Same difference


“I’m certain that she is ignorant, this is why she made such a statement. Her statement has clearly deviated from the maqasid syari’yyah and can be categorised as deviating from Islamic principles. I feel she has been talking without sufficient religious knowledge. It is more honourable for her to retract the statement altogether without twisting it, as God is all merciful,” Religious scholar Ustaz Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya was quoted in Berita Harian today.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia Today‘s readers have a serious problem in trying to understand the difference between partisan, non-partisan, bipartisan, etc. And that is why many of them fall into the ‘either you are with me or you are against me’ rut made ‘popular’ by US President Bush.

How would you take it if a Muslim who propagates the concept of an Islamic State says to you that ‘either you are with me or you are against me’? If you do not support the concept of an Islamic State then you are the enemy of Islam and being an enemy of Islam that can be regarded as a declaration of war and anyone who declares war against Islam can be lawfully killed.

According to the doctrine of ‘either you are with me or you are against me’ that would certainly make sense. It may not make sense to non-Muslims or to those who are opposed to an Islamic State but then these people are the enemies of Islam anyway so who the hell cares what they think?

Yes, if we support President Bush then we support the concept of a powerful nation having the right to invade another country just because the US does not like its politics. Basically, might is right. Those who control the guns control the world and dictates what the world can and cannot do.

Brunei refuses to hold democratic parliamentary elections and refuses to abolish its outdated system of absolute monarchy. Should Singapore bomb and invade Brunei so that democracy can be installed in that Sultanate? Indonesia discriminates against the Chinese and murdered 500,000 Maoist Communist supporters. Should China send a few nuclear bombs to Indonesia to teach it a lesson even though those Indonesian Chinese are Indonesians and not Chinese citizens or of Chinese ethnicity?

What about Saudi Arabia and all those other kingdoms, sheikhdoms, emirates, etc? They too do not practice democracy a la the west. Should the US bomb and invade those countries so that the citizens of those countries can hold free and fair elections and elect the government of their choice? If democracy can be forced down Iraq’s throat surely the same should be done to those other autocratic monarchies in the Middle East as well.

Okay, so we do not support the idea of a powerful nation being allowed to bomb and invade another nation just because the US does not like its politics. If we support that idea then no country is safe. Anyone who is not pro-US (or worse, anti-US) can get bombed into the Dark Ages with a great loss to property and lives. Who appointed the US the policeman of the world anyway? Must the world do things only the American way? Is the US the trustee of morality and anything considered immoral by US standards must be solved by military action?

If we do not support America’s action then does that mean we are pro-Saddam Hussein? Saddam just did what Hitler did and if we do not support what Hitler did then surely we cannot support what Saddam did, especially what he did to his own citizens of Kurdish ethnicity. Saddam embarked on ethnic cleansing just like what Hitler did. So how can Hitler be wrong and Saddam be right?

Okay, so we do not support Saddam. But then we do not support what the US did either. So what is our stand then? We must either be pro-Saddam or pro-Bush. We can be against both. Either Saddam is right or Bush is right. Both cannot be wrong. Hence it is our duty to support one and oppose the other.

My stand is clear. I do not support both. While I do not support what Saddam did to his own people I also do not support the idea that might is right and a powerful nation can legitimately bomb and invade another country.

There are many evil regimes in this world. Iraq is not the only one. But why bomb and invade only those evil regimes that are anti-American and then support, uphold and defend other evil regimes that are pro-American? (And this is the basis of America’s foreign policy).

Is it possible to be opposed to both? Are you obligated to support one above the other? Well, it all depends on whether you are sincere in your ‘struggle’ and whether your struggle is based on principles or you have other personal and ulterior motives in mind.

Most times our struggle is not based on sincerity or principles but is motivated by personal gain (parochial, ethnic, racial, religious, etc., included). And this is what we are seeing in Malaysian politics.

The Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar, has just attracted some controversy regarding her statement about freedom of choice — which can also be said to be about freedom of religion. (Read the news report by Malaysian Digest below).

The issue is: do we have freedom of choice or do we not have the freedom to choose? In short: is Malaysia a democracy or is Malaysia a theocracy? It is either one or the other. It cannot be both at the same time.

This faux pas, as some view it, (or misquote, as Nurul Izzah explains it) is going to be used against her. Trust me on that. Was she misquoted? Was she misunderstood? Did Nurul Izzah do a U-turn? Or are Malaysians not prepared to allow freedom of choice?

Now, this is not about Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat. Just for purposes of this article let’s not be partisan. Let’s look at things as if we are not supporters of either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. I know most Malaysian brains have not developed to the level where you can do that. But try anyway, sort of like hypothetically speaking.

I say this is not about Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat because there are Muslims in both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, as there are non-Muslims. Malays, Chinese, Indians, and ‘lain-lain’ are in both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. So this cannot be about Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat.

Now, I have been talking about change for quite some time now. Hence our struggle, at least as far as I am concerned, is about change. But are you also talking about change? I hear some of you screaming ABU (Anything But Umno). I hear some of you screaming that we must vote for Pakatan Rakyat. I hear some of you screaming that 55 years of BN is enough.

Okay, whatever it may be, those are merely the means to an end. We change the government because we seek change. We are not changing the government just for the sake of changing the government. There must be an endgame and changing the government is just the means to that end.

But are we going to see that end? Will changing the government achieve the change that we seek? That is the fundamental question and the question we must address before we take this to the next level, which is the change that we are looking for.

