“Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.”
- Sam Harris, ‘The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason’
This is the question - “So why is this ruling being expanded to non-Muslims? It is enough to enforce it on Muslims only."
The answer is simple.
Any “Islamic” diktat is expanded to non-Muslims because this is the agenda of Islamic extremists - to force believers and non-believers to submit to Islamic authority. Forcing believers to submit to your authority is easy and displays no overt power of any kind. Most often, it is voluntary and those believers who by wealth, privilege or social standing who are beyond your power are either ignored or co-opted into enforcing your Islamic agenda.
However, forcing non-believers to submit to your authority, especially if they hold religious beliefs of their own or do not wish to be bound by any religious dogma, demonstrates power on a fundamental level. It is brute force, a demonstration that non-Muslim beliefs are inconsequential and that they are bound to Islamic law even if they choose not to believe. They will be forced to acknowledge that even if they do not submit, they are not beyond Islamic law and will suffer the consequences of deviations from such religious observances.
Let us examine this claim.
“Such regulation should be supported as it educates the people to go for prayers as soon as possible.”
The only “education” this regulation provides is that when Muslims are called to prayer, the world apparently stops moving. Non-Muslims have to cease all worldly activity and bow in submission when someone else observes their religious obligation. That obligation becomes part of the life of the non-Muslims because to not observe such practices would invite sanctions from the state.
Faith by fiat is what I called unilateral conversion but what do you call an act which you have no choice but to observe or choose to observe because of fear of sanction? What do you call an “education” which you have no choice but to accept? What is the real lesson here? That the beliefs of one religion is superior to the other? That whether you believe or not, you have to submit or there will be consequences?
Let us explore this statement.
“Therein lies the nature of this Islamic juggernaut - it will crunch all scruples, it will sweep aside all nuances until you have a fully Islamic polity.”
To put it simply, this is what I have been writing about ever since I made the claim that the Islamic agenda is the existential threat facing our country at the moment. The nature of the Islamic juggernaut is submission. Submission of will but more importantly, sweeping away all dissent until all that is left are people who for whatever reasons submit to the Islamic authority of the state.
In the mendacity of PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang, I wrote - “Hadi was duplicitous when he claimed that ‘the syariah court only affects Muslims and has nothing to do with non-Muslims’. Everyone knows that anything to do with Islam in this country has an effect on every Malaysian, regardless of his or her professed religion. Everyone has felt the harsh glare of the kind of Islam that was used as a tool by Umno to shore up Malay support and constantly remind non-Muslims that they were interlopers in this country.”
And sweeping away dissent is the most important point. Intelligent discourse in the Abrahamic faith revolves around the concept of doubt. They revolve around this concept because of the influence of the secular world. Rational Christians, Jews and Muslims who have shed their religion’s extremists impulses engage in conversation and not dogma. They attempt to reconcile their doubt with what the secular world has to offer.
However, religious extremists have no concern for doubt. All they are concerned about is submission. They do not care if believers or non-believers understand their dogma. They view any questioning of their dogma as trespasses into their scared domain which can only be met with violence.
And if you think that this kind of zealotry is confined to the echelons of power in PAS and other Muslim organisations, read what an average PAS supporter said when the party tried to impose public whipping on those who committed adultery, which I wrote about in the shadow of PAS -
“Here is what a businessperson said in relation to what PAS is attempting to do: Shahmimi Abdul Aziz, 30, was also supportive of public caning for zina offenders, adding that it should be carried out nationwide.
“‘Every state should implement it. Enforcement should also be done on the offenders' non-Muslim partners; the punishment must be fair,’ Shahmimi noted.”
Therein lies the dark truth. Not only are non-Muslims dealing with an Islamic hegemon, we are also dealing with a group-think that endorses the idea of non-Muslim subjugation to Islamic dogma.
Whenever I write articles critical of Islam - although I would like to consider these articles critical of religious extremism - I always get emails and comments from Muslims who tell me that I do not know anything about Islam and should not comment on the subject.
This, of course, is absurd because the average Muslim always tells people that (in the words of former law minister Zaid Ibrahim) some half-baked ulama are the only people who have a right to comment on Islam because of their years of study. Since only these half-baked ulama can comment on Islam, then Muslims who whine that I know nothing about Islam should keep their mouths shut because as an average Muslim who acknowledges that only half-baked ulama can comment about Islam, they are not in a position to judge the validity of my criticisms.
Just last month I wrote - “Let me be very clear. There is enough empirical evidence that laws solely meant for Muslims in this country have a direct impact on non-Muslims hence this separate but equal canard is just another example of how mainstream Islam in this country always attempts to subvert democratic principles in the name of Muslim solidarity and hegemonic power.
“Always keep in mind that Hadi Awang said, ‘Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut).’”
And this is the crux of the matter. Non-Muslims must be “followers”. Followers who do not believe. Followers who are forced to submit. Followers who can never lead because they are not Muslims. Followers who have to submit to the religious observances of Muslims even though they have their own religious beliefs, which are not observed by Muslims but in some cases restricted because they cause offence to Muslims.
This does not sound like “followers” to me.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.- Mkini