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Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?

April 5, 2010

(The Nut Graph conducted an MP Watch program and threw 6 questions at us and wanted to know “What will Malaysian MPs stand for. As this particular question ie on Secular or Islamic State has always been nagging us (PAS particuarly), I wanted it be made known to all and sundry, this is what I stand for. The rest of my response on ISA, FOIA, the Parliament etc could be perused http://www.thenutgraph.com/dzulkefly-ahmad-kuala-selangor)

Let me begin by asserting that I’m an Islamist democrat. Like a social democrat in the DAP, who believes and advances social democracy in its political advocacy, I believe in advocating Islam as a social and political order within the ambit of parliamentary democracy; besides being a religious conviction per se.

In a multi-party a la-Westminster parliamentary democracy, all contending parties have their right to advocate, compete and seek for electoral mandate in an electoral process that should provide for a free and fair political contestation on a more or less level playing field.

Viewed from this perspective, I must emphatically say that I’m least bothered whether Malaysia should be or is a secular or an Islamic state. I’m least concerned as to whether you call this country secular or Islamic. What matters to me is the provision of equal opportunities.

[This includes] free and fair elections where every contesting party or coalition is accessible to the electorate. That is critical and vital for a democrat rather than [to] be engaged in the endless and worthless polemic of whether this country is secular or Islamic.

If the entire electorate decides democratically that the country is secular, Islamic or otherwise, so be it. The ability to accept the majority’s decision, based on a functional democracy, is a democrat’s defining criterion. (while minorities’ rights defended and upheld).

As an Islamist democrat, I stand to defend others their right to advocate (their) political convictions and I expect to be accorded the same right. As democrats, we are expected to accept the outcome of the political contestation and not take extra-parliamentary actions to subvert and undermine the state and its institutions. ( I’m not here to force Islam on anyone, not on Muslims, much less on non-Muslims. We are here to advocate Islam to all within a parliamentary democracy and upholding the “Rule Of Law” in a supposedly ‘vibrant’ democratic process). 

Being part of the Pakatan Rakyat, PAS and other component parties are (now) striving to achieve a truly democratic and functional democratic state, wherein rule of law and the federal constitution are upheld, and an open, transparent and accountable government is put in place.

This is more important, and a critical prerequisite in establishing a strong foundation for nation rebuilding, and securing a level playing field for everyone and every contending political party.

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43 Comments leave one →
  1. Ariff Din permalink
    April 6, 2010 12:26 am

    Dear Dr. Dzul,

    While I find your stand on this matter very refreshing and laudable, I found Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) MP Dr. Jeyakumar’s answer to the same question the most appealing.

    I share it with everyone below so they can compare:

    Do you think Malaysia should be a secular or an Islamic state? Why?

    Dr. Jeyakumar:

    This is a very emotionally charged issue, and part of the reason is that different parties understand the terms “secular” and “Islamic” differently. Many within the Islamic movement equate the term “secular” with the aggressive anti-religion stance taken by [Turkey’s Mustafa] Kemal Ataturk and his supporters.

    I am for a secular state, and by that I mean:

    – a state whose laws and statutes are not derived from religious texts. But this does not mean these laws cannot be inspired by the values and principles that are found in these religious texts;

    – a state where there is no legal requirement that political posts or senior administrative posts (with the exception of the Religious Department) can only be held by individuals from a particular religion, or that such leaders have to be endorsed or “cleared” by a council of religious leaders.

    My reason for saying so is that in a state where the laws are based on the religious texts of any religion, only individuals who are from that religion can make or interpret these laws. This effectively disenfranchises those who are not from that religion. It is an anti-democratic concept. Even those from that religion can be deprived of their rights to participate in governance because they are judged to be not “religious” enough to partake in the making or debating of laws.

    However, a “secular” state should not put up barriers to the practice of religion by the population. Every individual should have the freedom to practice his or her religion.

    At the same time, there appears to be different understandings of the term “Islamic”, even among those who call themselves “Islamic”. There are “Islamic” groups that insist that girls should not go to school, and that men who shave should be punished.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there are also “Islamic” individuals who argue passionately that universal values such as fair play, justice, and welfare for the disadvantaged are the core values of the Islam that they believe in. I personally would like to see a society with more of the Islamic values as espoused by the latter group of Muslims.

