24 October 2016
We, the undersigned organizations, are extremely appalled and strongly condemn the death threats against the chairperson of Bersih 2.0, Maria Chin and her three children, former Chair of Bersih 2.0 and current president of National Human Rights Society, Ambiga Sreenevasan and Bersih 2.0 staff, Mandeep Singh. Following these threats on October 18, the car of one of Maria’s sons was splashed with red paint and chicken blood on October 20.
These deplorable death threats were received by Maria Chin via whatsapp messages in which the faces of all those named above were superimposed next to a person holding a knife over their heads.
Since the organizers launched the nationwide convoys to mobilize support for Bersih 5 rally on November 19, threats and attacks have been escalating. These came immediately after a series of attacks by red shirted thugs led by UMNO’s Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunus after he failed to stop the Bersih convoys. The sequence of events suggests a systematic and coordinated plan to stop Bersih 2.0 through physical violence culminating in death threats to instill fear in Bersih leaders and staff and the general public.
More alarming is the feeble response from the Inspector General of Police on the declaration of “all-out war against Bersih 2.0” by Jamal Md Yunus on October 20. His description of Jamal Md Yunus’s declaration as merely “war of words” is totally unprofessional in the absence of any form of investigation. The fact that Jamal Md Yunus made his war cry to stop Bersih 2.0 soon after his remand demonstrates his arrogance and little respect of the law and is enough evidence to implicate him and his red shirt thugs.
The undersigned organizations:
We and the rakyat hold the Prime Minister and IGP accountable should any untoward incident befall any Bersih 2.0 leaders and supporters.
The rakyat is closely watching.
9 September 2016
RESPONSE OF THE ISLAMIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA (IMAM)* ON ISSUES SURROUNDING TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY (TOP) OF WOMEN INFECTED WITH THE ZIKA VIRUS
1. IMAM takes serious cognizance of the aforementioned issues as deliberated by both the Mufti of the Federal Territories (http://www.muftiwp.gov.my/ind
2. The obstetrician & gynaecologist is often in a dilemma when presented with circumstances involving TOP because it involves the professional code of ethics, whereby one promises to save and protect lives throughout one’s professional career.
3. TOP is a major issue not only within medical circles but also within the context of bio-ethics and religion. In Islam, two higher objectives of the Islamic jurisprudence (Maqasid Shari’ah), is the preservation and protection of life (Hifz an-Nafs) and progeny (Hifz an-Nasl).
4. IMAM urges that any recommendations or decisions about TOP in Zika infected pregnant women is managed with extreme care and sensitivity to avoid any misunderstandings and injustice to the patient and the foetus.
5. The presence of legal statutes and clinical recommendations on TOP from the relevant authorities provides a general guideline to the medical doctor. The implementation of TOP must be individualized within the ambit of the law.
6. To achieve the abovementioned objectives, IMAM recommends the establishment of a medical bio-ethics advisory board at the Ministry of Health, comprising of expert authorities in obstetrics (foetal medicine specialists), infectious diseases, bioethics, religion (in Islam from the mufti’s office or academia) and psychiatry whom the hospitals and doctors can refer to.
7. The medical bio-ethics advisory board should meet regularly to set the best practice guidelines through collective decision-making (ijtihad jama’ei) and thus acknowledges the role of both experts (ahluz zikr) in the domain of medicine and religion, which in Islam is enjoined as per surah al-Anbiya’ verse 7; “And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired. Ask the followers of the Reminder if ye know not?”
8. This process of decision-making would be more safe and just to the mother and foetus, and would avoid unilateral decision-making which may cause conflicts between the practice of medicine and the tenets of the Shari’ah.
9. IMAM also suggests a policy of contraception or pregnancy planning in Zika positive parents or those who live in highly endemic Zika zones. This is in keeping with the concept of planning of progeny (Tanzim an –Nasl) which is permissible (harus) in Islam. This is more natural and parenting friendly and obviates the need for unnecessary TOP, since the association between Zika in early pregnancy and neurological complications, namely microcephaly is mainly anecdotal and medically unproven as yet.
