May 06, 2014

The Obfuscatory Liberal Muslims In Malaysia

It is amazing how the universe had been teaching us so many things and yet we often overlook them and take things for granted.

Take a fruit for example, any fruit. The final product of a tree which embodies all that give benefits to human beings – the rich nutrients, the sweet taste, the wonderful color. The fact that we as human beings having a necessity towards fruits, is undeniable.

And by God’s mercy, He let us live in this world with so many types of fruits. A diversity phenomenon which had been adorning our life as a human being in this world, and even brought ease for us. There will always be the one that suits our taste and need.

In a child’s eyes, what matters most from a tree he sees in front of him is of course the fruits. He will strive to pick one and eat it as fast as he could, before finding other fruits and repeating the same.
But in the eyes of a matured man, someone capable of deeper thoughts, the story of a tree isn't just about the fruits. He knows that the roots, the trunk, and the branches, are just as important as the fruits. In fact, he knows, without a strong root, a functioning stem, there wouldn't be any branches nor any fruits in the end!

* * *

The ‘Hudud’ issue in Malaysia recently had brought up a lot of discussions, arguments, and even some foolish responses not just against the hudud, but against the true nature of Islam itself. While some just barked unknowingly, some tried to steal a spotlight to impose his or her version of Islam, with questionable intention.

I found that most of the points comprised in these arguments are not very much different than other previous writings (before the hudud issue came up), which are trying very hard to present a so-called ‘modern way’ of thinking about Islam. These kind of writings unfortunately – despite being blatant and misleading – are infesting the media and shaping the mind of Muslim readers online. (Let me clarify that I am not against modernity and freedom of speech. I am just against the distorted modernity and irresponsible freedom of speech that most of ‘moderate’/liberal Muslims are advocating.)

What are the main characteristics of these kind of ideas? What is this so-called ‘modern way’ of thinking about Islam? (In case you are still wondering, these ideas could be found mainly in groups like IRF, SIS, and in some individuals in political parties like PAS & PKR).

I would like to explain by relating to the lesson of the tree & fruits I've mentioned above.

  1. These liberal Muslims always missed out the ‘big picture’ of this ‘tree’. Either they see it only as the roots, or only as the stem, and most of the time, they see it only as the fruits. This is their fundamental flaw. There are many reasons for this, and the biggest of it is that these liberal Muslims are badly infected by the muddled thoughts of some western theologians. Take Wilfred Cantwell Smith (1916-2000) for example; he proposed that most of what people of any religions do now are just ‘cumulative traditions’ (not religion), and it is totally different than ‘faith’. While his theory may fit other religions like Christian, it does not in any way acceptable in Islam. Islam is not just any of the component of ‘the tree’, it is ‘the tree’ itself, from the roots to the fruits.
  2. This leads to the second fundamental flaw in these liberal Muslim minds – separation of worldly affairs from the divine faith and religious values, or in its appropriate term; ‘secularization’. Faith, values, and human affairs (including politics, economy, etc.) are inseparable in the view of Islam. All human affairs and behaviors (in every aspect of life) in Islam are none other than ‘the fruits’ of having a sound faith (the roots) and moral values (the stem). ‘Modernist’ Muslims may preach that by doing this, they are preventing the public spheres from incorporating religion, and vice versa. While on surface they might come up with thousands of embellished arguments, the truth is that by doing this, they are actually replacing the currently functioning religion in a society with another religion named as ‘secularism’. Knowing that or not, their preaches had let ‘secularism’ joyfully playing its role as the new religion of society, dictating the public spheres in every single aspect of their life while the true, guiding religion (Islam) is domesticated, functioning only in a mosque, or in a house. This is a clear-cut shape of dictatorship which is yet to be translated into the form of governance and rules. The history of Turkey (1928) and France (1905) are very good examples of this point.
  3. We may also see that some of the arguments these liberal Muslims are somehow perceived as courageous and critical, especially in their ideas and comments towards the authorities in Islam. Some went into a never-ending debates with the trained scholars of Islam (both classic and contemporary) and some went even further by frantically questioning the authority of the most expert lawgiver of Islam (even The U.S Supreme court honored him with this in 1935), Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

    Arming themselves with the spirit of inquiry supplied by their teachers who are the product of unruly ‘enlightenment’, these liberal Muslims went with their die-hard fans down the labyrinth of confusion, wandering lost in the dark maze of their own minds and logics. To be fair, yes, their curiosity is somehow appraisable since you can only generate true interest in Islam by being curious to know its essence. The problem with them is, again, their curiosity are shaped and trapped in the previous two problems stated above. For example, a writer named Farouk A. Peru wrote in his article ‘Rebuttal to a superficial take on Islam’ (published in TMI, May 6th 2014): “Why are there four madhabs (schools of law)? If everything had been clearly laid out by the Prophet himself, there should be one approach. As it stands, even the sources of law (usul al-fiqh) is not agreed upon. The Hanafi school gives great emphasis on analogy (qiyas), the Maliki school on the consensus of the companions (ijma al-madeenah), the Shafiee school on consensus of the whole ummah (something impossible to obtain) and the Hanafi school on the literal reading of Quran and hadith. A good book to introduce oneself to this is “Understanding the Four Madhabs” by Tim Winter."

    The answers for his confusion are actually plain simple. Why should there be only one approach to understand the law that the Prophet taught us when he intended to leave that space of varieties for the ease of whole mankind? And ‘Usul Al-Fiqh’ is not translated as sources of law, it is supposed to be the fundamental ways of deriving the law. The sources of law in Islam is clearly stated by the Prophet in his own words: "I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah (Al-Qur’an) and the Sunnah of His Prophet." (Recorded in Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik). About the four mazhabs, if you are able to see beyond the surface you will see that they are one and united in term of the essential faith, belief, and values (the roots and stem). They are only diverged where it is appropriate (the branches) so that they can produce the necessary ‘fruits’ for all kind of people in this world.

    So again, there’s the problem of seeing the ‘big picture’ of Islam as a religion and way of life (from the root to the fruits), for all mankind, and there’s the problem of ill-shapen curiosity. They ended up with rigidity in where it shouldn’t be, and with looseness in where it shouldn't happened. This is totally not the nature of Islam.

* * * 

I would like to wrap by bringing again the lesson we should gain from the nature. The fact that we need fruits (law, politics, economy, etc.) to live a healthy life, does not in any way deny the fruits relation with the roots (belief/faith) and the stem (values and principles). In order to produce great fruits, the roots need to be strong, the stem needs to be functioning well, and the branches need to be many and diverged sensibly.

Islam, is indeed like a tree, as depicted in The Qur’an:
“Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word [message of Tauhid] like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky?” (Ibrahim: 24)

To conclude, ISMA is not against anyone doing the act of preaching for modernity in interpreting Islam nor the freedom of thinking and speech in doing so. What ISMA is worried about  is that there are some kind of Muslims in Malaysia who are claiming to do the act but without paying heed to any guidance and regulations pertaining to the preserved faith and principles of Islam, and this people claimed to be advocating the so-called ‘renaissance’ and renewal of Islam in Malaysia where in reality they are actually destroying it.


  1. Please use your brain


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