    Further, I believe that all the major religions have an anti-capitalist core — they are unanimous in their teachings that:

    – the weak, the sick and the disadvantaged must be protected and helped;

    – leaders should live simply and not lavishly, and be humble; and

    – greed should be curtailed so that the majority’s needs are not compromised.

    [In our] globalised world, misguided neo-liberal measures such as [the] privatisation of services like healthcare, education, housing, and public transport are still being implemented in our societies. I would consider the great religions as potential allies in the task of re-humanising and reclaiming our societies, which have been ravaged by the immorality of an economic system based on maximising profits for big corporations.

  2. sputjam permalink
    April 6, 2010 12:34 am

    We don’t need a secular or islamic state. All we want is a peaceful country where justice prevail, and the administrators rule in a just and righteous manner..

  3. Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza) permalink
    April 6, 2010 12:55 am

    Malaysia, since it is multicultural, should be secular. Secularism means the promotion of equality between all diverse culture, that include religious beliefs – but modern justice must prevail. As based on International laws, since the world and humanity is globally interconnected; where no culture or one human being is supreme to others, in terms of human rights context. PAS and non-Arabic Muslims must abandon Dark Age racist, sexist, “multi-cultural phobic” and violent Arabic kind of Islam, that even support terrorism and mass murder of innocent public, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims. Dark Age Arabic culture should not be confused with Islamic culture; and It’s time that the Arabic civilization stop regarding itself arrogantly, as the “God-chosen” guardian and ‘Conqueror’ of Islam; since such Arabic civilization is usually undermining and misrepresenting Islam and promoting a violent-loving kind of God, rather than an actually loving God!

    Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza)

    Germany.

  4. April 6, 2010 2:00 am

    Salam

    Dear YB Dzul

    I like your response because it digresses from the whole idea of classifying this and that – a mental trap.

    We should have had enough of dividing people by grouping them into difference races, religions and political standings. All we need now is to stand together on matters that unite us as human beings.

    Thank you Sir!

  5. zane permalink
    April 6, 2010 2:02 am

    What is secularism? It is the separation of religion from politic. No, I do not want this country being run in secularism. I want it to be based on justice as prescribed by the quran. The quran has taught us how to rule the country, how to award land to the people, to be a caring society where rich people help the poor by giving “zakat’.

    Quran has taught us to choose the leader from the most god-fearing soul so that they will not rob the people’s money, so that they live as the people may have live, to be equal with others and not possessing huge mansions for themselves and families.

    I do not want to choose people that do not believe in god because they will fall to their lust of wanting to own more and more. They would want thousands, then millions and billions even though they eat and sleep just like us! Nope, not the people with secular minded!

    If wanting that kind of justice means demanding an islamic state, so be it !

    • msan permalink
      April 6, 2010 6:03 am

      Zane,

      It is alright for you to want an Islamic State but what about those who are not Muslims? How do you reconcile their religious beliefs and practises which may be different from Islam’s?

      What Dr. Jeyakumar said is very platable to the non-muslims but then what about the Muslims who believe that Islam should encompass everything that they do?

      I agree with Dr Dzul that as a democratic country it is the majority that will decide what sort of Country we should be, but by majority I do not mean just the majority in terms of population but what the people themselves want. We cannot presume that all Muslims will want this Country to be an Islamic Country.

      • J. Vohrah permalink
        April 6, 2010 10:26 am

        You ask “what about the Muslims who believe that Islam should encompass everything that they do?”

        That’s easy to answer. A true Muslim who wants Islam to encompass what they do is a Muslim who adheres to the values and principles of his religion, regardless of whether his country is secular or not, whether he is in a desert or in the South Pole and regardless of what others around him do.

        A Muslim living in a secular country like France is no less a Muslim than a Muslim living in Saudi Arabia.

        In fact, an Iranian friend told me that in his country, those against the true principles of Islam — those doing a disservice to Islam — are those who want to enforce Islam at all cost — those staunch believers and upholders of the Revolution.

        So your thesis that “Muslims who believe that Islam should encompass everything that they do” has no bearing on whether a country is secular or not. A Muslim is a Muslim based on his thoughts, heart and actions.

    • Suriati permalink
      April 6, 2010 6:25 am

      To the commenter called Zane:

      You said “What is secularism? It is the separation of religion from politic. No, I do not want this country being run in secularism. I want it to be based on justice as prescribed by the quran.”

