Category Archives: Press Releases

BDS Malaysia on planned FIFA Congress 2017

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.
(http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/08/165129/better-malaysia-not-host-fifa-congress-says-zahid)

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
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194

Prof Dr. Mohd Nazari Ismail
Chairman
BDS Malaysia

Press Statement on Muslim Scholar, Dr Zakir Naik

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).

IMAM Official Press Statement regarding the effects of vaccination

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.

  1. In recent years, a number of web sites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information were established, which raised undue fears among parents and patients. Myths and misinformation about vaccine safety can confuse parents who are trying to make sound decisions about their children’s health care. Inaccurate and sensationalisation of health news reporting only serves to erode the public trust in the immunization campaigns of the Ministry of Health. Besides, it is against best journalistic practices and code of ethics.
  1. Misinformation is rife on the Internet, making it hard to find reliable sources of information. In 2003, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO and keys NGOs initiated the Vaccine Safety Net Project (VSN) to respond promptly, efficiently, and scientifically to vaccine safety issues of potential global importance. A list of reliable websites on vaccines in 10 different languages can be found on the website: www.who.int/vaccine_safety/initiative/communication/network/vaccine_safety_websites/en/
  1. IMAM with her over 3,000 members of medical practitioners and health care providers is ready to offer professional expertise to institutions who wish to obtain further information or organize discussions regarding immunizations. IMAM would like to extend this invitation to the mass media and news agencies so as to ensure accurate information about immunsiation and other health related issue is reported and disseminated.

 

Prof Dato’ Dr Abd Rahim Mohamad

President, IMAM

MPF Press Release: Honour and Dignity for All Mankind

Maszlee Malik PhD

Musa Mohd Nordin FRCPCH

Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)

 

‘If your Lord so willed, He could have made mankind one people. (al-Qur’an 11:118)

 

But, He created them in diverse forms to dwell in His kingdom. God created the different sexes and ethnic groups among mankind (30:22) that they might know and understand each other (49:13).

 

“O mankind!  We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (li ta’Arafu)”. (al-Qur’an 49:13)

 

The famous Tunisian Islamic scholar, Tahir Ibn Ashur in his commentary of this verse, mentioned that the import of piety after emphasizing the pluralistic nature of humankind was to educate mankind the true meaning of humility and mutual recognition through the practice of mutually knowing each other (Ibn Ashur, Tahir (no date), al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir, Tunis: Dar Suhnun, 10/259).

 

Islam commands the believers to embrace diversity because it is part of the law of nature (Sunnatullah) that He created. 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 (see al-Quran: 8:72–5; 35:32; 4:95; 60:8–9).

 

The call of Islam is not towards the homogenisation of society into one culture, identity or faith but the observation and practise 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 is a 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).

Peaceful co-existence and harmonious cohesion with other religious communities has been well documented in Islamic history since the Prophet (pbuh) 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). This treatise embraced 20 major principles including 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 (co-existence) in Andalusia during the 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 environment (Pagden, Anthony (2008). Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle between East & West. New York: Oxford University Press: 153-54).

 

Therefore, mutual respect (tasamuh) and recognition (tafahum) of other believers and their beliefs are sacred and sine qua non to ensure a harmonious and peaceful world community.

 

On the contrary, 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.

 

Embracing and respecting diversity, loving and cultivating it, is a source of enrichment and beauty, an essential element of our human experience.

 

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, (pbuh) 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)

 

 

In the above mentioned final sermon during his farewell pilgrimage (khutbah al-wida’), Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mainstreamed and highlighted the principle of human equality and dignity.

 

Instead of directing his message exclusively to the Muslim community, the Prophet (pbuh) preceded with a universal appeal to mankind by asserting the principle of equality. This important principle and guidance implies that he is not self-centred nor concerned only about the Muslim community’s interest and affairs, but rather his deliverance as “the mercy for all mankind” as stated in the Qur’an (3: 110).

 

Toynbee (1948: 205) regarded the Islamic notion of human equality as “one of the outstanding achievements of Islam” in which according to him, “in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue”. (Toynbee, Arnold (1948). Civilization on Trial. New York: Oxford University Press: 205).

 

In the same vein, Gibb (1932: 379) notes that: “No other society has such a record of success uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavours so many and so various races of mankind.” (Gibb, Sir Hamilton A.R. (1958). Mohammedanism. Cambridge: Mentor Edition: 379).

