The founder of Sisters In Islam (SIS) has blamed Putrajaya for the "religious deviant" fatwa brought against it, saying religious authorities have been given a free hand in defining what is Islam and a good Muslim.
Zainah Anwar said the decree is yet another example of a descent into a puritanical, extremist, intolerant brand of Islam in Malaysia.
"For too long this government has given almost a carte blanche to the religious authorities and the belligerent supremacists to take the lead and define what Islam is and is not in Malaysia and who are the good Muslims and bad Muslims," she wrote in her column in Sunday Star today.
“Malaysia’s moderate Islam is only touted for Western consumption. A discordant tune is played on the home front."
In her hard-hitting column, Zainah pointed out the irony that when Malaysians boast to foreigners about the country’s brand of moderate Islam, it is the NGO that is regarded internationally as a measure of moderation.
Citing an example, Zainah said a few years ago, the Barisan Nasional-led government brought in visitors comprising western journalists, academics, political aides and congressional staffers to promote better understanding of Malaysia and repair its dented image in the West.
This Jekyll and Hyde charade the government plays for different audiences in different locations and at different times will eventually fall apart. For there is a runaway train heading towards a crash. – Zainah Anwar
The visitors went to SIS where the organisation was used as evidence that the Malaysian government was open and democratic and practised moderate Islam.
"But this Jekyll and Hyde charade the government plays for different audiences in different locations and at different times will eventually fall apart. For there is a runaway train heading towards a crash," she wrote.
"But Malaysians know better. Just look at the chatter on social media and you find increasing numbers of Muslims speaking out, sick and tired of being told yet again of more categories of Muslims and practices to be denounced, hated and declared deviant.
"How many more Muslims must be hated to satiate the hunger of the self-appointed puritanical representatives of the faith to construct enemies in order to justify their existence and purpose in life?"
A fatwa gazetted in Selangor in July had declared that SIS and any other similar organisations that promote religious liberalism and plurality as being deviant to the teachings of Islam.
In addition, any publication that promoted liberal and pluralistic religious thinking would be declared unlawful and confiscated.
The decree also ordered the Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) to block any website that went against Islamic teachings.
SIS stumbled across the fatwa on October 20 on Jakim’s website and on Friday filed a judical review against the decree.
It named the Selangor Fatwa Committee, Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and the state government as respondents.
Zainah said the actions of the religious authorities, whom many denounced as a reaction of their fear of further loss of power and control over Muslims, are turning many Muslims away.
"I wish those religious authority realise that life is so much easier and work will be so much more satisfying if they spend their time promoting the beauty, love, kindness, and compassion of Islam to draw Muslims closer to the faith.
“Instead, they are turning many Muslims against this despotic institutionalisation of their faith, and into rejecting the Islam as represented by state authority.
“It is not rocket science to figure out that love and compassion can help to restore the religious legitimacy our ulama seek, much faster than condemnation and punishment," she added.
Source & Photo: The Malaysian Insider | http://bit.ly/1rPyhg3