Monday, June 15, 2009


I have placed here part of the report, the relevant parts of which I want to comment. You can read the full report here. My comments in italics are based on the assumption that the Star had reportedly correctly, otherwise, I stand to be corrected.

The Star Online, Monday June 15, 2009
PAS chief questions organisation’s credentials on Islamic law

LONDON: PAS has taken a swipe at Sisters In Islam (SIS), a group which the party wants banned.
Party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang questioned the expertise and credentials of the group, saying it had no right to talk about Islamic law.

Fine. I suppose you can question the credentials of anyone on any subject. But by credentials what do you mean? Do you mean the degrees that one has obtained from a University? We must surely agree that having degrees too does not necessarily mean that one has the credentials. After all, it is NOT DIFFICULT GETTING DEGREES IS IT? I can go on and on with this point but suffice to say that paper qualifications do not necessarily equal competence in the field studied.

Possibly, it may be argued that one credential could be acceptance or “pengiktirafan” by some quarters. Even this qualification is debatable - one can question the mode of “pengiktirafan” or even the quality of those who are “iktirafing”. One may ask: Is Hadi saying that he has the necessary credentials and expertise to talk on Islamic Law then? Of course being a lawyer and a Muslim, I will say he has the right to talk on Islam but I am only putting back the “standard” he is putting on others – what “superior” credentials he has? Kalau setakat masters atau phd yang ada serta buku-buku yang dibaca dianggap sebagi credentials muktamad, tak payah lah. You may be informative but that does not necessarily make you knowledgeable or solely correct. If that was so, then why are there differing views between the shia and sunni scholars and even among themselves?

It was the party’s democratic right to call for the ban on SIS for its involvement in issues concerning Islamic law despite not being an expert in the field, Hadi said after giving a talk on “Think: Islam Leads The Change” organised by the Malaysian Overseas Forum here on Saturday.

1) Earlier he says sis has no right to talk about Islamic issues but PAS has the democratic right to ask for sis to be banned. What about sis’ democratic right to talk on Islamic issues?
2) There is a bit of confusion here. The Straits Times reported that apparently the division that proposed the resolution had made a mistake. This was reported as being Khalid Samad’s explanation:
"The wording contradicted what we wanted to say. We want to debate with SIS and not to arrest them or rehabilitate them," Khalid said.
So can Hadi clarify this – does the party want sis to be banned or not?
In any event, I had just spoken to YB Khalid Samad on my hand phone and he kindly confirmed to me that NST quoted him correctly. He also pointed out to me his explanation on his blog. I think this article should be read as I am of the view that it is written in line with Quranic principles.

“When talking about aerospace, you ask somebody from Nasa, not someone in Somalia,” he said in response to a joint statement by 42 organisations, including SIS, urging PAS to retract its call.

I beg to differ here YB Tuan Guru Datuk Haji Hadi. Your analogy is inappropriate. Obviously when you talk about aerospace you go to somebody in Nasa and not to the nasi lemak seller in Kampong Pandan. What you overlooked is this: the Nasa expert is not going to condemn you to hell if you disagree with him. He is not going to get angry with you if you talk or write nonsense about aerospace. He is not going to label you deviant. AT the most, he may just shrug off his shoulders and think that he should not waste time with an ignoramus.

On the other hand, what do so-called “religious experts” by various names do? They compel you to accept their views forgetting that they too undergo the same biological functions as you do. Only that, if you disagree with their views they will label you deviant!

YB Hadi, of course when you have medical problems, you go and see the doctor and not the car mechanic. If you are not happy with the doctor, you can always see another doctor for a different treatment. Most important, if the doctor got it wrong, you can sue him for negligence.

YB Hadi, can a “religious expert” be sued for negligence for giving wrong opinions and advice?

Any one of you coming along with me to my grave to argue your case in front of the Creator in defence of me? I am so sure YB Hadi must have read (and understood) the following verse from the Quran:

“And behold! you come to us bare and alone as We created you for the first time: you have left behind you all (the favours) which We bestowed on you: We see not with you your intercessors whom you thought to be partners in your affairs: so now all relations between you have been cut off, and your (pet) fancies have left you in the lurch!” (Quran 6:94)

See? The Quran says neither you nor sisters-in-Islam can be my intercessor with Allah. Both of you can make all the statements you want but I have to decide for myself. SO, if you cannot be with me in defence of me, why must I be compelled to accept your views? I do not think “credentials and expertise” from some University will be a major consideration in the hereafter. In fact, Surah At-Taubah (9) verse 31 warns us about taking priests and doctors of religion as gods.

SO, the comparison between knowledgeable experts (ulama) and “religious experts” (or habr) is totally inappropriate and misleading. The Creator is so merciful. He gave us Islam (peace) as a mercy and not as a burden. Let us not be high-handed like Firaun.



jon pour do care said...