 

Never before has our beloved nation witness such an excess of religious and racial strife since the bloody days of 13 May 1969.  The latest fatwa (religious edict) of the Mufti of Pahang is one such gross aberration to the values of equality, diversity, mutual respect and harmony espoused by the teachings of the Quran and the authentic traditions of the prophet (pbuh). And unless this malicious abuse of religious authority is checked with an effective and just political and societal governance we are surely on the slippery slope of anarchy.

 

The term harbi as defined by the fuqaha (Muslim jurists) since the early writings of Muhammad bin Hasan al-Shaibani and Imam al-Awza’ie in their treatise of ‘Fiqh al-Siyar’(International Relations in Islam), implies that the person or group can be legitimately killed by Muslims due to their infidelity and aggression towards the Islamic state or community. Hence, declaring certain individuals or groups in Malaysia kafir harbi tantamounts to legitimizing the ISIS discourse and would open the floodgates of violent acts on Malaysian soil.

 

The classification of non-Muslim residents in the Islamic state into harbi and dhimmi is a historical issue that emerged during the classical period due to the global socio-political conditions then. States were not built on political identity as presently, but were kingdoms and empires that resort to religious and tribalistic identity as their legitimacy.

 

The new reality of nation-state framework and socio-politics has long been addressed by Muslim rulers and scholars alike.

 

In 1839, the Ottoman ruler, Sultan Abdul Majid, issued the Khatti-Sherif of Gulhane, proclaiming the principle of equality between the Muslims and the Christians. This virtually erased the classical legal status of the dhimmis (Al-Ghunaimi, Mohammad Talaat, 1968: 213)

 

The Muslims scholar Fathi Osman wrote;

 

“I do not think Muslims have any legal problem with regards to full equality with non-Muslims in rights and obligations. What emerged as the status of “dhimmis”; (non-Muslims within the Muslim state) was historically developed rather than built in the permanent laws of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Many scholars, including the Westerners, admit that the status of non-Muslims in the Muslim world during the Middle Ages, was better than what the Jews or other religious minorities received in the Christian countries in those ages.” (Human Rights in the Contemporary World . Problems for Muslims and Others. http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/private/cmje/issues/Human_Rights_in_the_Contemporary.pdf)

 

Many contemporary Muslim scholars, the likes of Syaikh Muhamamd Abu Zahrah, Syaikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Syaikh Dr Yusuf Qaradawi, Syeikh Wahbah al-Zuhayli, Dr Fahmi Huwaidi and Dr Muhammad Emarah Syakh has opined that the categories of kafir harbi and kafir dhimmi are no longer relevant and applicable within the socio-political structure of the modern world today. Instead, under the framework of constitutional modern state that has been acknowledged by most Muslim prominent scholars, it should be replaced by the termMuwatin which denotes citizens, who are granted equal rights, similar to the majority Muslim population of the contemporary Islamic state.

 

Allah has created all human beings with honour and dignity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and has elevated their status above His other creations. Allah says in the Quran (17:70)

 

We gave honour and dignity (Karamat) 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.

 

Unfortunately, the actions of the few in our country, which among others has inadvertently equated Islam with religious intolerance and racism, their failure to recognize the equality of man before his creator, their parochial understanding of the brotherhood of man and their blatant impingement on other religions has tarnished the image of the messenger of Allah (pbuh) as rahmatan lil alamin, mercy upon mankind.

 

We hope this inclusive approach helps to reassure our fellow Malaysians from other belief systems of the Islamic position on human relations in our multi religious community. Together, hand in hand in religious harmony we can build a “Better Malaysia” founded on the eternal values of justice, equality, mutual benefit (masalih mushtarakah) and the brotherhood and dignity of mankind.

BDS Malaysia Press Release: Boycott Apartheid Israel

27 December 2015
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Malaysia (BDS Malaysia) PRESS RELEASE
BOYCOTT APARTHEID ISRAEL

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Malaysia (BDS Malaysia) is very concerned with the recent statement by Perak DAP leader, Chong Zhemin regarding the decision by the Malaysian government to refuse  visas to two Israeli windsurfers due to participate in the Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi.
Notwithstanding his retraction, we are nonetheless bewildered as to why he issued it in the first place.

There is a growing global movement that is protesting the ethnic cleansing, racial apartheid and military occupation of Palestine by Israel. Sports have not been spared by the Israeli authorities. Palestinian footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches.

