[ it was sent to me by my 'virtual' friend , KD ]
Rejecting religious fascism
January 23, 2012
JAN 23 — It can be quite tough to recognise the emergence and symptoms of fascism in this country, especially in this day and age.
There are neither cadres of people in brown, black, red or wearing scarfs of chequered patterns nor the sound of jackboots marching here and there. Yes, there are those kids in punk gear and hairstyles wandering confused around town and getting mistakenly branded as black metal acolytes and devil worshippers but those guys are really harmless. A little odd but harmless.
It is encouraging that the past week has seen
sounding the call for the formation of a Global Movement of Moderates. The
world is very much in need of moderation in more ways than one. But here in Malaysia , if
the call is to mean something more than a public relations exercise, we will
need to do some self-reflection and soul searching to see whether we ourselves
have passed the test of moderation, particularly when it comes to religion. Malaysia
In one of my previous articles, I stated that
the verge of religious fascism. It seems that when it comes to religion in this
country, we are unable to say no, to argue reasonably and rationally, or to
even use common sense. What is even more alarming is the use of religion to
intimidate, repress and stifle discourse. Malaysia
More than ever before, the line between public and private religion has become thinner and in some cases has disappeared altogether. Aspects of religion, specifically Islam, has begun to dominate and dictate various previously secular aspects of life in this country to the point that it is now erroneous and misleading to state that issues pertaining to Muslim affairs do not affect or impact on non-Muslims.
We have seen the enactment of laws which allow for Islamic religious authorities to raid the places of worship of other religions. We have heard and experienced blatant unsubstantiated statements intended to create fear and whip up hysteria by accusing others of proselytisation and conversion.
It took 20 years before a church could be established in Shah Alam due to the unwillingness and resistance put up by local authorities who felt that their own aqidah would be threatened for allowing a place of workship belonging to another faith to be established. Nobody told them that their personal faith should not be a factor in their decision making.
The list is longer when we include what is being inflicted upon the Muslim community itself.
Infants are judged illegitimate as a result of being born prematurely. The parents are married? Doesn’t matter. If the kid was born less than six months from the date of nikah, he or she is considered illegitimate. The Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) is more known and infamous for its numerous vice raids than its acts of welfare and good work helping those in need and poverty.
If you are a Malay woman, Muslim and a civil servant, there is an unspoken rule that you are expected to wear only the baju kurung and if you are not wearing the tudung or headscarf, sooner or later you will be peer pressured into wearing it. Wear any other professional attire such as a pantsuit and you will be quietly spoken to.
Like many others, I have long been concerned about the religionisation of secular mechanisms and frameworks. Have you taken a look at the e-Fatwa website recently? It boggles the mind to see the degree of influence, control and intervention into our lives which has been granted to religious authorities who are largely unelected persons who are unaccountable to the public. It seems that syariah matters are no longer limited to personal law matters as originally underlined and envisaged under the Federal Constitution.
It is disturbing to note that involvement of Islamic religious bodies such as the National Fatwa Council appears to be required and even have the final word on perspectives involving such things as electoral reform (i.e. the use of indelible ink), Mat Rempits, poco-poco dancing, public health policy and even the use of scanners at airports. In recent days, religious authorities have even acted as book critics and declared books haram such as Lee Kuan Yew’s “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”.
But the reason why this is all happening is because we are allowing it to happen.
There are many who lay the blame of the religious excessiveness seen of late at the doorstep of Malay-speaking rural communities. But you know what? I believe the problem lies instead among those of the middle class living in the cities, particularly in the enclaves which exist in Shah Alam, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Putrajaya, Malacca and Johor Baru.
In these almost ghetto-like Malay communities spring the many insecurities, intolerance, bigotry and racism which have manifested themselves on the national agenda and championed by persons such as Hasan Ali, Ibrahim Ali, the Perak mufti and the boys and girls of the Perkasa brigade.
The ideas originate from people who are not economically challenged, deprived or impoverished rather they are more likely to be the privileged, well-educated, well-travelled and moneyed. They are more likely to have been educated abroad. Yet, these are the ones who are most rabid about the alleged threats to the Islamic faith. Many of them are in their retirement years, consider themselves devout and recently renewed in their faith. They are influencing the younger generation with their views and values.
Yet among them, religious piety co-exists with superstitious practices.
Consider the current trend of enrolling your kids in tahfiz classes. Parents are racing to get their very young kids into these classes where they are taught to read and memorise the entire Quran. They aren’t taught what the individual words mean or the historical context. Just memorise. So, your son can recite whole chapters but has no idea what the story is about. These kids have become the latest show and tell of parents and the latter’s store for good deeds for the hereafter. In the meantime, daughters are taught that it is necessary to thoroughly wash sanitary napkins to prevent the Devil feeding on menstruation blood and gaining access to one’s soul. Bomohs (shamans) are used for a myriad of purposes from weather control to dealing with business rivals.
