helped matters very much. In the name of the people, oppression, wars, colonialism and aggressions have been launched.

Thus, even in this modern age of science and technology, mankind cannot ignore a power that is greater than itself. Mankind has an autonomous right to live, and to live happily, but he must do that in a lawfully created Universe. It is in this sense that the Charter was given in the name of Muhammad the Prophet, who represented the principle of the good and of right reason, which is higher than the individual man. Likewise, in Clause 47 God’s name was put first, as God represents the highest Good and the highest principle of right reason. This is necessary to conduct Man to higher and ever higher achievements.

THE MEDINA CHARTER (FN11)

In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

(1) This is a document from Muhammad the prophet (governing the relations) between the believers and Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib, and those who followed them and joined them and labored with them.

(2) They are one community (umma) to the exclusion of all men.

(3) The Quraysh emigrants according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit within their number and shall redeem their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.

(4-8) The B. ‘Auf according to their present custom shall pay the bloodwit they paid in heatheism; every section shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers. The B. Sa ida, the B. ‘l-Harith, and the B. Jusham, and the B. al-Najjar likewise.

(9-11) The B. ‘Amr b. ‘Auf, the B. al-Nabit and the B. al-‘Aus likewise.

(12)(a) Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or bloodwit in kindness.

(12)(b) A believer shall not take as an ally the freedman of another Muslim against him.

(13) The God-fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or animosity, or corruption between believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he be a son of one of them.

(14) A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.

(15) God’s protection is one, the least of them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. Believers are friends one to the other to the exclusion of outsiders.

(16) To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided.

(17) The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of God. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.

(18) In every foray a rider must take another behind him.

(19) The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.

20)(a) The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.

(20)(b) No polytheist shall take the property of person of Quraysh under his protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.

(21) Whoever is convicted of killing a believer without good reason shall be subject to retaliation unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood-money), and the believers shall be against him as one man, and they are bound to take action against him.

(22) It shall not be lawful to a believer who holds by what is in this document and believes in God and the last day to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of God and His anger on the day of resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither repentance nor ransom will be received from him.

(23) Whenever you differ about a matter it must be referred to God and to Muhammad.

(24) The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.

(25) The Jews of the B. ‘Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.

(26-37) The same applies to the Jews of the B. al-Najjar, B. al-Harith, B. Sai ida, B. Jusham, B. al-Aus, B. Tha’laba, and the Jafna, a clan of the Tha‘laba and the B. al-Shutayba. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Tha ‘laba are as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.

 (38) The Jews must pay with the believers so long as war lasts.

39) Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.

(40) A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime.

(41) A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family.

(42) If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be referred to God and to Muhammad the apostle of God. God accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this document.

(43) Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.

(44) The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib.

(45)(a) If they are called to make peace and maintain it they must do so; and if they make a similar demand on the Muslims it must be carried out except in the case of a holy war.

(45)(b) Every one shall have his portion from the side to which he belongs.

(46) The Jews of al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with the people of this document in purely loyalty from the people of this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires ought acquires it for himself. God approves of this document.

(47) This deed will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes forth to fight and the man who stays at home in the city is safe unless he has been unjust and sinned. God is the protector of the good and God-fearing man and Muhammad is the apostle of God.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) The First Written Constitution in the World, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, 1968. First published in England, 1941.

(2) Translated by Frederic G. Kenyon, Internet. !996 The Avalon Project.

(3) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1991.

(4) The First Written Constitution in the World, p. 9. The translation of the whole text for A. Guillaume’s Life of Muhammad is appended at the end.

(5) Ibid., pp. 19-20.

(6) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition, 1991.

(7) The First Written Constitution, p. 18.

(8) Quran, 49:13.

(9) Ibid., pp. 12-13.

(10) “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinguished from the wrong way.” (2:256) Note that this statement of complete religious freedom comes immediately after the grandest statement of God’s power to be found in any scripture. It is indeed significant!

(11) This text is taken from A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad — A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1955; pp. 231-233. Numbering added.

NSC– The End of the rudiments of Democracy in Malaysia


December 3, 2015

NSC– The End of the rudiments of Democracy in Malaysia, so wake up Fellow Malaysians

by Arfa Yunus

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

Hilary, Ambiga and Michelle

Ambiga Sreenevesan calls on MPs to do their duty to the people and the Federal Constitution, and oppose the bill.

She called on all members of parliament to do their duty to serve the people and the Federal Constitution, and oppose the Bill. Ambiga also demanded for the Bill to be withdrawn immediately.

“Malaysia does not need a bill like this, which is nothing more than an attempt by the Prime Minister to usurp more power and centralising power to himself. This goes against all principles of democracy and undermines the rule of law in the country. It will change Malaysia forever,” Ambiga said when met at Parliament lobby here.

Agong and Obama

NSC usurps the Powers of our King and Malay Rulers

The bill, if passed, will give Prime Minister Najib Razak powers that override the Yang Dipertuan Agung’s and state governments’. It also gives him authority to declare any area in the country as a “security area”.

“The entire legislation is open-ended and vague in many of its key definitions. All safeguards guaranteed to an ordinary citizen in respect of arrest and search and seizure of property are to be suspended in a security area.In other words, there are extensive powers given to the security forces to ignore fundamental rights, liberties and safeguards of an ordinary citizen in such areas,” she said.

The first reading of the NSC bill was tabled in Parliament by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim, on Tuesday. It is expected to pass the second and third readings today, which is the last day of Parliament’s sitting for the year.