Following a campaign by Palestinian sports team and activists across Europe, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships.

World soccer superstars, the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Brazilian Ronaldo and Eric Cantona are active campaigners for boycotting Israel, calling it a racist state, which violates human rights.

BDS campaign “ADIDAS: Don’t run with Israeli Apartheid” finally ended ADIDAS sponsorship of the Jerusalem marathon.

BDS has evolved into a truly global human rights based movement against Israel until it complies with international law.
And BDS Malaysia calls upon all Malaysians to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian popular resistance and boycott Israel until it:

1. Ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantles the Apartheid Wall;

2. Recognise the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Prof Mohd Nazari Ismail
Chairman, BDS MALAYSIA

MPF Press Release on “HALAL TROLLEYS”

The recent media report where the minister for Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan (KPDNKK) was quoted as saying that his ministry is mulling a new legislation that requires supermarkets nationwide provide separate trolleys for halal and non-halal products naturally drew many negative comments.

Whilst the ministry’s worry about the viability of the proposed new legislation is the significant cost it would incur on businesses concerned, for many it is the further segregation of Muslims and non-Muslims that is uppermost. The last thing we need is a new law that will likely exacerbate polarization along religious and racial lines.

Before the ministry comes up with the idea of legislation, we wonder to what extent, such a measure is demanded by Muslims apart from that espoused by the spokesperson of Persatuan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM), Datuk Nadzim Johan, “Ia satu cadangan yang baik kerana akan mendidik masyarakat untuk memahami batasan dan keperluan rakyat pelbagai kaum dan agama.”

Or from the deputy president of  FOMCA, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman who agreed with the idea, “terutamanya bagi mencegah pencampuran produk halal dan tidak halal, yang boleh membawa kepada pencemaran silang (cross-contamination).”

And if a significant proportion of Muslims sees it as a necessity or a priority in the present climate of religious over-zealousness, has it been thoroughly studied and explained by the religious authorities?

There is likely a spectrum of scholarly opinions on this matter if we include independent but well respected scholars outside of the official religious establishment.

We would like to humbly pitch our understanding of the higher objectives of the Islamic jurisprudence (Maqasid Shari’ah) on this matter. This issue is neither new nor problematic elsewhere in the Muslim world but somehow hits a raw nerve with some Muslims in Malaysia.

The religious scholars agree unequivocally that porcine meat is not allowed, haram, for consumption by Muslims based on the injunctions in the Quranic verse 145, Surah al-An’Am;

“Say, I do not find within that which was revealed to me [anything] forbidden to one who would eat it unless it be a dead animal or blood spilled out or the flesh of swine – for indeed, it is impure – or it be [that slaughtered in] disobedience, dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], then indeed, your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.”

However, the Muslim scholars differed on three major aspects related to the flesh of swine, namely:

1.    Is it categorised as najis (impure) mughallazah or mutawassitah?

2.    How should it be cleansed? This would depend on its category.

3.    They also differed if body parts of the swine (skin, hair, bones) can be utilized after it has been cleansed

The majority of Muslims scholars opined that it is categorized as najis mutawassitah, and only requires cleansing with one wash only upon touch. It is similar to cleansing of impurities like blood, pus, faeces, urine and wounds.

Imam Shafie, the “official mazhab” in Malaysia, categorized it as najis mughallazah which has similar najis properties as a dog and must be cleansed 7 times, one wash with soil water. This is the accepted opinion in mazhab Shafie with the notable exception of Imam Nawawi.

However, further interrogation into the basis for this najis mughallazah  opinion shows that it is neither a sound nor correct inference of verse 5 of Surah al-Maidah or the authentic hadith from Abu Hurarirah on cleansing as compiled by Imam Muslim in his Al-Jami’ al-Sahih.

This “minority” Shafie opinion is obviously burdening the Muslims in Malaysia and has been illustrated in the proposed legislation, is very provocative and unnecessarily creating a further hostile divide along religious and racial lines.

And besides, the Quran clearly stipulates;

“And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty”
(Al-Hajj 22:78)

And it was narrated from Aisha (RA) that, given a choice, the Prophet (SAW) will opt for “the less burdensome, provided it was permissible”
(Bukhari & Muslim).

Clearly, this calls for more in-depth study, dialogue and communication between ALL stakeholders (not just KPDNKK, FOMCA or PPIM), all religious communities and religious experts before we even think about a new law.

