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Lessons From Malaysia

Lessons From Malaysia

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06/15/2009

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“Hari Bol, Allah Bol, Jehovah Bol, Buddha Tao Bol….. The end of spirituality is bhakti or lovingdevotion…. not rigid doctrines and dogmas.”
 — Anand Krishna
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Anand Krishnas Writings » Blog Archive » Is it truly Asia or sharia? L...http://www.aumkar.org/eng/?p=481 of 716/06/2009 8:32
 
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Is it truly Asia or sharia? Lessons from neighboring Malaysia
Several months back I wrote that Malaysia could no longer justify its use of the slogan “Truly Asia”.This view is now confirmed by the latest events there.Forget representing Asia, the Malaysian government today is unable even to represent its diverse societyin its entirety. The uprising of the Tamil minority is but the tip of the iceberg. Underneath awaits a hugechunk of crystallized dissatisfaction and disappointment, which could result in the disintegration of Malaysian society.Consider the story of Revathi Masoosai, an ethnic Indian, who is being forced to live as a Muslim by theIslamic religious department in southern Malacca state, after it was discovered that although she was born to Muslim parents, she had chosen to live as a Hindu.In Malaysia, Islamic law forbids people born to Muslim families to change their religion, hence not onlywas Revathi detained by the Islamic religious department and sent for “religious counseling in arehabilitation center” (which translates to being forced to reconvert to Islam by the state authorities),her 15-month-old daughter too was taken away from her husband and handed over to Revathi’s Muslimmother to be raised as a Muslim.The constitution of Malaysia qualifies Muslims only as “Malay” (or 
bumiputera
= son of the land). Non-Muslims have to forfeit their ethnicity. Indigenous people (the true sons of the land) who have
Anand Krishnas Writings » Blog Archive » Is it truly Asia or sharia? L...http://www.aumkar.org/eng/?p=482 of 716/06/2009 8:32
 
lived in the country before Islam was introduced are declared non-indigenous. So, 40 percent of Malaysia’s non-Muslim population are regarded as second class citizens by the ruling UMNO party, whouphold a policy called Ketuanan Melayu, which claims Malays (who are automatically classed asMuslims on their identity cards) are the original inhabitants of Malaysia, and deserving of special privileges.Another very interesting story is that of Lina Joy, who is regarded as Malaysia’s most famous apostate. Iunderstand she is now seeking asylum abroad.Lina Joy, who became a Christian in 1986, has for 15 years tried without success to have her status as aMuslim removed from her identity card. She took her case to the Supreme Court, but her appeal failed.The court ruled, according to Islamic law: Once a Muslim, always a Muslim. She cannot legally marryher Christian fiance while she is classed as a Muslim. And although a practicing Christian, all her children from any marriage she enters into in Malaysia will be considered Muslim, they will beforbidden from attending a Christian education and when she dies, she will be buried a Muslim. She andher lawyer have received death threats.The prime minister of Malaysia may very well understand that the gap between the peoples of Malaysiais ever widening. He may even voice his understanding. But he can not alter the rulings of what isunderstood as Islamic law. Malaysia has since its very conception, declared itself an Islamic State. So itmust abide by its national commitment.Actually, there is nothing wrong with sharia, which is often misinterpreted as Islamic “law” in the sameway we normally interpret law. I may be wrong, but in my opinion what is called Islamic law is but asystem supposedly based on sharia as advocated by prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Now, thissupposition is totally at the mercy of the scholars who interpret sharia.Sharia is a very dynamic way of life. It is based on the beatitudes and messages of the Koran, the holyand blessed scripture, and the equally blessed deeds of the prophet of Allah. It is the essence of allreligions, the religiousness of religion. It represents all that is good in human beings, humanity andhumanness.This path is very, very broad — based on the principles of oneness of God, submission to the will of God, charity, self-control and respect for that which is holy. All these are then applied in daily life. Theapplication is supposed to be simple as advocated by the prophet himself. Religion is supposed tofacilitate human beings in achieving their goals in a manner which is humane. It is not to complicate our lives.This kind of understanding of sharia makes Islam truly universal, and a blessing for the entire universe,not just our world.Alas, in the name of sharia, scholars often interpret the scriptures to suit their fancies and relate it tolaw. Then they enforce such laws for one and all — at times with the consent of the state, at other timeswithout such consent.Once again, I must repeat this understanding of mine could be wrong. I am not a scholar. But I canclearly see that without such a broad understanding, sharia has been used and misused in such a way inMalaysia that the entire society is currently on the brink of disintegration.Our people here, not only the so-called liberals and moderates such as Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid,
Anand Krishnas Writings » Blog Archive » Is it truly Asia or sharia? L...http://www.aumkar.org/eng/?p=483 of 716/06/2009 8:32

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