Saturday, November 04, 2006


Apa yang disampaikan oleh penulis Zainah Anwar memang mengganggu fikiran -- mengenangkan seorang teman saya, di Johor, turut mengalami apa yang digambarkan dalam artikel ini.

Isunya: Bagaimana ideologi agama telah melimpahkan wabak-wabak kebencian dengan meninggalkan sama sekali proses dakwah, dialog dan adab dalam masyarakat Islam.

Islam Hadhari champions needed
Zainah Anwar [New Straits Times, 3 Nov 2006]

MANY Malaysians I meet at open house in this festive month of DeepaRaya celebrations are feeling anxious.

It is not the slug fest between the former and the current prime ministers that is the main topic of conversation among friends, acquaintances and other guests, but rather the continuing deterioration in race relations and the growing Islamic extremism and intolerant behaviour in this country.

The latest report of abuse by the moral police against an elderly American couple on holiday in Langkawi just serves to fuel these concerns.

Two months ago, two incidents occurred within a few days of each other that made me realise how serious the undercurrents of fear and anxiety are.

A friend sent out an SMS inviting his friends for a Merdeka eve barbeque. One reply came from an unknown person: "If this party is about IFC, we are going to burn it N kill them all. Beware."

The young man was shocked how an invitation to celebrate independence day could elicit such a violent response from an unknown person about an Inter-Faith Commission that does not even exist.

Then a few days after, a colleague at Sisters in Islam said her friend’s brother was beaten up by three neighbourhood boys in Ampang because they were angry that he believed in freedom of religion and Lina Joy’s right to convert. The boy received several stitches for his wounds and made a police report.

Another colleague came back from her Raya holidays in Johor, recounting heated debates between family members and two nephews, one a 17-year-old studying in a religious secondary school and the other a 30-year-old running his own business in Kuala Lumpur, who unequivocally pronounced that Muslims who leave Islam should be killed.

These heightened tensions and bouts of inflammatory SMSes over the past few months are the result of over a year’s concerted and deliberate campaign to create alarm and anxiety among Muslims in Malaysia under the banner "Islam under siege".

The intent is to build support for the Islamist political project of turning Malaysia into an Islamic state with Syariah as the supreme law of the land.

The Islamic state ideologues know they cannot win power through the ballot box as most Malaysians, including Muslims, will not support the kind of intolerant, punitive, bigoted, misogynistic and joyless Islam they stand for.

The strategy then has been to penetrate the academic institutions, the bureaucracy, the Islamic institutions and take over the instruments of governance through the backdoor. Cloak yourself in the mantle of God, intimidate your opponents by declaring them kafir or anti-Islam, eliminate anyone with a differing view by declaring war on pluralism and liberalism, take over the drafting of laws, create further institutions to expand your influence and jurisdiction, pronounce one fatwa after another to further limit the scope of differences and diversity, so that in the end only the Islamist ideological conception of Islam prevails. And you could do all this from within the government apparatus. We do not even have to wait for Pas to come into power.

The threat is real and the trend must not be allowed to prevail.

The 2004 election results were a shock to them, especially after their unprecedented performance of 1999 when Pas emerged as leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

The Islamists know the biggest threat against the success of its project comes from human rights and women’s rights groups and ordinary citizens who have been vocal in protesting the injustices that occur in the name of Islam.

Thus, Pas and its Islamist allies in government and in civil society launched a nationwide campaign last year against two perceived threats: An external one called the "Danger of Islam Liberal", an Indonesian ideology that they claim is penetrating Malaysia; and the other internal, the threat of murtad in Malaysia, precipitated by court cases on freedom of religion and rights of non-Muslims in cases such as Shamala, Kaliamal, Lina Joy — all women who went to court because they feel their rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution have been violated.

The aim is to discredit progressive Muslims and women and human rights groups in Malaysia who believe in upholding the Constitution and rule of law, and in an Islam that upholds the principles of justice, equality, freedom and dignity. They are portrayed as "liberals" intent on "making Islam subservient to prevailing secular notions of rights, freedoms and gender equality".

