Saturday, February 16, 2008

PM: Saya jamin inilah pilihan raya teradil

EC chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman appealed to the media to give equal airtime and press coverage to all political parties. (The Star, 15 Apr)

Bagaimanapun kementerian yang diketuai oleh Abdullah Ahmad Badawi menekan akhbar. Jelas dan nyata baca di edisi Melayu (15 Apr):

Oriental Daily mengeluarkan “garis panduan” khas kepada wartawan pada 13 Feb, hari Parlimen dibubarkan.

‘Garis Panduan Membuat Liputan Pilihanraya 2008’ itu yang memuatkan 10 perkara, antaranya:

>>> Isu-isu lazim masyarakat Cina seperti 'desakan untuk menambah bilangan sekolah' atau 'pengundi Cina kini tidak memihak kepada BN' tidak wajar dibangkitkan kerana dianggap "tidak menarik minat" pembaca dan "mengancam" (masa depan) Oriental Daily.

>>> Berhati-hati melaporkan berita calon-calon pembangkang, jangan letakkan di bahagian-bahagian depan atau utama.

>>> Laporan tentang BN haruslah 65 peratus, sementara liputan tentang pembangkang sekadar 35 peratus.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pluralist Islam: Who are you?

Book ban: who are we to question gov't?
S Abdullah (, Feb 13, 2008)

I am refer to the letter Book ban: the two faces of Islam Hadhari.

I believe the Internal Security Ministry banned all the books the writer mentioned in good faith because the ministry, as I understand it, has religious experts to evaluate all the books.

Furthermore, they can refer material to Islamic Development Department (Jakim), a division under the Prime Minister’s Department, or state religious departments and muftis.

In fact, as I was told, a well-known mufti Harussani Zakaria chairs the Jakim's censorship committee. He is also the chairperson of the National Fatwa Committee and the Perak mufti.

This committee then recommends to the Internal Security Ministry to ban any book deemed detrimental to Islamic beliefs and values. The ministry does not ban any book because of political pressure or political reasons as suggested by the writer or the author Stephen Schwartz.

The writer’s claims that ‘our government is protecting and nurturing a fundamentalist mindset among Muslims’ and that ‘his Islam Hadhari project has been infiltrated by fundamentalist elements’ are a far-fetched insinuations.

One of the books recently banned is the locally published Islam dan Pluralisme edited by Al-Mustaqeem Mahmod Radhi and Khairul Anam Che Menteri. The book tried to project the idea that Islam can tolerate or accept any truth, even those from other religions. This is a fatally dangerous notion propagated by liberal Muslims worldwide.

The banned book tried to sell the idea that Islam and other religions are ‘the same’ because any religion will lead its followers to the Truth and heaven. See, for instance, Chapter Three of Islam dan Pluralisme as written by Asghar Ali Engineer. The whole section argues that other religions are as true as Islam!

See also the next chapter ‘Macam-macam Jalan ke Syurga’ authored by an Iranian by the name Reza Shah-Kazemi, and his subsequent chapter ‘Kristian di Masjid Nabawi: Renungan ke dalam Sunnah’ and ‘Pluralisme Keagamaan dan Islam’ written by John Hick.

Very unfortunately, however, Muslims cannot swallow such liberal, pragmatist ideas. If the writer may refer to the Quran, it says ‘the only religion recognised by Allah is Islam’. Religious experts and our muftis, including Harussani Zakaria, have criticised such ideas and warned Muslims against the danger of being influenced by them.

"If left unchecked, liberalism and pluralism will be difficult to control," said Harussani Zakaria when speaking at the Ulamak 2006 Convention.

I wonder why the writer only highlighted only one book, The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism and did not refer to the other 10 banned books.

Is he trying to accuse the present prime minister with dissemination of Wahhabism, allegedly funded by the Saudi Arabian government as insinuated by Stephen Schwartz’s term ‘Saudi- Wahhabi agents in Malaysia’?

Is he also saying the Malaysian government now is under ‘fundamentalist’s hands’?

The writer’s analysis not only provides an incomplete picture of the censorship policy of the ministry, but also distorts the truth and puts the Malaysian government in bad light. By portraying the wrong picture, he accused Islam Hadhari of having ‘two faces’ or double standard.

If the writer is willing to see the truth, he may refer to Jakim’s website or call the ministry’s office. This before writing a letter with such a bend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The two faces of Islam Hadhari

Book ban: the two faces of Islam Hadhari
Ismail Che Yahaya (, Feb 11, 2008)

On Jan 29, the Malaysian government banned 11 books, one of them The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism authored by Stephen Schwartz, a Muslim convert.

Schwartz suggested that ‘Saudi-Wahhabi agents’ in Malaysia had become alarmed by the publication of the book in Bahasa Indonesia, Dua Wajah Islam.

In a protest statement against the Malaysian ban, Schwartz commented: ‘It’s contemptible and, frankly, reveals the backward-looking attitudes of authorities in Malaysia, a country which prides itself on its alleged modernisation as an economic tiger.

In reality, books cannot be banned today. They are smuggled, pirated – especially in Southeast Asia – downloaded, and, in the case of my book, can easily be imported from Indonesia and read by Malaysians who do not know English’.

Regardless of Schwartz’s wild guess, book banning in Malaysia of late has gone beyond ‘Saudi- Wahhabi agents’.