10. Since the knowledge of short and long-term risks and complications of Zika infections is still limited and being investigated by global health authorities, the public is advised not to be gullible to the rumours in social media about treatment options for Zika infections. Please do not forward these ill-evidenced messages and avoid being part of these rumour mongering machinery.
11. IMAM urges the public to fully abide by the recommendations, prevention and treatment strategies of the Ministry of Health.
12. IMAM urges every Malaysian to be civic conscious, act promptly and cooperate with local and state authorities, by keeping our home compounds and neighbourhoods free from the breeding sites of the Aedes mosquito, the vector of the Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. The management committees of villages, housing estates, the local surau and mosque etc should be proactive by initiating gotong-royong activities to clean the environment. It is a Fardu Kifayah obligation on all Muslims to undertake this communal task since cleanliness is a major part of the Islamic faith.
13. IMAM will continue to organize seminars and dialogue sessions by our various public health, obstetric and religious experts to further inform the public on the Zika virus and its health implications.
Dr Jamali bin Wagiman
Islamic Medical Association Malaysia (IMAM)
* Islamic Medical Association Malaysia (IMAM) is a professional medical NGO founded in 1990 and comprises of 4,000 Muslim medical specialists, doctors and health professionals.
Musa Mohd Nordin
31 August 2016
A Merdeka Call for Muslim religious scholarship and stewardship to righteously and effectively manage contemporary national challenges
Maszlee Malik PhD
Musa Mohd Nordin FRCPCH
Muslim Professionals Forum
The recent past has seen a plethora of incidents, which threatens to fracture the religious harmony that this nation has thus far enjoyed. The infamous “cow-head protest”, in Shah Alam in August 2009, against a proposed Hindu temple, displayed unveiled disrespect towards our Hindu citizens. More recently, cases involving shari’ah courts, consequent upon conversion of either spouse to Islam, battling for custody of their children has soured the relationship between Muslims and believers of other faiths.
Public statements and actions by national Muslim leaders and state religious authorities have further exacerbated the fragile religious situation. Unfortunately, the counter reaction by some quarters against these individuals and by extrapolation the religious institutions which they represent has bordered on Islamophobia.
The emergence of these issues may be piecemeal and coincidental, but the pattern and trending is threatening the very fabric of our mutli-ethnic and multi-religious make-up. Never before has our nation witnessed such an excess of religious and racial strife since the bloody days of 13 May 1969. Many, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, has raised concerns over the apparent trend of majority Muslim Malaysia imposing their religious beliefs on the minority citizens. There is also serious concerns that this is a purposive “divide and rule” agenda of the current leaders to create fear amongst the Muslim population (siege mentality) of the threat of the “others” and thus its lackadaisical attitude and action towards these racial and religious incidents, which in some intances even demonstrates its condoning of the situation. Unless this malicious abuse of political and religious authority is checked with an effective and just political and societal governance we are surely on the slippery slope of anarchy.
Performance of the Muslim religious authorities
Constitutionally, religious affair is the purview of the respective states headed by the nine state rulers and the YDP Agong in the other four states and the Federal Territories. State governments through their religious authorities (Majlis Agama Islam Negeri) oversee Islamic religious activities, and the shari’ah courts.
The religious awakening among Muslims in the 1990s has raised their expectations of the state religious authorities and their management of Muslim affairs. Of late, there has been much discontent among Muslims of the performance of the state religious authorities in their dispensation of justice and equity as mandated by the shari’ah.
The conservatives have chosen to support the religious authorities despite their flaws, which they do as an act of religiosity. Whilst, the liberals have called for the total abolishment of the religious authorities, including at the federal level, and rendering religion to the personal domain.
