More Muslims practising stricter Islam


PETALING JAYA: Islamic Renaissance Front Director Farouk Musa has urged the government to open doors for dialogue between Muslim conservatives, moderates and a third group he called “revisionists”.

“If there is no dialogue between these groups, we might eventually fall into practising the stricter version of Islam in politics and economics,” Farouk said in an interview with FMT.

He defines conservative Muslims as those who believe their life is predetermined and are therefore not keen to participate in economic competition. The revisionists, he said, were those wanting to follow an unreasonably strict Islamic code.

Farouk’s organisation identifies itself as a moderate group.

He said the ideological gap between Muslims in Malaysia was becoming more and more noticeable since the turn of the millennium, with more people taking the revisionist path.

“At the moment, the revisionists are winning the battle,” he said. “They have seeped into the administration and have a very strict interpretation of the role of Islam in politics and the economy.

“They are interested in looking at the models rather than the principles of Islam. For example, they are all out to implement the Madinah model, which looks into the way of life practised by the prophet. They try to copy the way he ate, the way he dressed and the way he wore his beard. But they do not adhere to the principles he established in the promotion of peace, unity and equality.”

He said Malaysians were more united in the 70s, 80s and 90s because they had a more pluralistic attitude. “Now some Muslims say it is a sin to wish Christians ‘Merry Christmas’. That used to be unheard of. But that is the impact of the revisionists. We will hear more of such things.”

According to Farouk, the revisionists are the products of the Middle Eastern education system. He noted that Malaysia had been sending more and more students for further studies to the region since the 1980s.

He advocates the “freedom to sin”, saying Muslims should be exposed to both the good and bad in life. He said airlines, for instance, should be allowed to serve alcohol, leaving it to the individual to accept or decline a drink.

He also said anyone should be able to patronise pubs and clubs that serve alcohol without having the fear of being caught by religious officers. “Now many Muslims don’t go to these places for fear of being caught by the authorities rather than because it is against Islam. That is hypocritical.”

He urged Muslims to remember that God gives human beings the power of reasoning to enable them to decide on the kind of life that is best for them.

He described moderate Muslims as those wanting to excel in life, to be exposed to all sides of life, and to be able to make their own decisions on religion.

“In the end, it is between an individual and God without any enforcement officers involved,” he said.

He claimed that the conservatives had “remained poor and backward in life” precisely because they believed that their life was ruled by fate.

Farouk urged Muslims who disagree with the conservatives and revisionists to speak up so that Malaysia would not become “another Arab state” through the practice of the version of Islam commonly associated with Middle Eastern states.