As I said before

The book, Chronicles of the Shariah, talks about the evolution of the Fiqh. Note the key word here: evolution. Evolution or evolved means it grew or transformed over time. It developed as time went on. And it developed, evolved, changed, was modified, etc., to suit changing ‘norms’ in society and differences in regions, cultures, and whatnot.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have attempted to address the issue of the Shariah, Jihad, amar maaruf, nahi munkar, and whatnot, for some time now. However, I have faced many problems with and opposition from Malaysian Muslims for two reasons.

First, I am not an Islamic scholar. So I am not considered an authority on Islam and they feel, therefore, I should not be talking about Islam. Second, Malaysian Muslims have been brought up to believe in and to follow a certain interpretation of Islam and any other interpretation, especially if it contradicts the ‘Malaysian version’, is considered deviant teachings.

Because of that I have antagonised many people and those who used to be my friends in the past, today, consider me an enemy of Islam. It is in the Malay mindset to believe that Malaysians are the best Muslims in the world. And when we refer to ‘Malaysian Muslims’ it translates to ‘Malays’. Even Malaysian Indian Muslims are sometimes treated with suspect while Chinese Muslims, although they may have been Muslims 800 years before the Malays even heard of the word ‘Islam’, are labelled as mualaf (meaning ‘converts’, but almost demeaning in that these are sort of ‘second-class’ Muslims).

I remember, back in the old days, if you converted to Islam you would be said to have ‘masuk Melayu’ (become a Malay). Converting to Islam means you convert to Malay. Malay is ‘higher’ than Islam. It is not so bad today, though, but this ‘masuk Melayu’ thing of some years back clearly defines the Malay mind — at least then.

It is common enough to hear Malays say that the Arabs are the worst Muslims in the world. Some even say that God sent Islam to the Arabs and not to the Malays because the Arabs are the worst people on earth — so they needed Islam. If Islam had been sent to the Malays instead of to the Arabs then the extremely stubborn and confrontational Arabs would have never become Muslims.

I would not go so far as to say that the Malays have a superiority complex and that they consider themselves above other Muslims — while they consider ‘all others’ as being deviants of sorts. But it is very difficult to not imagine the Malays as having a chip on their shoulders if you judge them from what they say.

When we talk about Islam there are just too many issues to discuss and it is impossible to cover them all in just one article. So I would like to talk about just one issue, the Shariah. Of late, with the controversy of women being caned and in response to the Perlis Mufti’s statement on the Shariah (read below), maybe this is the best place to start.

Before that, look at the book below. I suggest you try to buy it on Amazon and read it. I am not going to deliberate on the contents of the book because it will be too much to discuss and none of you are going to read an article that is 50 pages long.

Now, one point I have argued in the past (which most Malaysian Muslims do not agree with) is that the Shariah was not something that came in one go. I even went so far as to say that the Shariah did not exist yet during the time of the Prophet but that it evolved over hundreds of years, long after the Prophet Muhammad had already died.

Of course, this statement upset many Malaysian Muslims. They argue that the Shariah is from God so it must have already existed during the time of the Prophet and that it had been ‘perfected’ before the Prophet died. In that case read the other article below about the variants in the Shariah. How can it have existed during the time of the Prophet when there are so many ‘versions’ of the Shariah?

The book, Chronicles of the Shariah, talks about the evolution of the Fiqh. Note the key word here: evolution. Evolution or evolved means it grew or transformed over time. It developed as time went on. And it developed, evolved, changed, was modified, etc., to suit changing ‘norms’ in society and differences in regions, cultures, and whatnot.

The Shariah was never static or constant. Neither was it standard or uniform. A lot of customs, culture, tribalism, and so on, defined the shape and form of the Shariah from region to region and from generation to generation.

This is what Malaysian Muslims need to understand and accept, which they do not. The Shariah was not carved in stone like the Ten Commandments. It is fluid. It is man-made. It is an interpretation based on situations and demands of that era and region.

One final point that I wish to make, which I know will not go down well with most Malaysian Muslims, is that quite a bit of the Shariah was based on old pre-Islamic tribal laws and customs. These pre-Islamic ways just continued after the introduction of Islam.