      But all major religions teach about doing what is just and fair and truthful and respecting the ordinary people and about love and having caring and kind administration.

      ALL of them, whether Islam, Christianity, Hindu etc.

      And secularism says you follow this principles of justice, truth and love that all religions including Islam is founded on.

      Secularism doesn’t say “dont follow the principles that Islam is founded upon”.

      Secularism is respecting everybody’s right to any and all religions, and following the wisdom of all religions as is prescribed by the UNIVERSAL VALUES AND PRINCIPLES that underlie ALL religions, WITHOUT having to make a country an Islamic country or a Christian country.

      Maka sekularisma tidak bercanggah langsung dengan Islam.

      Jangan salah konsep.

      Jangan terlalu fanatik sampai tidak dapat menggunakan akal.

  6. DontPlayGod permalink
    April 6, 2010 2:18 am

    I am, and always have been, for a secular state. I don’t believe in an Islamic state, a Christian state, Hindu state, etc. etc. for the simple reason that men should not play God. Neither are they authorized or qualified to play God.

    But, it is my belief, as I have been saying all along, that it will be a matter of time when Malaysia will become a full-fledged Islamic state in the mold of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Sudan. You can see the Muslim Malays answering the call of TDM and UMNO to increase their population by leaps and bounds and it is my estimate that in another 15 years or so, when the Muslim population has reached more than 80 to 85%, parliament can easily vote for a change of our constitution to a fully Islamic one. Sure some will say, PAS can not win more than 2/3’s of the seats in Parliament, but they forget, there are Islamic extremists in all the Muslim Malay majority parties(PKR, UMNO, PAS, others) and for a common cause, they will unite to vote in a new constitution.

  7. April 6, 2010 4:17 am

    Extremists existed in all kinds of parties, religious or secular. The people who decided to enslave and exterminate millions of non-Europeans in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australiasia, etc., did so within “democratic” institutions such as parliaments or Congresses. These people often flaunt their “superior” values, their regard for human rights, etc, except when it came to the right of native peoples in places they’d conquered. Today,only remnants of once far-flung peoples such as the Native Americans, the Bushmen and Maoris from Australia and Oceania survive. To add insult to injury, these peoples are often blamed for their own predicament.

    So while institutions could be important in establishing a more democratic society, the right kind of leaders are also necessary. It is hard to define the human qualities that are necessary for good (or “humane”) governance, but as Dr. Jeyakumar points, most religions are “potential allies in the task of re-humanising and reclaiming our societies, which have been ravaged by the immorality of an economic system based on maximising profits for big corporations.” To this we might add certain ethics-based Confucianist concepts that, over the millennia, had sought for balance between rich and poor, privileged and non-privileged, strong and weak.

  8. Talhah permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:41 am

    Malaysia is a Federation. Malaysia is not a single state. Therefore to secularise Malaysia we have to secularise Perak Pahang Selangor Johor etc beforehand..Meaning those states will have to forego their Sultans and Rajas. The Sultanate system itself is an Islamic one.

    Myself is a Perakian and also a traditionalist. The Sultanate system in Perak have kept me well all these years and have been tested and endured for several hundreds years. I pledge my allegience to the Sultan of Perak. Not to the SUltan as individuals but rather to the institution.

    If Perakian decided to have no more Sultans lets say to elect a President or to have an Islamic Revolution like Iran ( to have a Imam like Khoieminie to run the state so to say)… i assure you that i’ll be out to the nearest Sultanate. May be Pahang mmm. Definately not Selangor or Kelantan. If the Perak Sultanate is the first to fall the next in line should be Selangor. And Kelantan i dont really trust Kelantanese.. They might go for an Islamic Revolution of which i prefer not. Well infact they have their over the top Imam already.

    Back to the question ….I’d say NO to secular state.. with a big big NO. I’d also say No to Islamic state Iranian style. (but with a smaller No. but still a “no”)

    Yes to Islamic state with the Sultans.

    The current system is well and good. Kenapa hendak tikus membaiki Labu Dr Dzul?

    Further Dr Dzul the term Islamic democrat is oxymoronic one dont you think ? Another oxymoron example for you today = a Secular Sultan

    • Ihsan permalink
      April 6, 2010 9:06 am

      Talhah, how can you say that the Sultanate system is an Islamic one? The Sultanate system is a monarchic system, and let me remind you that the Prophet Muhammad SAW and the first four caliphs were not monarchs. In fact, monarchy existed long before Islam. Monarchies were and are also prevalent is non-Islamic countries. So I say to you – you are wrong. The Sultanate system is definitely NOT Islamic.

