Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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!

Yours sincerely,

Kassim Ahmad,
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.


Haris Ibrahim


Questioning The Traditions said...


Tuan Kassim,

Would you be so kind to provide an e-mail address so that your readers can communicate with you in a more private area.

Terima Kasih

Kassim Ahmad said...

My e-mail address is

Anonymous said...

Peace to you,

Tuan Kassim
Hope you are in good Health. This is my first time commenting on your page and I have been meaning to communicate with you. As an admirer of your work, I share the same problem as brother/sister "Questioning the Traditions". I wish that there is a more private means where readers can communicate with you. I would also like to ask the status of forum iqra' and how do I be a part of the forum if it is still functioning.

dzhfr Hnf

Kassim Ahmad said...

You can use this e-mail address to communicte with me. Also let me have your address so that I can send the booklet "Dilema Umat Islam: Antara Hadis dan Quran" to you.

Anonymous said...

my address is azfarazizi@gmail.com (hope you remove the address if you decide to publish this comment). I have sent to you an e-mail before to an e-mail address displayed on some of your postings, just for the sake of greeting.

Regarding another matter, I am a student studying Islamic Finance and I want to know whether you deem current Conventional banking activities as unlawful because of the presence of interest (which we understand as riba'), and what are your thoughts on "Islamic Banking"? I have read Syed Akbar Ali's opinion regarding this matter. In summary, he regards interest on a loan does not amount to riba', as he concludes that riba' means profiteering, not interest. Personally, I see both conventional and the current "Islamic Banking" method as unjust and breaches the commandment by Allah. I sum it up to; in conventional banking, the corrupting of people's wealth (through fractional reserve system which imitates injecting fraudulent money into the economy) and interest (riba'). Islamic finance for trying to replicate almost exactly the operations, products, outcome and bottom-line targets of conventional banking and putting the label "Islam", making it a sacrilege to the name and misguiding people. I understand that you have studied the philosophy of capitalism and socialism therefore I think you can shed some light on this matter.

Also, I am interested in getting all the books you have published. I went to Kinokuniya the other day to find your works but they didn't carry any. I highly doubt your books are sold by Pustaka Mukmin on Jalan TAR. If you would so kindly inform me where I can get them in KL or surrounding areas, I would appreciate it a lot.

Thank you for sending me the book. I'm sorry to have disturbed you and I pray that you are in good health.

Salam be upon you,

dzhfr Hnf

If it is possible, I hope to remain anonymous on your page.

Kassim Ahmad said...

Dear Azfar Aziz,

1. I agree with you on the question of Islamic banking and finance. A little cost added to borrowed funds (1%-2%) in order to pay for administration is NOT usury. Usury is profiteering out of peoples' need to burrow.
2. The sin of capitalism is that of unregulated so-called free market. LaRouche calls it FLEE market! In the name of freedom, it tramples on that very freedom!
3. I think you can get most of my works in big libraries. Also on my website.

Mr Belimbing said...


Sdr boleh memuat turun 2 buah buku Pak Kassim versi maya; http://www.box.net/shared/lmh0tigow4

Kassim Ahmad said...

Sila ambil sendiri dari senarai.

Anonymous said...


Terima kasih saudara kerana sudi berkongsi rujukan-rujukan tersebut.

Keraguan saya terhadap Pustaka Mukmin adalah salah. Saya sebenarnya berjaya memperoleh biografi Tuan Kassim daripada mereka. Jadi saya ingin meminta maaf kalau saya menjejaskan reputasi mereka secara tidak sengaja. Dialog tuan kepada ibu sangat indah! terutama sekali dua ayat terakhirnya (kian lama kita mati dalam setia kali ini kita hidup dalam durhaka).

Saya difahamkan bahawa hari kelahiran Tuan Kassim jatuh pada 9 September. Dengan kesempatan ini saya ingin mengucapkan selamat hari lahir dan selamat hari raya.

Azfar Azizi

Kassim Ahmad said...

1. Benar harijadi saya 9/9/1933. Berbanyak terima kasih kerana ucapan itu. Adat saya tidak meraikan harijadi. Tidak salah kalau kita meraikan harijadi, saya fikir.
2. Saya bukan anti-Hadis. Saya kritikal, dan meminta masyarakat kita menilaikannya semula.