In the final analysis, it is hoped that authentic religious mutual respect and common sense will prevail over religious bigotry and insensitivity.

Often times, one wonders whether these parochial and trivial issues are mainstreamed by design to derail us from the acute and  critical issues plaguing our nation.

In a national ambience of ambiguity, lack of accountability, transparency and failure of political governance, we should not be easily distracted by petty and shallow issues like “halal trolleys” but instead focus our attention and energies on “fiqh awlawiyat” (jurisprudence of priorities),  to uplift this country from the  abyss of religious and racial strife, economic meltdown and a failed nation state.

Board of Directors
Muslim Professional Forum

Press Release: “Kesetiaan Kepada Raja Dan Negara”

7 October 2015
Press Release:”Kesetiaan Kepada Raja Dan Negara”

The Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) applaud the statement issued by the Conference of Malay Rulers on the 1MDB debacle.

The sentiments expressed shows that our Rulers are cognizant and sensitive towards the impasse and doldrums faced by their subjects in the quest for resolution of this highly charged national dilemma.

The MPF fully concur with the Rulers’ decree for an immediate and urgent probe into 1MDB to mitigate the economic hardship that is currently being suffered by the rakyat, corporations, businesses and the Malaysian economy at large.

A comprehensive and transparent investigation needs to be undertaken and without any interference from anyone, to diagnose the economic malady and bring to justice the guilty individuals or parties.

This SOS economic plea has been echoed by the lay public, key opinion leaders, civil society and professional economic institutions to address the “elephant in the room” which would otherwise threaten our economic stability and national security.

Anything less than this would erode the trust of the rakyat and the confidence of international markets and junk us as a perilously failed nation. It is imperative that the political governance heed the call of the Malay Rulers’ Conference and act NOW.

As enshrined in the Rukunegara, “Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara”, our loyalty to the King and country is paramount.

Board of Directors
Muslim Professionals Forum

Press Release: Islam Abhors Racism

17 September 2015

PRESS RELEASE: ISLAM ABHORS RACISM

At the recent red shirt rally, a speaker was reportedly quoted as saying that he is a racist and that Islam allowed racism.

We are surprised and taken aback by this statement and would like to reiterate and remind everyone that Islam abhors and rejects racism.

The Quran states emphatically,

“O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you” (Quran 49:13).

The prophet too reminded us in his last sermon,

“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor a white has any superiority over black, except by piety and good action (Taqwa)…” (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad)

It is evident that the most righteous in Islam is determined by God consciousness and good deeds. And clearly not lineage, colour or ethnicity.

The speaker is reported to have used tribalism as a justification for his racism.

Tribalism or asabiyah is explicitly forbidden in Islam and cannot be a justification for one race claiming superiority over another.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “He is not one of us who calls for asabiyyah, (tribalism) or who fights for asabiyyah or who dies for asabiyyah.” (Abu Dawud)

There are numerous other Quranic and Hadith injunctions forbidding racism. Islam is a religion for all mankind and no one group or individual can lay claim to its exclusivity or superiority over another. To do so would be going against the very basic tenets of Islam.

Board of Directors
Muslim Professionals Forum

Press Release on “Himpunan Maruah Melayu”

7 September 2015

PRESS RELEASE “HIMPUNAN MARUAH MELAYU”

It can perhaps be said that Bersih 4 marked a historical milestone in the political maturity of Malaysians. Along with the massive turn out, the rally was peaceful, culminating with the Merdeka Eve celebrations. We are grateful that the Royal Malaysian Police Force showed restrain and stepped aside as the protestors exercised their rights to have a peaceful assembly.

Bersih 4 was a rally for all Malaysians, regardless of background. However, even before the rally, some quarters would like us to believe that Bersih 4 was an assault by the Chinese to undermine the Malay-Muslim leadership at the helm of the country’s administration and continues to be said about the under-representation of Malays among the rally participants. In this regard, we would like to record our appreciation to the Inspector General of Police for having dissuaded the anti-Bersih “Red Shirts” from holding a parallel rally. This defused what would potentially have been an explosive situation, bordering on racism and bigotry and threatening our racial harmony.

However this threat by the “Red Shirts” has not completely passed, for a rally dubbed “Himpunan Maruah Melayu” is being planned for Malaysia Day. The location chosen for the rally, the depiction of a keris-wielding warrior with an incendiary caption underneath its promotional posters dispel any doubts that the intent is one of provocation and intimidation.