    • J. Vohrah permalink
      April 6, 2010 10:17 am

      Our sultans can exist in a secular state — and they have, for all these years.

      There is no conflict.

      You cannot say that having a secular state means having to give up the Sultanate.

      I think that’s a shallow argument that does not hold.

      Certain kings and queens, such as in the Nordic country or in Spain, are vested with somewhat religious roles, like our own Sultans, but these countries are not ‘Christian’ countries but they function as secular nations.

      Our country has been effectively a secular state anyway, most clearly seen during the first 30 years our 20 years of independence (I have lived through that period so I know).

      To know what the Perlembagaan Persekutuan says — whether Malaysia is an Islamic or secular state — view this.

      And finally, there is nothing oxymoronic about the term ‘Islamic democrat’. Islam is democratic, and democracy upholds Islamic values. It is as simple as that.

  9. Black Arrow permalink
    April 6, 2010 6:04 am

    Whether it is secular or Islamic is not that important. The most important is that values of justice and fairness to all, especially the poor and downtrodden must be upheld.

  10. hajiumno permalink
    April 6, 2010 6:13 am

    doc , u r the best n smartest

  11. April 6, 2010 6:20 am

    I seriously don’t see why religion should be politicize or commercialize when faith is full of irony and freedom to religions is ensured in a multicultural nation, that’s why I vote for secularism. Secularism is about mutual grounds for all men of different backgrounds-race and religion, it’s neither one sided nor prejudice, it’s a common system which applies to everyone and agreed by majority, it’s the voice of multiculturalism. We have already witness the failure of Islamic state concept when UMNO repeatedly use religion and race as tools for political gains and to practice corruptions beneath it, isn’t that hypocritical? Take example from Singapore and HongKong, these countries do not have official religions stipulated in their constitutions and freedom of religious practices are ensured without prejudices and biases. Therefore, I strongly vote for 1Secular/Republic Malaysia

  12. Suriati permalink
    April 6, 2010 6:25 am

    To the commenter called Zane:

    You said “What is secularism? It is the separation of religion from politic. No, I do not want this country being run in secularism. I want it to be based on justice as prescribed by the quran.

    But all major religions teach about doing what is just and fair and truthful and respecting the ordinary people and about love and having caring and kind administration.

    ALL of them, whether Islam, Christianity, Hindu etc.

    And secularism says you follow this principles of justice, truth and love that all religions including Islam is founded on.

    Secularism doesn’t say “dont follow the principles that Islam is founded upon”.

    Secularism is respecting everybody’s right to any and all religions, and following the wisdom of all religions as is prescribed by the UNIVERSAL VALUES AND PRINCIPLES that underlie ALL religions, WITHOUT having to make a country an Islamic country or a Christian country.

    Maka sekularisma tidak bercanggah langsung dengan Islam.

    Jangan salah konsep.

    Jangan terlalu fanatik sampai tidak dapat menggunakan akal.

    • Serious Shepherd permalink
      April 7, 2010 1:32 am

      The problem with secularism is how it was introduced in this country.

      The secularism introduced in Malaysia puts greater emphasis on limiting religious practice of the majority such as banning turban in school, as well as godlessness such as stressing the right to wear mini skirt in public. Secularism in Malaysia does not emphasize on let’s say, freedom of the press or free and fair elections.

      The secular Turkey may be banning headscarves but they allow opposition parties to have their own TV stations. Can we expect opposition parties in Malaysia to have their own TV stations? Jangan harap!

      At the same time, there is no gated community in Saudi Arabia and Iran because the crime rates there are among the lowest in the world.

  13. MnM permalink
    April 6, 2010 7:47 am

    I do not believe in islamic state… a big no no. The term islamic presents itself as for muslims only. Even if the one who believes that it covers all the universal values that any decent human wants but, the concept is largely open to abuses. Before long as leaders change, we will have another afghanistan. Malaysia is proof of concept of an islamic country. See what happen? Look at the issues hovering over us. The C4 killing, the swearing of Saiful on the quran over the alleged sodomy… and many more. These are mostly done by Muslims, in an islamic country.