Take, for example, the marriage of what the modern world would regard as ‘underage’ girls. Underage is a ‘modern’ concept. In the old days, girls of 18 were ‘old women’ and boys went to war at 15 and by 18 they were ‘veteran soldiers’.

The old tribal customs allowed a man to marry any girl who already has her period. This girl may be just 12 or 13 but as long as she has her period then it is legal, from the Islam perspective, to marry her.

In fact, the Javanese community in Malaysia practiced this even as recent as the 1960s. I do not know whether in certain parts of Indonesia it is still being practiced.

Today, this practice would be frowned upon even though Islam allows it. Should Muslims ban marriages of minors even though Islam allows it? That should be something Muslims reconsider after some serious ‘soul searching’.

The keeping of slaves is allowed in Islam, as is having sex with your female slaves. There is nothing wrong with this, according to Islam. But should the keeping of slaves, and using them for your sexual pleasure, still be permitted?

We are no longer living in the Saudi Arabian desert of the year 700. It is now the year 2010. To argue that what was allowed 1,300 years ago must not now be banned is not a valid argument.

Piracy was allowed 500 years ago. Englishmen like Francis Drake (1540-1596) and Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) were knighted and died as Sirs for their ‘patriotism’ and ‘service to The Crown’. They walked in the court of Queen Elizabeth I (1553-1603) for their ‘noble’ acts of piracy.

Today, piracy is a crime. It was not so 500 years ago. So why must what was allowed and accepted as a noble and heroic profession in days gone by now be regarded as unacceptable?

Yes, ‘good’ customs and cultures of before are frowned upon today and are no longer considered good. Burning deviants alive at the stake was the work of the church in the past (as recent as the 1700s, even in countries like America, they burned ‘witches’, who were considered disciples of the devil). If the church tries that today the people will burn down all the churches instead. So the church too had to change with the times.

I will stop here and allow you to read the pieces below. May the Malaysian Muslims find enlightenment in these ‘other opinions’. 2010 is the time for reflection. And there is much Malaysian Muslims need to reflect upon.


Time to review syariah laws, says Mufti

The country’s Islamic Family Law needs to be comprehensively reviewed although it has been enforced all this while, according to Perlis Mufti Dr Juanda Jaya.

He said one of the issues that should be looked into is marriages involving underage girls, which could be curbed by the religious authority (court).

Juanda was responding to the widely reported controversial child marriages between two girls aged 10 and 11 to two men aged 40 and 41 in Kelantan recently.

While several NGOs have spoken out against these child marriages, Islamic Affairs Minister Jamil Khir Baharom had on Tuesday defended Islamic laws that allow girls under 16 to marry.

Jamil Khir had reportedly said: “Maturity is a subjective question. It depends on the development of the person. Maturity is not based on age solely. There is no need to amend the law…”

Juanda, meanwhile said it would be sad if weaknesses in the Islamic Family Law were left unchecked as this could tarnish the image of the religion.

“Do we want our syariah law to be complete and beautiful, or outdated and narrow?” he said adding that besides the Islamic Family Law, the other syariah laws could also be reviewed.

He said it was time for all Muslims to seriously address the issues to protect the image of Islam and the community. — Free Malaysia Today


Within Shia Islam there are 34 sects whose interpretation of Shariah differs with each other. Within again, Sunni Islam there are at least 34 sects whose interpretation of Shariah differs with each other. There are issues on which no two ulema of different sects agree. Not superficial issue; even the fundamental ones. You have only to read the Munir Inquiry Report. Justice Munir, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was one of the two judges who were appointed to investigate into the background, reasons and the modus operandi of the anti‑Ahmadiyya riots in 1953. Who was responsible and who was not? How to define a Muslim?

During the course of the inquiry, justice Munir pointedly asked every Muslim scholar who appeared before him if he knew of a definition of Islam which could be acceptable by the other sects as well; which could equally apply to everyone and by the help of which we could define, ‘Yes, this is Muslim’, and ‘That is not Muslim’. In the report justice Munir submits that no two scholars of all the Muslim scholars interrogated, agreed on a single definition of what Islam was.

In the case of one particular scholar, he wanted some more time to think over it, and justice Kayani, who was a partner with justice Munir, had a very peculiar sense of humour. His answer was: ‘I cannot give you more time, because you have already taken more than thirteen hundred years to ponder over this question. Is that not enough?

If thirteen centuries, plus some years are not enough for you to be able to define the very fundamentals of Islam ‑ what is a definition? ‑ how much more time would you require?’

So this is a very grave issue. If the Shariah interpretation of one sect is imposed, then it will not just be the non‑Muslims who will be dispossessed of the fundamental right of participation in the country’s legislation, but within Islam also there would be many sects who would be deprived of this right.

The Interpretation of which sect is to be imposed on Shariah Law?

Again there are so many other problems: For instance, according to some Shariah concept, the punishment for a crime is so much different from the concept of another sect, that Islam would be practised in the world so differently on the same issue, that it would create a horrible impression on the non‑Muslim world. What sort of faith that is which advises one punishment for the same crime here and another there. And in some other places it is just the very thing to do and it’s no crime at all.

These and many such issues make the question of imposition of Shariah almost impossible.

Moreover, the fundamental rights of other sects are also tampered with, or trampled upon, in many possible situations. For instance on the question of drinking of alcohol. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, alright; but, the very question of whether it is a punishable offence and whether the punishment, if any, is imposed by man in this world, is a fluid issue. It is a controversial issue and has not yet been agreed upon by all the people involved. What is the punishment of drinking? The Holy Quran does NOT mention any punishment. This is a fundamental law, the Book of law and it is inferred from some Tradition, by some scholars, that; that should be the punishment. But that inference is far‑fetched and the Traditions themselves are challenged by others not to be authentic.

So, will a large section of not only Muslim society, but also a large section of non‑Muslim society, be punished for such reasons as in themselves are doubtful. Whether it’s valid or not, this is the issue. Yet there are extremists, everywhere and particularly those who go for Shariah to be imposed.

You will find many extremist who are totally intolerant of others opinion. Consequently, such grey areas also will be taken as No Doubt areas by the extremists. They will say, ‘Yes, we know; it’s our opinion. It’s the opinion supported by a medieval scholar or our thinking. And that is law.

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad Khalifatul Masih IV, in a speech delivered on 3rd June 1991 at a conference called SHARIAH: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND POLITICS IN ISLAM held in Suriname


Senior Muslim clerics in Jakarta oppose suicide bombers and radical Islam

Religious leaders in Indonesia’s capital back national unity and view democracy as the best form of government. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) are not against the separation of state and religion; 80 per cent reject the notion that violence is necessary to spread Muslim religion.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An overwhelming majority of senior Muslim clerics in Jakarta reject suicide bombings, believe in national unity and consider democracy is the best form of government, this according to a report released today.

The study was conducted by the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC) at Jakarta’s Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University between November 2008 and January 2009. It surveyed 250 takmir masjid (mosque managers) in Jakarta.

Some 88.8 per cent of them approve of Pancasila [Indonesia’s state ideology] and consider the 1945 Constitution as the best model for Indonesia.

As many as 78.4 per cent agree that democracy is the best system of government for Indonesia.

“However, we found a kind of split personality among the mosque managers. As citizens they support Pancasila as the state ideology for the country, but as Muslims they support the establishment of an Islamic country,” CSRC senior researcher Sukron Kamil said.

Only 31 per cent support the introduction of Sharia or Islamic law, 56 per cent are against and 13 per cent did not answer.

Some 74 per cent said they would not fight a government that refuses to implement Sharia law against 14 per cent who said they would.

Significantly, some 74 per cent did not agree that the main purpose of jihad was to wage war

“On the question of whether violence is allowed to uphold amar ma’ruf nahi munkar [guiding people to the right path], 89 per cent of the respondents reject it, 9 per cent agree and the remaining 2 per cent are undecided,” CSRC research coordinator Ridwan Al Makassary said.

The survey all shows that for 75 per cent of respondents suicide bombing cannot be considered jihad compared to 9 per cent who said it was.

“Generally, the majority of mosques in Jakarta embrace moderate Islamic ideas and thoughts.

Nevertheless, among the total there is a small number with a tendency toward increasingly radical Islamic ideas,” Ridwan said.