As a community, we have admittedly lost a major portion of our honour and dignity. Despite all the supposed advantages, we lag behind in many areas – education, share of the nation’s wealth and economic pie and a relatively small middle class. And fare the worst in terms of social ills that blight our younger generation.

But we do not redeem our honour and dignity by blaming other races whilst helping an embattled political elite who proclaim “berjuang untuk agama dan bangsa” cling to power, but has lost the legitimacy to govern on account of being weighed down by serious allegations of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power.

One redeems one’s honour and dignity by upholding the principles of truth and justice, holding accountable those whom trust and responsibility has been placed on their shoulders.

We redeem our honour and dignity by remaining true to the moral teachings of Islam and exposing the hypocrisy of those who use religion to cling to power.

The Red Shirts do not represent the voice of the Malay Muslims. Any call towards incitement of racial strife must be dealt with swiftly. We urge the Royal Malaysian Police Force to once again act with professionalism to maintain peace and order in these uncertain times.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“Whoever fights under a banner of folly (not for the sake of Allah), supporting asabiyyah (tribalism & racism), or getting angry for the sake of asabiyyah, he dies in a state of jahiliyyah (ignorance).”

Hadith Sahih, Sunan Ibn Majah, No. 3948

Media Statement Endorsed by the following Muslim individuals & organisations:

1 Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)

2 Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM)

3 Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)

4 Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM)

5 Dr Amir Farid Isahak

6 JIHAD For JUSTICE

7 We are Malaysians

8 Malaysian Indian Muslim Action Council

9 Ipoh Tamil Muslim Development Association

10 Persatuan Kebajikan Muslim Kinta

11 G25

12 Persatuan Promosi Harmoni Malaysia

13 Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)

14 Pertubuhan Pemuda GEMA Malaysia

15 Research & Information Centre on Islam (RICOI)

16 Dr Maszlee Malik, President, IIUM Academic Staff Association

Political Funding and Transparency: An Islamic Perspective

Dr Maszlee Malik, Advisor, Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
Dato’ Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, Director, MPF

It is widely accepted that the practice of good governance leads to higher investment and growth, hence development. And political accountability has been highly regarded as one of the sine qua non elements in the governance equation. Transparency in party financing as well as asset disclosure are amongst the crucial characteristics of political accountability in many developed nations. A myriad of researches and reports have shown that the lack of openness in money and politics has often contributed to the corruption of political finance. Thus, policymakers aspiring for sustainable national development must seriously address the transparency of money in politics.

Many researchers in the field of money and politics claim that too much money is either hidden, goes unreported, or is acquired from illicit sources. Secret money and corruption hurts the economy and the polity of a nation as well as distorts the behavior of politicians, hence development falters and citizen confidence in democracy wanes. Civil society in the developed world has begun to play an increasingly important role in the inquiry and unraveling of the sources of political party and campaign funds. This mechanism is however wanting in the developing world.

Why Transparency?
Disclosure is one of the many ways by which nations have tried to control the?flow of money into politics. From the perspective of the electorate and civil society, disclosure enables them to see the origins of political money, how it flows and how it may influence legislative behavior. To the politician or political parties, disclosure means giving up some modicum of privacy to gain credibility through the practice of accountability. The need for more disclosure laws means that parties simply need to be more open about their honest money and allow more transparency. In a democracy, disclosure reports are to politics, what financial statements are to businesses. Both are ‘accounting systems’; one for the accuracy of profits, the other for the level of ‘accountability’ of elected leaders.

Increasing emphasis on transparency in politics engenders a lot of benefit to the people and nation. It will first and foremost increase the legitimacy and credibility of the political governance. Illegal money can too easily find its way into the governance equation and cast aspersions. A “pornography king” was found to have contributed a large sum of money to the Labor Party in the U.K. and more than just eyebrows were raised. In Latin America, many still remember the financial scandal between the president of Colombia and the drug lords. Without disclosure, money can come from anywhere in the world, and in incredible amounts too. And since money often determines the victor in a political contest, the transparency of fiscal origins and its use are fundamental!

