Loyal Followers

Monday, May 16, 2011

when you spook yourself...

Dato' Ibrahim Ali, obviously his semangat naik menjulang-julang, was quoted as saying:-

Please record my words — if there is any party in Penang, especially the Christian priests who are being backed by the Penang DAP, should continue with their agenda which we already know, I would like to offer that if they want to hold a crusade, we can.

“This is in the spirit of Sultan Saladin Ayubi... if they want to fight a crusade, we can.”

The thing is, who is challenging Islam as the religion of the Federation? And although there is nothing by way of an expressed provision in the Federal Constitution saying only Malays/Muslims can be the Prime Minister, has there been actually a challenge to the conventional approach of appointing a Malay/Muslim as the Prime Minister?

Well, let me be precise. I don't know about the PM of Malaysia having been a Malay all these while though. But they appear to be Malays lah. And Muslims too. As to whether they are real Malays or even real Muslims, only God can tell.

So, now, we have an expression of willingness to join the crusade.

The thing is this. Why are there people who are always declaring that they are ready to fight in Malaysia? Fight what? Who wants to fight with them? They claim they are under siege. Who is laying siege on them? Except for themselves.

The video below just about sums it up. If you spook yourself all the time, this is what's going to happen. You would, in the end, get spooked by something as harmless as, well, just watch the video.

 

Is there a conspiracy - Christian or otherwise - to make me laugh?

First, according to DrM, buying a Proton car is an "amal jariah." That means, those Muslims will get "pahala" or good points from God if they buy a Proton car or two. According to him, that is because when we buy a Proton car, we are helping all those employees of Proton and many more who would get jobs with Proton.

Alhamdulillah.

Taking that further, paying toll would be amal jariah too. So is eating KFC. And renting an office space in Puterajaya too I suppose. Oh ya, racing at Sepang F1 track would be amal jariah too.

According to a friend of mine, Proton's advertisement from now on should read:

"Syurga di bawah tayar Proton" or in English, "Heaven, under Proton's tyres".

May I instead suggest:

"Proton - driving you to heaven"

Or perhaps:

"Want virgins in heaven? Don't blow yourself up. Buy a Proton"

LOL!

Err...how about building the planned crooked bridge? Yes. That would be amal jariah too?

It is also an irony that in the High Court on Wednesday the 11th, Counsel for the Home Ministry, argued that Zunar's cartoons contained "terrible accusations." According to him:-

"The conclusion by the (home) minister is that the content of the cartoons (was) terrible accusation (and) extreme insult to national leaders including the judiciary.
"The books can't cause public disturbance but there is potential that the people who read it could be likely (influenced).”

Hahhaha, if the Home Ministry wishes to ban everybody who insults national leaders, I suppose the HM would have to ban about 20 million people daily.

By the way, some of the leaders would have to be banned as well. That's because day in day out, some of them insult themselves in full public view.

It is of course a source of considerable  perplexity that a cartoon book could be banned for having some spoofs on Cartoonland but a major newspaper could escape even a public chiding by publishing seditious reports of alleged Christian conspiracy to take over Malaysia and changed its "official religion."

Last week the Home Ministry  sent a letter of warning to Utusan Malaysia and summoned the Editor for serious talk. I could imagine the conversation:-

Home Minister: Asslamualaikum. Sila duduk.

Editor: Waalaikumussalam. Terima kasih.

HM: Eh, er...engko jangan tulis pasal komplot Kristian tu lagi ek. Orang tak sker. Okay?

Editor: Orait bro. Maaf. Orait Dato' Seri.

HM: Ini I kasik amaran k. Lain kali takder amaran lagik k. Ko jangan buat camtu lagi ek?

Editor: Okay Dato' Seri. Merkasih.

HM: Assalamualaikum.

Editor: Waalaikumussalam.

It of course escapes me and many others as to why the Home Ministry did not send a show cause letter to Utusan as they did to Suara Keadilan for publishing an article saying FELDA was bankrupt or to the Herald for using the word Allah.

I mean, if the Suara Keadilan's and Herald's articles could be deemed to be so "mengancam" necessitating a show cause letter, how come the Utusan shit-stirring "news" only warranted a warning?

1Malaysia. 2Standard?

Oh, by the way, Rocky's Bru posted here that:

"The MCMC has just finished "interviewing" bloggers Zakhir Mohamad aka Big Dog and Shamsul Yunus, who was running Marahku before it was hacked last week."

