Harussani Superficialises Islam yet Again!

Farouk A. Peru

The Mufti of Perak, Harussani Zakaria is a man notorious for stirring up trouble. In 2007, he helped cause a ruckus when he helped spread the rumour that Malay youth were being baptised at a church in Perak. He got off scot-free then and I wonder if the same will happen now. This time, our good mufti is embroiled in not one but two controversial issues.

The first of these issues involves the new fatwa that Muslims aren’t allowed to wear certain football jerseys. This time, to be fair, it wasn’t just Harussani but rather one Nooh Gadot, a Johor Religious Council adviser. Gadot said that Muslims were forbidden from wearing football jerseys with images of crosses, liquor brands and devils. Naturally, being a staunch ‘defender of faith’, Harussani had to have his say and claimed that ‘Islam did not forbid its followers from participating in sports or dressing up, it has to be done within the boundaries of Islamic law’.

Of course, let’s not forget here that the phrase ‘Islamic law’ most probably means ‘Harussani and Gadot’s version of Islamic law’. Interpretation in Islamic law is an often neglected aspect. Then you get people like Harussani who act as if diversity doesn’t exist and that they own Islamic law. When that happens, you will almost certainly get absolutely ridiculous understandings like this one and our notorious fatwa against Yoga.

Think about it for a minute. Manchester United is called the ‘Red Devils’. Do they worship the Devil? I have yet to see Man U fans congregate to the Church of Satan (with the upturned cross) after a match. It simply doesn’t happen. The ‘devil’ in the emblem is a metaphor, probably for how ‘bad’ (as in hated by their enemies sense of the word) Man U is. There is nothing more to it than that. Harussani should try to look beyond the literal wording or symbolism of the term and try to understand the metaphor. After all, much of the Quran uses metaphors. If Harussani read the Quran literally, he would be stuck with trying to explain how God has a throne, hands and a face. But no, the Quran is metaphorical so as a mufti, Harussani should understand other people have a right to use symbolic language too.

Symbols like the cross, the devil and various brands of alcohol are inconsequential for those who do not acknowledge the traditional meanings behind them. Wear a swiss flag, use a swiss army knife all you want but if your heart isn’t moved, you won’t suddenly want to embrace Christianity as Harussani surmises. Do we see people rush to embrace Islam after wearing the Bulan Sabit Merah uniform? And as Scott Thong points out, we expect all Malaysians regardless of faith to wear or display the Malaysian flag. Why can’t Malaysians of faiths other than Islam rebel against this and call it an affront to their faith? It is certainly a valid argument  by Harussani and Gadot’s logic.

People like Harussani Zakaria and Nooh Gadot are superficial in their treatment of Islam. They have reduced Islam to a mere symbolic expression. I’m sure they won’t have any problem at all if those football jerseys had the crescent moon on them. Why? Because the cresent moon is ostensibly ‘Islam’s’ symbol.  The thing is, neither the crescent moon nor any other symbol is proposed by the Quran to be ‘the symbol of Islam’. This is exactly the same with Christianity. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the cross is their symbol. It is simply tradition which dicates it so.