Let’s get this straight (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Well, there you have it. So don’t give me that crap that Islam is not compatible to human rights and then quote the apostasy issue as the example. These are all figments of your imagination and of those Muslims foaming at the mouth because they want to prevent Muslims from leaving Islam.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

As much as I hate talking about religion, unfortunately, I just can’t avoid doing so seeing that the future of the opposition coalition rides on Pakatan Rakyat coming to an agreement on matters related to Islam. And one such matter is the Pakatan Rakyat policy on apostasy (whether it is allowed for Muslims and what laws will Pakatan Rakyat formulate in response to this).

In two earlier articles (Can I know your stand? and Cure the cause, not the symptoms) I talked about civil society action and human rights issues (such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Some responded by saying that this cannot happen in Malaysia. And the reason it cannot happen, they argue, is because Islam is a hindrance to human rights.

Of course, these people are looking at things from only one perspective — the perspective of apostasy and the belief (not fact) that Islam forbids it and punishes apostates. Not only non-Muslims but also Muslims themselves consider this to be true.

Actually, that is a matter of opinion and your opinion does not make it correct. And as much as you may think that your opinion is right, I will profusely disagree with you.

First, let us talk about the issue of apostasy.

In Islam, apostasy is defined as the rejection of Islam in either words or deeds. According to Islam, you would become an apostate if you convert to another religion, deny the existence of God (become an atheist), reject Muhammad as the prophet, mock God or any of the prophets (meaning: Prophets of the Jews and Christians), idol worship, reject the Shariah (some scholars would disagree with this on grounds that the Shariah is man-made and not from God), or permit behaviour that is forbidden by the Shariah (such as adultery, gambling, drinking, bribery, etc.).

The Qur’an itself does not prescribe any punishment for apostasy and scholars differ on its punishment. Punishment ranges from execution (based on the interpretation of certain Hadith — and note that not all Muslims accept Hadith) to no punishment at all.

In medieval times, several Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence ruled that apostasy is punishable by death. Other scholars, however, had different views. People such as Ibrahim al-Nakha’i and Sufyan al-Thawri rejected the death penalty and prescribed indefinite imprisonment until repentance. The Hanafi jurist Sarakhsi also called for different punishments between the non-seditious religious apostasy and that of a seditious and political nature (meaning: high treason).

According to Wael Hallaq, apostasy laws are not derived from the Qur’an. In modern times, some Islamic scholars such as Gamal Al-Banna, Taha Jabir Alalwani, and Shabir Ally, opposed the death penalty for apostasy. ‘Qur’an-alone’ Muslims (what Malays would call the ‘Anti-Hadith’ group) do not support any punishment whatsoever on grounds that verses from Qur’an advocate free will and no compulsion.

So there you have it. To argue that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot be applied to Malaysia because Islam does not allow apostasy and puts to death apostates is not true. That is a mere opinion, not a fact, and different scholars have different opinions.

The fact that different scholars have different opinions means it is not carved in stone. If it were then there would be no room whatsoever for differences of opinion. For example, ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’ is carved in stone. So there would be no difference of opinion here. All scholars would be unanimous in their view regarding this issue.

Okay, let’s move on.

Assuming you cannot accept the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights because, as you say, it is a Western or un-Islamic document, and if you insist on an Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, we have that too.

(Read the full text of the 5 August 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam here).

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam of 1990 has 25 Articles as opposed to 30 Articles in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Nevertheless, there are some very interesting Articles that do not hinder the implementation of human rights in Malaysia

Of course, the critics can always argue that there are some grey areas or ambiguities in the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. These would probably be the parts that say: ethical values and the principles of the Shari’ah, in accordance with the tenets of the Shari’ah, provided it is not contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah, etc. Nevertheless, look at it in its entirety and not just look at half a sentence. You will see that if the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam is implemented, then many things currently being practiced in Malaysia would now have to come to an end.

For example, you cannot prevent someone from marrying because of his/her religion, you cannot detain someone without trial, you have a right to express your opinion (so no sedition or criminal defamation laws), the Prime Minister or Menteri Besar need not be Malay, there must be no Malay-only institutions of higher learning and no one can be denied an education because of his/her race or due to quota restrictions, you can oppose the government if it does something wrong, you cannot spy on what someone is doing in the privacy of his/her home (so no sex spies), there must be no Bumiputra-only shares and property, and much, much more.  

Some interesting points to note would be:

19 (a). All individuals are equal before the law, without distinction between the ruler and the ruled. (So you can criticise the Sultans).

19 (e). A defendant is innocent until his guilt is proven in a fast trial in which he shall be given all the guarantees of defence. (So Anwar Ibrahim would walk a free man).

18 (b). Everyone shall have the right to privacy in the conduct of his private affairs, in his home, among his family, with regard to his property and his relationships. It is not permitted to spy on him, to place him under surveillance or to besmirch his good name. The State shall protect him from arbitrary interference. (So what I do in my bedroom is my business and you can’t force your way into my home to spy on me).

10. Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of pressure on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to force him to change his religion to another religion or to atheism. (It does not say you cannot leave Islam on your own freewill or that you will be put to death if you do).

9 (b). The seeking of knowledge is an obligation and provision of education is the duty of the society and the State. (So UiTM cannot be a Malay-only institution).

5 (b). The society and the State shall remove all obstacles to marriage and facilitate it, and shall protect the family and safeguard its welfare. (So you can’t prevent inter-religious marriages).

3 (b). It is prohibited to cut down trees, to destroy crops or livestock, to destroy the enemy’s civilian buildings and installations by shelling, blasting or any other means. (So there goes the indiscriminate logging in East Malaysia).

Well, there you have it. So don’t give me that crap that Islam is not compatible to human rights and then quote the apostasy issue as the example. These are all figments of your imagination and of those Muslims foaming at the mouth because they want to prevent Muslims from leaving Islam.


Translated into Chinese at: http://ccliew.blogspot.com/2011/11/blog-post_16.html