I find the above article from The Malaysian Insider (TMI) as unjustly written, full of lies and using wrong arguments and analogies to wrongly accuse the Islamic religious authorities and the Malaysian government.
It is a malicious distortion of the truth.
Below are my answers to the writer’s statements, TMI’s text is in blue and my answer will be in red.
It seems that whenever we question anything, either the government or those linked to it does, it is seen as a bad thing. And this comes during a period of a prime minister whose initial speech said “the era of government knows best is over”.
So, why is questioning a fatwa a big issue? It is truly not.
A: Official fatwas are Muslim’s guidelines. We are the Muslims of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah. People cannot interpret Islam as they wish or the way they want it to be like the liberals do. I think it is the same with other religions.
Even if we look at the most conservative nations practising Islam, there are landmark changes globally. Iran allows sex reassignment surgeries for their transgender community. However warped their mindset may be, it is clearly different than Malaysians who recently heckled the courts for upholding the constitution.
A: Iran is one of an example of “the most conservative nations practising Islam”? He must be kidding because Iran is not an Islamic country but it is a Syiah country. There are big differences in important matters like akidah between us, the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah Muslims and Syiah followers. The rules of Syiah is against our akidah.
In Saudi Arabia, the authorities are now mulling over giving women the right to drive cars, a fatwa which is decades’ old and has only been vocally challenged in the last five years.
We have seen Muslim-majority countries that are moving forward in issuing religious edicts or limiting the viability of such rules and regulations to allow moving ahead together as a nation.
A: Driving has nothing to do with akidah, unlike LGBT. Malaysia never ban women from driving. Women are free to drive buses, lorries or even to become commercial pilots.
And yet in Malaysia, we continue to limit the general public and civil stakeholders from venturing an opinion without being heckled, or in the case of Sisters in Islam, having a fatwa quietly gazetted banning them.
A: Sisters in Islam (SIS) leaders are liberal activists. Liberalism is against Islam. They tell people that they understand Islam better than our Muslim scholars and Muftis but they do not follow even the basic rules like to cover their aurat. They do not respect Islamic rules and want liberal rules to be accepted as Islamic rules.
It is truly nonsensical that in this day and age when other nations are talking about matters which are truly important such as poverty eradication, the lack of knowledgeable human resource, and pushing for better public transport – we are stuck discussing, and even going so far as to file police reports, a tourist attraction dedicated to a Hindu deity placed on a bottle of water next to a “Halal” logo.
A: Islam is the religion of the Federation of Malaysia, so in Malaysia everybody must respect Islam. The halal logo was placed at a lower part of the mineral water bottle than the Batu Caves picture. In our custom, that shows disrespect to the religion of the Federation. I guess in Vatican City, they also have rules to respect Christianity more than other religions suitable to their customs that people over there must respect.
The Malaysian government has done much more than solving the problems of “poverty eradication, the lack of knowledgeable human resource, and pushing for better public transport”. But there are people who are never thankful and only look for ways to complain and cause troubles to the country to put down the government.
Even worse: we have Malaysian Muslims who think cross-dressers are a threat to society by promoting a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT, if you still don’t know what that is) lifestyle.
A: LGBT is against Islam and so are cross-dressers. Malaysia does not sign the SOGI Rights.
Permit me to point out that a guy in a dress has nothing to do with their sexual orientation, especially when Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden chose to wear a burqa to escape their hunters.
Would you accuse them of being sodomites, too?
A: Will a man who is not LGBT supporter wants to look like a woman and wear a dress in public without any purpose?
re: “Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden chose to wear burqa to escape their hunters”.
There is a huge difference between men wearing women’s clothes to escape from danger or to save their lives or for other important reasons like investigating a certain case compared to men who always wear them including in public because they like and proud of wearing them, saying that they have the rights to do so.
Fatwas should be up for question because while the religion stays true, its followers evolve. There was once a limited source of knowledge specific to Islam from muftis and imams, and perhaps PAS for the more politically inclined.
A: We cannot change a religion, changing means liberalising and that is against Islam. To question a fatwa, a person must be at least as knowledgeable as the members of the fatwa council on Islamic matters. PAS is not an Islamic party because like SIS they only use the word Islam for their own agendas.
However, with the advent of the Internet, anything and everything about Islam and other religions can be found online. Intellectual debates can be seen on YouTube as raging, trolling debates rage on news portals and social media aplenty.
A: We can find lots of things from the internet including lies like this article from TMI. How can a person who does not understand a subject take part in intellectual debates on the subject or be a judge on problems regarding the subject?
Malaysian Muslims can not only listen to the lectures of Azhar Idrus, but can also go as far the BBC to see debates of Islam versus Science.
A: Yes, I agree that we must not listen to Azhar Idrus and his ‘fatwas’. I wrote about one of them: Ustaz Azhar Idrus: “Islam Dan Kristian Bertuhankan Allah?”
The internet sparked a revolution of information being streamed, “torrented” and read online without control, allowing Malaysian Muslims to seek counsel outside the boundaries, and this is what has made our religious authorities very nervous to the point of stupidity.
A: It is the main duty for our religious authorities to protect the akidah of the Muslims in Malaysia. Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitutions gives the rights for the states in Malaysia to have state laws to control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims. Prevention is better than cure.
What was once a monopoly of information by the religious authorities is now apparently threatened by Malay-language Bibles and Irshad Manji books. Not Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins, whose books are widely available and for everyone to read and buy either online or at a local bookshop.
A: The religious authorities are not threatened by the Malay bibles or Irshad Manji books. They are only doing their duty because any bible that calls the Christian god as Allah is against most of the states’ laws in Malaysia. Irshad Manji books are about deviant teaching but she claims them as the true teaching of Islam. Promoting deviant teachings to Muslim is against the law of Malaysia. All countries have laws to protect their constitutions and people.
They have lost control over the access to information; so clinging to this moral authority has resulted in stupidity beyond measure. Instead of opening issues for debate, our government-led religious authorities have instead decided it is better to outlaw those who talk back.
A: Religious authorities have lots of other more important things to do to benefit the Muslims.
Never since the schism of the Christians by Martin Luther, creating the Catholics and Lutheran churches and subsequently the Protestant denomination, has any religious authority done something so despicable.
Questions lead to enlightenment. The ability to debate and discuss everything – even faith – is a must. While this is definitely encouraged, what matters is also how such affairs are debated.
A: A rule is not made to be broken even if one does not like it. In Islam not everything can be debated and denying Allah’s rules affect our akidah and cause a person to be a murtad or an apostate.
It is one thing to say our religious authorities are out of sync with the rest of the world, but it is totally another for us to blame it on the religion itself.
Tact, respect and even the ability to access information are a necessity in order to discuss these issues intellectually and with a level head. Personally, Islam should not be limited for discussion among Muslims because it has now become a national issue.
A: Muslim authorities in Malaysia do not interfere with people of other religions unless people of other religions slander, humiliate, interfere in Islamic matters or other similar things in order to protect Islam and the Muslims.
When you steal the bodies of the deceased, kidnap kids from parents, stop people from getting married on their wedding day, confiscate Bibles or even raid bookstores and take managers to court, I am pretty sure you are affecting the lives of non-Muslims as well.
A: These are lies and the writer spins the facts of the cases to unjustly accuse the Muslim authorities.
So, religious authorities have affected not only national unity, but have created a schism in national unity and harmony that will not be resolved easily. – November 18, 2014.
A: People like the writer who write and spread lies are the ones that “have affected not only national unity, but have created a schism in national unity”.