Malay Muslims need to speak up against extremism

by Gan Pei Ling, 22 October 2017 © The Malaysian Insight

MORE Malay Muslims must speak out against religious extremism and curtails on intellectual freedom, say panelists at a forum on reason and faith in society today.

Citing the ongoing debate over the Muslim-only launderette as an example, social activist Marina Mahathir said it would have been akin to the beginning of apartheid.

“It’s about dividing the Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s the beginning of apartheid. Therefore we have a right to say stop,” she said to a packed room at the University of Nottingham Malaysia teaching centre in Kuala Lumpur.

She added that the royal backlash against preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, who supported the establishment of Muslim-only launderette, was unusual.

“When it comes to religion, people are quite afraid to speak up because they have seen what happen to people who speak out like the late Kassim Ahmad.

“Not everyone agree with what’s going on. It’s a culture of fear. We need more people to speak up, not just us the usual lot (on the panel), to say enough is enough,” said Marina.

Beside the culture of fear, Zaharom Nain from University of Nottingham Malaysia believes an insular siege mentality among Malay Muslims also restrict them from speaking their minds freely about religion.

“Some of the polls that have been done indicate that. Media like Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian and TV3 that is the dominant media in rural areas provide a skewed picture of Malaysia,” said Zaharom.

Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom added that few political parties with a Malay Muslim majority dared to speak up against the growing extremism.

“What we need are the people from Amanah and Bersatu to say no we cannot allow this to continue,” he said.

He added that none of these political parties have been brave enough to openly oppose PAS president Hadi Awang’s proposal to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to implement hudud.

“They think it’s political suicide, that they will be accused of being a murtad if they don’t support it,” said Azmi.

He added that it is up to Malay Muslims on the ground to make intellectual freedom a political issue otherwise politicians will not care.

Azmi was referring to the recent ban on a book authored by a US-based Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol and Mustafa’s detention by Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi).

Isham Pawan Ahmad from the International Islamic University Malaysia said Malay Muslims must be more discerning between man-made and divine ideas.

“It’s your right to listen to different ideas and make a decision for yourself.

“When the Prophet said something, his followers would ask: Is that a revelation or your opinion? If it’s your opinion, we can discuss it. Islam values shura (mutual consultation),” he said.

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