Is there freedom of religion in Malaysia?


Non-Muslims scream that there is no freedom of religion in Malaysia. What makes these people think that Malaysia allows freedom of religion? Is it because it is stipulated in the Constitution? There are many things allowed, according to the Constitution, but all these are subjective and not absolute freedoms. So stop grumbling like idiots!


Raja Petra Kamarudin


Last night, 15 Muslims were arrested by JAIM (the Melaka Religious Department) in Melaka (READ HERE).

The reason they were arrested is because they are alleged to be followers of the Shia (Syiah) sect of Islam, which is banned in Malaysia. And this sect is banned because Malaysia and/or Sunni Muslims consider this a deviant sect. Some even regard Shias as non-Muslims — the way the Church of England used to regard Catholics (non-Christians, deviants, infidels, etc.) or the way Catholics regard Protestants.

The Sunni-Shia divide goes back to the time of the Fourth Caliph, Ali, who was both cousin and son-in-law to the Prophet. Shias believe that Ali was their First Imam and should, in fact, have been the First Caliph after the death of the Prophet. Shias believe that Ali was robbed of his rights by a scheming Aisha, Muhammad’s favourite wife and daughter of Abu Bakar, the First Caliph.

Anyway, in short, there was politics involved and what some believe should have been the First Caliph after Muhammad ended up as the Fourth Caliph instead. And the Party of Ali (Shīʻatu ʻAlī or Shia for short) faced Aisha and her army from Mekah during the the Battle of the Camel (sometimes called the Battle of Jamal or the Battle of Bassorah) in Basra, Iraq 1,360 years and 14 days ago on 7th November 656 and defeated her.

That was basically the first civil war between Muslims fought between the widow of the Prophet (and daughter of the First Caliph) and the son-in-law/cousin of the Prophet (and Fourth Caliph). Ali’s ‘mistake’ is that he did not punish Aisha for leading a rebellion according to the tribal law (which was the death sentence, confiscation of all your property, and your family members being taken and/or sold as slaves). Ali just allowed Aisha to go home unpunished and this made many people angry with him (and many deserted him and began to oppose him).

Ali forgave Aisha instead of punishing her and this cost Ali a lot of support (Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak better take note of this). Ali did this again the following year by agreeing to a peace treaty with Muawiyah after the second rebellion or civil war — and he lost many more supporters, in particular the Khawarij. This resulted in Ali’s assassination four years later on 26th January 661 at the Great Mosque of Kufa, in present-day Iraq. Almost 20 years later, on 10th October 680, Ali’s son, Hussein and his entire family (the Prophet’s grandson included) were assassinated at Karbala, Iraq.

Shia Muslims

Celebrating the anniversary of the death of Hussein

So, yes, for more than 1,300 years Iraq has been the venue for civil wars between Muslims, in particular between the Sunnis and Shias. And this civil war is still being waged until today at great loss of life even as you read this. And Malaysia is on the side of the Sunni and is anti-Shia. And that is why the Shia sect is banned in Malaysia and those who follow the Shia belief are arrested.

The non-Muslims scream that Malaysia is supposed to have freedom of religion. They complain when they are not allowed to do or say certain things. Well, at least they are not arrested for their beliefs even though Islam rejects these beliefs and consider them contradictory to Islamic teachings. Do Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, etc., get arrested like Muslims who follow the Shia sect do?

So these always complaining non-Muslims should stop complaining. They are better off than Muslims, who have less freedom of religion than non-Muslims. There are so many restrictions imposed on Muslims that it makes a mockery of civil liberties and human rights — and even violates the freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

The next time I hear a non-Muslim complain I am going to tell him or her to leave the country and migrate elsewhere if they are not happy. They have more freedom than Muslims and yet they complain so much. Just see what Muslims have to endure.

And do you know what is ironical? Only Muslims who are Malaysian citizens would get arrested. If you are an Iranian, Iraqi, British, Australian, American, and so on, and you are Shia, the government would not arrest you. There are hundreds of Shia in Malaysia, mainly foreigners, but they are left alone. It is like you can have a gay union or marriage as long as you do not hold a Malaysian identity card.