We would postulate that the majority of Muslims in Malaysia are moderate in their views and would thread the middle ground (wasatiyah) in their acceptance of the presence of the religious authorities but are more open to the divergent religious opinions. The Selangor religious authority’s appointment of female shari’ah court judges was overwhelmingly welcomed by many who generally consider the religious authorities as being gender biased. Criticisms of the management of the khalwat issue, child custodianship and the ineffectiveness of zakat distribution has rhymed very well with these critical Muslim individuals and NGOs who demand transparency, accountability and competency of the religious authorities at both the federal and state levels.
The over-institutionalisation and abuses of “Official Islam”
The current discourse on Islam and Islamic law in the public and private spaces is highly inflammatory. We are witnessing reactions and counter reactions; rivalries and hostilities between the conservative and liberal factions whch is creating a lot of conflicts within the Muslim community in Malaysia, let alone the inter-faith exchanges.
This chronic intra-faith clash of theology and sociology, would only confer benefit to the ruling establishment. Faced with the onslaught of the liberal Muslims and islamophobia in general, the state and federal governments would appease the Malay Muslim majority by actively sponsoring activities and programs aimed at defending the religion and fronting themselves as the protectors and champions of the religion of Islam.
This would further heighten the angst of the liberal Muslims who would counter more ferociously with their push for de-Islamization of the state and federal religious insitutions. Threatened by this anti-religious fervour of the liberal Muslims, the conservatives conclude that the liberals are songsang (deviant) or a greater evil relative to the ruling government, because their uncompromising demands is synonymous with waging war against Islam and Muslims. Even though there is a prevailing perception that the current leaders are corrupt, the “conservative discourse” potrays the ruling government as the lesser evil and who protect the “ketuanan Melayu” and “kesucian Islam”. Thus, the Malay Muslims must accept the status quo despite the perceived weaknesses of the ruling government.
The fine manipulation of race and religion for pragmatic political ends by the political establishment is the major stumbling block for genuine reforms of the religious mindset of Malay Muslims and the relevant religious institutions in Malaysia. This gerrymandering of the religious mindset and institutions was further engineered after 2008 when the BN government was denied its two thirds majority in parliament, and lost five major states to the opposition coalition. The BN government clearly understood the emotions of Islam in the hearts of the majority Malay Muslims. Many Malays, whether a practising Muslim or otherwise, would die to defend the ‘sanctity of Islam’ if anybody threatened to ‘belittle’ or ‘undermine’ Islam, This perennial fear-mongering of the threat of deviant liberal Muslim and the “infidels” to dismantle our Islamic religious instituions has succesfully embedded the ‘siege-mentality’ in most Malay Muslims. The present government’s support of the preferential tabling of the “Hudud Bill” is one such smart politico-religious move to continually nurture trust from the conservatives and protract intentionally the archaic and counter-productive debate surrounding hudud which is virtually impossible to be implemented within the current constitutional framework.
Embracing universal values for our common god
Despite the exclusiveness of each and every religion, there are nonetheless many parallel and common values which are universal in character.
One such principle is the equality of all mankind, which was highlighted in Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) final sermon during his farewell pilgrimage (khutbah al-wida’):
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” (Narrated by Ahmad)
Another is the spirit of ‘ukhuwwah’, which philosophically connotes and implies a much wider meaning than captured by the term ‘brotherhood’. The concept of ukhuwwah is not exclusive but is both inclusive and universal. It encompasses comprehensive solidarity not only amongst Muslims, but also towards other fellow human beings which Islam considers as brethrens in humanity.