Before The Two Faces of Islam, the Internal Security Ministry banned four titles on religious fundamentalism over two years. They are: Islamic Fundamentalism since 1945 (banned on 7 June 2007), Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The Limits of Postmodern Analysis (26 April 2007), The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (8 June 2006) and, A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and The Emergence of Islamism (8 June 2006).

See the ministry's full list of banned books here.

Islamic fundamentalism is a broad phenomenon, not solely engineered or funded by the Saudi regime. In fact, fundamentalism is no longer a Christian or Muslim political landscape. It has gained currency and inflicted other religions too.

Karen Armstrong, in her banned book, describes religious fundamentalism of the 20th century as a response to modern, liberal, materialist globalised civilization. She writes: ‘The West has developed an entirely unprecedented and wholly different type of civilisation, so the religious response to it has been unique’.

Religious fundamentalists, she elaborates, ‘have absorbed the pragmatic rationalism of modernity, and, under the guidance of their charismatic leaders, they refine these ‘fundamentals’ so as to create an ideology that provides the faithful with a plan of action’.

Therefore, it is of no surprise that even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions.

That is why I find the banning is so overwhelming in that it shows the ‘two faces’ of Islam Hadhari as formulated by our present prime minister. On one hand, he tries to promote more tolerant, progressive and moderate Islam but on the other hand, his government has time and again banned such scholarly books on fundamentalism.

Does it mean our government is protecting and nurturing a fundamentalist mindset among Muslims? Has his Islam Hadhari project been infiltrated by fundamentalist elements in his bureaucracy?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Protest against Malaysian book ban

The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), an international network of Muslim moderates with operating groups and correspondents in the U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, France, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries PROTESTS a decision by Federation of Malaysia authorities to ban The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism, authored by CIP Executive Director Stephen Schwartz.

The Two Faces of Islam was published by Doubleday, New York, 2002, and has been translated and published in Bosnian, Croatian, Albanian, and Bahasa Indonesia – the latter readable by Malaysians, under the title Dua Wajah Islam. Translations into other major languages read by Muslims are in preparation.

Executive Director Schwartz commented on the news, “It’s contemptible and, frankly, reveals the backward-looking attitudes of authorities in Malaysia , a country which prides itself on its alleged modernization as an economic tiger. In reality, books cannot be banned today. They are smuggled, pirated – especially in Southeast Asia – downloaded, and, in the case of my book, can easily be imported from Indonesia and read by Malaysians who do not know English. I consider this ban a badge of pride. I do, however, call on moderate Muslims and those who sympathize with moderate Islam, as well as all supporters of freedom of expression, to protest to the Malaysian authorities against this absurd decision.”

Schwartz suggested that Saudi-Wahhabi agents in Malaysia had become alarmed by the publication of the book in Bahasa Indonesia. In addition, fundamentalist advocates trained in Malaysia have recently stirred up trouble in the Balkans, using their past solidarity with embattled Bosnia-Hercegovina as a pretext for extremist agitation.

The Two Faces of Islam will continue to be published in Muslim countries and read by ordinary Muslims,” Schwartz said.

“The counter-jihad has hardly begun, and the arbitrary abuses committed by Malaysian and other radicals will do nothing more than call attention to our work. I do not believe this ridiculous decision reflects on the people of Malaysia or their Islam; rather, it reveals that a serious confrontation is underway in that country between moderates and extremists. The notable fact that my book, which is supported by numerous Muslim scholars, was banned in a ‘grab-bag’ list including Islamic and non-Islamic works, demonstrates the immoral use of the ‘technique of the amalgam,’ which was made famous by Communist regimes in suppressing their critics. It is unworthy of any Muslim to support such desperate intrigues as undertaken in Malaysia. No books on any religion should be banned in Malaysia . The involvement of the Ministry of Internal Security in this disreputable action is ludicrous; my book is in no way a threat to the internal security of Malaysia .”

Schwartz concluded his comments on the incident with the Quranic citation, “ ‘Say: “I seek refuge in the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men, from the mischief of the slinking prompter who whispers in the hearts of men.”’” (Surah 114).

* * *

The Center for Islamic Pluralism requests that protestors against this ban address communications to:

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
800 N. Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 790
Washington , D.C. 20002 USA

U.S. Embassy to Malaysia
Amb. James Keith
376 Jalan Tun Razak 50400
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Federation of Malaysia
Ministry of Internal Security
Blok D1 & D2, Parcel D,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan
62546 Putrajaya Malaysia

Embassy of Malaysia
3516 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008-3002 USA

Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations
313 East 43rd Street
New York, NY
10017 USA

Malaysian High Commission in UK
45-46 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8QT UK

Malaysian High Commission in Singapore
301, Jervois Road
249 077 Singapore

Malaysian Embassy to Indonesia
Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said Kav, X/6,
No. 1-3 Kuningan 12950 Jakarta Selatan
Jakarta Indonesia

Note: To avoid spam filters, please write in the subject line of e-mails: PROTEST AGAINST MALAYSIAN BAN ON “TWO FACES OF ISLAM”

Copies of protest e-mails should be blind-copied to:

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Buat Imran & Alfian, terima kasih kerana sudi berziarah dan bersembang-sembang.

Tiada buah tangan untuk dibawa pulang, inilah sahaja sedikit "huraian tambahan" tentang maksud saya di warung tadi.

>>> Hati-hati makan nasi lemak, roti canai