Some 1,000 Malays renounce Islam a month. Apostasy, long
under wraps, given a frank web airing - among Malays. Excerpts
Dec 27, 2007
when the Sharia court sentenced four Kelantan Malays to
20 months jail for apostasy, the rights of Muslims to quit
Islam has come under intense discussion over the Internet.
had renounced Islam (apostasy) in 1998 before a Commissioner
the federal constitution guarantees freedom of worship in
Malaysia, Islamic laws forbid a Muslim from renouncing his
to the Islamic legal system (sharia), the state must impose
mandatory punishments for certain specific crimes said to
be committed against God and his rights - and apostasy is
included in this list.
Kelantan sharia Court charged them with contempt in 2000
for refusing to attend "repentance" classes, which
were part of their original sentence.
writer said in malaysiakini on July 28, "Our federal
constitution under Article 11 guarantees and affords its
citizens the right to chose and practice the religion of
his or her choice.
the sharia court doesn't seem to think that this right of
choice extends to Malay Muslims."
makes it almost impossible for Malay Muslims to convert,
since they must first apply to the sharia court for permission
to change their religion.
Courts are reluctant to grant this permission, since ethnic
Malays are considered Muslims from birth. The same does
not apply to other ethnic groups, for example ethnic groups
in the states of Sarawak and Sabah, who are predominantly
Shad Salem Faruq, professor of law at the University of
Technology MARA, believes the government is most worried
about Christian proselytising.
is 60 percent Muslim, 20 percent Buddhist, 9 percent Christian
and 6 percent Hindu. However, "Hinduism and Buddhism
historically have had less of a tradition of proselytising
than Christianity," Faruq told the Asia Times.
A pastor who spoke anonymously to the Asia Times said he
believed there was an average of 100 Muslims per month converting
to Christianity throughout Malaysia.
Christian group estimated there were 30,000 Malay converts
in total. Official figures are much lower, but many Malays
convert secretly in order to avoid harassment.
Some converts report having gates rattled at midnight and
phones tapped by the police. Others report visits from security
police requesting them to stop all Christian activities
-- including social work.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently addressed
a meeting of the World Council of Churches, the first time
he had spoken to an all-Christian audience.
to a report in the Australian Financial Review on August
4, Badawi gave an emotional appeal for Christians and Muslims
to work together for the sake of peace and justice.
"In the eyes of many Muslims, events [since September
11, 2001] seem to lend credence to the view that the Christian
West is, once again, at war with the Muslim world,"
he told church representatives.
that there was "less trust and goodwill between Islam
and Christianity than there was a few years ago."
Since then the debate has intensified, mainly between fundamental
Muslims and liberal Malays.
1, Dr Syed Alwi Ahmad, with a doctorate
in philosophy, said it was the onus on Muslims to make Islam
today's world, scepticism, secular humanism and scientific
progressivism has made religion unattractive," he added.
There was no need to return to the 7th Century.
is not Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Elfie
(who had advocated zero tolerance for apostasy) can continue
to practice whatever religion he believes in.
his business. Just don't tell me how to practice mine. Stay
out of the personal, religious affairs of others. Modernity
is here to stay whether or not Elfie approves of it."
letter, Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi had opposed any state
review of the apostasy laws as tantamount to mocking Islam.
is without a doubt that apostasy is a very serious offence
in Islam, and there are no 'ifs' and 'buts' about it,"
he added. Elfie said these 'liberal' Muslims were supporting
a Western cause.
is not Malaysia. If Muslims in Singapore want to tolerate
apostasy at their whim and fancy, it is their business.
That they are so far apart from the practice of Islam speaks
for itself, " he said.
practicing Muslim in Malaysia, Elfie said "legitimising
apostasy would be detrimental to Islamic values as practiced
by Muslims in Malaysia."
drew a reply from a Singaporean, Shairul Fazleena
who said: "I am a Singaporean and a proud
Muslimah and I feel that Malaysian apostates are more angry
with the Malaysian government than they are with Islam."
