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A Comedy Of An Interfaith Meeting

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 05:31 PM PST 

Yussof Condred 

Unlike parliament, this interfaith meeting was well attended and by representatives of the various faiths. Unlike parliament too, this is a meeting of honest, loving, sincere and God-fearing people. While we have been made to expect parliamentarians to wallow in shameless antics and speech during a session, we expect religionists to exhibit 'prim and proper' behaviour during an interfaith meeting.

The chairman started the meeting by reciting a well-worn quotation in an orotund voice:


"There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions " 
He declared that he was pleased to see so many brethren of the society present. He said, in a tone garnished with unmitigated piety, "All religions are but different roads to the same destination of love and compassion. The sooner we understand each other better, the sooner the walls of suspicion and mistrust will be breached."
When he concluded, a thunderous applause ensued. Delegates were seen clapping their hands, nodding their heads and smiling to each. There was a feeling of love in the air and it was almost palpable.
When it was time for open discussion, a young delegate, a maverick, raised what might appear to be an idiosyncratic observation, to the consternation or amusement, according to the individual leaning, of the audience. He addressed the Chair and said, "Sir, I see that we do not have a representative here from the community of the Atheists. For me Atheism is a religion with a fair number of followers. Atheists do not believe in the existence of a God and that is their belief. And faith according to definition is 'a belief in something'. Therefore they have a faith and it follows that they have a religion". He further asserted that the meetings in future should include atheists' representatives. 

A murmur rippled through the congregation of delegates accompanied in equal measure by the sounds of half-stifled chuckles. The Chairman frowned, raised his right to appeal for silence and at that moment an angry, troubling thought went through his mind, "What in heaven's name is this nincompoop trying to do? Throwing his crooked  spanner in the works?" But because the feeling of love was still strong in the air, he checked himself and posed this question to the delegates, as if the subject matter in hand warranted serious discourse, "Would any of my brethren here like to comment on what our brother has just said?"
An elderly, erudite scholar immediately raised his hand, stood up and said, "Sir, it is said that the word atheist comes from the Greek ethos. But ethos doesn't refer to people who don't believe in God; it refers to the lonely ones, people whom the Gods have abandoned. This proves that people can't really be atheists, because even if we wanted it, God would never abandon us here. We can't accept the existence of atheists." This was greeted with applause from the group of delegates who were earlier gripped by 'consternation'.
Next a young delegate stood up and offered his opinion, "Sir, We certainly do have atheists among our society; atheists who pray to the God of Money. You can find them among those in the business community. Why, they visit their places of worship almost everyday, places like the banks, the stockbrokers' and the casinos. A pious lot of atheists they are!"
So a fissure had begun to appear in the gathering over a ' nincompoop's' silly, innocuous observation.
Those delegates who were earlier gripped by 'amusement' were sympathetic towards the 'nincompoop 's' cause. They were mostly the hot-headed, Young Turks of the same age as the maverick. They began to chant, 'We want the atheists . We want the atheists!" The opposition replied by thumping the tables loudly. The love in the air had grown thin.
When the meeting appeared to look like a parliamentary session a few reporters were seen shaking their heads and making their quick exits.

Liberal Muslims have to liberate themselves, not Islam

Posted: 22 Nov 2013 02:26 PM PST

Now let us inspect what Liberal Islam really denotes. One of the key hallmarks of liberalism is that individuals be accorded with absolute freedom of choice. In trying to apply this to Islam, its proponents call for a total reinterpretation of what Islam is and how an individual should practice it now. 

FMT LETTER: From Umar Hakim Mohd Tajuddin, via e-mail

The term 'Liberal Islam' is so bemusing it is amusing.

The true sense of the word Islam is 'submission' and the entity to which the submission is directed to is Allah and Allah alone. In Arabic, although the word 'submission' etymologically shares the same root with the word 'peace', all the verses with the word 'Islam' in the Quran are all interpreted by the former.

True to its actual meaning, and some prefer to express it as to fully surrender, Islam frees those who embrace it from any form of obedience, voluntarily or by subjugation, towards another being. It is in the state of this absolute submission one is said to be in peace with his Creator.

Now let us inspect what Liberal Islam really denotes. One of the key hallmarks of liberalism is that individuals be accorded with absolute freedom of choice. In trying to apply this to Islam, its proponents call for a total reinterpretation of what Islam is and how an individual should practice it now. They call for a new exposition that breaks away from the system that is claimed to be too dogmatic, too literalistic.

Then what it should be based on now, one may ask. The many answers to that question actually can be summarised as this- whatever that is desired by individuals in general, in the particular period of time and irrespective of what Allah has outlined in Quran or through the conducts of The Messenger.

This is where the bemusement begins. While embracing Islam means Muslims must submit to Allah's will and in so doing be freed from shackles of obedience to other human beings, the liberals somehow determinedly promote exactly the opposite- Islam, and by extension Allah's ruling, must conform to what is currently desired by people. Putting it in another context, combining Islam and Liberal in a set of idea is a self-contradictory- an oxymoron. Rather unfortunately as we may see later, this is also where the amusement ends.

Closer to home, there have been many attempts of late to fuse Islam with Liberalism. Marina Mahathir, for instance, recently quoted a Quranic verse that, in general, calls for mutual respect and acceptance between people of various groups and tribes. She extended the context of this verse and implied that Allah recognizes LGBT. This is despite the many verses in the Quran that have already explicitly decided this matter. Whether this is an honest error or deliberated, her previous works and records on this issue speak for herself.

This penchant for selective, often abusive, use of Quranic verses can also be observed in their demands to abolish shariah law, permit murtad and revise Islamic family law among others. Some even go all the way to suggest that certain parts of the holy texts contravene the rights of human. This is just unfathomable as all Muslims regardless of their level of faith believe that Allah is All-Knowing and by that knows what is best for humans. For a mere mortal to claim that he is wiser than his Creator is just wrong on all levels.

In spite all this, one must not deduce that human rights has no position at all in Islam. Human rights in Islam are governed by Islamic morality and spirituality as outlined in the Quran and exemplified by The Messenger. One may find that in most cases, the rights in question are actually supported and protected in Islam such as the right to life, to education, to accumulate wealth, to a fair trial, to healthcare and so on. Only when its objective shifts to pursue absolute freedom in satisfying human desires and go against the principles of Islam are they rejected.

For example, several decades ago LGBT was regarded as a behavioral disorder and a violation even to Western norms and this is consistent with the view of Islam. Through the process of normalisation on the basis of human rights, LGBT has gained recognition over the years and now is accepted in the West as just a form of sexual orientations. Disturbingly, the same transformation cycle is now being initiated by the pedophiles and, by manipulating the same line of argument, they could expect an ending that is not dissimilar to what the LGBT has achieved.

There seems to be no stopping to this as the list of 'disorders' queuing to be normalised into 'orientations' is just endless. This is one example why Islam prohibits from submitting to human desires as it tends to erode morality. As most sensible human rights are already duly recognized in Islam, the next time someone laments about their position in Islam, chances are it serves as a disguise to another effort of fulfilling some twisted desires.




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