No disclosure means no enforcement is ever possible. Without disclosure reporting requirements for contributions, there would be no way to enforce campaign contribution limits. Without disclosure about spending, there could be no way of enforcing spending limits. Without disclosure of a donor’s identity and citizenship, there is no way to enforce bans on foreign contributions. Countries that have meagre enforcement of political finance will most likely have weak or non- existent disclosure laws.

Transparency builds confidence in the democratic process.  A government that is transparent, open and accountable enhances its credibility and enjoys the trust and confidence of its citizens. The rakyat  feels comfortable and reassured with their government and political leaders who are responsible and transparent about public and political finances. In contrast, the lack of transparency makes people lose confidence in both the government and the system.

Legislation on Financial Disclosure
Political financial disclosure can never be effective without both a legal framework and enforcement. In many countries that legislated political financial disclosure, the laws and enforcement principally contain two major structural components: 1) a provision that any financial donation or aid, including other resources such as loans or equipment etc., should be accurately and promptly reported to a designated agency/commission; 2) a disclosure law stipulates that all financial reports be made available to the public for review and analysis as soon as practicable.

Furthermore, any political financial disclosure laws would only be truly effective in promoting transparency and openness if it clearly expose five major crucial elements of the process: 1) The donor(s); 2) The amount of the donation/aid; 3) Time the donation/aid was made/given; 4) The recipient(s); the name of the party or candidate receiving the money or ?”anything of value”; 5) Purpose(s) of the donation/aid, by explicitly mentioning in detail the name of the vendor or person receiving the money identified by name and category of the expenditure.

If political parties, candidates and donors could be exposed transparently and in detail through these five elements in a timely manner and accessible to the public about their political financing arrangements, only then the laws would become useful.  Otherwise, it won’t add anything new or useful to the practice of governance.

However, getting transparency codified into law is a critical step. In many instances, disclosure and transparency often occurred randomly rather than planned for. The calls for more transparency in many countries only emerged after the exposure of big scandals involving political parties or government or politicians by the media. The classical example was the Watergate and the Enron scandals that eventually led to legal regulations on campaign finance in the US.

Nevertheless, there are a few countries who chose a gradual approach to disclosure by implementing “personal asset disclosure” as a way of opening the door for later, more comprehensive reporting by candidates and parties instead of having specific laws for political financial disclosure. Every country works through this at its own pace. In the US for example, it took almost 40 years between disclosure laws being enacted and disclosure laws being enforced.

The Islamic Experience
The Qur’an instructs:
“Allah commands you to deliver the trusts to those to whom they are due; and whenever you judge between people, judge with justice…” (Qur’an, 4: 58).

In another verse:
“Follow God, follow the Prophet, and those from among you who have been entrusted with authority” (Qur’an, 4: 59).

The fundamental principles of governance based on the Qur’anic concept of trust (amanah) and its implication on society are illuminated by these verses.

On elaborating the general idea of trust upon each individual, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“Behold, each one of you is a guardian, and each one of you will be asked about his subjects. A leader is a guardian over the people and he will be asked about his subjects; a man is a guardian over the members of his household and he will be asked about his subjects; a woman is a guardian over the members of the household of her husband and of his children, and she will be asked about them; a servant of a man is a guardian over the property of his master, and he will be asked about it.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Amanah within the individuals’ self will create self-accountability to guide his conduct, which will create an inner feeling of responsibility to deliver the trust given and enable him to refrain from corruption and mismanagement.

Amanah is thus the underpinning philosophy for accountability, transparency and competency in serving the society whether in the public or private sector. Such a system with effective supporting institutions will bring the governance process closer to the notion of iman (faith) as the fruit of amanah. Furthermore, self-realisation of such concepts within individuals will contribute towards the micro-discipline of society.

The Prophet (pbuh) had demonstrated the articulation of amanah in his life as he was known, even before becoming a prophet, as al-amin (the trustworthy). Furthermore, in preserving and instilling the concept of accountability, the Prophet, as a leader, allowed himself to be held accountable and criticised by his companions on several occasions.

When Ibn Lutaybiyah an Amil (tax collector) during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) returned to Madinah, he was seen loaded with tax revenues, and asserted that a substantive portion of the revenue was given to him as tokens from certain people. The Prophet (pbuh) reminded him saying:
“What is wrong with the man whom we appointed as a tax collector and he said this is for you and that was given to me? If he stayed in his parent’s house, would something be given to him?” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

On another occasion, the Prophet was quoted as constantly reminding his companions by saying:
“Whomsoever we appoint over an affair, we shall give him provision. What he takes after that is breach of trust.” (Narrated by Abu Daud )

The practise of transparency and accountability was also documented during the rule of the rightly guided caliphs. Omar, the second caliph, whilst delivering the Friday sermon was interrupted by an ordinary person who said,
“O the leader of the believers, I won’t listen to your sermon until you explain how you came up with your long dress (Arabian robe)”.