In this context, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported as saying that: “You will not enter Paradise until you have faith, and you will not have faith until you love each other. Shall I direct you to something, which if you fulfill it you will love one another? Spread peace among yourselves”. (Narrated by Muslim)
This inclusive Islamic discourse which embraces and mainstreams universal values and good decorum and ethics should be assimilitated within the Malay Muslim mindset, among followers and leaders alike. The call of Islam is not towards the homogenisation of society into one culture, identity or faith but the observation and practice of good conduct and civility so as to ensure that diversity will nurture peace and the common good. The Qur’ān proclaims that differences among human beings will remain (see al-Quran: 11:118–19). Hence, it is neither possible, nor commanded, to make everyone believe in one faith (see al-Quran: 10:99). Peaceful co-existence with the other and mutual respect has always been the fundamental teaching of Islam. This is manifested through Islam’s commands to respect other faiths, to avoid interfering in matters concerning other religions (see al-Quran: 109:1–6), prohibitions against any form of compulsion and coercion in faith (see al-Quran: 2:256, 272; 10:99) and rebuking or insulting other faiths (see al-Quran: 6:108).
Religious hegemony and intolerance in a pluralistic society will invariably result in conflict and will only frustrate the claim that Islam is a religion of compassion, peace and freedom. Peaceful co-existence and harmonious cohesion with other religious communities has been well documented in Islamic history since the Prophet began his call to Islam in Makkah and unfolded one of the greatest political documents in human history. Sahifah al-Madinah or the constitution of Madinah (622 AD) embraced 20 major principles which included a treatise on Unity, Diversity, Conduct, Fighting Injustice, Search or Striving for Peace, Freedom of Religion and the Rule of Law. Another illustrious model was the La Convivencia in Andalusia during Islamic rule in Spain. The spirit of mutual respect and recognition did not only flourish the Islamic civilisation, but also enhanced the Christian and Jewish intellectual and cultural traditions. Therefore, mutual respect and recognition of other believers and their beliefs are sacred and sine qua non to ensure a harmonious and peaceful co-existence.
Proposals for transformation
Allah has created all human beings with honour and dignity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and has elevated their status above His other creations. Almighty Allah says in the Quran (17:70);
“We gave honour and dignity (karamah) to the children of Adam”
As much as we would like to be honored and shown dignity, we have to recognize the dignity and honour of others. We need to understand and respect other’s religious beliefs and cultures. There is a pressing need for the citizens of multi-religious Malaysia to know and respect other’s religious beliefs and to work together. Authentic understanding and mutual respect of the other helps to evolve a sustainable religious harmony in our national quest to rebuild a “Better Malaysia” founded on the universal values of justice, equality, brotherhood, mutual benefit (masalih mushtarakah) and the dignity of humanity.
And as the vicegerent (khalifah) of Allah on earth and inheriting the vast treasures of peaceful initiatives of our predecessors, we Muslims need to do much better and should be exemplary in our actions and deeds towards the adherents of other faiths. Unfortunately, the Muslim leadership and its institutional apparatus in multi-religious Malaysia has fallen short of its vicegerency role to administer the communal quest for adl wa ihsan (justice with fairness and mercy) and the preservation of public interest (maslahah amah) towards all the racial and religious communities in this country.
The various initiatives for transformation suggested are not an exhaustive list of critical success factors. They are however pivotal issues which needs to be urgently and carefully addressed in order to nurture trust and mutual respect of the other, to harness the potential of the various faith (and non-faith) communities, to inspire a common national goal and to achieve a harmonious co-existence which would enhance national growth and prosperity for all communities in this country.
BDS Malaysia salutes the decision of the Malaysian government to maintain its stance of not allowing representatives of Israel to attend any meeting in Malaysia including the planned FIFA congress in May 2017. This is in line and in the spirit of BDS Israel, an international call by civil societies across the globe to boycott and isolate Israel for its continued oppression of the Palestinians.
BDA Malaysia wishes to remind everyone that Israel has kept Palestinians under a brutal military occupation and they have been subjected to countless atrocities for decades, including genocide and ethnic cleansing. Israel has also flouted international law on many occasions and continues to maintain an apartheid policy despite repeated condemnations by the international community.
