Two days before the verdict of the widely-publicised case of Lina Joy being released (by the adjective ‘widely-publicised’ I mean internationally. There is no single sentence in Utusan Malaysia about this trial, what a BIG suprise. Our media.Controlled as it is.), I could hardly concentrate. I have doubt whether our Constitution will secure the status of Islam as the official religion, though Malaysia is claimed by Tun Dr M to be an Islamic state. Because after all, looking from the perspective of liberty, and freedom to practice one’s chosen religion it seems like this case, if the verdict go against Lina, will violate her right to do so. Even we know that it is against the law for other religions to actually preach and spread their teachings to Muslims. Logically thinking, yes, Malaysia is not a country where everyone is allowed much freedom in term of this, but hey, it is not that bad.
Because long ago, it has been agreed by our forefathers in the unwritten Social Contract that Islam is the official religion,and Malays (which defined as Muslims in the constitution) have this privilege, no matter how secular Malaysia would be.
But unsecure it is at it seems, you might wonder why the government, amidst shouting the famous slogan of Islam Hadhari over and over again, does nothing that will prevent such cases from happening, or at least, do something at the loose definition of the word ‘Islam’ in the constitution. Come on, we have learnt in our Islamic Studies that the biggest sin is to turn away from this religion, and yet in a ‘so-called’ Islamic state there could be a controversy on something that is crystal-clear in Islamic jurisdiction?
Oh, yes, don’t you be fooled by the claim that Malaysia is an Islamic state. By all means, we are not. Even with Islam Hadhari, we are not. I am a product of Malaysian system of education, studying Islamic Studies from the age of 7 until I reached college, and no, the basic requirement for a state to be claimed as an Islamic state is to uphold alQuran and Sunnah, that is what I am taught, be it the law, the education system, economic system- everything, is not there. And how does the government defines its Islamic state? Here, I put the full definition, just in case you are being sceptical. It is in one of the documents produced, by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, president of HAKAM, one of the coalition member of group Artikel 11:
The Government’s response to a request by SUHAKAM as to the status of the nation as an ‘Islamic State’ was recently disclosed as having been met with this wholly self-serving response: Malaysia is an Islamic State “because:-
a. the nation was founded by Muslims;
b. the Head of the Nation is a, and the government is in the hands of, Muslim(s);
c. the majority of its citizenry are Muslims and most of their cultural and social elements are influenced by the culture of Islam;
d. the Islamic umah (in Malaysia) are free to abide by Islamic Law (‘Syariat Islam’), and are even supported in this regard by the Government;
e. systems to increase religious observance of ‘munakahat’ (religious rules pertaining to marriage) and ‘muamalat’ (rules pertaining to societal issues) are implemented all over the nation;
f. Islamic education is taught from primary school to institution of tertiary education level and its quality are continuously being improved;
g. The existence of Shariah courts and Shariah laws; and
h. The existence of other Islamic institutions which expand the greatness of Islam.
Besides the above, Malaysia satisfies several other criteria that shows it is an Islamic state, namely:
i. provision in the Federal Constitution which provides that the religion of Islam is the religion of the Federation [Article 3(1)], Head of State as Head of the religion of Islam [Article 3(2), (3) and (5)] and administration of Islamic matters being the responsibility of the state government and federal government [Article 74];
j. global recognition of Malaysia as an Islamic state; and most of the provisions in the Constitution are not contrary to Islam
No, I can’t find anything that explicitly mentioned AlQuran & Sunnah, can you? Or maybe you will say : ‘That is fine, look at item (g), we have the Shariah court and Shariah laws, and it has also been upgraded, what the fuss this is all about?’
If the Shariah courts can only deal with Munakahat will that make us an Islamic state? Where is the hudud, takzir, qisas, (you name it, you know them don’t you?)
Do we choose only what we want from Islam and leave what we don’t want?
So who are we? Part time Muslims?
Are we free to abide by Islamic Law anyway, as in item (d)? If I were murdered by someone, I would want the punishment for my murderer to be of what Islamic law ruled. Would I be able to do so?
We are lucky this time. The social contract has again protect Islam within its limited ability and interpretation, but for how long? After 50 years ruling Malaysia, I wonder how could the government overlook the leakage in the system.
Social contract again. How long would it be able to protect us and our religion? There are various groups now, forcing the government to revise the social contract, those liberal, human rights activists – claiming that it is no more valid after 50 years of independence, would you think in five years time, if the same apostasy case appears, we would win again?
And for me, I lack trust on the government, after all that happened. The so-called Islamic state can never protect my future children from apostasy (let alone from hedonism, thanks to AF5 and the media as a whole). And again, we can never live in an Islamic state under the existing constitution. I believed most of you have heard how Lim Kit Siang argued on this matter, in case you haven’t, I put the excerpt here:
Sepanjang empat dekad yang lalu, sehingga empat tahun yang lalu, agenda pembinaan negara Malaysia utama adalah mempertahankan Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara sekular dengan Islam sebagai agama rasmi, berdasarkan “kontrak sosial” yang telah dipersetujui oleh semua pemimpin kaum-kaum utama pada ketika itu yang termaktub di dalam Perlembagaan Merdeka 1957, Perjanjian Malaysia 1963, Rukunnegara 1970 dan Wawasan 2020 yang dilancarkan pada tahun 1991. Dalam pada itu, seruan untuk menjadikan Malaysia sebuah negara Islam jarang kedengaran dan merupakan saranan daripada pinggiran masyarakat dan negara sahaja.
Tunku telah berkata bahawa:
“Perlembagaan mestilah dihormati dan diikuti. Pernah adanya percubaan oleh segelintir orang untuk cuba memperkenalkan undang-undang agama dan undang-undang moral. Ini tidak boleh dibenarkan.
“Negara ini mempunyai penduduk berbilang kaum dengan pelbagai kepercayaan. Malaysia mesti terus kekal sebagai negara sekular dengan Islam sebagai agama rasmi.” (Semua akhbar)
Seruan Tunku tidak membenarkan Malaysia diubah kepada sebuah negara Islam telah disokong secara terbuka oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri ketika itu, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, dalam ucapan makan tengahari Koresponden Asing di Singapura dua hari kemudian. Seruan Tunku ini juga disokong oleh Perdana Menteri yang ketiga, iaitu Tun Hussein Onn empat hari kemudian pada 12 Februari 1983, sempena harijadinya yang ke-61.
So, what I conclude here is that, the social contract has now ‘makan tuan’.
Does the governing political party has done something other than ‘keluarkan keris’ and urged the non-Malays not to bring out the sentiment on the social contract?
I want to live in a state, no matter what it is labelled, where Islam is put at the right place, ‘high, and none higher than it’. Not just the law, but also in every system running in the country. I can’t live in a country where the adjective ‘secular’ attached to it, because I am taught that Islam is a way of life.
Well, I have started studying on different models of Islamic state offered by different parties, just to know my options, and later decide which one is parallel with the idea of Islamic state I have in mind.
What about you?
p.s. I like the comment by Tun Dr M on murtad cases in Malaysiakini:
“If he renounces Islam, then he is not a Malay. That’s all,” he said when asked if he agreed with allowing Malays to convert out of Islam.
“Why not? People would still be Malay, but officially, he would not be a Malay. Being a Malay in this country has certain privileges, so he wouldn’t enjoy those privileges.
“If you are prepared to give up Islam, you must also be prepared to give up (the rights associated with) the definition of a Malay. You must say that ‘I am not a Malay,’” he added.