She added "I feel that they think Islam is the problem
but only on the way Malaysia bases its policy with regards
to it. I have engaged some of these apostates on the website
and have been trying hard to show them that it is not Islam
that has wronged them but people using Islam as an excuse
to impose their will.
am not writing to you to champion the apostates' cause.
I am only doing this so that the Malaysian government may
consider reviewing their policy.
Singapore, people can renounce their religion as and when
they like it and there is no pressure to practice one belief.
is wrong to force one to hold on to a religion that one
doesn't believe in and this it contradicts the claim that
Islam is not about force."
she said Malaysian apostates are confusing themselves as
to who or what is actually oppressing them and in some way,
they have linked this to Islam.
I respect the Malaysian government (for) trying to execute
Islamic law as well as they can, I think punishing apostates
is not relevant any more.
all, Malaysia doesn't stone to death Muslims caught for
adultery, does it? If that can be overlooked, why not apostasy?"
Jaafar: "Many Malays have no choice but to
be Muslims because we were brought up as Muslims by our
parents immediately after we were born.
children, we had no free will and independent judgement.
Children do not read scriptures and compare different religions'
doctrines and practices.
as adults we have free will and independent judgement. Some
may arrive at understandings and conclusions that may differ
from our parents' and grandparents' who may have been illiterate
Tambourine: I am one of the very many Malay/Muslim
Malaysians who are not in favour of changing the status
quo of the land as far as the Constitution and rule of law
to keep religion a personal matter and let the Almighty
be the absolute judge.
liberal, tolerant (as was the holy Prophet), peace-loving
who reject (opposition) PAS because it is a party, which
imposes its will on us Muslims to comply with its distorted
view on Islam and an Islamic state.
letter has helped encourage similarly liberal Malays to
abandon any thoughts of supporting arrogant, intolerant
Islamists in this country who will curtail our already limited
freedom to practice and worship as we like.
Baba: Mohamad Elfie Nishaem Juferi betrayed his
extreme intolerance bordering on fanaticism towards Malay
Muslims whose only "crime" is to follow the dictates
of their hearts and leave their religion.
eyes of Elfie, these people stigmatised as apostates or
'murtad' are even worse than Muslims who are rapists, murderers
or people who commit incest.
what many people are not aware of is that Elfie has all
along been harassing and intimidating these apostates, many
of whom have fled overseas to escape the wrath of the Malaysian
religious authorities with whom he has apparently been liaising
do not want to be forced to blindly embrace Islam from birth
predominantly Muslim societies like Indonesia, apostates
are treated just like any other of their citizens with no
should be allowed to return here and live as proud and equal
citizens without having to convert back to Islam.
Syed Alwi Ahmad: Muslims generally take their religion
very seriously. "There is nothing wrong with that -
provided you put religion in its proper context."
some people go further and assert that religion is the 'absolute
truth'. In other words, religion need not be put in context
and that it is literal with no burden of proof.
practice (and want others to practice) - a 10th century
interpretation of Islam. I totally reject this.
Dr Chandra Muzzafar called on the government, through
Parliament and state legislatures, to resolve the issue
rather leaving it to the courts.
mean modifying the constitution to remove his special privileges
once a Malay has abandoned Islam.
can ask them to make a statutory declaration that they are
non-Malay because they have left Islam.
you can create a legal niche for the people of this group
as non-Malays as opposed to Malays. For (either of) these,
you may have to change the constitution."
153 of the Federal Constitution provides for the reservation
of certain proportions to Malays in the public services,
educational opportunities and business permits and licenses.
week, academics at a seminar on apostasy held in the International
Islamic University (IIU) urged the government to stem the
tide of apostasy before it grew to larger proportions.
law professor Abdul Aziz Bari in his paper said failure
to restrict the number of Malay Muslims leaving their religion
would open up a constitutional pandora's box.
Dec 28, 2004