Dr Kassim Ahmad: One Christian response

Kassim Ahmad

Should I care about what PAS, Umno, JAKIM or others who claim to speak for Islam say about Dr Kassim?
Rest Stop Thoughts
Dr Kassim Ahmad is a Muslim. I am a Christian. Dr Kassim Ahmad is a Malaysian. I am a Malaysian. Dr Kassim Ahmad is a human. I am a human.
Dr Kassim Ahmad has been controversial. Some of his views about Islam are not approved by the religious authorities in Malaysia.

Now frail and in his eighties, the one-time leader of PSRM (Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia) has held his controversial views for decades – in 1981 he was released after 5 years of detention without trial; Dr. Kassim later joined Umno.

According to news reports, Dr Kassim’s controversial views include the following: some Muslims put the Prophet of Islam on too high a pedestal; Islam doesn’t require Muslim women to cover their hair; some religious officials assume or are granted too much authority; the Koran may be interpreted independently of the Hadith (‘traditions’).
Dr Kassim’s views are opposed by numerous claimants to right interpretation: his opponents include the Islam-based Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS); the race-based Malay party (Umno) and royally-empowered religious departments (e.g. JAKIM).
Dr Kassim’s views are supported by Dr Mahathir, architect of modern Malaysia and patron of government-funded Malay-superiority group Perkasa.
Should I care about what happens to Dr Kassim?
Should I care about what PAS, Umno, JAKIM or others who claim to speak for Islam say about Dr Kassim? Should I care that a frail old man is picked up by the authorities in a Northern state, transported hastily to the Capital city and charged with contravening Islamic enactments in a court in which I have no standing?
Should I care about caning of Muslims who consume alcohol, stoning of Muslims accused of adultery, cutting off the hands of Muslim thieves, denying education to Muslim girls? Should I care that the Taliban don’t think I have any right to comment on what they do to Muslims?
I have no doubt many will wish to throw stones at me for broaching this subject. They will say I am not a Muslim, so I should keep out of the business of Muslims – though some of them may approve of judges in civil courts making decisions on whether calling God ‘Allah’ is central to the practice of the Christian faith by Malay-speaking Christians.
Where should I go to for guidance about whether I should have any feelings about the treatment being meted out to Dr Kassim?
Many Christian churches use a lectionary, a table which lists passages of scripture to be read on each day. On Sundays, preachers usually speak from one of the listed passages.
One of the passages for today is called John 9:1-42. Today my pastor read and spoke from this passage. I am sure the same was done in thousands of churches worldwide.
The passage describes a miracle performed by the virgin-born Jesus, the Carpenter whom Christians recognize as the Messiah.
A man born blind was healed by the Carpenter on a Saturday, a day on which Jews were not permitted to do any work. The healed man and his family were investigated by the Jewish religious authorities.
The “problem” wasn’t just the fact of healing – an activity which established, learned and esteemed religious leaders couldn’t do. The problem was also the manner of healing.
The inspired author records that the Carpenter ordered the man-born-blind to go to the river, wash in it, and be healed. He went; he washed; he was healed.
Every Biblically educated reader knows the author intends for us to recall that in that culture walking and washing on a Saturday was not permitted: it was work on a rest day.
The neighbours and others who recognized the man didn’t celebrate the miracle. In their culture you gained social points by pointing out the ‘wrongs’ done by others. They brought the now-seeing-man before the Jewish religious leaders for grilling.
Some of the grillers believed a man who was a sinner (one who works on a Saturday) cannot work miracles, therefore the Carpenter couldn’t be the healer.