Apparently, there was some distribution of fabric to the people and given the measure of distribution and the height of Omar; he could not have made a dress out of his single share. So, a vigilant voice of egalitarianism unhesitatingly challenged Omar, the leader of a vast caliphate. Omar’s son stood up, explaining that he gave his share to his father, so that a dress could be made to fit Omar. The vigilant voice then expressed his approval and sat down, and Omar resumed his sermon (narrated by Ibn Qutaybah, 2002: 1/55).

Omar’s policy on accountability did not end with the primitive style of verbal complaints and condemnations from the public. As for the public offices, he established a specific office to deal with the public administrators’ accountability. The office was designed for the investigation of complaints that reached the Caliph against the officers of the State. When it was first established, Omar appointed Muhammad ibn Maslamah to take the responsibility of this ombudsman-like department. In important cases, Muhammad ibn Maslamah was deputed by Omar to proceed to the location, investigate the charge and take action. Sometimes an Inquiry Commission was constituted to investigate the charge. Whenever the officers raised complaints against him, they were summoned to Madinah, and the case was brought before the Caliph himself. The caliph also dismissed governors when the people complained against them; amongst them was the Prophet’s companion, Saad Ibnu Abi Waqqas (Majdalawi, 2000: 86 and 90). The same function was conducted in a later phase of Muslim history by a specially designed office known as Diwan al-Mazalim which can be understood as the classical version of the contemporary ombudsman.

Once while delivering a sermon, Omar said:
“My rights over public funds (the Baitul Mal) are similar to those of the guardians of an orphan. If well placed in life, I will not claim anything from it. In case of need, I shall draw only as much as it constitutionally allowed for providing food. You have every right to question me anything about, any improper accumulation of the revenue and bounty collections, improper utilization of the treasury money, provision of the daily bread to all, border-security arrangements and harassment caused to any citizen.” (Ibn Saad, no date: 3: 215-19)

Omar represents the authentic practice of transparency where a ruler, as well as the state officers, should have nothing to hide from the public and are open to scrutiny of their usage of public wealth.

On, the same account he was recorded by historians to have issued a certificate witnessed by the group of elders to all duly appointed governors stipulating that the governor should not ride an expensive horse, or eat white bread, or wear any fine cloth, or prevent the people’s needs (from being satisfied) (al-Tabari, 1994: XIV/ 113).

Conclusions
The scandalous undisclosed “donation” fiasco has unearthed the malignant and deep-seated corruption of political funding in Malaysia. This has inevitably led to the overwhelming trust deficit amongst the rakyat towards her political leaders. The lack of transparency, accountability and competency of the ruling political elite has angered the rakyat and civil society who are now demanding for answers and clamouring for change.

First and foremost, the highly controversial 1MDB issue must be thoroughly investigated by the civil institutions of the AG’s office, Bank Negara, MACC and the Police without any interference whatsoever from the Executive.

Next, the undisclosed “donation” must be similarly investigated by the due process of the law. Until and unless, these two “national fiscal tragedies” are resolved justly, the rakyat and civil society will not have any trust whatsoever in the sincerity or seriousness of the political leaders towards addressing the issues of political finance and funding.

These two pressing national issues once resolved, would pave the way for legislation not only on political funding disclosure but also asset declaration by all politicians and their immediate family members.

The disclosure laws would increase overall transparency and inform the public about the financial transactions of political parties, politicians and others involved in the electoral process. Among others it would disclose the public funding of election campaigns and financial information of political parties. It requires political parties and their branches, politicians, donors and others participating in the electoral process to lodge regular financial disclosure returns with a national electoral commission. These would be made readily available for public scrutiny.

The trust (amanah) needs to be guarded jealously and the disclosure laws is designed to serve just this purpose. It behoves at this juncture to narrate the admonition of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he said:

“Discussions are confidential (not subject to disclosure) except in three places: “Shedding unlawful blood, unlawful cohabitation and unlawful accumulation of wealth”. (Narrated by Abu Dawud)