Oh, no wonder la the post alleging the now infamous "Christian conspiracy" has been removed from that blog. It was hacked rupanyer. So, Shamsul Yunos, the owner of that blog, did not actually post that article lah, kan?

As a lawyer, may I advise Shamsul Yunos to lodge a police report about his blog being hacked last week, if he hadn't done so in the past week.

In true Malaysian tradition, a sumpah laknat would be good too. Har har har.

Then MalaysiaKini, yesterday, reported:-

"Detectives are hunting two men who have been throwing acid on pedestrians in a string of attacks that have sent shockwaves through the capital, police said today.

Kuala Lumpur has been plagued by attacks on at least 22 people since February, terrifying residents across the city and its suburbs."

Wow. Hebat sekali. Sungguh ber-efisyen lagi eksilen. (Minister Rais, sorry about the Manglish).

TWENTY TWO attacks. And the police is now hunting them. Have they interviewed witnesses? Has there been suspect and victim profiling? What about suspect description? What about preventive actions? How about some undercover works? Why are there twenty-two attacks? I thought crime rates have gone down considerably, no?

Well I suppose, these are not DAP or PKR members lah. Nothing to do with politics. So, they can wait until 22 attacks lah.

However, I can't help but to notice that our police had been very diligent in trying to find out who was actually in the now infamous sex video. They had even engaged experts from the United States to help in their search for the truth and nothing but the absolute smutty truth. Perhaps they should do the same in their quest for the acid splasher, no?

On Wednesday too, MalaysiaKini reported that Yang Amat Arif ("the most learned" - in English) Chief Justice said:-

"Counsel cannot expect good judgements unless they themselves come out with convincing, logical arguments,"

According to YAACJ:-

"The Bar has been advocating that judges should be more radical in some of their decision making....
"But in our common law practice, the ideas for developing a law must come from the counsel's submission."

Yes, YAA, but please do not forget that Judges must firstly have the right judicial temperament to listen to what Counsel is saying. Then Judges must have the intelligence and knowledge to actually understand what Counsel is saying. After that, Judges must actually have the judicial mind to analyse what Counsel has just said and apply them to the case at hand. Judges then should apply reasons to the various arguments proffered by Counsel; make a thorough appreciation of facts (including making findings of facts after analising testimonies and witness' character) and apply the law to those facts. Then a decision is made and pronounced.

When I say a decision is made Yang Amat Arif, I do not mean the Judges reproducing 30 pages of what Counsel on one side says and agreeing with what was being said by that Counsel.

By the way, having Judges who listen attentively to what Counsel says - as opposed to perfecting the art of sleeping with their eyes open - and who do not lean backward on the Bench and sending a text message (they call it "sms") to somebody from their mobile phone (they call 'em "hand phones") would also be good.

I wish Malaysia had funny news like this instead:

Man arrested after ejaculating during TSA pat-down

TSA agent gropes man

November 21, 2010

A 47 year old gay man was arrested at San Francisco International Airport after ejaculating while being patted down by a male TSA agent.  Percy Cummings, an interior designer from San Francisco, is being held without bail after the alleged incident, charged with sexually assaulting a Federal agent.

According to Cummings’ partner, Sergio Armani, Cummings has “multiple piercings on his manhood” which were detected during a full body scan.  As a result, Cummings was pulled aside for a pat-down.  Armani stated that the unidentified TSA agent spent “an inordinate amount of time groping” Cummings, who had apparently become sexually aroused.  Cummings, who has a history of sexual dysfunction, ejaculated while the TSA agent’s hand was feeling the piercings.  The TSA agent, according to several witnesses, promptly called for back up.  Cummings was thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on this specific case, but said that anyone ejaculating during a pat-down would be subject to arrest.

Because, that's really funny. In a real sense.

Not in a Malaysian sense.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Islam as the religion of the Federation - a historical background

Much have been said lately about Islam being under siege and an alleged plot to turn Malaysia into a "Christian state."

This of course led to the inevitable lodgment of multiple police reports in various states by the usual suspects and various other parties. Soon I suppose we will have a demonstration by some people with suitable props, like a severed cow head or most likely a burning large crucifix, this time around.

Welcome to Malaysia ladies and gentlemen. It is nice and hot, and not to mention hazy nowadays. And when it is hazy, we, Malaysians go a bit bonkers.

There are some on tweeters who actually defended Utusan Malaysia and its ilk. There are also many who condemn them, including Malays and Muslims. I have nothing to say to them.

