The Mufti of Pahang and his ‘kafir harbi’


Farouk A. Peru, MMO

The loudness of Islamic opinion has gained so much traction in Malaysia. I once sat through a phone-in religious programme in which a caller asked a minor league scholar if he should wait till the azan (call to prayer) finishes before actually breaking his fast or can he take the first bite when it starts. 

Even my mother, whose reverence for these scholars far exceeds my own, was shaking her head in disbelief. But this is what happens. 

Islam is a simple set of principles about the essentials of life. We can use our divinely bestowed reason to solve everyday problems. 

Someone needs to tell the health ministry that as well since Jakim is not trained in medicine. They will not be able to say if vaccinations are Islamic or not as the health ministry is asking them to do. The health ministry must themselves tell us if vaccinations are beneficial to humanity. If they are, then they are Islamic. Full stop. 

When we give too much voice to the Islamic opinion, they turn Islamofascist on us — just like any other human authority — then become oppressive and authoritarian. What this means is, they have and will use their power and authority to further their own interests. 

The main culprit of this is the Mufti of Perak, Harussani Zakaria. Last year, he deemed it forbidden for Qurans to be promulgated without the accompanying original text regardless of the fact that most Muslims can barely read it. 

His opinion effectively killed off the “Let’s Read The Quran” campaign and helped him retain sole rights over the divine text. This was nothing more than a capitalist manoeuvre designed to corner the Malay-Muslim market. 

Presently, the Mufti of Pahang, Abdul Rahman Osman, is following suit. Abdul Rahman has claimed that supporting the DAP is sinful because they are, kafir harbi (infidels at war with the Muslims). They are deemed so because they oppose Islamic law. There is so much wrong with the mufti’s statement that we need to refute it from a number of angles.

Firstly, on the obviously political bias being employed by Abdul Rahman. It must be remembered that the largest political party most unfortunately for the nation is the Malay-Muslim Umno. Despite PAS’s .pressure to implement Shariah law, Umno has resisted all this while.

If Umno was truly committed to its implementation, they would have cast aside their coalition partners for the sake of “Islam.” No, they chose to remain in power (back then MCA and MIC actually mattered) and put Shariah in second place. Are they kafir harbi or at least munafik (hypocrites)? Not a peep from Abdul Rahman. Secondly, is Abdul Rahman himself implementing Shariah? Ok, I admit he cannot ratify the barbaric hudud laws but where is his denouncement of Malaysia’s Las Vegas in his home state? I don’t recall any condemnation from him because his Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam) is being compromised? 

If he was a staunch believer in Shariah, he would have resigned and have no part in this policy. He is no better than those who served YAPEIM and enjoyed golfing holidays at their expense.

And finally, the term kafir harbi (warring infidel) itself.  This term was used in medieval Islam to address people from other nations who were warring against the corrupt, imperialistic and absolutely monarchical Islamic state.

It was a politically motivated classification designed to stir up the masses and keep them supporting the corrupt state. It is the same with kafir dhimmi (infidels who pay tribute to the state). They are the disempowered people within the Islamic state. They were denied the highest official roles due to their faith, just like ethnic minorities are denied the same.

When I read the Quran, I see that neither kafir harbi or kafir dhimmi are used. Rather, the Quran’s use of the term kafir is trans-religious, just like its use of the word mu’min (believer). In other words, a person’s behaviour determines whether they are a believer or otherwise, not the religious tribe they subscribe to.

If we analyse Judgement Day scenarios in the Quran, we will see that it is our actions which save us. No religious tribal privileges existed then. Therefore, calling any non-Muslim kafir is wrong. As wrong as assuming all Muslims are mu’min. Let God be the judge.

The institution of muftis in our country is an archaic one and will hold us back from true progress. To be fair, there are progressive muftis like Dr Asri from Perlis but even so, we do not need this institution any longer. Rather, the Malay Muslims must learn to think independently about Islam.