My favourite subject (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Malays have to re-learn Islam. At the age of seven we are taught about fardu ‘ain and the tenets of Islam. At the age of 70 we must move beyond that. To talk about the same issues from age seven to age 70 gives an impression that Islam is a very narrow religion.


Raja Petra Kamarudin


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

1. Sejak kecil lagi saya diajar tentang perbezaan antara sunat dan wajib dalam Islam.

2. Yang sunat saya diberitahu jika dibuat berpahala tetapi tidak dibuat tidak berdosa. Sebaliknya yang wajib perlu dibuat jika tidak akan berdosa.

3. Sudah tentu awal-awal lagi saya diberitahu sembahyang lima waktu itu wajib. Tetapi kelonggaran diberi jika tidak sihat, jika dalam perjalanan, dalam kecemasan.

4. Jika tidak dapat berdiri boleh duduk semasa sembahyang, dalam perjalanan boleh jamak. Demikian juga dengan ibadat puasa, mengeluar zakat dan mengerja haji.

5. Islam tidak membebankan penganutnya. Oleh itu banyaklah amalan yang sunat, yang jika dilakukan mendapat pahala tetapi tidak berdosa jika tidak dilakukan.

6. Ramai orang Islam yang tidak puas hati dengan kelonggaran-kelonggaran yang diberi oleh Allah Subhanahuwata’ala. Mereka lebih suka jika yang wajib ditambah dan yang sunat diwajibkan.

7. Ada yang sampai memaksa yang sunat dilakukan dan jika tidak, tidak Islam atau kurang Islam. Tidak ada kelonggaran yang dibenarkan.

8. Walaupun ini mungkin tidak jadi masalah kepada yang sudah Islam, tetapi ada orang bukan Islam yang takut memeluk agama Islam kerana “wajib” disunatkan.

9. Tetapi ada yang begitu keras mewajibkan “sunat” sehingga sanggup tidak menerima yang tidak mahu disunat memeluk agama Islam. Ketakutan ini lebih terdapat dikalangan wanita bukan Islam. Dipercayai wanita yang Islam pun ramai yang tidak disunatkan kerana ini adalah perkara yang tidak diwajibkan. Tetapi pihak tertentu berkeras berkenaan “sunat” bagi wanita yang memeluk agama Islam.

10. Kenapakah kita begitu tidak puas hati dengan kelonggaran yang diberi oleh Allah s.w.t. sehingga menolak hukum yang telah ditentukan oleh-Nya. Sesungguhnya banyaklah hukum Allah yang dialihkan terutama berkenaan fardhu kifayah supaya yang wajib menjadi sunat dan yang sunat diwajibkan.


To most of you, what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote above may sound Greek. Let me therefore try to sum up what the Grand Old Man of Malaysian politics is trying to say.

In Islam, there are some things that are compulsory, some things that are forbidden, and some things that are optional — and it does not matter if you do the optional things or not but you would get credits (pahala) if you do and no debits (dosa) if you don’t. Then, to emphasis his argument, Dr Mahathir quotes the compulsory rituals in Islam such as praying five times a day, fasting, and so on.

This is the normal approach for most village preachers. For 50 or 60 years you go to the local mosque to hear these religious sermons (kutbah, kulliah, ceramah, etc.) and the gist is all the same. It is about halal, haram, wajib, sunat, makruh, fardu ‘ain, hukum nikah-cerai, hukum batal wuduk, and what have you.

This is what they teach you in grade one of primary school when you are age seven. And when you are 70 you are still hearing the same sermon. Even Tun Dr Mahathir is singing the same old and worn out tune.

Somehow, many try to avoid talking about amar makruf and nahi munkar (to encourage virtue and discourage vice), which is also compulsory (wajib) in Islam. And even when they do talk about vice it is always confined to sex, gambling and alcohol. It appears like these are the only three vices that Islam is concerned about.

For example, you hear many horror stories about how the local council workers kill stray dogs in a most cruel and inhumane manner. Most Malays consider dogs as najis (filthy). So they have no problem clubbing a dog to death or putting a noose around its neck and dragging it on the road behind a motorcycle till it dies.

To these local council workers who attend the religious sermons, pray five times a day, and go to the mosque on Friday, this act is absolutely acceptable since dogs are filthy. However, they appear to have forgotten a story in the scriptures that goes as follows:

One day the Prophet Muhammad and his comrades were on a journey and they saw a prostitute cup her hands and offered a thirsty dog a drink of water. The Prophet then commented that this woman is destined for heaven.

The Prophet’s comrades were of course perplexed. The woman is a prostitute and she is allowing a ‘filthy’ dog to drink out of her hands. That is two wrongs. How can she be a candidate for heaven?

The point the Prophet (and Islam) was trying to make is that in spite of the woman being a prostitute (and is therefore a sinful or immoral person) and in spite of her allowing a ‘filthy’ dog to lick her hands, she had shown compassion to a thirsty animal. And a compassionate person is a heavenly person.

Does this not ‘contradict’ Islamic teachings? Dogs are dirty and prostitutes are immoral. How can, therefore, a prostitute who comes into contact with a dog go to heaven?

The lesson or message here is compassion. Muslims must show compassion even to ‘dirty’ dogs — not club them to death or drag them behind a motorcycle until they die a slow a painful death. What more they must show compassion to all animals and other humans.

This is a simple message. Islam is about compassion. And even prostitutes who show compassion to ‘dirty’ animals are spared hell and rewarded with heaven. Is this such a difficult message for Muslims to understand?

But most Muslims talk about praying and fasting and going to the holy land to do the pilgrimage and so on — even Tun Dr Mahathir. No, Islam is not about just that. In fact, Islam requires more than that. It requires compassion. And even prostitutes who may be considered very immoral people are candidates for heaven if they show compassion to animals considered taboo in Islam.

Malays have to re-learn Islam. At the age of seven we are taught about fardu ‘ain and the tenets of Islam. At the age of 70 we must move beyond that. To talk about the same issues from age seven to age 70 gives an impression that Islam is a very narrow religion.

These stories in the scriptures are there for a reason. They are meant as lessons to Muslims. They are a message that Muslims are supposed to receive. But Muslims conveniently forget or avoid these lessons and messages.

They go to the mosque. They pray five times a day. They fast during the month of Ramadhan. They go to Mekah. But they also kill dogs in a most cruel and inhumane manner.

No, they are not doing what Islam says they must do. They are merely performing the external rituals. But that is not Islam. Islam without compassion is not Islam. And this is what is absent in the hearts of most Muslims — compassion to animals and fellow man.

Is it not ironical that the message of Islam is that prostitutes go to heaven while those who pray go to hell? Hey, and I am only talking about compassion to dogs. I am not even touching on compassion to the rakyat yet. Don’t let me start on that one or else you won’t be able to get me to stop.


Translated into Chinese at: