The free Muslim man

By Ariff Sabri, MP for Raub

sakmongkol-ismaIn The Quran; in the chapter 5, verse 40(Quran 5:40), the relationship between God who punishes and forgives and the intermediaries who punish and (never) forgive on his behalf is laid out.

Using Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation and commentary of The Holy Quran, the verse says: knoweth thou not, that to Allah alone belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth? He punisheth whom He pleaseth, and He forgiveth whom He pleaseth: And Alah hath power Over All things.

I think the issue is finally settled. The idea that a handful of men — three to five people intermediating on God’s behalf and dispensing justice on His behalf on humankind, is abhorrent. It is repellent to the idea of the free Muslim man.

To the free Muslim man, the justice dispensed by mortal man is absolutely challengeable. That is our attitude to the people in Kelantan in authority, who plan to carry out hudud punishments on their fellowmen. We don’t oppose the hudud laws, but we reserve our inalienable right to challenge the idea that it is permissible for a handful of men to act on behalf of God.

The issue not settled is the condition of the Muslim and his country. The Muslims are the poorest, income distribution among them is the most unfair, their educational and skill levels lagged behind that of other communities, they are engaged in economic activities drawing lesser incomes, business in their country is dominated by others, they lived in less desirable homes, their society and the country are ravaged by endemic corruption which has become second nature, the government profligate and careless.

The free Muslim man accepts and believes that Islam is thoroughly capable by reason of its inner spiritual force, of adaptation to the changing conditions of any age. That was one of central themes in the seminal ideas of great Muslim thinkers like Jamaludin alAfghani and Sheikh Muhd. Abduh.

The central purpose of Muslim nowadays is to get this country and as many Islamic nations in the world, out of theological rigidity, find the liberating force within Islam to overcome the limitations to their advancement.

The first priority of the free Muslim man is to ask how can he and his fellow persons do and say to retake Islam from being hijacked by a handful of persons who have turned it into a religion representing all that is bad about Islam and Muslims.

Islam itself has taken a lot of beatings. It’s a maligned religion. Allow me to explain.

Islamic politics? Just as a free market economy requires liberal democracy as its incubator, Islamic state appears to succeed only when it’s brought forth to this world through the barrel of the gun.

When someone from ISMA mentioned that the political process of democracy is a hindrance to the birth of an Islamic state and therefrom, the application of complete shariah law, no one seems to notice the incendiary nature of the remark. On the other hand, a report that the Council of Rulers rejected the Kelantan hudud bill, was taken as an assault on the institution of Malay rulers. The Council of Malay rulers did not suffer any ill repute. It will have to consider the bill when it is brought before it.

Now, as we are informed, the Council of Rulers did not even consider the bill and therefore made no decision on it. Then, what are we to make of the intention of Haji Hadi to table a private bill in parliament before it’s even brought before the Council? When, by the terms of reference of the joint technical committee on hudud, the bill would have to be submitted to the Rulers Council and thereafter, be tabled in parliament by a federal minister.

The fact that Haji Hadi now intends to table a private member’s bill, suggests that the bill had in fact been submitted to the Rulers council where it failed and therefore does not require the tabling of the bill by a federal minister in parliament.

The storyline then will be the federal minister concerned obeyed the Kings while Haji Hadi defied them.

As far as I can search the records in parliament, a private member’s bill hasn’t succeeded in the Malaysian parliament. So, the intended tabling by haji Hadi will be a non-event or even a nonstarter.

Be that as it may, we need to discuss the Hudud issue.

Islamic Justice? The system is maligned and calumniated as a system hurriedly seeking to severe limbs and lob off heads rather than establish a compassion and kindness based justice system that seeks to accommodate human frailties, however base they are.

Islamic economics? Also aspersed as a system that merely replaces usury with Islamic banking concepts and a system that justifies the concentration of wealth by the elites as being of divine design.

The fact remains, the Muslims are rich only because they get to be that way because of their positions which allow them to demand exactions; 90% of the top 10% Muslims in Malaysia got rich because they were given licenses, quotas,. The got rich because they are essentially rent seekers. The rest of the Muslims, whether PAS cares to admit or deny, are poor.

PAS wants the enforce hudud when the Muslims remain the poorest, backward, deprived of progress and advancement, desire prosperity, education and skills. It seems that PAS is out of touch with reality. PAS wants to enforce hudud on the rubber tappers, the share croppers, the pasar tani vendors, the fish resellers, the impoverished, and the BR1M recipients.

These are already among the most devout, submitting to the divine will, expecting and praying for compassion and deliverance and not punishment.

The unintended effect will be to bring Islam into public odium and contempt. Some people want to rush in to carry out cutting off limbs, behead people, crucify, have people whipped etc. Carried out hurriedly will only calumniate the concept of Islamic justice when all around, the Muslims lived in poverty and backwardness. Surely this is not the idea of Islamic Justice.

What is the reasonable Muslim’s priority?

The reasonable Muslim is asking , they be allowed to be as Muslim as they can be, while pursuing worldly needs. They do want to be cultivated as Muslims- they don’t want to have their hands and legs cut off, nor having their persons whipped and lashed.

The declaration that its (PAS’s) priority is Allah’s redha (divine acceptance, blessed approbation) rather than mankind’s improvement is somewhat pompously selfish I think. That kind of stand is more appropriate for the monkish missionary. If there are many of them with that mind-set, they are more suited to be in missionary movements.

The purpose of all worldly political movements is the advancement and betterment of mankind in the present.

The reasonable Muslim does not want to defy Allah- have hudud laws in place but can we have a moratorium on their application until we sort out priorities. It’s not that having hudud unapplied, we become lesser Muslims. If there are grounds to apply a moratorium on the application of hudud punishments permissible within Islam itself, the reasonable Muslim wants that.

*This article first appeared on sakmongkol.blogspot.com

*The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of The Rocket

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