All I want to add is this. If we think ourselves as leaders, we'd better lead. Not follow. As leaders we have to come down hard on wrong-doings - on both side of the fence - and we also have to show the way. It is not enough going around town meeting flag-waving school children amidst huge posters and banners bearing nice catchy slogans while closing our eyes to bigotry; irresponsible acts of goons and political thugs as well as some disgruntled Mafiosi chiefs spewing hate message.

As leaders, we should at all time lead. And lead not only by words and catchy tuneful and sexy slogans, but also by deeds. Otherwise, we would have failed as leaders. Otherwise, we would have breached our oath of office. Otherwise, we would have breached our fiduciary duties. Otherwise, we would have breached the trust given to us by the people.

Meanwhile, a learned friend of mine, Syahredzan Johan, today issued a statement that Malaysia has no official religion. That is his reading of the Federal Constitution. He might be correct. He might be wrong. One thing is clear though, not many of us Malaysians read the Federal Constitution. And I am sure some people in Utusan Malaysia have never ever even seen a copy.

In my opinion, the true meaning of Article 3 of the Federal Constitution could only be known if, apart from reading the provision, we also study the historical background of the said article. The purpose of this post is to do just that.

Article 3:

(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

(2) In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorize the Yang di-pertuan Agong to represent him.

(3). The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be Head of the religion of Islam in that State.

(4) Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.

Historical Background

During the fact finding mission by the Reid Commission (the Commission which was entrusted by the British to draft our Constitution), the Alliance (the precursor to Barisan Nasional) presented a 20 page memorandum to the Reid Commission. On Islam, the memo says:

The religion of Malaysia shall be Islam.  The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion, and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State.”

After 118 meetings, the Reid Commission wrote its report in Rome and published it in February 1957. On the position of Islam, it says:

“We have considered the question whether there should be any statement in the Constitution to the effect that Islam should be the State religion.  There was universal agreement that if any such provision were inserted it must be made clear that it would not in any way affect the civil rights of non-Muslims — ‘the religion of Malaysia shall be Islam.   The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practising their own religion and shall not imply that the State is not a secular State’.

There is nothing in the draft Constitution to affect the continuance of the present position in the States with regard to recognition of Islam or to prevent the recognition of Islam in the Federation by legislation or otherwise in any respect which does not prejudice the civil rights of individual non-Muslims.  The majority of us think that it is best to leave the matter on this basis, looking to the fact that Counsel for the Rulers said to us — ‘It is Their Highnesses’ considered view that it would not be desirable to insert some declaration such as has been suggested that the Muslim Faith or Islamic Faith be the established religion of the Federation.   Their Highnesses are not in favour of such declaration being inserted and that is a matter of specific instruction in which I myself have played very little part. (emphasis is mind).

At this juncture, it has to be pointed out that initially, as could be seen from the above, the Counsel of Rulers (meaning, the Majlis Raja-raja) themselves were against the inclusion of a provision to the effect that Islam shall be the religion of the State. This has to be made clear in order to bring the issue to the right perspective.

Justice Abdul Hamid, a member of the Reid Commission  from Pakistan however disagreed. He proposed to include the following article;

Islam shall be the religion of the State of Malaya, but nothing in this Article shall prevent any citizen professing any religion other than Islam to profess, practice and propagate that religion, nor shall any citizen be under any disability by reason of his being not a Muslim’.

Justice Hamid says,

A provision like one suggested above is innocuous.  Not less than fifteen countries of the world have a provision of this type entrenched in their Constitutions.  Among the Christian countries, which have such a provision in their Constitutions, are Ireland (Article 6), Norway (Article 1), Denmark (Article 3), Spain (Article 6), Argentina (Article 2), Bolivia (Article 3), Panama (Article 36) and Paraquay (Article 3).  Among the Muslim countries are Afghanistan (Article 1), Iran (Article 1), Iraq (Article 13), Jordan (Article 2), Saudi Arabia (Article 7), and Syria (Article 3).  Thailand is an instance in which Buddhism has been enjoined to be the religion of the King who is required by the Constitution to uphold that religion (Constitution of Thailand, Article 7).  If in these countries a religion has been declared to be the religion of the State and that declaration has not been found to have caused hardships to anybody, no harm will ensue if such a declaration is included in the Constitution of MalayaIn fact in all the Constitutions of Malayan States a provision of this type already exists.  All that is required to be done is to transplant it from the State Constitutions and to embed it in the Federal.”

