Thinking Allowed

Thinking Allowed: Useless politicians and pseudo-religious leaders must resign

By Mariam Mokhtar

On October 24, the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, urged mosque committee members and religious speakers to resign, if they harboured political agendas and ambitions that threaten the sanctity of mosques.

The Perlis mufti, the Pahang mufti and the Perak mufti have all waded into the political arena. They should heed the Sultan’s advice.

Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, said that justice is for all, but Malaysia is only for the Malays. These words do not invite harmony but only cause anger and division. He also said that purchasing Muslim made goods, will boost the economic standing of Muslim entrepreneurs. Perhaps, he has forgotten that improving performance would help.

The Pahang mufti, Abdul Rahman Osman, started a firestorm when he said that the DAP was kafir harbi, for objecting to the Private Member’s Bill on Syariah Court amendments which was tabled by PAS president Hadi Awang. When the public reacted with outrage, because Abdul Rahman said kafir harbi should be killed, he back-tracked and said he was misquoted.

Conversely, it would be great if pseudo-religious leaders lurking in parliament, would also resign.

Religion is a vital component of any decent society, but when religion and politics are allowed to mix, sparks will fly. Religious leaders can act as the nation’s conscience, by condemning violence and racism, but they should not be allowed to represent us in Parliament and pretend that they are acting on behalf of God.

By all means, have faith. Keep our faith and practise our faith, but both politicians and religious leaders have freely used religion to break this nation apart. They expect companies, such as restaurants, hotels and supermarkets, to alter their regulations, and force others to adopt practices which people of one particular faith feel are important.

Prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, once erroneously declared that Malaysia is an Islamic nation, and from that day onwards, it has been difficult to disentangle Malaysia from this constitutional mess. Malaysia is not an Islamic nation. Only peninsular Malaysia has Islam as its official religion.

In rebuilding Malaysia, we must not think of ourselves just as Muslims, non-Muslims, Malays or non-Malays, but identify ourselves as part of the Malaysian community.

Islam invites its followers to exercise their intellect and utilise their knowledge (‘ilm), whilst embracing a socio-political and moral outlook, to attain the ultimate truth (haqq). Muslim thinkers adopted different paths to attain this goal. Knowledge is not simply information. Islam has never maintained that only theology is useful and the empirical sciences are useless or harmful.

Today, we find that semi-literate clerics or religious preachers, who are politicians, are keen to keep ordinary Muslims in the dark and keep them ignorant. This blind faith prevents ordinary people from opposing unjust rule and resist the clerics.

This blind, unquestioning faith resulted in the decline of Muslims in politics and the economy. Today, in large segments of Muslim society, both the common man and many clerics suffer from this malady.

Instead of the acquisition of knowledge, Muslims adopt the unhealthy attitude of blind faith, and a failure to question what they are told. This has discouraged both assimilation with other races and cultures, and the dissemination of empirical knowledge because the clerics say that this will weaken their faith.

The Sultan also admonished various NGOs for introducing programmes on the mosque premises, which tarnished the image of the mosque. He mentioned an NGO called Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah) which had organised the “Buy Muslim-Made First” (BMF) campaign at the An-Nur Mosque, at Batu 8 in Ulu Kinta.

The BMF is a daft idea. This is not the way to promote businesses.

So, was the BMF campaign organised because a group of disgruntled Muslim businessmen and manufacturers could not compete with their non-Muslim counterparts?

Why call for BMF when all the Muslims need to do is improve their performance, their delivery, their sales pitch, their customer relations, their pricing and their after-sales service.

A successful product fills a niche in the market. Most people buy a certain product because it is good, is reasonably priced, is effective and is readily available.

Will the BMF campaign ensure that consumers have access to an alternative product of the same quality if non-Muslim made products are to be boycotted?

What is the basis of the boycott? Is it to control the market? Is it to control consumer purchasing? Is it just business rivalry? Or is it just another exercise in division and rule?

Mosque officials with political agenda must resign, says Sultan Nazrin


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