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Articles, Opinions & Views: What I do find objectionable - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy

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What I do find objectionable - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, October 07, 2021

Wannabe Camel Jockey

Malaysiakini : “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”- Robert F Kennedy

COMMENT | To be clear as someone who values concepts like free speech, I do not really care what people like Muslim preacher Syakir Nasoha says about non-Muslims. 

What I do find objectionable is the way how the state sanctions speech by non-Muslims who say things that are objectionable about Muslims and Islam like the way how this preacher did with non-Muslims.

The insidious component of these unequal sanctions by the state is that non-Muslims not only have to show restraint when engaging in the religious discourse but there is always an element of self-censorship when it comes to discussing Islam in this country, and this includes progressive Muslims.

The designation of non-Muslims as “kafirs” is in itself a bigoted concept and one that is mainstream in this country. Various religions contextualising non-believers with specific terms are not uncommon. 

However, in this country, where anti-non-Muslims narratives are hardwired into the political system and policy and where the religious establishment controls the belief systems of the majority, demonising non-Muslims has serious repercussions.

The interesting part of Syakir’s defence of his statements is this – “…. Islam encourages its followers to be on good terms with kafir zimmi and does not prohibit Muslims from engaging them in managing worldly affairs, as long as it does not violate the precepts of Islam.”

Think about this for a moment. This means that in an Islamic society, the engagement with kafirs is not defined by any objective paradigms but rather the subjective and pernicious belief system as defined by religion and sanctioned by the state. 

What this means is that minorities are dehumanised or targeted not because of anything they did, but rather because the holy text defines how such interactions should occur.

Preacher Zakar Naik

The fact that such beliefs are open to interpretation would mean that non-Muslims will never have any idea how they would be treated and everything would revolve around vague or arbitrary sanctions. This as we know is the very definition of fascism.

The whole idea of kafir is just so mendacious. When we have revered Islamic figures like Zakir Naik claiming that Muslim politicians working with non-Muslim politicians are against Islam and it is better for Muslims to vote for corrupt Muslim politicians than honest non-Muslim politicians, when the reality here in Malaysia is that Muslim and non-Muslim politicians have always worked together, this should tell us the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the concept of kafir.

Indeed, what this demonstrates is that the idea of kafir is used by the religious class to divide and rule and enabled by the political class to do the same. There is no basis in reality for such divisions but rather, it is a convenient political and religious tool to keep marginalising the majority from minorities. 

This is the same way as Pejuang leader Mukhriz Mahathir admitted that Umno used to demonise the Chinese community when they could not address certain issues.

Social contract 

There is no separation of church and state, or more accurately mosque and state, in this country. This idea of “tolerance” as opposed to “acceptance” has been the lynchpin of the so-called social contract when it comes to race and religion. 

The Umno establishment characterised the Bersih rally as a Chinese attempt to subvert power. The red-shirts led by Jamal Md Yunos was based on religious and racial superiority.

Whenever someone makes the claim that people do not understand their religion, it most often means that their religion has a lot to answer for. 

All religions have commonalities. Those positive commonalities make it possible for people of diverse religious faiths to play well with others. Call it evolutionary or spiritual but the result is the same, the receding of religious dogma and the acceptance of the plurality of thought.

People who live in Muslim-majority countries understand Islam very well. Muslims who live in Western secular countries do not have to worry about people not understanding Islam. 

The importance of understanding a religion only comes into play when the religion has an overt impact on the social and political landscape of a country.

Former minister Zaid Ibrahim

They do not care if believers or non-believers understand their dogma. They view any questioning of their dogma as trespasses into their sacred domain which can only be met with violence. 

Remember in 2016 when then-deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi invited Muslim political operatives to discuss PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s hudud bill, and what former minister Zaid Ibrahim said to non-Muslims political operatives in his open letter:

“To the non-Muslims MPs, do not worry that Hadi and others may accuse you of attacking Islam. They are an arrogant bunch who think they are the only ones who can represent Islam. Act 355 is just another law and it is a very bad law. It’s your duty to oppose the bill, even if the law does not directly apply to you or your community. You have a duty to fight for justice for all Malaysians.” 

Read that last part again â€“ “You have a duty to fight for justice for all Malaysians.'.This is exactly why non-Muslims are referred to as kafirs when reality does not conform to the dogma as preached by the religious class.

There are people who do not want Muslims to think that we are all Malaysians.
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 9:29 AM  
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