Silly Arguments over "Secular" Versus "Religious"
In an “open” letter to Prime Minister Najib posted in Malaysiakini.com (July 20, 2007) lawyer Haris Ibrahim chastised the Prime Minister over his declaration that Malaysia is an “Islamic state.”
This is my comment on Haris’s letter. His original communication follows. Kassim Ahmad.
Dear En. Haris Ibrahim:
Peace to you!
Here is my respond to your “Open Letter” to Prime Minister Najib. I will be brief because I have not the time to go into details for now.
My first question is: Why this quarrel between what is secular and what is religious or Islamic? In principle, the values of this world and the hereafter should not be set at odds. They are not contradictory but complementary. (Quran, 2: 201). Although in Verse 67, Surah 8, God recommends attention to the higher values of the hereafter over the values of this lower world.
In this overall context one needs to distinguish clearly what is meant by this world and the hereafter. Clearly this world here refers to materialism per se, while the hereafter refers to the higher world of morality. The two (secularism and true religiosity) need not be contradictory. We need both material wealth and a high state of morality.
Scholars and political philosophers need to study this vexed question in the light of the teachings of true Islam (as opposed to politicized Islam). Especially, they should study Prophet Muhammad’s seminal constitutional-political document, the “Medina Charter.”
Some politicians in our country want to set up a theocratic state in Malaysia, like Iran. This is dangerous because theocracy manipulates the name of God to rationalize and legitimize their theological-political-intellectual dictatorship.
Lastly, as an afterthought, it is highly unfair of you, or for anybody for that matter, to threaten Prime Minister Najib with the terrible curse of God if he does not bring “proof.” This is not a light matter, and no one should trifle with it! The context of this fearful verse refers to the establishment of an extremely important matter of truth and falsehood: the establishment of not an easily seen truth, as the refutation of the Doctrine of the Trinity.
May God bless Malaysia and the good people of Malaysia!
1504, Jalan Kulim Height 3,
Kulim Golf & Country Resort.
Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia.
Tel. 604- 4031871/012-4291152.
Haris Ibrahim’s Open Letter.
Open Letter to PM Najib on Islamic State: Bring Forth YOUR Proof?
By Haris Ibrahim
Dear [Prime Minister] Najib:
A Malaysiakini report entitled “This is an Islamic state: Najib” reports that YOU made the following statements:
“Malaysia is an Islamic state and not a secular one. Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state. We have NEVER been secular ….”
Like you, I too believe in Islam. And like me, I am sure that YOU know full well that God commands the truth and nothing but the truth. I am therefore first obliged to ask IF YOU DID INDEED make these claims?
If so, let me state categorically that YOUR claims are UNTRUE.
THIS IS THE TRUTH as I discern from the materials that abound.
YOUR late father, according to history, was part of the 1956 delegation that went to London to secure our independence. Truly, this nation is indebted to YOUR late father, the late Tunku and every freedom fighter of the era for securing independence for our nation. And a SECULAR Federal Constitution.
Have YOU not read the Reid Commission report, that document that bears testimony to the selfless work of our leaders of days gone by?
Tun Salleh Abas (former Lord President of the Supreme Court) did, in extenso, in the case of Che Omar Che Soh. I have referred to this in an earlier post entitled “Historical and Constitutional Position of Islam Judicially Examined.”
Let me reproduce for YOU here the relevant excerpt from Tun Salleh's judgment. “…[W]e have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, SECULAR law, where morality NOT accepted by the law is NOT enjoying the status of LAW.
Perhaps that argument should be addressed at other forums or at seminars and, perhaps, to politicians and Parliament. Until the law and the system is changed, we have NO choice but to proceed as we are doing TODAY.”
Do YOU know what Tunku’s view was on this secular / Islamic state issue?
See what Tunku said on the occasion of his 80th birthday as reported by the Star in February, 1983. Tunku said: “The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia MUST continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion.”
Tunku was NOT alone.
This is what the Star reported:
“Former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn has supported Tunku Abdul Rahman’s view that Malaysia should NOT be turned into an Islamic state …. ‘The nation can still be functional as a SECULAR state with Islam as the official religion,’ he said.”
What were YOU thinking of when YOU made what appear to me to be unfounded claims?
Aside from being untrue, they also amount to a slur on Tunku and Tun Hussein.
These two great statesmen got it wrong?
As one who, like you, professes a belief in Islam, I must ask that you DESIST in these UNFOUNDED contentions.
As you also well know, God in the Holy Qur’an commands that when there is a dispute on an issue, it is proper to call in the evidence of the respective parties.
You say Islamic state. I say secular. I have produced my proof.
“Have you any knowledge with you? If so, bring it forth.” Surah 6 verse 148 of the Holy Qur’an.
Please note that I have refrained from invoking the last part of the verse above. At this juncture, I shall assume you were merely mistaken.
I am obliged to say here that IF YOU insist on continuing to make these assertions without bringing forth your proof, I shall invoke the curse of God as commanded in Surah 3 verse 61 of the Holy Qur’an.