It was obvious that in Justice Hamid's mind, such provision, if included in the Federal Constitution, would be, in his own word, "innocuos." Why would he use the word "innocuous"? That is due to the fact that it wasn't suppose to bring with it any massive issue at all relating to the right of other faiths to be practised in Malaysia as well as the rights of people of other faiths in Malaysia.

He, obviously, couldn't be more wrong in his assessment! I wonder whether he would have suggested that such provision be included in our Federal Constitution had he been able to foresee how we, Malaysians, react to that provision nowadays.

In proposing as such, Justice Hamid was actually mirroring the memo by the Alliance. He said,

It has been recommended by the Alliance that the Constitution should contain a provision declaring Islam to be the religion of the State.  It was also recommended that it should be made clear in that provision that a declaration to the above effect will not impose any disability on non-Muslim citizens in professing, propagating and practising their religions, and will not prevent the State from being a secular State.  As on this matter the recommendation of the Alliance was unanimous their recommendation should be accepted and a provision to the following effect should be inserted in the Constitution either after Article 2 in Part I or at the beginning of Part XIII.

In "The Making of the Malayan Constitution” by Joseph Fernando, the author wrote:

“The UMNO leaders contended that provision for an official religion would have an important psychological impact on the Malays. But in deference to the objections of the Rulers and the concerns of non-Muslims, the Alliance agreed that the new article should include two provisos: first, that it would not affect the position of the Rulers as head of religion in their respective States; and second, that the practice and propagation of other religions in the Federation would be assured under the Constitution. The MCA and MIC representatives did not raise any objections to the new article, despite protests by many non-Muslim organizations, as they were given to understand by their UMNO colleagues that it was intended to have symbolic significance rather than practical effect, and that the civil rights of the non-Muslims would not be affected.

Shortly after the London Conference the British Government issued a White Paper in June 1957 containing the Constitutional Proposals for independent Malaya.  Paragraph 57 deals with the Religion of the Federation and reads:-

“There has been included in the Federal Constitution a declaration that Islam is the religion of the Federation.   This will in no way affect the present position of the Federation as a secular State, and every person will have the right to profess and practice his own religion and the right to propagate his religion, though this last right is subject to any restrictions imposed by State law relating to the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the Muslim religion.

The Constitutional Bill was then  passed without amendment. This of course, went against what was recommended by the Reid Commission (as the Commission, except for Justice Hamid, was against the inclusion of the provision in the Federal Constitution).

In an effort to mollify them, the Colonial Secretary, Lennox Boyd, wrote to Lord Reid on 31st May 1957 offering tribute and gratitude to the “remarkable” work done by the Reid Commission and stated:-

The Rulers, as you know, changed their tune about Islam and they and the Government presented a united front in favour of making Islam a state religion even though Malaya is to be a secular state.

So, it would appear that Article 3 was inserted in the Federal Constitution after the Council of Rulers had changed their mind about it.

In Che Omar bin Che Soh v. P.P., the Supreme Court comprising of, among others LP Tun Salleh held that Malaysia is a secular country;

It is the contention of Mr Ramdas Tikamdass that because Islam is the religion of the Federation, the law passed by Parliament must be Imbued with Islamic and religious principles…

Needless to say that this submission, in our view, will be contrary to the constitutional and legal history of the Federation and also to the Civil Law Act which provides for the reception of English common law in this country.

However, we have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law, where morality not accepted by the law is not enjoying the status of the law.”

Professor Sheridan, a well known expert on Malaysian Constitution says that position is “doubtless correct”.

“A Federation, as opposed to the people within its territory, having a religion is a difficult notion to grasp…..  It has been suggested that the probable meaning of the first part of Article 3(1) is that, insofar as federal business (such as ceremonial business) involves religious matters, that business is to be regulated in accordance with the religion of Islam” - The Religion of the Federation”, [1988] 2 MLJ xiii

Viewed from a historical perspective, it is obvious that Article 3 was intended to be no more than an "innocuous" provision giving Islam and Muslims alike, no more rights than the rights of citizens of other faith in the country.

Perhaps it is worth repeating what Justice Hamid had said in the Reid Commission report:

"If in these countries a religion has been declared to be the religion of the State and that declaration has not been found to have caused hardships to anybody, no harm will ensue if such a declaration is included in the Constitution of Malaya."

No less than our great leader, Tun Dr Mahathir himself has advised people  to learn from history. I would therefore urge that all Malaysians embrace Tun DrM's call.