These are all symptomatic of a strangeness currently inflicting the Malay community. It seems that there are many who appear to be gripped in some sort of religious rapture. A race to see who can be seen and demonstrate themselves to be the most pious. The extreme manifestations of this have been the loud militant religious rhetoric, threats towards those of other faiths and the enforcement of a single interpretation or religious worldview.
If a person is not a Malay and not a Muslim, that person is deemed as having no right to comment on things affecting Muslims. If a person is non-Malay and a Muslim, we say things are done differently here in
compared to other countries. If a person is a Malay Muslim, this person is
deemed to not know enough about Islam. If a person is a Malay Muslim with the
right credentials, he or she could get censored, condemned and even accused of
The loudest voices (and those who often get their way) are those belonging to the people who are less tolerant and accepting of others, who feel the need to dominate others in the name of religion and ethnicity, and who claim to be champions of the faith.
Taken together, many of these are the budding signs of fascism which are no longer confined to fringe groups and have in fact become mainstream.
Religious fascism is a tapeworm in the gut of modern
. It is
time we recognised it for what it is. Malaysia
your excellency KD,
try looking at things from a different perspective
it is a positive sign, at any age especially guys your age and mine !
take it positively......................................
with ilm, ilm and ilm of course otherwise we go back to bomoh, shamans, talisman and all
overall increase in religiosity in ttdi, damansara heights or even subang jaya does not cause more heart burns or ulcer
I take a contrarion view. positive always.....i am sure a more god fearing kd or even dato dc would not do the world at large any harm.
we are having too much of 'ads' anyway......akhirat deficit syndrome....it is a chronic and serious inattention disorder in elderly adults our age. . .not healthy at our age, if you ask me.
I live at TTDI, or at least at the fringe of it. And I am in my retirement years, or at least at the fringe of it.
And yes, I am from the middle class and for some time now have had my faith renewed. And finally, I make
no apologies for not being a moderate in the practice of Islam. Those who advocate moderation in such matters
ought perhaps also plead for moderation from the Almighty in His exercise of forgiveness for their sins.
There is one sentence in that article that about sums up its author's mind. It is:
"It seems that syariah matters are no longer limited to personal law matters as originally underlined and envisaged under the Federal Constitution."
It is apparent that the author thinks that the application of the syariah with all its injunctions, commandments
and prescriptions were intended by God and the Prophet (pbuh) to be circumscribed by what a handful of men
led by the colonizer's representative, Lord Reid, determined in drawing up the Federal Constitution. Originally
underlined and envisaged? Was that what God and the Prophet (pbuh) originally underlined and envisaged for
the syariah 1400 over years ago when Lord Reid's grandparents were not even born, that its scope and application
should be determined by Lord Reid and a few other men?
To such like him perhaps when the talqin is recited over their bodies when their time comes and they
are asked by Munkar and Nakir what book they follow, they should answer that the book they follow is the
Well said !? Really ?
You reject our Federal Constitution...Agong, Sultans, Parliament, Cabinet, Courts, Federal and State laws, Democracy, Rule of Law, Elections... Because Lord Reid, a "coloniser's representative" drew them up? And what will you have in its place? A theocracy that will take us back 14 centuries? A Wahabbi monarchy Saudi Arabian style? Ayatollahs Iranian style?
No. No, thank you.
acceptance of the 'status quo handed to us by history' with reluctance' is one thing dato'.
[ pas, ikwanul muslimin , justice party of turkey etc etc are the result of such 'acceptance with reluctance' ]
outright rejection of the 'the god given' alternative is quite another thing.
some would rightfully say this is bordering on the aqidah....i dare not go there or push my friends to play 'brinkmanship'.
we need to 'step back and give ourselves a lot of deep soul searching.
before we sink deeper into this chasm we better stop here.
You are right, doc, we all need to think through the major issues we face. A nation's Constitution is a serious matter. Though man made, it is the bedrock of the nation that guarantees the rights of all its members. Its provisions can only be amended a two thirds majority of parliament. A few clauses, the entrenched ones, cannot be changed without the agreement of the Council of Rulers.
It is well to recognize that our Constitution was not drawn up by a "coloniser's representative." Lord Reid was only chairman of the commission. The commission that drew up our Constitution comprised eminent judges from several commonwealth countries.
Though Islam is the official religion, our Constitution guarantees that our nation is secular. This is a basic right of all citizens, guaranteed by the Constitution. We will be governed by the rule of law, not rule by law, or rule by man through beliefs. When we think of the issue carefully, these are inescapable thoughts.
Have a great holiday!
Reading the latest postings, I guess there's another then that should give Munkar and Nakir the same reply,
Let us take a break from this discussion. My collar is getting heated up.
Let su go listen to some Shaykh.....young Imama Suhaib Webb exposition on Surah Al lail