Saturday, August 09, 2008

MUSLIMS SCHOLARS MUST ENGAGE INTELECTUALLY WITH THE NON MUSLIMS

By : MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN

Frankly speaking I am a bit puzzled by the anger expressed by some muslims in this country over the Bar Council’s forum on "Conversion to Islam: Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, Subashini & Shamala Revisited". After all it was only a forum where the chosen speakers were supposed to air their views in respect of the chosen topic.

May be , the angered muslims are right . The topic of the forum was quite sensitive and provocative. It should have been changed to make is less provocative. But it does not change the fact that it was still a forum – an avenue for the respective speakers to market their ideas which would be followed by fruitful discussions by the members of the floor.

A forum is closely connected with a freedom of speech and expression which is guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. Needless to say Islam values such right and jealously protects it.

Be that as it may, when the muslims vehemently protested such forum, I have , with the greatest respect, a difficulty to understand the reasons of such protest. While we ,the muslims, are entitled to protect and defend our religion , we must also at the same time be just and tolerant in our stand. Whatever stand we opted it must be based on the principle of fairness. Just because we may have unsettled prejudice against certain group does not mean we have to oppose whatever program organized by such group.

The forum , I am of the view, was not on a conversion of Islam per se as understood by certain quarters. In other words , the organizer, I believe, did not intend to question the right of non muslim to convert to Islam. On the other hand what the forum sought to achieve was the repercussion of the non muslim ‘s ancillary rights such as on the issue of custody of children and the maintainance over such conversion as reflected in the Federal Court’s judgment in Subashini a/p Rajasingam v Saravanan a/l Thangatoray.

I sincerely believe many muslims ( and non muslims alike ) are not aware of and don’t have the full knowledge of the said case i.e Subashini a/p Rajasingam v Saravanan a/l Thangatoray. Unfortunately even without such knowledge , some have protested for the sake of protest . The statement by certain irresponsible UMNO Ministers aggravated the situation. It is rather puzzling the protesters did not condemn a mediocre leader of UMNO ,Mohd Ali Rustam, when he suggested to use ISA to detain the organizer of the forum. I dare to say ISA is more dangerous and wicked than the said forum.

Reading the judgment of the Federal Court in Subashini shows that the issue of the clash of jurisdictions ( civil and shariah ) has not been satisfactorily resolved. Thus it is fit and proper to organize a forum to discuss the said case and all the issues raised in the said case.

Do our muslim brothers and sisters know that until now the muslim has not not been allowed to file a divorce petition in the civil court when he or she converted to Islam. This is because under section 51 of the Law Reform ( Marriage & Divorce ) Act, only the non muslim spouse is entitled to file a divorce petition in the civil court if the other spouse embraced Islam. This has caused a lot of problems to the muslim spouse. He or she has no other option but to go to the Shariah Court to get his earlier marriage dissolved . But the decision of the Shariah court does not bind the other spouse who refused to embrace Islam. Thus as far as the non muslim spouse is concerned , he or she is still legally considered a lawful husband or wife of the muslim convert.

With this kind of forum , the muslim speakers may inter alia be able to highlight to the non muslim that even the muslims are discriminated against when they chose to embrace Islam.

The main reason why such forum should be allowed to be held is that it did not only invite the non muslims as speakers. There were muslim speakers who were invited to air their views in the said forum. These three speakers, I believe , were competent to defend the muslims’ interest in that forum. When two out of the said three speakers pulled out from the forum at the eleventh hour , the inescapable conclusion was that the muslim scholars were not ready to engage intellectually with other non muslim speakers in that forum. The pulling out, with respect, was not the good option.

I believe that the topic of the forum was not detrimental to Islam unless it was unduly sensationalized and blown out of proportion. . The forum was the right avenue for the muslim scholars to defend Islam and its legal system. It was also the best opportunity for the muslim to engage intellectually with the non muslims. The muslim don’t have to be apologetic in such forum.

This forum, is not akin to Article 11’s campaign. For me , the group of Article 11 was a kind of movement. It had launched a roadshow all over the country in order to attain certain hidden agenda. As such Article 11 was rightly protested by the muslims as it sought to drive home a message that the muslim in this country has the right to “murtad” and such right is protected by Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. Many muslims rightly believed that Article 11 was created to pursue the IFC’s unsuccessful agenda.