    A secular state although it is not perfect, but has its checks and balances. Any wrongs can be corrected via the parliament, or the courts.

  14. April 6, 2010 9:33 am

    Dr Dzul,

    Kalau dalam negara visi Dr Dzul ni, orang Islam nak jadi agama lain, macam mana? Dulu masa Lina Joy nak tukar IC, Dr Dzul kasi tak ?

    • admin permalink*
      April 7, 2010 4:42 am

      Salam,
      Bagi atau tidak, tidak timbul. Apa hak saya untuk bagi atau tidak. Beriman atau berakidah mesti diyakini dengan hati yang sejahtera. Dan tidak boleh dipaksakan. Amat malang kalau seorang muslim mahu meninggalkan agama nya. Persoalannya bagaimana untuk menanganinya.

      Yang pentingnya, perlu ada undang undang yang dikodifikasikan setelah diluluskan melalui proses legislatif di peringkat Dewan Undangan Negeri atau Dewan Rakyat.

      Kalau tidak ada lagi dan kalau ia bercanggah di satu antara negeri dengan yg lain, maka ia perlu di tangani secara terbuka, demokratik dan berani. Semua pertentangan atau lompang akibat pindaan perlembagaan lantas wujud ‘judicial conundrum’ di antara perundangan Sivil dan Syari’a mesti ditangani dengan ‘political will’ menyelesaikan secara tuntas.

      • Sivakumar permalink
        April 7, 2010 5:09 am

        Dr. Dzul,

        Salam sejahtera.

        Saya memang respect Dr. Dzul. Saya setuju dengan pandangan Dr. di atas bahawa walau apa pun, amalan agama dan soal keimanan tidak boleh dipaksa dan perlu timbul dari hati seseorang itu sendiri secara ikhlas.

        Juga, memang benar sistem perundangan negara kita masih kurang memuaskan untuk mengendalikan isu-isu tentang pertukaran agama dengan teratur dan damai. Ini harus diperbaiki.

        Tetapi ini bukan sahaja memerlukan ‘political will’ dan keberanian di pihak pemimpin politik, tetapi juga sikap rasional, ketenangan, tolak ansur dan saling faham-memahami di pihak rakyat biasa juga.

        Tidak perlulah isu agama seseorang individu itu mencetuskan kontroversi bagi orang yang lain. Seharusnya kita berdoa agar seorang Muslim itu menjadi manusia Muslim yang baik, kalau orang itu Kristian pun agar dia menjadi manusia Kristian yang baik, dan kalau seseorang itu Hindu, semoga dia menjadi seorang Hindu yang baik. Mengapa harus kita bersengketa kerana agama?

  15. Nik V permalink
    April 6, 2010 9:56 am

    Here’s another question, “Should we then Islamize the rubber planting industry?”. Doesn’t make sense? But that’s exactly it. Tree planting can be done by anybody regardless of religion, wouldn’t you say? How about Christianizing the power generation industry? Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?Now this may be an exaggeration or oversimplification of a thought but it’s all the same. You should not Islamize, Christianize or Hindunize anything. The only thing you need to Islamize, Christianize or Hindunize is, … YOURSELF!

    Open your eyes, ears and hearts and you will be surprised. Do good and others will follow you and your religion, whatever it may be. But impose yourself and you will sooner or later find yourself imposed upon. Please smile and be happy and trust in mankind enough to know that most are good regardless of their religion.

    • admin permalink*
      April 7, 2010 3:11 am

      Hi Nik V,
      I’m rather sad that despite our effort for ‘democratization’, many are not able to accept the ability to dissent and disagree agreeably. I sometimes reckon that even those striving for democracy are thmeselves ‘authoritarian’ much less people who are not exposed to democratic reform. Your arguments are misplaced and you failed to recognise the right of anyone to propose and advocate his conviction/ideology is his democratic right, whether you are willing to agree or not is your democratic right. You dont have to impose your ideas on them. You could only advocate your ideas. Let the electorates decide. That’s being a true democrat.

      • A Thinking Man permalink
        April 7, 2010 5:47 am

        Dear saudara Dzul,

        You say that everyone has the right to propose and advocate his conviction/ideology.

        Agreed.

        But what Nik V is referring to is religion.

        Hence, do you agree that a non-Muslim has the right to propose and advocate his religion to you just as equally as you have the right to propose and advocate your religion to him?