Let's learn from history.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Who and what is and is not Islam?

"But for the grace of Allah upon thee (Muhammad), and His mercy, a party of them had resolved to mislead thee, but they will mislead only themselves and they will hurt thee not at all. Allah revealeth unto thee the Scripture and wisdom, and teacheth thee that which thou knewest not. The grace of Allah toward thee hath been infinite.

There is no good in much of their secret conferences save (in) him who enjoineth almsgiving and kindness and peace-making among the people. Whoso doeth that, seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall bestow on him a vast reward." (An-Nisa, verse 113 and 114 - translation by Pickthal)

The controversy caused by Ustaz Zamihan Mat Zain, a senior officer of JAKIM last week over the visit to Malaysia by Sheikh Dr Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz As-Sudais, the Grand Imam of Masjidil Haram, brings to the fore the propensity of some Muslim ulamaks to label their Muslim brothers and sisters as un-Islamic, deviants and even non-Muslims or apostates.

Such self-righteous and purely holier-than-thou acts are almost a daily act in the Muslim world in  general. Malaysia, as is obvious, is not an exception.

According to a Malaysian Insider report last week, Ustaz Zamihan branded the visiting Grand Imam a "Wahabi". He added further that the Wahabi's methodology is often repugnant to and inconsistent with the administration of Islam in Malaysia.

This is not the first time Ustaz Zamihan had caused a storm over the Wahabi issue. Ustaz Zamihan's antagonistic stance against Dr Mohd Asri, the former Mufti of Perlis, whom he accuses as a follower and practitioner of the Wahabi school is well known. He even accuses the Perlis former Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Shahidan Kassim and Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang as being "connected" to Wahabism in a police report which he lodged last year.

The controversy prompted JAKIM to issue a statement denying that the visiting Grand Imam was attempting to spread Wahabism here through his visit.

With all due respect, JAKIM misses the point.

The point is not whether so and so is a Wahabi or trying to spread Wahabism in Malaysia. The real point is whether it is right for a Muslim to judge another fellow Muslim in respect of his faith; his belief, his way of practising his faith and generally his "Islam-ness."

If the Grand Imam of Masjidil Haram could be judged and insinuated as a person whose Islam-ness is not acceptable, how about people like me and millions others in Malaysia?

It is a fact that in Malaysia we have daily doses of ulamaks going on a religious rampage. This is not correct. That is not Islamic. This person is a lesser Muslim. That person is not a Muslim. This group is kosher. That group is deviant.

The question is, wouldn't God be the best being to judge His followers' faith to Him rather than mere mortals?

Despite the Federal Constitution expressly, by Article 11, granting the right to every person - as opposed to only citizens of Malaysia - to "profess and practise his religion", our Islamic authority, namely JAKIM, issuing a fatwa on 5th May 1996 that "Malaysia must only follow the teachings of Islam based on the doctrine of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah on creed, religious laws and ethics." It also decided (for all Muslims in Malaysia) that "all Muslims in this country are bound to Islamic Laws and Religious Laws based on the teachings of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah only."

In so far as the Shiite school is concerned, apparently there was a decision by  the the Fatwa Committee Muzakarah (Conference) held on 24th-25th September 1984 [Paper No. 2/8/84, Article 4.2. (2) that only the Zaidiyyah and Jaafariyyah Shi'ite sects are accepted to be practiced in Malaysia.

However, on 5th May 1996, at the 40th Special Muzakarah (Conference) of the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia, the 1984 decision was overturned. The full 1996 ruling can be viewed here.

That brings us a wholly ridiculous situation. Does that mean that between 25th September 1984 to 5th May 1996, Shi'ism was legal in Malaysia? Does that also mean that the 1984 Muzakarah was wrong in its pronouncement? If the 1984 Muzakarah was wrong in 1984, what guarantee is there that the 1996 Muzakarah was right?

Recently we had another utterly incomprehensible situation. Some of you might have read that on Ashura day last year, namely on 16th December 2010, some 200 Malaysians were detained for practising "Shi'ism". This brought international concerns that Malaysia is practising some kind of religious apartheid.

However that did not end there. Not long after that, there was a clarification. When it was pointed out that Iranians who visited and in fact are staying in Malaysia are all practising Shi'ism, our authority quickly issued an exemption. Apparently it is alright for them (the Iranians) to do so in Malaysia. This of course is totally inconsistent with the fact that Malaysians are prohibited from doing so.

