PETALING JAYA: A Pakatan Harapan leader has cautioned Muslims against adopting a siege mentality when it comes to religion as it could lead towards more extremist sentiments.
Speaking to FMT, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said that while the number of extremists among Muslims in Malaysia was still small, there were many Muslims in the country who were rigid in their understanding of Islam.
“Even if they are not extremists as such, they are unable to rationalise their beliefs and therefore see any effort that goes against that belief as an attack on the religion itself,” he said.
Khalid, who is Amanah communications director, cited the recent tabling of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2017, noting that some saw it as a challenge to the Islamic system.
Reports on the bill have shown that PAS is largely against it.
“If everything is looked upon as a challenge to the Islamic belief and an attempt to break down the Islamic establishment, then it will lead to extremism,” Khalid said.
He urged Muslims in the country to be more open when interpreting works of Islamic jurisprudence, adding that Muslims should work towards a greater understanding of Islamic teachings.
“We’ve got to approach Islam in a more open and flexible manner. We need to come to conclusions as to what are juristic opinions that can be changed under certain circumstances and what cannot be changed.
“What we’ve got to understand is that our role is to face today’s challenges and give an explanation so that reality and belief can be seen to be in consonance and not conflict.”
He said the fact that many Muslims in the country had failed to adopt this practice of being more open may have resulted in some Muslims leaving the religion in favour of atheism, as reported recently.
“We must try not to force down their throats specific understandings and specific solutions to today’s challenges and acknowledge that our role is to call people to Islam, including Muslims who are weak in their faith.
“To do this, we must be able to answer their doubts and give them a better understanding of Islam.
“You have to acknowledge that in society today, there are so many things which cause a person to question his beliefs. What we’ve got to do is handle that and try to answer whatever doubts arise rather than threaten people with action or going after them.”
Recently, Professor Zachary Abuza, who specialises in Southeast Asia politics and security at Washington’s National War College, was quoted by Channel NewsAsia as saying that Malaysia is no longer the moderate country it used to be.
Abuza’s comments followed remarks from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim that atheists in Malaysia should be “hunted down”.
On Aug 8, Shahidan was reported to have said that atheism goes against the Federal Constitution and urged religious authorities to help educate Muslims who had become atheists and to return them to their faith.