Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let’s pray for understanding

YOU can download the entire Bible, whether in Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia, from the Internet. But to publish the Bible in the national language is a problem as it is restricted.

Churches that have tried to import the Bahasa Indonesia version have found it to be a hurdle too. The crux of the problem is the use of the word “Allah” in the Bible in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia versions. That has led to the current controversy over the confiscation of 15,000 Bibles in Bahasa Indonesia in recent months.

The Government and religious authorities have pointed out that it has been a long practice in Malaysia that the word “Allah” in reference to God is used only by Muslims.

For the rest of the column, please click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

PAS Youth and moral police squads

PAS Youth wants to set up moral police squads in every state. Its Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi (picture) has said they would even take off their turbans and robes for casual attire when they visit "sleazy joints" - presumably massage parlours, bars, pubs, clubs and other premises deemed immoral by PAS.

Their mission, according to Nasrudin, is to "save lost souls" and to do that, these morally righteous and super clean politicians were prepared to go to even red-light areas to reach out to youths living in a world of sin. That's a lot of sacrifices for these guys!

Even non-Muslims would be advised on the premise of morality, culture and Eastern values. Nasrudin said moral squads would be mobilised in every state to carry out anti-adultery and anti-vice campaigns. To do all these, these PAS activists would go under cover. They would try to dress like everyone else, for once. Most would still keep their beards, we presume.

Most of us would also wonder whether they have any authority and whether they would even be kicked out of these premises for being a nuisance to customers, especially pub crawlers, who just want to have their pint of beer and watch EPL matches. And if a woman is giving a decent and proper massage to a man, would they be advised to be moral?

The super-conservative PAS Youth leader called for the Beyonce concert to be banned, saying "it would erode the moral values" of the young people. We can be sure this news item would make it around the world. These guys must have not nothing else better to do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Can Islamic issues be discussed without the permission of the religious authorities?

Lawyer Jahaberdeen wrote in his blog: Dr Mohd Asri’s recent debacle with Jais has raised very pertinent questions for the Nation as a whole. Initially reports seem to suggest that his dramatic arrest (there were almost 30 police personnel and Jais officers) concerns him delivering a lecture on Islam without a “tauliah”.

For all practical purposes, a “tauliah” will denote permission from the relevant religious authorities to lecture on “matters Islamic”. This need for permission from religious authorities before someone can speak on Islamic matters raises serious issues.

Check out this interesting take on the issue in his blog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Asri's arrest - of hidden hands and politics

Former Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has plenty of admirers. But that comes with a price - he also has many enemies. Some see him as a threat to the positions they are holding in government-financed agencies like the Yayasan Dakwah Islam (Yadim). Then, some in PAS are nervous of moves by some party elders to woo him to join the party.

In short, there are ulamaks in Umno and PAS who are feeling the heat because of his popularity. The progressive and liberal set like Zainah Anwar and Marina Mahathir openly support him and today they were in court to lend their support. The more conventional Muslim groups, including the Association of Syarie Lawyers, want him stopped. They find his ideas too progressive for them. To them, it's radical, not progressive.

But Dr Asri can be sure he has few friends in JAIS or the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department. JAIS comes under the purview of Selangor PAS chief Dr Hassan Ali. Dr Asri has complained that he has been unable to get permits to preach in Selangor, a requirement for those outside the state. He has not named names but insinuated that there is a "hidden hand" behind the arrest.

He has also openly accused JAIS of being biased but the latter has rejected the accusation. MB Khalid Ibrahim has issued a middle-of-the-road statement, without wanting to commit himself to any stand except to acknowledge that JAIS has the power.

Despite being wooed by Umno and PAS, Dr Asri is said to have been advised by Dr Mahathir Mohamad to stay neutral. He has accompanied Dr Mahathir on trips overseas and is said to have sought the advice of the former premier regularly. Read Joceline Tan's analysis on Asri.