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Jakim must stop preaching overzealous bigotry

March 4, 2017

If Jakim claims its brand of Islam promotes tolerance, it should engage in rational discourse and welcome those championing gender equality and women's rights.



By Syerleena Abdul Rashid

Last Friday, a Federal Territories mosque went overboard once again during the Friday sermon.

The content of the sermon, reported by Malaysiakini, highlighted Jakim’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) questionable methods that seemingly favour religious bigotry and the inability to prioritise pressing issues or even put forth universal values that are in line with Islamic beliefs.

Jakim has a history of singling out so-called “enemies of Islam” and demonising those who disagree with them. Once again, choosing not to address abuses of power or kleptocracy, Jakim had chosen to demonise “loud” women instead.

According to Jakim, championing gender equality and women’s rights are viewed as unnecessary.

According to the government institution, opinionated women are enemies of Islam because raising (what Jakim perceives as) sensitive issues such as encouraging gender equality and questioning the “hukum” of wearing the hijab, will tarnish Islam.

The text also claim that these views and opinions are heavily influenced by Western anti-Islam propaganda. Never mind if some of these women have displayed an impressive knowledge of Islam – history as well as values mentioned in both the Quran and Hadith – harsh interpretations of Jakim’s brand of Islam simply does not favour rational discourse.

But what needs to be addressed is how government-sanctioned platforms that could have been used to preach tolerance, love and respect are instead being used to spread evil gospels that preach hatred and overzealous bigotry.

Who can forget; in 2014, Jakim made the preposterous claim that “Muslims in Malaysia will always be under siege” and were tricked by the Jews and the Christians, who were often identified using the name “Nasrani” (an Arabic form of the word “Nazarene” which originally referred to a sect of Christianity, but has become a general term for Christians).

These hate-filled sermons often caution that there are some Muslims (the liberals, the pluralists and the secularists) who are working together with the Christians, the communists and the Jews to destroy the walls that have stood to protect our sovereignty. Spreading these lies signalled the beginnings of Jakim’s pattern of bigotry that present day Malaysians have become familiar with.

I must reiterate that Muslims in Malaysia are not under siege – never have been and never will be, because of what is already enshrined in our Federal Constitution.

For years, Jakim had magnificently coined the term “enemies of Islam” which has become an “umbrella bogeyman” used to refer to so-called deviants and apostates of Islam. This act of name calling and pitting us against one another is downright evil and destructive.

If Jakim truly claims that its brand of Islam is one that promotes tolerance and should be seen as a blessing to all (rahmatan lil ‘alamin), it should engage in rational discourse and more so, welcome these brave women for championing these issues.

Why not take additional steps to address these issues and formulate solutions? Wouldn’t taking such an approach be more advantageous to a multicultural society like ours?

The cure for ignorance is to question and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) moulded a society that highly regarded equality, respect and accepted diversity.

“A true believer does not taunt or curse or abuse or talk indecently” (Riwayat At-Tarmidhi) and this is something that every Malaysian Muslim, especially Jakim, should live by.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid is DAP Wanita National Assistant Publicity Secretary.

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