So, arising from that, we have two type of Islam in Malaysia, in so far as Shi'sm is concerned. We have an "international Islam" where foreigners can practise Shi'ism in Malaysia. Then we have a "localised" and probably even "parochial Islam" where Shi'ism is not allowed. Shi'ism also appeared to be okay from 1984 but deemed not okay from 1996.

(On a different subject, this inconsistency and obviously pragmatic approach towards Islam is also obvious in the "Al-Kitab" ruling where it seems that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak may have Bahasa Malaysia Bible while in the Peninsula, they cannot do so.)

The irrationality of the argument that Dr Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz As-Sudais (the Grand Imam of Masjidil Haram) is a Wahabi and therefore he is a lesser Muslim - and probably not even a Muslim, in the eyes of those who belong to Ahli Sunnah wal Jamaah school - arrives at a climactic paradox when we consider that all of us from Malaysia, upon performing our pilgrimage in Mekah, would have to pray at Masjidil Haram where the prayer sessions will be led by the Grand Imam himself or some other Imams from the Saudi, who obviously will be a Wahabi himself.

In fact, the whole Saudi Arabia is a Wahabi country. How do we, as Muslims, reconcile that with the decree from our ulamaks that Wahabis are inconsistent with the school which we are supposed to mandatorily follow, namely, the Ahlil Sunnah wal Jamaah?

Don't get me wrong. I am not promoting Wahabism, Shi'ism or whatever. I am also not saying that group or this group is right or wrong. I am just trying to rationalise our act in judging people with whom we seem to disagree as a lesser Muslim, un-Islamic, deviant or even an apostate.

In the State of Punjab, sometime around 1953, there were disturbances which led to the call by many ulamaks that the Ahmadis movement be declared as deviant and their followers were therefore infidels or kafirs. An inquiry was constituted under the Punjab Act II 1954. It was headed by Justice Munir.

Justice Munir cleverly opined that in order to punish people for alleged apostasy, there must be a standard methodology to ascertain whether a person is a Muslim. Justice Munir put it thus:-

"The question, therefore, whether a person is or is not a Muslim will be of fundamental importance, and it was for this reason that we asked most of the leading ulama, to give their definition of a Muslim, the point being that if the ulama of the various sects believed the Ahmadis to be kafirs, they must have been quite clear in their minds not only about the grounds of such belief but also about the definition of a Muslim because the claim that a certain person or community is not within the pale of Islam implies on the part of the claimant an exact conception of what a Muslim is."

He then sets out to ask, what in the opinion of several  ulamaks, were the "irreducible minimum conditions which, a person must satisfy to be entitled to be called a Muslim." Here is some of their answers.

Quote:

"Maulana Abul Hasanat Muhammad Ahmad Qadri, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulamai- Pakistan

Q.— What is the definition of a Muslim ?

A — (1) He must believe in the Unity of God.

(2) He must believe in the prophet of Islam to be a true prophet as well as in all other prophets who have preceded him,

(3) He must believe in the Holy Prophet of Islam as the last of the prophets (khatam-un-nabiyin).

(4) He must believe in the Qur’an as it was revealed by God to the Holy Prophet of Islam.

(5) He must believe as binding on him the injunctions of the Prophet of Islam.

(6) He must believe in the qiyamat.

Q.—Is a tarik-us-salat a Muslim ?

A.—Yes, but not a munkir-us-salat

Maulana Ahmad Ali, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Islam, Maghribi Pakistan

Q.— Please define a Muslim ?

A.—A person is a Muslim if he believes (1) in the Qur’an and (2) what has been said by the prophet. Any person who possesses these two qualifications is entitled to be called a Muslim without his being required to believe in anything more or to do anything more.”

Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, Amir Jama’at-i-Islami

Q.—Please define a Muslim ?

A.—A person is a Muslim if he believes (1) in tauheed, (2) in all the prophets (ambiya), (3) all the books revealed by God, (4) in mala’ika (angels), and (5) yaum-ul-akhira (the Day of Judgment).

Q.—Is a mere profession of belief in these articles sufficient to entitle a man to call himself a Musalman and to be treated as a Musalman in an Islamic State ?

A.—Yes.

Q.—If a person says that he believes in all these things, does any one have a right to question the existence of his belief ?

A.—The five requisites that I have mentioned above are fundamental and any alteration in anyone of these articles will take him out of the pale of Islam.”