The sacrifice of not being able to host the FIFA congress is minuscule compared to the sufferings of millions of Palestinians living in Israel, under occupation in the West bank and under siege in Gaza. Then there are those in diaspora unable to return to their land and homes despite being granted that right under international law.
Palestinian athletes, as with all other Palestinians, are subject to Israel’s injustice. Palestinian national footballer Mahmoud Sarsak was detained for 3 years without trial or charge. Zakaria Issa, a national striker was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in 2003. Muhammad Nimr, a striker in the Palestinian youth football team was detained from 2007 to 2009. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adri-nieuwhof/how-israel-derails-promising-careers-palestinian-football-stars
Additionally the Palestinians are denied their right to free travel, needing Israeli permission to enter or leave. Their daily lives are a web of checkpoints, ID cards and permits. Commuting is time-consuming, and very difficult, due to often arbitrary decisions by individual Israeli soldiers. Daily training is an extreme challenge for Palestinian athletes and training facilities are severely compromised. For example, Mary Al-Atrash, who is representing Palestine in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is only able to train in a 25 meter pool, instead of a standard-sized 50 meter pool, due to restrictions on her movement. It has been estimated that Palestinians lose 3 million working hours per day to travel (American Anthropological Association Task Force Israel Palestine, 2015).
In 1970 South Africa was formally ejected from the International Olympic Committee and banned from virtually all international sports till the end of its apartheid policies in 1990s. Advocates for Boycott South Africa argued, “no normal sport in an abnormal society”, that is, as long as the regime prevented everyone from participating equally in society, it should be excluded from participating equally in the international arena.
Sports, especially football, widely accepted as a global sport, is closely tied to national identity, thus making sporting isolation a bitter pill to swallow, as shown with South Africa. Therefore, the international community must stand firm and show Israel that Israelis do not deserve to have a place among the civilized people of the world, as long as their government continues their current policies and practice.
Israel must honor its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully comply with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
Prof Dr. Mohd Nazari Ismail
10 July 2016 / 5 Ramadhan 1437
Press Statement on Muslim Scholar, Dr Zakir Naik
Musa Mohd Nordin FRCPCH
Maszlee Malik PhD
Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
Much has been said and written about the Muslim scholar, Dr Zakir Naik (DZN). Many are genuinely concerned about his style of preaching which they allege impinge abrasively on other religions (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/348041).
Many others link his fiery speeches to potential IS threat to national security (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/348000).
The media unashamedly sensationalized and tarnished the discourse by reporting that the militants in the terror attacks in Dhaka, Bangladesh, were inspired by him (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/acharya-pramod-krishnam-demands-arrest-of-zakir-naik-for-inspiring-dhaka-attackers-2902041/).
The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) has stood on the sidelines since his early presence in Malaysia because we do not subscribe to his dialectical and combative approach, overbearing Islam over others, conscious or unconsciously proselytizing, and oftentimes oblivious of the local context and demography.
This differentiates the muballigh (preacher) ZN from our conception of a dai (Islamic worker). Islam’s concept of al-Hanifiyah (Semitic tradition) is the divine prescription towards all other non-Islamic religions. It allows “all the other religions” to be fully “others” without any reduction, deconstruction or relativisation. It acknowledges the plurality of religions and allows the adherents of all religions the plurality of laws to govern their lives within the aegis of their religious beliefs and principles. This is the gift of al-Hanifiyah to humanity.
This is in accordance with the calling of surah al-Hajj verse 40 which reads:
[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.
We therefore recognize and accept the presence of believers of other faiths, who have the inalienable right to their truth claims and our relationship and engagement is based and thrives on peaceful co-existence, harmonious cohesion and being mutually respectful of the other.
This is divinely enunciated as lita’rafu (know one another) in surah al-Hujurat verse 13:
O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nation and tribes that you may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.