        If you say ‘yes’, then why is this not allowed in Malaysia?

        Where is the democratic right in that?

        So, either we give everyone the right to advocate their religion equally, or we should be sensitive enough not to impose (or propose) one’s religion upon others.

        Also remember that in proposing or advocating your religion to others, you often expect them to change their religion to yours. Because otherwise, why would you propose or advocate your religion to them? We should be proposing advocating the good values shared across religion.

        Now let’s extend the argument. In proposing or advocating our religion to others (which can be seen as proselytising or ‘mendakwah’), it is implied that we believes that our religion is superior to the other person’s religion and that the other person would be better off by embracing our religion. Otherwise, why should we propose or advocate religion?

        Now, advocating or proposing one’s religion to other people having different religions implies a case of ‘ketuanan agama’ (religious supremacy). It is no different to ‘ketuanan bangsa’ (racial supremacy).

        Therefore, do you believe that there should be a competition of advocacy for getting people to change their religion?

        Should we consider the switching of religion as something trivial as changing clothes? Do you feel that one religion is better than another religion and that this sort of ‘tukar baju’ attitude is justified?

        If you agree to the above, then aren’t you disrespecting the other person’s religion by trying to get them to abandon it?

        Also, by trying to advocate your religion to another person possibly with the hope that they convert:

        (i) aren’t you mocking Allah/God/Tuhan because He created all the many religions of the world, and

        (ii) aren’t you saying that Allah/God/Tuhan is not perfect and all-knowing, because presumably He made a mistake by creating one religion and then having to continually ‘upgrade’ or ‘repair’ or intervene to bring the humans he created back to a certain ‘right Way’?

        (iii) and are you saying that only one religion is the ‘right Way’ and that all other religions are not valid paths to becoming a good person and reaching/realising Allah/God/Tuhan?

        I hope this brings to light a lot of the issues that crop up in Malaysia about religion, genuinely respecting all religions, and secularism.

      • admin permalink*
        April 7, 2010 10:26 am

        Salam Sdr Ridwan,
        Frankly i dont quite like this discourse but let me share my thought on this nonetheless.

        I have always contended that we Muslims in Malaysia depict a ‘siege mentality’ and always believe that we are under attack of sort. While we are provided all the opportunities to proselytize and ‘berdakwah’, the same is not accorded to believers of other faiths. We in fact safeguard ourselves by a provision of the Federal Constitution, FC prohibit others to preach their religions to us Article 11 (4). That’s in itself inequitable and difficult to defend by the yardstick of true Justice.

        To believe or disbelieve in Allah Almighty is one’s choice. One must do it in all honesty and conviction. One couldn’t be forced to do it because it may result in hypocrisy, a disease Islam and all religions abhor and fight against.

        The FC provides for everyone to believe and profess religion of their choice. That’s a fundamental liberty and Islam celebrates this freedom as well. While one is free to influence each other, one must be accorded the right of choice through one’s conviction. Personally i dont see why you couldn’t preach and proselytize your religion to me, much as i could on you. But personally i dont proselytize, because even if i do you wouldnt notice it. Why? because i believe in practising my religion and being a model of ‘goodness and virtues’ of it. Not preaching and sermonising it. If you happen to be attracted, it is your choice. But i wouldn’t want you to believe unless you know what you are in for as a muslim. If you think you want to proselytize me, you can try. I have never feared to engage and never engaged out of fear.

        There is a verse in the Quran…….unto you, your religion and unto me, mine. That is already an acceptance of plurality as celebrated in Islam. I’m least interested to debate as to which religion is the final Truth. Surely you must believing your religion as the truest, otherwise why are subscribing to it. Similarly, i surely believe that Islam is the final truth, otherwise why am i believing in it.
        So, all religions have the right to claim the absolute truth and no religion should be ‘relativised’ by others. Islam accepts religious plurality but not religious pluralism. In pluralism (like in John Hick’s notion) no one has the right to claim an absolute truth and it’s ‘relativised’, while plurality celebrates all religions could lay claim to absolute truth and may be even unique to itself.

        The ability to accept others as others and not ‘relativised’ others to you is fundamental in bringing about an understanding of profound and mutual respect based on what Allah says in the Holy Quran as plurality for “Lita’aafu” – to acknowledge one another and not despice one another.

