A cogitation on the politicization of Islam in the country – what spurned its coming to being, it’s manifestation and how it is adversely affecting Malaysia and her citizens, in particular the ordinary Muslim citizen – in 4 parts.

In the last posting, I concluded by stating that it is important to understand the link between religious laws – politics – Islamic scholars. Each of these factors need in-depth study and analysis in order to fully understand how it impacts on the personal liberty of the Muslim citizen to practice and profess his faith of Islam.

Briefly on the issue of “religious laws” – questions such as, “Why certain laws are passed?” (in the light of the diverse opinion on these laws in Islamic jurisprudence and opinion of scholars), “Why the diversity in sentences”, “Is there unanimity of consensus on these laws?”, “How is unanimity defined and the basis thereof, how does it impact on personal accountability principle enshrined in the Quran?”, “Are they consistent with the principles in the Quran and authentic Sunnah or are they customized Arabian and Persian laws derived from their respective law makers or jurists?”, etc.

All these questions and more need to be asked.

Briefly on the political aspect – Should political parties be allowed to claim for themselves to be the champions of Islam and hence position themselves as the sole interpreter of Islam?, Should Islam be politicized at all or would a “secular situation” be more feasible for a Muslim to practice his faith without political interference?, Does the political climate favour a “certain flavour of Islam” as opposed to another?, Are we not concerned that “political Islam” will, one day create the kind of “intra-religious tensions” that is seen happening in the Middle East, Pakistan and elsewhere?, etc.

Briefly on the “Islamic scholars” – Should Islamic scholars’ opinions be regarded as infallible and hence cast in stone?, Which school of thought does the scholar belong to and does the ordinary citizen have the constitutional right to evaluate which scholar he agrees with?, Political participation of Islamic scholars and their objectivity, “competition” between Islamic scholars of differing views, “Non-Islamic” scholars are allowed to express their views in any State in their respective field of study, does the Islamic scholar has this same right?, etc.

As I have observed earlier, it is indeed a complex web beyond the imagination of the ordinary Muslim citizen who unsuspectingly often accepts matters at face value, especially those that are deemed “official” or “normal.”

The web becomes more complex to the point of being confusing to many because of other factors. In this politico-Islamisation process, there are also other “political” units involved as shown in the diagram below. Each of them impact upon the Muslim citizen’s right to practice and profess his faith. If you study the diagram, you will see clearly that the political framework in Malaysia is designed to exert control over the Muslim citizen in a way that that does not affect the Non-Muslim citizens.

Politico-Islamisation Process in Malaysia!

1. Politicians & Ngos 2. State Religious Council

3. Federal “Islamic Institutions” 4. State Religious Authorities 5. Religious Scholars

6. ???

Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution provides that “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.”

Since a Muslim citizen is subjected to the many units discussed above, it would appear that Article 11(1) is not available to the Muslim citizen. This is because the right of the Muslim citizen to practice and profess his faith is subjected to the control of the above units. These units have the force of law and hence, Muslim citizens’ rights to avail themselves of the right provided under Article 11(a) are illusory. His faith is therefore curbed by man-made laws.

It is a also a sad fact that many Judges, nothing less than Federal Court Judges have shyed away from their responsibility to interpret Article 11(1) vis-a-vis the Muslim citizen’s right though they had ample opportunity. This is something they have to answer to their own conscience and to the Maker when they ultimately face Him. When such judges refuse to undertake their responsibility in matters that concerns one’s faith, how difficult it will be for a Muslim to respect such judges (not all of them)? If my reasoning is correct (and I stand to be corrected), they are part of the oppression of faith.

As it stands, realistically Article 11(1) is not applicable to the Muslim citizen while it is applicable to the non-Muslim citizen. This brings about another constitutional discrimination against the Muslim citizen.

Article 8 of the Federal Constitution provides that:

8(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
8(2) Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.

In the light of the political structure of our country in terms of the religious institutions, not all persons are equal before the law. Since, Article 11(1) is available to the non-Muslim citizen and not the Muslim citizen; it would appear that the non-Muslims have more rights than the non-Muslims with regards to how they practice their faith.

Furthermore, it is arguable that the Muslims are being discriminated against in contravention of Article 8(2) because there is nothing in the constitution that allows any authority to curb the freedom of a Muslim to practice and profess his faith.

Article 11 (4) states the following: “State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.”

Article11(4), on the face of it applies to every citizen, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. This means that laws can be enacted to curb the Muslim’s duty to “propagate” Islam to others, including his own family. This article may be troublesome, unless properly clarified, because there are just too many injunctions in the Quran that places a divine duty to share Allah’s message with anyone who is willing. One such verse is very clear as follows:

Call them to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good advice and argue with them in the best manner. God knows well about those who stray from His path and those who seek guidance. Quran 16:125

How does a Muslim call others to the path of Allah if his divine right and duty to share the verses from the Quran (and his understanding thereof) can be curbed by law?

This is a serious matter which the law-makers must address.

I believe everyone, when they are alone, knows the answer. God “speaks” to all and has given each a conscience – but politics has become god.



[I appreciate alternative views and comments as my concern is sincere]

Jabar tries to walk with God. He has been active in advancing social, national unity and human rights issues for years. He wears many hats and is ever willing to work with any group that promotes the general...

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