In a similar vein, the maqasid shari’ah (higher objectives of Islamic law) epitomizes hifz ad-deen as the protection and preservation of all belief and moral systems, and enhances mutual respect and understanding between all religions.
We do not however overtly criticize DZN and his following, of his style and his methodology, because it is his ijtihad (juristic opinion) and prerogative vis a vis the deliverance of Islam’s message of peace and mercy.
But we do take serious issues with those who unabashedly allege and accuse him of utterances and actions which are evidently false and treacherous, short of branding him an IS terrorist.
As we earlier stood strongly against the declarations of believers of other faiths as kafir harbi and kafir dhimmi, we will similarly condemn those who label DZN with acrimonious and hostile islamophobic expressions (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/347151).
We unequivocally condemn both the mainstream and alternative media which thrive on these islamophobic nuances.
We instead invite the genuine and sincere amongst us, to steer the discourse towards a civilizational dialogue, enhancing the higher purposes of aspiring for lita’rafu and not one driven by litanafasu, despise and envy of the other. Together, we can re-direct our religious diversity to work positively towards nation building and a civilizational construct, instead of being driven by a competitive zero sum game, where the winner takes all and the loser is vanquished.
It does not help that our socio-political governance has not been just and equitable to all religious quarters. If anything, the current ambience of heightened religious tension is a reflection of the failures of the ruling establishment. The politicization of religion and the irresponsible religious and racial rhetoric has unfortunately been the harbinger of most of our religious and racial disharmony. Allah (SWT) warns in surah al-Maidah verse 8:
O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that you deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what you do.
The final and universal message of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, re-asserted the principle of equality and dignity of all mankind when he said:
“O humankind! Your Lord is one Lord, and you have one father. All of you are from Adam, and Adam is from dust. The noblest of you is the most God-fearing. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, no non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab, no black person has any superiority over a white person, and no white person has any superiority over a black person – superiority is only through piety.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhî)
There will always exist differences between human beings (see al-Quran: 11:118–19). Hence, it is neither possible, nor commanded, to make everyone believe in one faith (see al-Quran: 10:99). The call of Islam is not towards the homogenisation of society into one culture, identity or faith but the observation and practice of good conduct and civility so as to ensure that diversity will nurture justice, peace, the promotion of the common good and benefit (jalb al-masalih) and the avoidance and protection from harm (dar’ al mafasid).
Religious hegemony and intolerance in a pluralistic society will invariably result in conflict and will only frustrate the claim that Islam is a religion of compassion, peace, freedom and rahmatan lil alamin (mercy to all mankind).
ISLAMIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF MALAYSIA OFFICIAL PRESS STATEMENT
The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM) would like to express our objections to the recent article published by Sinar Harian dated 27th June 2016 regarding the effects of vaccination.
2. Among others, the Sinar Harian article alleged that vaccination was responsible for causing the child to be disabled. The unfortunate events surrounding the child’s disability was neither investigated nor independently verified.
3. The effect of such misleading news and poor investigative reporting would only be detrimental to the continuing efforts of the Ministry of Health to promote the National Immunisation Program towards eliminating vaccine preventable disease and mitigating the current outbreaks of measles and diphtheria.
4. IMAM urges the mass media and news agencies to investigate thoroughly and verify these claims of Adverse Effects Following Immunisations (AEFI). Vaccines are administered to healthy children and adults. Therefore, they are manufactured to meet the most stringent and highest standards of safety. Before vaccines are licensed, the National Regulatory Authorities (NRA) requires many years of research, clinical trials and testing to ensure safety. This process may take 10-15 years or longer. In the majority of cases, vaccines are effective in protecting the person from disease and cause no side effects. A few may experience mild AEFI eg soreness, swelling or redness at the injection site, low grade fever or slight malaise. In extremely rare circumstances, people may experience more serious side effects, like allergic reactions. These reactions are so rare that the risk is very difficult to quantify.
Prof Dato’ Dr Abd Rahim Mohamad