An Open Letter to the group of ‘25 Prominent Malays’


The only solution is to remove Shariah courts altogether. 

Farouk A. Peru, TMI

Firstly, I must humbly apologise for addressing this letter to the group of “25 Prominent Malays”.

I did not think that this moniker was self-imposed but it was the only reference I had from The Star Online and so it must suffice.

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your voice of reason and moderation.

In the last few decades, Islam in Malaysia is on a steady slide towards fundamentalism and even violence. This was not the case prior to that period.

The Malay’s version of Islam had always been tempered by our own local culture and so we retained that beautiful spirit of moderation and acceptance. I therefore support the intents of your initiative fully.

If you will permit me, I must take issue with the solutions you proposed in your letter. You are right of course to assert the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and the fact that the minister in question had gone over his limit. However, I think it would be very short-sighted of us to understand this phenomenon atomistically, that is to say that is not part of a larger scheme of things.

We must understand the nature of Shariah law. Shariah law is not designed to play second fiddle to any other legal system. Rather it was designed with the firm notion of supremacism in mind. It will grow and ultimately subsume whatever system with which it is co-existent.

No amount of curtailment and restraint will help this due to the absolutist nature of Shariah legal texts.

The reason for this malignance is the fact that Shariah law is developed under an imperialist system. The Islamic empire of the time was expansionist and needed its law to be supreme in order to strengthen its imperial grip. It is worth noting that these laws are usually against the letter and spirit of the Quran.

The second thing to note is that Shariah law is also against the Federal Constitution itself. The biggest example of this is the issue of freedom of religion. While this freedom is guaranteed in the Federal Constitution, it is forcibly taken away from Malay-Muslims by Shariah law.

These cases are usually processed in the courts without any violence but the issue of apostasy is a thorny one. Malays grow extremely agitated when any group is accused of leading Malay-Muslims to apostasy or even deviance from the Islamic norm. This example should tell us of how easily “moderate Islam” can manifest as extremist tendencies.

There can be only one solution to this problem – complete secularisation. We cannot enforce legal boundaries to Shariah law and expect it to stay within those boundaries anymore than we can expect cancer cells which start in the liver to stay localised and not manifest elsewhere. Both are designed to be malignant. They will spread and ultimately overtake.

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