Ghazi Siraj-ud-Din Munir

“Q.—Please define a Muslim ?

A.—I consider a man to be a Muslim if he professes his belief in the kalima, namely, La Ilaha Illalah-o-Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah, and leads a life in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet.”

Mufti Muhammad Idris, Jamia Ashrafia, Nila Gumbad, Lahore

Q.—Please give the definition of a Musalman ?

A.—The word ‘Musalman’ is a Persian one. There is a distinction between the word ‘Musalman’ which is a Persian word for Muslim and the word ‘momin’. It is impossible for me to give a complete definition of the word ‘momin’. I would require pages and pages to describe what a momin is. A person is a Muslim who professes to be obedient to Allah. He should believe in the Unity of God, prophethood of the ambiya and in the Day of Judgment. A person who does not believe in the azan or in the qurbani goes outside the pale of Islam. Similarly, there are a large number of other things which have been received by tavatir from our prophet. In order to be a Muslim, he must believe in all these things. It is almost impossible for me to give a complete list of such things.”

Hafiz Kifayat Hussain, Idara-i-Haquq-i-Tahaffuz-i-Shia

Q.—Who is a Musalman?

A.—A person is entitled to be called a Musalman if he believes in (1) tauheed, (2) nubuwwat and (3) qiyamat. These are the three fundamental beliefs which a person must profess to be called a Musalman. In regard to these three basic doctrines there is no difference between the Shias and the Sunnies. Besides the belief in these three doctrines, there are other things called ‘zarooriyat-i-din’ which a person must comply with in order to be entitled to be called aMusalman. These will take me two days to define and enumerate. But as an illustration I might state that the respect for the Holy Book, wajoob-i-nimaz, wajoob-i-roza, wajoob-i-hajj-ma’a-sharait, and other things too numerous to mention, are among the ‘zarooriyat-i-din’ ”

Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Pakistan :

Q.—Who is a Musalman according to you ?

A.—A person who believes in the zarooriyat-i-din is called a momin and every momin is entitled to be called a Musalman.

Q.—What are these zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—A person who believes in the five pillars of Islam and who believes in the rasalat of our Holy Prophet fulfils the zarooriyat-i-din.

Q.—Have other actions, apart from the five arakan, anything to do with a man being a Muslim or being outside the pale of Islam?

(Note—Witness has been explained that by actions are meant those rules of moral conduct which in modern society are accepted as correct.)

A.—Certainly.

Q.—Then you will not call a person a Muslim who believes in arakan-ikhamsa and the rasalat of the prophet but who steals other peoples’ things, embezzles property entrusted to him, has an evil eye on his neighbour’s wife and is guilty of the grossest ingratitude to his benefector?

A.—Such a person, if he has the belief already indicated, will be a Muslim despite all this”.

Maulana Muhammad Ali Kandhalvi, Darush-Shahabia, Sialkot

Q.—Please define a Musalman?

A.—A person who in obedience to the commands of the prophet performs all the zarooriyat-i-din is a Musalman.

Q.—Can you define zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—Zarooriyat-i-din are those requirements which are known to every Muslim irrespective of his religious knowledge.

Q.—Can you enumerate zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—These are too numerous to be mentioned. I myself cannot enumerate these zarooriyat. Some of the zarooriyat-i-din may be mentioned as salat, saum, etc.”

Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi

Q.—Who is a Musalman?

A.—There are two kinds of Musalmans, a political (siyasi) Musalman and a real (haqiqi) Musalman. In order to be called a political Musalman, a person must:

(1) believe in the Unity of God,

(2) believe in our Holy Prophet being khatam-un-nabiyin, i.e., ‘final

authority’ in all matters relating to the life of that person,

(3) believe that all good and evil comes from Allah,

(4) believe in the Day of Judgment,

(5) believe in the Qur’an to be the last book revealed by Allah,

(6) perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca,

(7) pay the zaka’at,

(8) say his prayers like the Musalmans,

(9) observe all apparent rules of Islami mu’ashira, and

(10) observe the fast (saum).

If a person satisfies all these conditions he is entitled to the rights of a full citizen of an Islamic State. If any one of these conditions is not satisfied, the person concerned will not be a political Musalman.

(Again said) It would be enough for a person to be a Musalman if he merely professes his belief in these ten matters irrespective of whether he puts them into practice or not. In order to be a real Musalman, a person must believe in and act on all the injunctions by Allah and his prophet in the manner in which they have been enjoined upon him.

Q.—Will you say that only the real Musalman is ‘mard-i-saleh’ ?

A.—Yes.

Q.—do we understand you aright that in the case of what you have called a political (siyasi) Musalman, belief alone is necessary, while in the case of a haqiqi Musalman there must not only be belief but also action?

A.—No, you have not understood me aright. Even in the case of a political (siyasi) Musalman action is necessary but what I mean to say is that if a person does not act upon the belief that is necessary in the case of such a Musalman, he will not be outside the pale of a political (siyasi) Musalman.

Q.—If a political (siyasi) Musalman does not believe in things which you have stated to be necessary, will you call such a person be-din ?

A.—No, I will call him merely be-amal”.

The definition by the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiya, Rabwah, in its written statement is that a Muslim is a person who belongs to the ummat of the Holy Prophet and professes belief in kalima-i-tayyaba." End quote.

In the light of the multitude of answers given to the very basic question of who is a Muslim, - which question should be able to be answered with clarity if we are to regard that Islam is a universal religion and faith - Justice Munir unsurprisingly concluded:-

"Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of every one else."

What is clear from the above is that no two ulamaks could even agree on the basic question, namely, what constitutes a Muslim. Rationally that is not surprising. Islam is a faith. Being a faith, how could it be reduced to a set of "irreducible minimums", stereotyped and pigeon-holed? How could faith and the way the faith is arrived at and practised be formulated by a set of people and forced upon the masses professing that faith?

That is the real question. That is the issue facing Islam and Muslims in Malaysia particularly and in the world generally.

Now, if we could not even agree on what constitutes Islam and a Muslim, how and on what premise do we proceed to declare that a person or a group of persons to be un-Islamic, lesser Muslim, deviant or an apostate?

Which takes me to the Amman Message. It says, among others, the followings:-

"Circa 2004, H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan sent the following three questions to 24 of the most senior religious scholars from all around the world representing all the branches and schools of Islam: (1) Who is a Muslim? (2) Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)? (3) Who has the right to undertake issuing fatwas (legal rulings)?

Based on the fatwas provided by these great scholars (who included the Shaykh Al-Azhar; Ayatollah Sistani and Sheikh Qaradawi), in July 2005 CE, H.M. King Abdullah II convened an international Islamic conference of 200 of the world's leading Islamic scholars 'Ulama) from 50 countries. In Amman, the scholars unanimously issued a ruling on three fundamental issues (which became known as the 'Three Points of the Amman Message'):

  1. They specifically recognized the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi'a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash'arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who is a Muslim.
  2. Based upon this definition they forbade takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims.
  3. Based upon the Mathahib they set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas, thereby exposing ignorant and illegitimate edicts in the name of Islam."

(The full message can be viewed here).

It continues:-

"These three points were unanimously adopted by all the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit at Mecca in December 2005. And over a period of one year from July 2005 to July 2006, the Three Points were also unanimously adopted by six other international Islamic scholarly assemblies, culminating with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of Jeddah, in July 2006. In total, over 500 leading Muslim scholars worldwide unanimously endorsed the Amman Message and its Three Points."

Malaysia is of course an OIC member. In fact, Tun Abdullah, while being our PM, was the Chairman of OIC. Among the 500 "leading Muslim scholars" who "endorsed the Amman Message" are:-

  • H.E. Dato’ Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
  • Prime Minister
  • Dr.  (sic) Anwar Ibrahim
    Former Deputy Prime Minister
  • Dato’ Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman
    Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Prof. Dr. Kamal Hasan
    President of the Islamic International University, Kuala Lumpur
  • Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali
    Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation
  • Mr. Shahidan Kasem
    First Minister of Perlis State, Malaysia
  • Mr. Khayri Jamal Al-Din (sic) - (presumably this means YB Khairy Jamaluddin) 
    Deputy Chairman for the Youth Sector, the United Malays National Organisation
  • Dr. Salih Qadir Karim Al-Zanki
    International Islamic University

    (See the full list here).

    As a country who adopted and endorsed the Amman Message, we should at all time perform such endorsement and not act in any way which would go against our said endorsement. We should not at any rate breach our promise, undertaking and commitment.

    After all, Islam is our official religion. Some of our leaders even declared that Malaysia is an "Islamic country". As far as I understand, Islam demands that all our promises be performed. Islam also demands honesty.

    How then do we reconcile our endorsement of the Amman Message with our various acts, almost on a daily basis, of questioning other people's faith and the way they practise their faith?