Salam Saudara Ku,

Kalau di katakan 'tidak ada paksaan dalam agama' semua orang akan setuju dan semua tahu 'general rule' ini mamang termaktub di dalam Al Quran. Tetapi, sekarang ni ada satu lagi 'general rule' ! Kalau dah ada 'credentials'(dalam bidang ugama la !) bolih memaksa because 'they are holier than thou' !

P.S. 1000 apologies Tuan Syed. Pinjam kejap your terminology.

Dr said...

When I first arrived in England in 1977, I had huge culture shock. It was not because of clothes, or kissing in public or x rated movies but the openness with which people were talking about issues. During the orientation for new Malay students in the college, I overheard a senior telling an (Malay) ustaz (who was pursuing his MA in the nearby university)that he did not believe in God and that in his opinion it is enough to be good. The ustaz did not blow his top (like a local one would do) but proceeded calmly to give his opinion on why God exists. unfortunately I can't remember what he said, and also I was distracted by another person who was talking to me. You would not hear such conversation in Malaysia.
In England "hujjah" is more important than blind faith.

In England at that time there were freguent fora organised by Malaysian student unions on various subjects and I used to attend whenever I was free. Two student leaders who frequently participated giving the Islamic viewpoint wre Khalid Samad and Dzulkefly Ahmad both now PAS MP's. The conclusion that i made after listening a few times to thse two individuals speaking is that they are highly intelligent, brilliant, and very capable leaders. UMNO does not have anything close to these two. They had expressed regret if you remember when a bar council forum was disrupted. These two prefer "hujjah" to gangster-like behaviour. I hope they will rise to the top, but many in PAS will try to block them. But still I feel we should support them in whatever way we can, for Malaysia's sake.

Jahamy said...


I agree. And YB Khalid is also a kind person whom you can talk to. Most people in "power" forget that the door must be open first....

Dr said...

Letter at Malaysiakini. Dr Mazeni is a paediatric cardiologist,Dr Musa a paediatrician and Dr Jeffry a physician. I don't know the others. These people are active in Islamic work.

Call to ban SIS cannot be justified nor defended
Dr Mazeni Alwi et al | Jun 16, 09 5:40pm
We refer to the Malaysiakini report Hadi adamant on SIS, 'ban them'.

The malaise of disagreement and discord afflicting the ‘ummah' since time immemorial is a cancerous disease, recognising no bounds as it eats away at our intellect, morality, heart and soul. We have somewhat lost the basic decorum of intellectual engagement and the ethics of disagreement which has led to the incessant strive and the fracture of the ummah.

Notwithstanding, we are blessed with a formidable legacy from early Muslims who have showcased the true art of managing disputations, demonstrated forbearance and understanding in the face of diversity of opinions and never lost sight of the higher aspirations and priorities of the syariah.

Suffice to mention the magnanimity of Uthman (RA) in his dialogue and verbal exchanges with the leaders of the Saba'iyin, the bravery of Ali (RA) to debate with the Khawarij and the wisdom of the early jurists to engage the intellectual and rationalist nuances as well as the political ideas of the various sects such as the Khawarij, Shiah, Murji'ah, Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyah.

Thus, as a Muslim organisation, we are very concerned that some delegates at the recent PAS muktamar had called for the ‘banning of another Muslim organisation, Sister-in-Islam and the rehabilitation of its members'.

SIS is a legally-registered organisation and has been a prominent civil society player, especially on issues relating to Muslim women and Islamic family law. As long as SIS operates within the bounds of the law, it should be allowed to continue its advocacy role and its right to freedom of expression protected.

In a modern multi-religious society like ours where free social interactions are the norm, and information and outside influences are impossible to filter, a diversity of opinions and views even among Muslims is inevitable.

Matters of religion continue to remain a sensitive issue for many as the majority of Muslims try to reconcile the demands of modern society with that of the dictates of Islam.

Delegates to a political party convention often come from a diverse social and educational background and with PAS this is especially so, drawing its members not only from the traditional religious background but also from the professionals.

Given the history of its struggle, programme and its specific objectives, it is not unexpected that such calls were raised by some delegates at its muktamar.

However, as observers, we need to be objective whether such counter-productive proposals by the delegates are formally adopted as resolutions by the new leadership line up. Going by newspaper reports, this is by no means clear.

As insiders, we fully understand why many Muslims are not comfortable with SIS views on a number of issues. However calling for ‘SIS to be banned and rehabilitated' cannot be justified nor defended.

Whatever it is, PAS would do well to heed the advice of its spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat that the party engage SIS rather than calling for its ban if it wishes to play a bigger role in national politics.

This letter is also signed by Dr Shaikh Johari Bux, Haji Mohamed Ali Ghazali, Dr. Jeffrey Abu Hassan and Dr. Musa Mohd. Nordin of the board of directors, Muslim Professionals Forum.