Nurul Izzah talked about freedom of choice. And now she is getting whacked for that. So now she has to explain herself or even do a U-turn and retract that statement.

The issue is not whether she did say it or she did not say it or whether she was misquoted or misunderstood. To me that is not important. What is important is even if she did say it what is wrong about her saying it?

Nurul Izzah was talking about freedom of choice. Was she wrong? Does Pakatan Rakyat or PKR, the party she represents, not support freedom of choice? It appears like Nurul Izzah is going to have to fight this controversy all on her own. No other opposition leader is going to come to her defence. PKR, DAP and PAS are not going to get involved.

Let me be clear on this. Pakatan Rakyat is not supporting or is opposing freedom of choice. Pakatan Rakyat is going to remain neutral. Pakatan Rakyat is not taking sides in this issue. Pakatan Rakyat is not for or against freedom of choice, which means that Pakatan Rakyat does not have a stand.

Okay, back to the issue of change. I am talking about change. Change means to deviate from what is. Change means to discard the old ways in favour of the new ways. Change means you have freedom of choice. Change means not being forced to do something that you do not wish to do. Change means to be allowed the freedom you do not currently have.

So why is Pakatan Rakyat keeping mum? We want to know whether Pakatan Rakyat supports change. We want to know whether this change includes freedom of choice. We want to know whether Pakatan Rakyat’s policies are opposite to Barisan Nasional’s or exactly the same as Barisan Nasional’s?

Currently it appears like there is no difference between Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional. Currently it appears like Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional share the same policy. Currently it appears like Pakatan Rakyat, just like Barisan Nsional, does not support freedom of choice.

In that case are we really talking about change? Explain to me what you mean by change because I do not quite understand what you mean by it when both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat do not support freedom of choice. Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional appear very united on this issue. That would mean we will not be seeing change never mind who we vote for.


Fathul Bari Claims Nurul Izzah ‘Ignorant’, Lacks Religious Knowledge

(Malaysian Digest) – Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar has come under fire over her statement allegedly supportive of freedom of choice for Muslims in selecting their religion.

The statement, made at a forum on Saturday, has since drawn heavy criticism from certain quarters, including Muslim scholars.

Religious scholar Ustaz Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya said ignorance was to blame for her statement.

“I’m certain that she is ignorant, this is why she made such a statement. Her statement has clearly deviated from the maqasid syari’yyah and can be categorised as deviating from Islamic principles.”

“I feel she has been talking without sufficient religious knowledge. It is more honourable for her to retract the statement altogether without twisting it, as God is all merciful,” he was quoted in Berita Harian today.

Fathul Bari, who is also Umno Young Ulama (Ilmu) working committee secretariat chairman, said her statement goes against what has been repeated by Nurul Izzah’s father, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on maqasid syari’yyah or the key reasons why the Al-Quran was passed down, which are religion, mind, life, property and dignity.

“Nurul Izzah should have referred to PAS ulama first. Even the Opposition leader himself always spoke about maqasid syari’yyah,” he said.

Fathul Bari said Nurul Izzah’s statement could have implications on Muslims in the future, resulting in Muslims not placing religion as the most important subject, and steer towards pluralism ideology.

“How can we say religion is free and open, or place Islam on the same level as other religions. If this happens, think of why Islam is enshrined in the constitution and what is the purpose of the Malay rulers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said Nurul Izzah’s statement can create unease within the Muslim community.

“Imagine, even with enforcement, there are Muslims who become murtad. The situation will be worse if there is absolute freedom,” she said.

She said, in matters of faith, it is clearly stated that Muslims should do all they can to preserve Islam and not place it in a vulnerable position.

Nurul Izzah, however, has since denied that she had trivialized the issue of Islamic faith and that she supported apostasy.

The Lembah Pantai MP said she was disappointed that certain quarters were twisting her statements on the subject of religion being forced onto Muslims in Malaysia.

She said she had attended a forum titled ‘Islamic State: Which Version? Whose Responsibility?’ as a panellist on Saturday. In the question and answer session, one of the questions posed to her was on the issue of Islam being imposed on Muslims.

“My answer stressed on the phrase ‘there is no compulsion in Islam’. This was taken from verse 256 of the Surah Al-Baqarah in the Al-Quran. The phrase applies to all mankind,” she said.

Nurul Izzah added that she holds firm to the belief that after embracing Islam, a Muslim is bound by Syariah law, just as how a citizen is bound by the Federal Constitution.

“I am disappointed that there are efforts to twist my statement as if I had trivialised faith or easily accepted how Muslims can become apostates,” she said, adding that she has always been supportive of educational programmes to strengthen one’s faith and increase understanding of the religion.

Malaysiakini had on Saturday quoted Nurul Izzah as saying that people should not be compelled to adopt a particular religion, with the same applying to Malays.

“If you ask me, there is no compulsion in religion… how can anyone say sorry, this (religious freedom) only applies to non-Malays, it has to apply equally,” she was quoted as saying.

The report also quoted her as saying that her secondary school education, set amidst a Catholic school backdrop, did not influence her.

“Even me, being schooled in Assunta (secondary school) with a huge cross in the hall and an active singing Catholic society did not influence me,” she was quoted as saying.

However, the report said she stopped short of saying that Malays should be legally granted religious freedom, saying: “I am, of course, tied to the prevailing views.”