Malaysia is not a Secular State. If it was then you should not get arrested if you insult Prophet Muhammad like in France. Malaysia is not an Islamic State either because we have two sets of legal systems and not just Islamic laws or the Sharia. So we need to walk that very fine and invisible line between an Islamic and a Secular State to navigate our way in Malaysia.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I was reading a book last night about the view of a Christian regarding Islam. Yes, I make it a policy to read what those who I do not agree with write, unlike many Pakatuns who post comments in Malaysia Today saying that they will never read what I write because they despise me.
Anyway, this chap wrote that Islam is against freedom of speech and he gave examples to support his view such as the killing of a number a poets and poetess who spoke out against Islam and/or Prophet Muhammad — Asma Marwan being the most famous of the lot.
So, the conclusion this chap gave is that Islam or Muhammad did not/does not allow freedom to criticise either the religion of Islam or the founder of the religion. And, added this writer, to understand Islam, you must first study and understand the life of Muhammad because Islam has been moulded by or around Muhammad.
I have more or less said the same thing in my previous article. When I said Chinese are ignorant of Islam it is because they come to conclusions based on secular rather than theological assumptions. And these assumptions totally ignore the life of Muhammad and the fact that many of the Islamic traditions, beliefs and doctrine are derived from the Sira, Hadith and Sunnah.
If you want to understand Islam purely through the study of the Qur’an you will never be able to achieve that because less than 20% of Islamic traditions are in the Qur’an. And you must also take note that the chapters and verses of the Qur’an and not arranged in chronological order. They are arranged on the basis of chapter length with the longest in front and the shortest at the back.
The Qur’an also has the Mekah chapters and the Medina chapters. The Mekah chapters deal mainly with doctrine while the Medina chapters are more about the rules and regulations plus the punishment for violating these rules and regulations. In other words, the Mekah chapters are more tolerant while the Medina chapters are more strict.
Then we have certain earlier verses being abrogated by later verses. So one verse might say one thing while the other might say the opposite. Whenever this occurs we have to replace the earlier verses with the later verses. However, since the verses are not arranged in chronological order, we may see the later verses in the beginning of the Qur’an while the earlier verses are placed behind.
This, of course, makes it very confusing for those who are studying the Qur’an. They need to know which verses are from from Medina and which are from Mekah. And they also need to know which verses have abrogated which. They also need to know the history of these verses and the spirit behind them (how and why these verses came into being).
Considering that less than 80% of the more that 1.4 billion Muslims do not speak modern Arabic and that the Qur’an is not written in modern Arabic but archaic Arabic, a sort of dead language like Latin, this adds to the problem of deciphering the Qur’an. And even then the Qur’an reveals less than 20% of what Islam is about.
So, against this backdrop, do you think you are armed with enough knowledge to discuss or debate with Muslims about their doctrine and beliefs? Even 90% of the 1.4 billion Muslims can be considered ignorant about Islam. What more non-Muslims who never went to Islamic studies classes or Qur’an recital classes.
Just stop the first 100 Muslims you come across on the street and hand him or her a copy of a Qur’an and ask him of her to point out which verses in the Qur’an are from Medina and which are from Mekah and which are the abrogated verses and which verses are the ones that replace the abrogated verses.
I can assure you if even just one Muslim can answer your question then you are indeed lucky. Chances are many Muslims not only do not know which verses are abrogated but are not even aware that there are verses that have been abrogated because they have been told the Qur’an is 100% perfect and is from God or Allah. Hence every single word in the Qur’an has to be accepted by all Muslims.
Muslims are also told you must read the Qur’an in its original form since these are holy words from God and that you must not read translated versions of the Qur’an since those are not the words of God. That means almost all Muslims can read the Qur’an but very few Muslims understand what they read.
How then do Muslims understand Islam? This is why they need to go to religious classes like Christians go to Sunday school. The ustaz (teacher) will explain Islam to the students. Hence you do not learn Islam by reading the Qur’an. You learn Islam from a teacher. This teacher will interpret Islam and will explain what he interprets to his student.
In fact, Muslims are not encouraged to learn Islam from books. If Muslims learn Islam from books then Satan becomes your teacher, is the common belief. But how can you be sure that the teacher has interpreted Islam correctly and is teaching you the right thing? You don’t. You do not even know if the teacher is a high quality or low quality teacher.
Now, when non-Muslims talk about the Sharia and/or Hudud laws (which are just one component of the Sharia) they talk about civil liberties, human rights, separation of church and state (politics and religion must not mix), the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, the rights of non-Muslims, and so on.
If you were to study the Sira, Hadith and Sunnah, you will know that non-Muslims do not have rights in a Muslim country. However, for political reasons, Muslims will never want to say this. Muslims will talk about all citizens being equally while in their hearts they know this is not true and they do not believe in equality between Muslims and non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are Dhimmi.
PAS will never tell you this, and for sure neither will Umno. They will explain that non-Muslims are Dhimmi only in an Islamic State and Malaysia is not an Islamic State. Well, in that case, if Malaysia is not an Islamic State, is it a Secular State? Errr….well….actually Malaysia is not a Secular State either and that is why we have Sharia laws.
So, Muslims are not being entirely honest with the non-Muslims.
Let me explain it another way. If you want to uphold the ideals of civil liberties and human rights, you must also uphold the ideals of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is paramount. Before you get to the other civil liberties and human rights you must first have freedom of speech. It starts with freedom of speech and then it moves to the other civil liberties and human rights.
But then Islam does not allow freedom of speech. Freedom of speech can become apostasy, blasphemy and/or heresy if you are not careful. And these are crimes in Islam, crimes you can get punished for. In fact, even in the west there is no absolute freedom of speech. For example, you cannot say that the Holocaust never happened and that the story of six millions Jews being killed is a big lie. In some countries you will get arrested for saying that.
In most Muslims countries, insulting Prophet Muhamad is a crime. For example, you cannot call Muhammad a sex pervert or a paedophile. You not only face the risk of arrest but also the risk of getting assassinated as well. Hence there is no freedom of speech because if there is freedom of speech there should have no boundaries. And the Sharia laws will be used to punish you for such crimes.
But Sharia laws only apply to Muslims. What happens if a non-Muslim insults Prophet Muhammad? In that case Secular laws such as the Sedition Act would be used instead. You can be charged for sedition if you insult Prophet Muhammad. And it becomes an act of sedition because Islam says so. So, indirectly, Islamic laws are being used under the disguise of Secular laws, the Sedition Act being one of them.
I am no lawyer, no constitutional expert, and for sure no ulama’. But you do not need to be an expert. All you need is common sense. Do you need to be a fireman to know that fire burns and can kill you? And all you need is common sense to know that Malaysia is a hybrid between an Islamic State and a Secular State and a situation that makes it very delicate and dicey to navigate through.