Monday, December 20, 2010

Forcing One School of Thought All The Way

Asri: Shi’a arrests proof of Talibanisation

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — The arrest of Shi’a Muslims by religious authorities in Gombak earlier this week is proof Malaysia is heading towards “an era of Talibanisation”, says a former Perlis mufti.

“Malaysia is trying to become a country a la Taliban that only allows one school of thought,” Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said in a press statement today.

“Even though I personally don’t agree with Shi’a teachings and even frequently criticise and debate with them, I cannot accept the approach of the allegedly democratic Malaysian government in denying the people’s right to practice their faith, so long as it does not endanger public safety.”

The Islamic scholar criticised the government for allowing a trend of “non-openness”, saying that if the trend continues, there will be greater tension in the country that may lead to violence.

“[Violence] usually explodes in countries where the right to speak is constantly denied. Perhaps the government has its own agenda in this matter?” he said.

Discourse must always come before use of force when it comes to the people’s rights in today’s globalised world, Asri (picture) stressed.

“Arguments are countered by arguments, not by power,” he said.

Some 200 local and foreign followers of the Hauzah Ar Ridha Alaihissalam group were arrested at a shophouse in Taman Sri Gombak, Batu Caves on Wednesday by authorities concerned that their activities constituted a security threat.

The group, led by two men including an Iranian national, had been operating in the four-storey shophouse for up to two years.

Followers included locals, Indonesians, Myanmars, a Pakistani, an Iranian, some of whom were lecturers and students in institutions of higher learning, lawyers and civil servants. Several children were also found at the location.

Those arrested were brought before the Gombak Barat Lower Syariah Court by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) last night and subsequently freed on bail.

Hauzah Ar Ridha Alaihissalam reportedly permits the killing of Muslims who follow other schools of thought, whom it considers kafir (unbelievers).

It has also been accused of propagating the practice of drawing blood through self-flagellation with chains every 10 Muharram as a way to cleanse sins.

The arrests were the largest recorded in Selangor involving allegedly deviant Islamic teachings.

The current Perlis Mufti, Dr Juanda Jaya, had also criticised religious authorities of acting like Talibans in the debate on religious pluralism.

Malaysia has been seeing a higher frequency of debate on interfaith ties this year following a High Court ruling last December 31 that said a Catholic weekly has the constitutional right to describe their God as Allah.

A protest by Muslims led to a wave of attacks on religious houses of worship, particularly churches in January. Several people have been convicted for the attacks.

The government won an appeal to stay the High Court order on using the word Allah and has set up an interfaith panel to resolve issues. - The Malaysian Insider


I happen to saw one diagram which shows that no matter what school of thought you are in practicing one religion, eventually, all would point to one core dot of all religions: God himself. This means, that in actual truth, and as what the Federal Constitution says from the very beginning that a person can practice any religious faith of their choice, and no forcing. However, when it comes to the Islamic issue of conversion or attempting to practice other faith, e.g the Lina Joy case, we would meet with brickbat responses saying this religion is excluded from the provisions of the Constitution and all other excuses that may or may not make sense at all.

As to make a case in point to Dr. Asri's critique, the non-Muslims in particular are getting worried over Muslim authorities coming in over the child conversion cases, cases where dead bodies are taken away from the morgue claiming that the dead person is a Muslim and so forth. These two problems right now are also illustrating what the man said of forcing through one school of thought by saying that the other one is outright wrong without elaborating further what are the facts that support their argument of why that school of thought was inappropriate.

The point we're talking about is on "school of thought". Religion is not only the one subject that has many school of thoughts. Philosophy, economics, and even information technology has vast school of thoughts. Basically, the core point to be drilled down here is that you cannot force one school of thought into everyone.  For instance, in the form of art, you don't need to do art that just would gain recognition and pleasing everyone, but in fact you can do art that shows what you wish to convey to the masses even if they want to criticize you over it.

There is always this fear of accepting and using new ideas, for doing so could mean being ostracized. Which explained why dissent in Malaysia could not be tolerated well. Having opinion of their own poses problem to the ruling elite because that could mean the end of them. But in problem-solving, there is more than one approach to solve, and of course using this force one way in, is somewhat bullshit, don't you think?

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