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
By CHOI TUCK WO
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.