Scholar: Nothing wrong in saying ‘kafir harbi’

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NILAI: Use of the term “kafir harbi”, which caused a political storm recently, has been defended as relevant for use by anyone as long as its usage did not go against the teachings of the Quran.

“When we say ‘kafir harbi’, it doesn’t mean that they should be punished to death,” said Zamihan Mat Zin, a religious official formerly with the Home Ministry and now with the Islamic development department Jakim.

Speaking at a public forum last night, he said: “The term kafir harbi, then, now and forever, is relevant, based on the texts of the Quran.”

Zamihan, who is president of the Malaysian Sunni Organisation (Aswaja), said the punishment of ‘kafir harbi’ would depend on the level of their struggle against Allah and his messenger. “They will be killed if they kill,” he said.

The forum was organised by Ikram, a Muslim NGO, at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, with the theme “Is the term kafir harbi still relevant?”

It featured scholar Fathul Bari Mat Jahya, Amanah vice-president Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus, senior fellow of the Institute of Islamic Strategic Studies Malaysia, Engku Ahmad Fadzil Engku Ali, and Universiti Islam Antarabangsa lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik.

The term was the centre of protests by DAP leaders and members after a news report quoted the Mufti of Pahang, Dr Abdul Rahman Osman, as saying that the DAP’s philosophy placed it in the category of “kafir harbi”.

He had never justified the killing of a DAP leader, said Zamihan.

“I’m surprised that ustaz from Umno, PAS and PKR were quick to comment when the mufti came out with a statement. We should have actually clarified the matter with the mufti first.

“I personally met the Pahang Mufti. He didn’t talk about spilling blood. He said that (those who oppose Islamic laws), should be opposed in terms of thoughts, actions and deeds concerning RUU 355”, referring to a private member’s bill tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to broaden the powers of shariah courts in Kelantan.

Fathul Bari defended the Pahang mufti’s remarks and said he himself had obtained an explanation on what was meant by Abdul Rahman, which was, to fight the “ideology against Islam” of the DAP.

“Anyone, be it politicians, academics, religious scholars, must use simple language when communicating with the public. This is so that slander can be avoided,” he said.

“In fact, sometimes, panellists label other Muslims as ‘harbi’, therein lies the problem. It is one thing to label the non-Muslims as ‘harbi’, now they are labelling Muslims as well. We need to be careful with such matters and be united when we want to say something.”

The Islamic Professional Forum has previously said that it was not wise to use the term “kafir harbi” in the present political context.

“Many scholars in Islam, such as Syaikh Muhammad Abu Zahrah, Syaikh Abdullah Bayyah, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Syeikh Wahbah al-Zuhayli, Dr Fahmi Huwaidi and Dr Muhammad Imarah Syaikh opined that the term kafir harbi and kafir dhimmi is no longer relevant in today’s socio-political framework,” the forum had said in a statement.

Maszlee placed the responsibility on the government to clear the air about the ‘kafir harbi’ issue.

“Infidel or not, that’s the right of the government. Because the government must decide on it, as it involves blood and human lives. If it is left to the public to decide, there will be chaos,” he said.

“But most importantly, we must agree on a few things which is that a non-Muslim residing in an Islamic country is a citizen, and not kafir harbi.

“Our duty is to educate them, not call them ‘barua’,” he added.

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