      • A Thinking Man permalink
        April 7, 2010 11:14 am

        Dear saudara Dzul,

        Although this is a thorny subject, I say thank you for responding.

        I just would like to add the following.

        There is a lot of value in your point about us being shining examples of good virtue, regardless of our personal religious beliefs. If incidentally people choose also be virtuous, then it can only be a positive thing for all.

        Finally, I must say that I hold you in high regard for your honesty, broad-mindedness and all-embracingness. It is something that is rarely found, even amongst many of our religious leaders and scholars.

        It seems that you are someone who has given much thought not only about what your beliefs and values are but also has given much consideration and thought about the beliefs and feelings of others.

        Best,

        Ridwan.

      • L H TAN permalink
        April 9, 2010 9:19 am

        Dear YB Dr
        A very open minded and a true believer.
        I hope everyone in Malaysia is like this.
        In my family tree, we are Buddhist but my grandfather is a Christian, one of my cousin are Islam and 2 families Hindu.
        We have no problem because I respect them for what they believe rather than let the government tell you can or cannot.

  16. surfwarrior permalink
    April 6, 2010 10:07 am

    An Islamic Country would mean implementation of Sharia’h Laws. Since it is supposed to be God’s law (am I still allowed to use “$LLAH”? – just to make the point how ridiculous the rule of not allowing certain terms to be used) then there is no recourse or amendments allowed. – Is this what Malaysian Muslim want?

    Is there a good example in the world of an Islamic Country? – Elite of all Islamic countries are human and they too are corrupt-able. At least with a secular system – the laws evolve and can get better provided it is not being hijacked by “dictators”.

    Hence we need strong institutions (not strong leader) to provide checks and balance in a democratic society. Islamic society will not have that checks and balance.

    Compare the UN Universal Human Right Declaration to the Islamic Human Right Declaration – the difference clearly show that Islamic system is no universally “fair” – it discriminate against non-Muslims, Woman and Minor.

    I rest my case.

  17. April 6, 2010 10:28 am

    Take a look on my Islamic blog: http://www.religionbeliefs.muslimblogs.com

    Which is located at world largest Muslim blogging community http://www.muslimblogs.com

    Reply

  18. Raja permalink
    April 6, 2010 11:03 am

    In my humble opinion religion should restrict itself to extreme minimal role in politics. It must be barely visible in politics. Its role should be confined as the conscience of a society in general and no more. A good example is the role the Church England in British politics and the general role played by Christianity in the USA.

    All states that included or allowed a big role for religion in its politics are utter failures. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and many other are the sores of the World at present.

  19. masakini permalink
    April 6, 2010 1:09 pm

    Dear Dr.

    Thanks Doc. You certainly give hope that Malaysians of all races and religions can walk together and build a nation called ‘FANTASTIC MALAYSIA”. My vote for the Pakatan in 2008 has been meaningful.

  20. phat war permalink
    April 6, 2010 1:41 pm

    An Islamic State is out of the question. First and foremost women will became subjugated to be less equal than men. They will remain slaves for sex and reproduction.
    I do not know what you mean by an Islamic democrat?? is this just for sounding nice..I am a democrat. Question? would you as a democrat allow your wife to talak you???
    or allow her to take 4 husbands?? Why do I have to see Muslim women kissing their partners hands when leaving them to go to work..why can’t it be the other way round too..?? and why do women have to cover up so that men can control their lust????Isn’t it that men should have self control even if they see a stark naked woman??? As long as this goes on…sorry No No NO islamic state…poor muslim women…look at the number single mothers.!!! This is only one issue..I have many more……which will make the religion beg itself…

    • admin permalink*
      April 7, 2010 2:32 am

      Hi Phat War,
      I could sense a lot hatred and vangeance plus an overdose of negative stereotyping of Islam and Muslims. I dont blame you for that. You have the right to your opinion. Bur pls be reminded that there are many sides to a coin. I do feel we need to engage on an intelellectually rewarding discourse and perhaps we could address pertinent issues that you’ve raised. Being a democrat defines your ability to manage dissent and difference. To be able to disagree agreeably. Without its emotion and contempt. Being Islamist defines by ideological position and worldview. Being islamist provides me the value-judgemnt and avoids by being ‘machievillian’ and ‘permissive’ in all sense of the word.