Ali said...

Salamon alaikom,

I'm very glad that I have found your website. I looked around to find your email address but couldn't find it. My email is wakeupiran@gmail.com . So I'd be glad to share with you something important relevant and important to Islamic studies which I believe you may be interested in!

And also a small question regarding the translation of your 'Hadith' book in English, in page 66 of the online pdf file we read:

"He is the One Who revealed to you this scripture. Of its verses, some are decisive, constituting the
essence of the scripture; others are allegorical. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts dwell on
the allegorical verses, to create confusion and misrepresentation. No one knows its interpretation
except God and those well-grounded in knowledge...

The verse tells us that the Quran has two types of verse: those whose meanings are clear and decisive, forming the bases of Quranic teachings, called muhkamat, and those with allegorical meanings, called mutashabihat, whose interpretation should not be attempted by the people but should rather be left to the experts in the field..."

I wanted to ask if the English translation is exactly what you had intended. Since in Quran we have a "Vaghf" after the word "Allah". So the correct translation seems to be the following not one that has been mentioned in the file:

"He is the One Who revealed to you this scripture. Of its verses, some are decisive, constituting the
essence of the scripture; others are allegorical. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts dwell on
the allegorical verses, to create confusion and misrepresentation. No one knows its interpretation
except God [,] and those well-grounded in knowledge say ..."

It has been argued that without vaghf, it will lead to blasphemous (shirk) connotations, equalizing Allah and its servants in knowing.

Looking forward your to email address
Warm Regards,

Kassim Ahmad said...

Dear Ali,

Peace to you.
1. The verse (3:7) has been interpreted in two ways: (i)... except God. , and (ii) ... except God and those deeply versed in knowledge. I prefer the second. To suggest that the second interpretation amounts to shirk is far-fetched.
2. The first interpretation is unreasonable and illogical. Why should God communicate something that cannot be understood to human beings?
3. For some reason, my computer will not print my e-mail address ( here.

Ali said...

Salamon Alaikom,

FYI, the word 'تاویل' is the equivalent of 'final referent' and its meaning is not related to obscurity or clarity of communication. For example, when Allah saith: "القارعه" (in Surah 101) he asserts on the inability of human being (prophet as well) in grasping the "whatness" of "القارعه". Allah then reasserts in the third verse of Surah 101, by saying "what will make you comprehend what IT IS?!". Therefore, even though Allah in the next verses continues to explain/detail and picture 'القارعه' but the phenomenon will remain unexperienced for ALL human beings until the time arrives. That unexperienced knowledge of "القارعه" (which is exclusive to Allah) is called its 'تاویل' and the word "القارعه" is called 'متشابه'. So I repeat myself again by another example, saying that 'تاویل' of death is unknown to each one of us (prophet as well) until we die and experience the death for the first time. No one knows about it EXCEPT ALLAH.

Now if you listen to the reading of the late Abdulbaset Abdulsamad- famous Egyptian Talawat of Quran- you may notice how he pauses immediately after the world ALLAH in the verse under discussion. Because by not doing so, he will equalize 'راسخون فی العلم' or some human beings in possessing knowledge of something that is impossible to posses, with Allah (ST) .

I provide the link for you to listen to him in that specific verse. Press play, on the top of the page please and wait for the second verse to upload:
http://www.parsquran.com/data/showall.php?sura=3&ayat=7&user=far&lang=eng# (copy paste to your browser pls)

My conclusion is that the second interpretation does bear blasphemous connotations and accepting so would be to the contrary of the discourse of which you have followed in your book Hadith.

I hope this makes it clear why I got surprised by seeing that interpretation in your book on Hadith, since defenders of Hadith actually use that 'pause' to justify and equalize 'راسخون فی العلم' with Allah in knowing, thus justifying SAHABAH as those who possessed knowledge on impossibles!

Allah Knows best,

Kassim Ahmad said...

Dear Br. Ali,

Peace on you.
Let us agree to disagree on this matter. Aftar all, many translations of the Quran translate quite a few verses of the Quran differently. These are their own understandings of the Book.
I have suggested a scientific methodology that I added as Addendum in my book "Hadith - A Re-evaluation." I would welcome your comments on it.