The construction of an anti-Islam ideology against those who do not support the transformation of Malaysia into a theocratic state is a deliberate and effective strategy to conflate this dispute and criticism of abuses and injustice done in the name of Islam with Islam itself.

The Bahaya Islam Liberal roadshow sees a Pas Youth leader in Penang calling on the audience to menanam perasaan benci (inculcate hatred) against groups like Sisters in Islam which he accused of using women’s issues to denigrate Islam; a government minister using inflammatory language about "enemies wearing the mask of Islam" who threaten national stability and security at a conference on Konspirasi Luar dalam Penyelewengan Agama, in a reference to the dangers of liberal scholarship among the mainstream Islamic scholars and activists in Indonesia spreading to Malaysia.

In Indonesia, it is these scholars and activists from the madrassahs and Islamic universities, trained in Islamic theology, philosophy and law, who spearhead a progressive Islamic movement opposed to the creation of an Islamic state and imposition of Syariah.

My concern for Malaysia is how fast this Islamist supremacist thinking has seeped into the body politic. Human rights and women’s rights groups that campaign against moral policing, discriminatory amendments to the Islamic Family Law, and citizens who go to court to exercise their constitutional rights, the lawyers who represent them and civil society groups that support them are all labelled as anti-Islam, and their actions deemed an insult to Islam, Syariah, the authority of the sultans, the ulama and religious institutions.

When the exercise of rights by citizens under the law is construed as insults to Islam, to Muslims and the religious authorities, then Malaysia is in danger of sliding down the slippery slope of de facto theocratic rule.

As a journalist in the early 1980s, I witnessed first hand the impact of the kafir-mengkafir conflict between Pas and Umno in the Malay heartland of Terengganu, Kelantan and Kedah.

In the deep rural villages, Pas supporters pronounced this government as a government of infidels for co-operating with non-Muslims, the Constitution as un-Islamic as it was formulated by non-Muslims, and this Umno-led government as un-Islamic and illegitimate for not creating an Islamic state with Syariah rule.

I spoke with scores of men and women in the kampungs riven by this extremist ideology of hate.

It ultimately led to separate mosques, separate suraus and separate burial grounds for Pas and Umno supporters. It led to family break-ups, incidents of Pas supporters refusing to eat meat slaughtered by the "infidel" Umno man, of marriages that needed to be solemnised twice, first by the government imam for the official marriage certificate and second by the Pas imam "to be accepted in the eyes of God".

But instead of fear, Umno wakil rakyat then were confident and energised in dealing with the extremism of Pas. They listened to cassette recordings of Pas ceramah in their cars as they criss-crossed their constituencies, absorbing the rhetoric against Umno and the Barisan Nasional government to enable them to go back to the drawing board to redraw their strategy to counter the Pas denunciations of this "un-Islamic" government led by an "infidel" party.

The party battle lines were clear in 1982. How things have changed 24 years on!

The government’s decision to embark on an Islamisation policy has blurred the lines between Pas and Umno and their Islamic agenda. The eventual outcome is a civic and political order in Malaysia that is decidedly more Islamist in orientation.

Concerned over the potential for extremism and violence, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi introduced Islam Hadhari "to enable Muslims in Malaysia to become the vanguard of a new civilisation that can bring about progressive and comprehensive change".

But without champions within the system to deliver on his vision, and a civil society facing the threat of silence, I fear that Islam Hadhari, like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Islamisation project, will yet again be hijacked and redefined in implementation by the Maududi and Syed Qutb ideologues and the traditionalist ulama that still dominate the Islamic political landscape in Malaysia.


brothers in islam said...

selagi Zainah Anwar tak menikah, selama itu lah dia akan terus sesat lantaran tiada bimbingan...

azmi said...

Zainah Anwar's knowledge of Islam is shallow at best, misconceived at worst. The public should be aware that she is NOT the voice of true muslims. She is only able to give views and opinions based on her own wilful ignorance. At this juncture, I am not going to agree or contest the points raised in her stupid article because the objective of my post is merely to warn everyone that Zainah Anwar does NOT speak for the muslims at large simply because she lacks knowledge in islam, the quran and sunnah.

May Allah increase her knowledge and guide her on the right path of Islam. We also pray the same for others and ourselves.


Anonymous said...