      • A Thinking Man permalink
        April 7, 2010 6:01 am

        I wish to clarify what Dr. Dzul is saying here in terms of being a democrat and a Muslim.

        Dr. Dzul here refers to ‘democratism’ as the ability to accept and manage dissent and differences, and that Islam provides him a set of good principles and values through which he can make fair and sensible decisions in such a context.

        I think there is nothing wrong, controversial, dogmatic or chauvinistic about that.

        In fact, it should be good if Dr. Dzul’s religion provides him with an understanding of life that shuns ‘Machiavellian’ and other dishonest or cruel attitudes in governance.

        Phat War identifies some inequalities that are sometimes observed. But I strongly feel that Phat War should discuss things in a clear but polite way, not in a hateful or angry way. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice. Dr. Dzul is nice to have even responded to Phat War and to respond kindly.

  21. soul survivor permalink
    April 7, 2010 12:33 am

    since the last ottomans,there were and are non so-called islamic states anywhere in this world.what we had and have (along the past 100 over years) are states run by ethnic-muslim leaders,in short nationalists.the middle-easts are run by ARABS.the nusantaras run by MALAYS.JAVAS etc.this world has been governed solid by secularism all these while.even saudi arabia is governed by the SAUDs.pakistan is/was run by ETHNIC-PAKIS by name of Nehrus,Zias,Musharafs and what not.Indonesia is run by the Javanese of Suakrnos,Suhartos,Bambangs et.and Malaysia since independent is run by UMNO (a malay ethnic-based)…by the name of Rahmans,Razaks,Husseins,Mahathirs,Dollahs and now Najisbs!!!all these mentioned leaders are/were embraced nationailsm NOT ISLAM!since nationalism itself is the OFF-SPRING of secularism…the these so-called muslim leaders are SECULARIST THEMSELVES.thus this world has been run by secularism every single seconds!!!in fact all the present-day isms whatever jargons u call them,socialism,liberalism,capitalism,communism,pragmatism etc etc are just by-products of the ONE-FATHER i.e Secularism EXCEPT RELIGION-based!even all religions in this entire world have been ‘modified’ by the secularists including islam.SO DON’T BLAME religions for the mess and shits humans are facing today!!!we humans,whatever colours and races there are,have long displaced GOD/RELIGION in our ways of running this world and have instead embrace secularism as our way of life.u don’t go to mosque or parading during Prophet’s birthday YET u engross yrself in CORRUPTIONs!u don’t go to temples,mosques but yet u enjoy indulging in gamblings and all hendonistics lifestyles!u don’t go to church Mr.Bush yet u massacred the civilians in Iraq in the name political-wars!u don’t pray in-front the wailing wall yet u did the hineous SABRA and SYATILAA!!!so it not about to choose either secularism or islamic states coz we had made our choice …….. fullstop!!!!

  22. L H TAN permalink
    April 7, 2010 2:24 am

    Well to me whether Islamic or secularism – I could not care less BUT everyday life must not be affected by the state administration.
    I think it is a name sake (by politician) but then the fanatics whether Islamic or non-Islamic would make it difficult to administer the country.
    As such it is important to me – we can take care of our daily food, pocket in the money, have time to relax & travel and importantly money for charity is the best.
    So politics need to be revamped.

  23. April 7, 2010 4:17 am

    Take a look on my Islamic blog http://www.religionbeliefs.muslimblogs.com which is located on largest Muslim blogging community
    muslimblogs.com

  24. Black Arrow permalink
    April 10, 2010 11:03 am

    I agree with L H Tan. I respect and admire Dr. Dzul for his belief and his stand.

    He is a good role model for Islam as a family man and as a politician. The best way to be a witness to one’s faith is by being a model of goodness and virtue and this will attract people towards the religion rather than by preaching and sermonising.

  25. syed putra ahmad permalink
    April 11, 2010 7:12 am

    salam. it’s a pity that such an inspiring, open discussion on such an important subject, i.e of being and accepting differences, is not done in bahasa melayu, the national language, so that more malaysians can take part.

    when the arabic, english, mandarin, tamil etc etc educated malaysians can only feel at home speaking, discussing and debating on these higher, philosophical and fundamental issues that effect their very social identity and being as a nation, while the majority of their brothers cannot comprehend nor be inspired by it, then can one blame the rot that permeates all levels of that nation?

    terima kasih.

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