Putrajaya should not dictate Muslims’ beliefs, says Reza Aslan


“Islam allows me to follow any mufti that I please. We don’t have a pope, we don’t have a bishop who tells us what we can do.”

Anisah Shukry, The Malaysian Insider

Putrajaya is setting itself up as a “parent” rather than an elected government, in banning the use of the word Allah among non-Muslims and dictating how Malaysian Muslims should practise their faith, prominent Iranian-American theologian Reza Aslan said.

He said that centralised religious authorities should not exist in countries that profess to adhere to Islam, adding that such a practise was akin to usurping the authority of the Prophet Muhammad.

“Islam allows me to follow any mufti that I please. We don’t have a pope, we don’t have a bishop who tells us what we can do.

“The very notion that a group of old men gets to decide for me or for you what is the proper interpretation of my faith, that goes against the very fabric and nature of Islam,” Reza told The Malaysian Insider in a phone interview.

He questioned as to why Malaysia should have a single official version of Islam for its citizens to follow, given that Islam is one of the most diverse religions in the world.

In October, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) said that Malaysia as a nation “officially” adhered to the Shafie school of thought, in response to the backlash over the “I want to touch a dog” event which proved popular among Muslims.

The four schools in the Sunni branch of Islam have differing views on touching dogs, but the Shafie states that Muslims are not allowed to deliberately touch dogs without a purpose as they are ritually unclean.

Jakim director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha had said that it was the department’s duty to ensure that Muslims in the country practise Islam in ways that do not contravene the Shafie school.

“Anyone who tells you there is only one version of Islamic behaviour or ideology or morality is speaking out of pure ignorance,” said Reza.

“Just open your eyes and look at the one and a half billion Muslims who live in every corner of the world. Look at the wide eclecticism and diversity of cultural influences and scriptural interference, and then you tell me that 99.9% of Muslims who don’t think what you think, who don’t feel what you feel, are not Muslims. That only you and your version is the correct one.

“I want to be there when they face the Creator and explain to Him their statement that 99.9% of their fellow Muslims were wrong, and they were the only ones who were right.”

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/putrajaya-should-not-dictate-muslims-beliefs-says-reza-aslan