As I was saying…

It is believed that much of the Hadith were created by ‘spin-doctors’ during the time of the Muslim divide and civil wars. Hence many are suspect. And the Hadith is very important because while the Muslims may be united when it comes to the Quran, it is the Hadith that divides them. And it is the Hadith that makes Muslims do what the Quran forbids them from doing.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Many of my Malay-Muslim friends disagree with my ‘thesis’ regarding some Muslim beliefs — in particular those beliefs of the Malays — and they have told me so in no uncertainty. Some even whack me about what they regard as my ‘unlearned’ views on Islam and have urged me to ‘go learn more’ before talking about Islam.

Today, the former Perlis Mufti, Professor Datuk Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, confirmed what I have been saying (or at least one thing that I have been saying) for some time — and that is much of the schism within Islam (plus the differences between the Muslims and the Jews/Christians) is all about politics and not about dogma or doctrine.

Anyway, you can read below what was reported.

The point I had been making for a long time now is that Islam is the religion of the Federation (meaning it is Malaysia’s ‘official’ religion). Hence we cannot avoid talking about Islam, especially when Islam affects our very lives and influences (and sometimes even determines) government policies, court decisions, and so on.

In short, Islam determines what happens to Malaysia and the direction Malaysia will be taking. Hence we cannot avoid being ‘sensitive’ to what is said and done regarding Islam and have no choice but to engage in a discourse regarding Islam. If Islam were a ‘personal’ thing then we can ignore the matter. But it is not personal. Islam ‘touches’ our lives, the non-Muslims included.

This, the Malays-Muslims need to understand. If you keep Islam away from the public domain then it needs not be discussed in public. But when you drag Islam into the public domain, then the public will discuss Islam. And when it is discussed there will always be two sides to any view — pros and cons or positive and negative.

Whatever it may be, Dr Asri has pointed out that much of the Malay beliefs regarding Islam are distorted and misguided. Today, Dr Asri talks about Ashura and the Sunni-Shia schism. However, these are not the only two things that are wrong. There are many more issues, some of which I have talked about in the past.

Muslims need to re-evaluate their beliefs. Not all are correct and much has been twisted over more than 1,000 years to suit various political agendas through the ages. Even the 700,000 Hadith have been whittled down to less than 7,000. That comes to less than 1%. Even then, if you consider the overlaps or repeats, you will end up with less than 5,000 Hadith or just 0.7%. And some Islamic sects accept only 500 or reject all totally.

It is believed that much of the Hadith were created by ‘spin-doctors’ during the time of the Muslim divide and civil wars. Hence many are suspect. And the Hadith is very important because while the Muslims may be united when it comes to the Quran, it is the Hadith that divides them. And it is the Hadith that makes Muslims do what the Quran forbids them from doing.

Hence the issue of Hadith cannot be ignored.

That, of course, is my personal view on the matter and most likely 99% of the Malays-Muslims will disagree with me. But then that is what makes me a maverick, is this not so?


Former Perlis mufti: Differentiate between cultural and religious practices

(The Ant Daily) – Today, November 14th, is the tenth day of the first Islamic calendar month of Muharram and is better known as Ashura Day, derived from the Arabic word “Ashara”.

Sunni Muslims in many parts of the world, including Malaysia, mark the occasion by observing a non-compulsory fast for two days, on November 13 and 14.

Former Perlis mufti Professor Datuk Dr Asri Zainal Abidin told theantdaily that the Prophet Muhammad SAW had initially fasted for one day but made a promise that if he lived to the next year, an extra day of fasting would be observed.

This, Asri explained, was done to differentiate Muslims from the Jews whom the Prophet had met in Madinah and observed the fast to celebrate the day Prophet Musa Alaihissalam freed them from rule of the Pharoah.

Asri also stressed that the Sunni’s perspective of historical events, which occurred on the day, is completely different from Shiah followers, referred to as Shiites.

Shiites related the date to the Battle of Karbala which took place in modern day Iraq and resulted in the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Husain ibn Ali, at the hands of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya, who was the third Ummayad Caliph.

“They (Shiites) used this (death of Husain) as an opportunity to spark animosity against the Sunnis.”

“The Sunnis also never agreed with what had happened but the Shiites are mourning (a part of) history which was unverified,” said Asri.

He noted that the Shiah’s version of the events was only based on one or two “questionable” sources, which may or may not have been altered to gain political mileage.

In countries where there is a significant population of Shiites, particularly in Iran and Iraq, believers also marked the day with a re-enactment of the Battle of Karbala, and Asri said that is a clear reason why the “bloody sect” should be rejected.

“This (the bloody re-enactment) is an event which the whole world knows about,” he said.

When contacted, AsSajad Movement president MS Hussain said

Ashura is a “day of sorrow” for Shiites who mourn the death of the Prophet’s grandson and they also do not observe the two days of fasting.

“According to traditions, this was the day when Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet (Muhammad SAW), was murdered brutally along with 72 of his followers (and so) the Shiites commemorate his martyrdom on this day.”

“Men, strong, hard men, break down into tears on this day. It is an emotional scene,” he told theantdaily.

Hussain also said the practice of self-flagellation which is done in some parts of the world is not part of what he termed as the teachings of the “Twelver Shiism” which is “adopted” in Malaysia.

Malay-Muslims in Malaysia subscribe wholly to the Sunni school of thought and at a time when there appears to be a renewed force against the Shiites, the day of Ashura could be a good time to reflect on our own practices.

Asri, as such, urged Malay-Muslims in Malaysia to reflect on their practices and beliefs – some of which he said could have stemmed from Syiah teachings.

Among others, Asri said the culture of breaking fast with “Asyura porridge” (which contains 10 ingredients) has no basis within Islam and should be enjoyed as just another dish without any religious connotations.

“There may be Syiah elements but I do not feel that Malays who do it even thought about the possibility. It is seen (in Malaysia) as just another dish,” he said in stressing that one should not be confused between culture and religious practices.

He explained that Islam had come to then Malaya from Yemen and other middle-eastern countries and it could be a mix of Syiah and Sunni elements.

This, he argued, could possibly be reflected in localised names for herbs such as “Tongkat Ali” and “Kacip Fatimah”.

Saidina Ali Abi Talib is revered by the Shiites as their first rightful Imam after Prophet Muhammad’s death and Fatimah, his wife, is the Prophet’s daughter.

“It is good for Muslims to know why they are doing something as some of the things done may have no basis in Islam,” said Asri.

International Islamic University Malaysia senior lecturer Prof Dr Maszlee Malik, in a posting on his Facebook page, also urged Muslims on this day (Ashura) to embrace the victory of Prophet Musa against the Pharaoh and channel it towards overcoming present-day challenges in initiating positive change.

Many Malay-Muslims are often quick to share reminders of things to be done but maybe we should also take the time to ponder whether we actually know why we are doing certain things, instead of just being a mere follower – particularly if it is done in the name of Islam.