It is high time for the muslims to engage intellectually with the non muslims. We must show to our non muslims brothers and sisters that Islam promotes dialogue and intellectual discourse. Islam is the religion of truth and because of this truth the muslim are always ready and willing to engage with anybodies or any parties whatever their backgrounds.

It is relevant to quote this valuable advice by Allamah Yusuf Alqardhawi in this kind of issue

“ Lasna fi hajah liman yahmilu as-saifa liyuballigha hadzihi al-risalat bil ‘aksi nahnu fi hajah liman yahmilu al fikra wa yahmilu al’ilma wal qalama liyuballigha hadzihi al-risalat ila al-syarki wa ila al-gharbi”

( Translation : At present , we ( the muslims ) are not in need those who can bring the sword on the contrary we are in greater need those who can bring knowledge and pen in order to propagate the message of Islam to the East and to the West )

23 comments:

Mohd. Abd. Rashid Bin Yah said...

Pihak kerajaan sepatutnya sebagai satu elternatif pembatalan tersebut menganjurkan forum yang mengemukakan para bijakpandai Islam serta orang yang benar2 faham mengenai selok belok perundangan bagi membahaskan isu ini. Saya juga cadang kepada semua peguam Muslim supaya masing2 memainkan peranan dalam Bar Council supaya ianya tidak disalah gunakan oleh pihak tertentu untuk menghentam Islam atas stand sebagai badan peguam. Sedangkan tindakan tersebut tidak pernah mendapat restu para peguam pun. seperti dalam kes-kes murtad yang turut dicampur tangan oleh Bar Council.

Pewaris Reformasi said...

Saya setuju pandangan Tuan Hanipa!

pasnational_unity said...

Dear Brother Hanipa, I'm agree with your opinion.

aNaK BaPaK said...

great opinion...!!!

muhd_abduhu said...

Saya setuju dengan saudara. Dan PAS mesti mempelbagaikan cara menangani isu ini. Tiada apa perlu dirisaukan dgn forum sebegini sbb panel yg ditampilkan adalah balance dan panel2 Islam juga adalah org2 yg layak membicarakannya spt Hanif Khatri, Dr Naim dan Dr Wan Azhar (sebelum ada kalangan mereka menarik diri).

Forum ini memberikan ruang yg cukup utk kedua2 pihak memberikan pandangan.

Yg nampak sgt umno melalui GPMS dan media gunakan isu ni untuk meraih publisiti murahan. Padahal merekalah selaku pihak kerajaan meemerintah sblm ini yg mewariskan masalah ini kepada umat Islam dgn tidak menggubal dan memperkasa institusi pentadbiran undang2 Islam.

kanot said...

Saya bersetuju mengenai pandangan saudara tentang hasrat bar council yang ingin memperkatakan tentang hak2 kaum keluarga setelah pasangan mereka memeluk islam.

Namun, tajuk yang diguna pakai amat berbahaya kerana ia menyentuh mengenai artikel 121(1A). Perkara yg ingin dibangkitkan antaranya ialah mereka yg ingin convert islam perlu mengisytiharkan hasrat itu kepada keluarga. Adakah mereka sengaja membuat tuli yang ramai di kalangan saudara baru menerima ancaman bunuh sekiranya mereka meneruskan niat untuk memeluk islam. Malah, si ibu juga mengugut untuk membunuh diri sekiranya si anak meneruskan niat untuk memeluk agama islam.

Isu di atas tidak langsung disuarakan dan ia jelas adalah sikap berat sebelah kepada islam. Jadi di manakah hala tuju forum yg sebegini?

Jika forum ini 'ikhlas' untuk berlaku adil kepada semua, maka mereka juga perlu berlaku adil kepada islam... jangan hanya menyuarakan permasalahan di sebelah pihak sahaja. Ini lah masalah yg sebenar.

Saudara seakan-akan ingin bersikap liberal, tetapi janganlah terlalu liberal sehingga kita tersungkur kerana terhegeh-hegeh inginkan sokongan dari puak non-uslim.

Jed Yoong said...

Hey,

I'm encouraged that someone from PAS is speaking up.

I've excerpted your post on my blog -- jedyoong.com.

