Malaysiakini and Comments on Politicising Religion
Malaysian politics is always interesting and Singapore politics is reaching there. Interesting because the government and the opposition seize opportunities, however lame on religion, race, sex and Singapore-bashing, to undermine their opponents. What is more interesting is that party followers are blind and biased over there just as over here – the newspapers back UMNO while sites like Malaysiakini back the opposition. At least voting is not mandatory over there so the cynical and jaded can just opt out of their coming elections if they want to.
In this recent silat comedy of thrusting and blocking, PKR icon Nurul Izzah would lodge a complaint with the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department over misrepresentation of her comments on Muslims and freedom of religion. Newspapers like NST and Utasan reported that the daughter of Anwar Ibrahim urged that freedom of religion should apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims. In Muslim-dominated Malaysia, such progressive comments can really break PKR’s credibility among the rural folks, and rock its alliance with PAS against kris-waving UMNO in harvesting the Malay and Muslim votes.
PAS is saying that Nurul’s comments must be taken in context, and that by itself meant that Nurul did make comments good enough to be heard and politicised by her opponents as apostasy to Muslims. But in political sparring and when religion is used to rally votes, facts and fiction about misquotes and quotes taken out of context are common, especially in religious text which often has inherent contradictory statements left open for the politically crafty to exploit. It is the same everywhere e.g. whether the local Catholic church should comment or not comment on the Marxist Conspiracy and when it is right for the government to be selective about getting religious support, but religious support cannot be given to the government’s political opponents. Religion is often politicised, and the comments on depoliticising religion are themselves ironically politicising the role of religion at the very least.
When politics is mixed with religion
7:55AM Nov 9, 2012, Malaysiakini
YOURSAY ‘The orgy of condemnation by top Umno leaders based on a deliberately distorted report by Utusan of what Nurul Izzah actually said is a despicable act.’
Kim Quek: Umno leaders would do well to join in an intelligent discourse – whether agreeable or disagreeable – over the points made in this article. The important thing is that they must demonstrate they possess the intellect to engage in a debate based on reason and logic.
If they are incapable of rational thinking, how can they expect us to re-elect them into power again?
As it is, the orgy of condemnation by top Umno leaders based on a deliberately distorted report by Utusan Malaysiaof what Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar actually said is a despicable act that has not been looked upon kindly by all decent-minded Malaysians.
Boonpou: So far, this is the best comment against the current “witch hunt” on Nurul Izzah. I welcome more rational Muslims speaking up.
Religion has been hijacked for too long. Also, has it ever occurred to you that there are many non-believers who actually understand religion than those who professed to be religious?
I am not speaking about Islam, but all religions. I encourage more Muslims in Malaysia to read the books by Muhammad Asad, possibly as a first step towards a more harmonious multicultural society.
Jaguh: The single biggest mistake Malaysia has ever made was to involve religion into politics and after a period of time, do not know how to separate them at all. Every issue that touches on religion has political motives and undertones and even those that does not involve religion also suffers the same fate.
DAP is now Islamic kaffirs and not zimmis and with comments like these, are we in Malaysia or Saudi Arabia? The Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) is doing a great job in highlighting the merits of Islam and holding its stand.
If only the imans and ulamas of this country do the same, but it will take another life time. The damage is already done.
Blokf: “It thus makes no sense to believe that the principle of non-coercive assent is to be upheld only for non-Muslims and it would be null and void once a person converts to Islam,” said Ahmad Farouk Musa.
Careful where you tread. While reason and justice may be the few of many Islamic traits, none would cancel out its rulings on apostasy.
You’re somewhat speaking against what Nurul Izzah was using to defend herself: “I stand by the general stance that after embracing Islam, a Muslim is subjected to syariah, just as a citizen is subjected to the federal constitution.”
You’re entitled to your opinions, but if you’re trying to help elaborate on what Nurul Izzah was trying to explain to the public then you’re doing her nothing but a complete disservice.
AGM: Another intelligent and excellent comment from the IRF. Malaysia would do well if the level of debate could be held at this high level. The religious and political authorities should stop treating Malaysians like idiots and admit what everyone clearly knows.
The law’s intention is not to compel the Malays to accept Islam, but an attempt to consolidate them into one controllable voting block. Compelling someone to a ‘belief’ is an oxymoron. Persecuting a good woman for simply quoting the Quran is pathetic.
Kee Thuan Chye: Would you not agree that in Malaysia, the objective behind making Malays automatically Muslims is fundamentally political?
Rahman: Salaam IRF. I like to make a correction. I read and understand the Quran in Arabic and I found that your translation of second half of Quran 10:99 is reprehensible.
Where do you get your translation “Dost thou, then, think that thou couldn’t compel people to believe”? Translations by A Yusuf Ali is “Wilt you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe” and by M Pickthall, “Would you (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers.”
The fact is the translation that you give does not support you argument for freedom to embrace religion.
Secondly, you will have a better grasp of Quran 2:256 if you read it together with 2:257 and 3:19. Whereas 2:256 is the declaration of freedom of choosing religion, 3:19 is about the only accepted religion before Allah is Islam and 2:257 is about those who reject faith will be the companions of the fire, to dwell therein forever.
Orang Jauh: Umno has fallen into the same pit that befell some of the People of the Book, a sorry state, which has been well-documented in the Quran. This is a classic case of mixing religion with politics, such as mixing the former with the sole intention of scoring political points.
To Nurul Izzah, I say be strong. And never cease to beg for His mercy. Like all the other cases, the issue will be back to haunt your tormentors.
Ohakimm: I fully support the statement by IRF. Islam is universal and not the domain of Malays alone. We must get out of this “katak bawah tempurung” (frog under a coconut shell) mentality and see things from a global perspective.
The world is more than Malaysia. Malays abroad know this all too well and many of them become better Muslims as a result of this exposure to the rest of the world.
Caesar’s Wife: May I suggest that IRF, if they have not already done so, send their excellent response to Utusan Malaysia, Selangor Islamic Affairs Departmen (Jais), Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) and other institutions making so much fuss over Nurul Izzah’s comments, which are within her constitutional rights to make.
Anonymous #18452573: In an ideal world where all things fair and equal, Malaysia would probably be one of the top economies competing for the betterment of the nation. But instead we are divided by BN politicians who are intent on keeping as much control and hold over its own people.
Will we ever find our way out of this darkness? Sooner of later, good always prevails over evil. We live in hope in our vote.
Mr KJ John: Thanks IRF for the clarification. Given that the central focus of last Saturday’s forum was the discussion of what constitutes an Islamic state and what does not; it is indeed strange that the core idea of controversy was related to a well-known and accepted verse in the Quran.
Is not bribery and corruption more of an Islamic issue in any state of being than to debate one’s personal faith and position on spiritual matters? To me, that is where the rubber meets the road.