NST published an indirect defense of SIS is Sesat today with an article by Dr Chandra Muazaffar. Can read here or at the end of this posting.
One can naturally expect an intellectual like him to plead for SIS but his only request is to hear out and open up to new ideas such as Liberal or Plural Islam. He would ask that we should make the effort to understand liberalism and pluralism in many different context and not just the context MAIS has decided upon.
Typical of intellectuals, he will get definitive and insist on the accuracy in the terms. Naturally, he will give a wholesome societal outlook in sync with his discipline as sociologist.
Our point remain and on that basis, we will disagree.
Not an authority
It is not about closing our mind to new ideas, thought and pursuit of progressive or justice or knowledge.
The intellectual can continue to talk and talk. The can continue to attend and discuss at endless seminars, forum, convention, colloqium, and whatever terms they described their gathering.
Usually they will not come to any sort of agreement and any progress to a common agreement will take time, years and not surprisingly forever.
For the common folks that need immediate answers and guidance, they cannot afford to attend such gathering of the learned and wait for them to progress from definition to the next many steps before they deal with the problems in hand.
There has to be an authority that provide them the consistency in at least the rules, procedures and dos and don'ts of the religion they profess.The adoption of new ideas or ways have to undergo the time honoured process.
Nevertheless, he can continue to talk and express his vision of the utopian society he aspire in closed doors and among his peers.
For the common folks, live has to go on and their spiritual life cannot be left in a state of confusion and indecision by revolutionary new and logical ideas but essentially sesat.
Lastly, the Mufti and experts in the Majlis Fatwa and religious authority is where lies the responsibility as the custodian of the religion.
Preserving the faith
Custodianship applies to all religion; be it within the church hierarchy, Buddhist hierarchy, and other men of cloth in other religion. It cannot be left with a bunch of people without the decisiveness and authority to decide on religion matters.
Most important, they are responsible to preserve the faith of the believers. That responsibility is something the exploratory intellectual has none.
The importance to preserve the masses cannot be taken for granted.
In the classic story of a sufi wali Sheih Siti Jenar of the Wali Songo fame (our roots), he offered himself to beheaded for his difference in view from the rest of his wali brothers.
It is not because his view is heretic but it is too esoteric that it could confuse and misled the simplistic masses. Don't say we are not open to new ideas. This is pluralism with responsibility at work.
He subject himself to a punishment to preserve the faith of the masses. It is the Nusantara version of Annal Haq (I am Allah). Read here.
Do our intellectual dare to put their neck on the chopping board to take responsibility for the faith of many. One complain from their research or foundation contributor and they can be compromised.
Western human rights leaning SIS will be the last to be willing to be responsible.
As far as Islam Liberal, it has long been explored and studied. The religous authorities are not dumb and stupid as the perception and negative remark cast by some anti hadith commentary against them.
It does not matter what the exact definition for liberal to Dr Chandra but Islam Liberal is the branding for that line of thinking and it is deviant. Read the National Fatwa Council here. because it was discussed since 2006!
There is no two way about it.
Dr Chandra is being presumptous to assume the authority do not know what they are talking about.
His article below:
Understanding liberalism, religious pluralism
By Dr Chandra Muzaffar - 6 November 2014 @ 8:13 AM
Just wondering the motive of NST's defense of SIS in the light Tan Sri Johan Jaafar's son's vocal demand to remove the Sedition Act.
THE fatwa issued by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and gazetted on July 31 declaring any person or group “professing liberalism or religious pluralism” as “deviants”, raises some troubling questions. The group, Sisters in Islam, was specifically named in the fatwa.
To establish that one has become a deviant through alleged adherence to “liberalism” or “religious pluralism”, the authority concerned has to show convincingly how these two ideas contravene the essence of Islam. To start with, Mais must be aware that the term “liberal” appears in the fourth goal of the Rukun Negara, our National Charter. It says that the goal is to ensure “a liberal approach to her (Malaysia’s) rich and diverse cultural traditions”. In its description of this goal, the Rukunegara speaks of a society that is “free to choose religion, custom and culture of their own in line with the interests of national unity”.
It is obvious from the Rukun Negara that it regards “freedom” and the “right to choose” as essential to a liberal approach. Freedom and the right to choose as values are in line with Islam as long as their exercise does not contravene the essence of faith. Indeed, the Rukunegara as a whole, both its goals and its principles — as pointed by the late Islamic scholar, Ustaz Abu Bakar Hamzah — reflects the spirit of Islam.
There are other values associated with “liberalism”, such as freedom of expression, free and fair elections and the right to private property, which are also integral to Islam. True, extreme individualism and the untrammelled accumulation of wealth, which are also sometimes defended in the name of liberalism, have no place in Islamic thought. If these aspects of liberalism are the reasons for Mais’ unhappiness with certain groups and individuals, it should say so and provide evidence to show that they have been propagating such ideas. Mais should enter into a dialogue with them and convince such advocates of liberalism that their views create more harm than good to society. That is the solution, not branding them as “deviants” and banning their writings and activities.
Turning to religious pluralism, the concept has different meanings. Many Islamic scholars equate religious pluralism with religious diversity. For them the harmonious coexistence of the followers of different religions within a specific setting would be an example of religious pluralism at work. They also recognise that while conceptions of the Transcendent or God differ from religion to religion and are unique and distinctive practices associated with the various faith communities, there are also certain values and principles that they share in common. Living in harmony with nature and the environment, protecting the integrity of the family as the basic unit of society, respecting one’s elders, ensuring that leadership is virtuous and adhering to moral precepts in economic activities would be some of the values and principles that are embodied in all religious philosophies. Accepting similarities at one level while acknowledging differences in other spheres is what defines religious pluralism.
These notions of religious pluralism are more than compatible with Islamic teachings. That there are different religions and moral codes is a reality that the Quran accepts (109:6). Knowing one another in the midst of this diversity is also a Quranic principle (49:13). Indeed, Allah had deliberately created such a diverse human family to see how we would treat one another, which the Quran regards as a test of our spirituality (5:48).
Why then is Mais uneasy about religious pluralism? Perhaps Mais does not view religious pluralism through the same lens as many of us. From past pronouncements, Mais, like a number of other Islamic groups and individuals in Malaysia, tends to highlight a particular interpretation of religious pluralism that regards mutually exclusive ultimate truth claims in different religions as equally valid. Of course, for the overwhelming majority of Muslims, this is not acceptable.
Tawhid (The Oneness of God) in Islam and the Trinity in Christianity cannot both be “equally valid”. Likewise, reward and punishment on the Day of Judgment in Christianity and Karma in Hinduism cannot both be equally valid. If religious pluralism means accepting the exclusive truth claim contained in each and every religion as valid, most people would reject religious pluralism.
There is no reason why Mais should equate religious pluralism with an interpretation that has so little support among religious adherents of whatever hue. Mais should not use this minority interpretation of religious pluralism to label any group or individual as “deviant”.
It is not just Mais. Some of the highest officeholders in Malaysia have also been equating religious pluralism with this interpretation, forgetting that there are other more popularly accepted interpretations of religious pluralism compatible with Islam and all other religions. By rejecting religious pluralism because of this interpretation, they have unwittingly given the impression to people everywhere that Malaysia does not accept religious diversity. This has tarnished our image and sullied our reputation as a nation when in reality, Malaysia celebrates religious diversity as few other nations do. This is why it is imperative that religious authorities and political personalities cease to interpret religious pluralism as the acceptance of the truth claim in every religion and instead view it as the acknowledgement of religious diversity — which is what Malaysia is all about.
* Edited 7/11/2014 8:AM