Will you be at Muktamar? Maybe we can meet up?

Firdaus Omar said...

Teman setuju dengan pendapat saudara. Pendapat teman boleh dibaca dalam tulisan teman.. http://kopitiam-bang-nan.blogspot.com/2008/08/cabaran-yang-mendatang-adakah-cara-yb.html

kjg said...

-saya ahli PAS yg aktif.
-saya setuju dgn saudara
-saya hairan dgn sikap salehudin ayub ketika berucap seolah olah tidak langsung membuat penyelidikan atau terpaksa mengikut rentak ajk pemuda yg lain.
-kita ada ramai islamic scholar kenapa tidak mahu berdialao.
-kenapa perlu kita melenting kalu org bukan islam sebut saja nama islam, adakh sebab kita lemah?

teohjitkhiam said...

I was there that Saturday morning. The demonstration had the taint of UMNO all over it.

Fiasco At Bar Council

It was an attempt to tar PAS with the same racist feathers. Whether it worked or not, I can't say for sure. Only time will tell whether PAS can rectify this perception amongst the Non-Muslims.

Mohamad 'Ariff Fahmi said...

Thumbs up Tuan Hanipa!

TGNA pun pernah cakap sekarang masa menerang, bukan masa menyerang.

Keep it up! Seeru 'ala barakatillah

colorless said...

Tuan Hanipa,

Yes, I totally agree that a golden opportunity was lost to close the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.
You have my utmost respect for someone who is from PAS.

Linette said...

As a non- Muslim I appreciate your opinion on the matter. Yes, based on what is happening there is a real need to resolve these issues in a clear, fair and just manner. Right now I as a non-Muslim am very confused how I would go about things if I was in the same position as the affected families. There are many questions which need proper answers. Additionally shouldn't rationale dialogue be one of the ways in which Muslims would want to demonstrate to non-Muslims why Islam is a good religion? The frightening behaviour of the protestors gave me a bad impression of Muslims.

luaskanmata said...

Amww:

Gembira saya dengan pendirian saudara. Paling tidak saya tahu saya tidak bersendirian dalam pendirian tidak bersetuju terhadap bantahan yang dibuat.

Sejak awal lagi sepatutnya PAS terutamanya mempelopori apa yang diinisiatifkan oleh Bar Council tersebut.

Salam jihad.

D S N said...

What a pity! You choose & pick which demonstration you sanction & agree simply on the basis of your political inclination. You want the Muslim scholars to engage intelectually with the non muslims on the basis of a decided case? Decided by the highest Court of Law of which you earn your living.
Be realistic! Would you want the floodgates opened to more discussion in the open on other conversions? What about conversion to Christianity, Buddha or Hinduism and the problems which entail & faced by the children etc of the converts?
Open the floodgates and it will be choatic!

Kefer said...

d s n,

re: "decided case"

You make it sound as if the forum was a dastardly conspiracy hatched to overturn those judgements.

If you read the article with more care,
circa paragraph 8, you'd see that while the individual cases have indeed been decided, Hanipa has taken the trouble to explain that the judgments do not shed light on a number of sticky issues remaining.

This is not to be construed as the judgments being flawed in anyway. The judges, in their wisdom, may have chosen not to legislate from the bench.

Bottom line: the cases are decided, the underlying legal points are not.

re: "Open the floodgates"

These are professional, experienced lawyers we're talking about. If we can't trust them to negotiate the parameters of this nest of thorns dispassionately, who can we trust then?

How many of the founding fathers were also lawyers? Were there any floodgates back in the 50's? Did those lawyers open any of them?

Feel free to remain in your self-censorship, self-imposed or otherwise. Others want out. What you call floodgates may turn out to be a terrifyingly ordinary door. No chaos, just fresh air.

D S N said...

Kefer,
U made me laugh when u say "These are professional, experienced lawyers we're talking about. If we can't trust them to negotiate the parameters of this nest of thorns dispassionately, who can we trust then?"
Did u check the attendees to the Forum? Hahaha

sufya said...

I wrote on this issue as well.

Could you please comment on it?

It's here ==> http://www.sufya.bappy.com/blog/455030/Interfaith_Talk_Cant_We_Handle_It

Thank you in advance sir.

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