MPF Press Release: Policing Morality
The Muslim Professionals Forum ( MPF ) regrets the use of the jargon “moral policing” in the present campaign to seek a repeal of the Sharia enactment deemed in contradiction to international norms of human rights. We view this as an underhanded attempt to cast those who support the present administration of Islamic affairs based on the constitutional provisions in a very negative light even before fair debate begins.
We acknowledge that recent incidents that highlighted the unprofessional conduct on the part of enforcement officers such as the JAWI raid on a discotheque deserves public scrutiny. It has to be admitted that some parties have been denied justice because of the human weaknesses either in the formulation or the implementation of some aspects of the Sharia enactment. However, instead of calling for a review or fine-tuning of the substance of the individual enactment concerned and rectifying the weaknesses of its enforcement, such incidents have been opportunistically and grossly manipulated to force-feed a totalising secularisation onto the Muslim community.
It is correct for HAKAM secretary-general Ms Elizabeth Wong to say, “let people decide what they want to wear and when, until they break the penal code”( The Sun; March 26-27 ) insofar as non-Muslims are concerned, and we would strongly defend that right. But many Muslims, probably the great majority, should similarly enjoy the inalienable right to be governed by the Sharia as part of their religious obligations. Is this too much to ask by modern standards of fairplay and justice ? The Quranic verse puts it most plainly “unto you your deen (way of life) and unto me my deen” ( Al-Quran; Al-Kafirun : Verse 6 ).
It is most unfortunate that the human rights language has been notoriously abused by a few individuals and groups who are pushing for Malaysian Muslims to jettison their religious traditions and adopt wholly the west’s post modern materialism and secular ideologies.
The phrase “policing morality” is well calculated to heap abuse and scorn on proponents of moral legislation. But like it or not, any so called civilised society cannot do without some degree of legislation that touches on moral issues, such as the age limit when consensual sex is considered rape even when there are supposedly no victims.
The signatories of the “anti moral policing” document needs to recognise that the very foundation of the penal code itself is the preservation of morality. Decency laws exist even in the most liberal of societies. The campaign to repeal state and municipal bylaws ( which for Muslims is the Sharia enactments ) on the argument that it overlaps with the penal code, is misguided. From London and New York to Manila and Tokyo, decency laws under the purview of municipal authorities exist alongside the penal code. In Malaysia, just because it happens to be based on Islamic teachings, it is seen as unfashionable and anti-modern. But this concerns only Muslims and it is improper and insensitive for non-Muslims to interfere.
Islam, in her outward manifestations, has definite rulings on such matters as alcohol consumption, gambling, sexuality and marriage, decency and morality, wealth inheritance and tithe collection and distribution. In Malaysia, statutory bodies under the aegis of the Malay rulers as provided for by the constitution, formulate, implement and administer these Sharia rulings.
Understandably, there would be sections within the Muslim community who may find the Sharia rulings too restrictive or embarrassing to their western, secular sensibilities. But this is strictly an internal problem normal to any religious community, and best resolved intra-faithfully. We regret that a few Muslims, anxious to be decorated as champions of progressive, liberal Islam have turned these normal internal differences into national issues by seeking the support of those outside the faith who share the common desire for complete secularisation of society, to force religion and spirituality into the private domain.
This is truly a morbid trend as far as religious harmony is concerned. In the spirit of mutual respect, Muslims have never interfered nor commented on the affairs of other religions. The Babas and Nyonyas,and to a certain extent the Chinese of Kelantan and Terengganu have peacefully lived among the Muslim Malays for centuries, even assimilating Malay culture and language, but the host community have never interfered in their religion. Hence, despite their cool and tolerant cultural predisposition, the mainstream Muslim Malays feel hurt, nay flabbergasted and outraged by this brazen interference in the affairs of their faith.
We would urge our Muslim co-signatories of the “repeal Sharia laws” document to resolve these intra-faith matters through discussions and consultations with mainstream Muslim groups and the relevant authorities.
In any case, these are relatively minor issues in comparison to the daunting problems which are afflicting our society notably, a culture of permissiveness and promiscuity, endemic corruption, poverty, the widening income gap, unbalanced development, rape of the environment, the urban-rural divide, alarming escalation in heinous crime and the perpetual drugs menace.
In our joint pursuit of truth, justice and fair-play, we should not allow parochial and careless sentiments from jeopardising our time tested national religious harmony, tolerance and mutual respect. We should embrace the spirit of togetherness and synergy as exhorted by the verse “but help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty; help not one another unto sin and transgression” ( Al-Quran; Al-Maidah: Verse 2 )
Dr. Sheik Johari Bux bin Sheik Yaacob Bux
Muslim Professionals Forum
Suite 1810, 18th Floor, Plaza Permata (IGB Plaza)
Jalan Kampar, off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603-40426102
Website : http://mpf.org.my