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wFriday, August 11, 2006

Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical (Second Season) - 10

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Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical (Second Season) - 11

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Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical (Second Season) - 12

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This is an article that I found when I read through Lucia Lai's website. Eloquently written by Puteri Shehnaz Majid. I'm posting her thoughts here because unlike some Muslims in this country, I'm very secure of my belief system.

Article 11 is relevant to Muslims too
by Puteri Shehnaz Majid (Advocate & Solicitor)

(Contributed to the Malaysian Bar website on Friday, 26 May 2006, 14: 40)

Quite apart from BADAI’s freedom to express their beliefs (which they are certainly entitled to do), I am curious as to what it is exactly they are afraid of? For whom do they purport to speak? For all Muslims? That cannot be.

As a Muslim, I am embarrassed by their efforts, which in my opinion are based on irrational fear, insecurity, and a serious lack of understanding of what the Article 11 forum is seeking to achieve. I am not opposed to the Inter-Faith Commission or indeed any other (official or otherwise) form of inter-faith discussion. I am secure enough about my religion (and the way I practise it) to discuss it openly, defend my views, change them if necessary, and more importantly, learn and progress from the open sharing of information and ideas. If you are a Muslim who chooses not to engage in such discourse, then by all means, don’t. But please, the “sensitive” label is really starting to tug at my patience.

Let us not forget that the Article 11 forum aims to educate Malaysian citizens on their rights under the Constitution. That is all. It is clear that some of us have failed to realise that the Article 11 Forum is not in any way encouraging apostasy; it is simply saying “Look, know your rights. You should have the right to convert in or out of any religion if you so choose, because that basic right has been guaranteed to you under your Constitution. That right cannot be derogated, and it belongs to you the moment you draw your first breath as a citizen of this world and of this country. ”

The Holy Qur’an says “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion” (109: 6). Exactly. This does not merely capture the Muslim v Non-Muslim scenario, but more importantly in our context, the Muslim v Muslim scenario. It irks me more when a fellow Muslim, or my leaders for that matter, self-righteously impose their notional precepts and accordingly restrict me, than if a non-Muslim were to do the same. This is because a Muslim who does that is effectively insisting that “my understanding of Islam is better than yours and should therefore be upheld over yours”.

At the end of the day, it just seems to me that BADAI, and other like-minded institutions (the government included), are insecure and fearful. It is difficult for me to accept any other conclusion given the circumstances. The Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights. Every citizen in this country should have the option to exercise those rights, if they wish. Whether or not they do, does not affect the rights of those who oppose the exercise of those rights.

They (and I am using this term loosely) banned The Passion of The Christ for Muslims - why? Is it because after I come out of the cinema, I am going to run to the next church I find, confess my sins and convert to Christianity? Funnily enough, no one has addressed the call by some groups in our country to ban The Da Vinci Code - why this hypocrisy and double standard? Is it because they want Christians to watch the movie in hope that they will walk out of the cinema disillusioned and convert to Islam?

They banned Babe - why? Is it because after I come out of the cinema, I’m going to find the next Chinese restaurant and stuff my face with pork, and afterwards rush for the shopping mall and purchase pig-skinned lining shoes?

They won’t allow anyone who wants to leave Islam to do so, or even discuss the issue - why? Is it because if they do, the entire Muslim population of this country will want to convert out? I would even go so far as to say: so what? If I am allowed to exercise the freedom entrenched in Article 11, and subsequently decide to convert out of Islam, what is it to BADAI or anyone else? If 10 million Muslims subsequently choose to exercise that right and convert out of Islam, what it is to BADAI or anyone else? Will BADAI carry the weight of my sins and that of the other 10 million on their shoulders as they march up to God on Judgment Day? I would have far greater respect for my country (leaders and citizens included) if they left me to choose my own path vis-à-vis my religion. I do not need my leaders or any other self-righteous groups to decide that for me.

“Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion. ” So, thank you for your concern, but if I am wrong about mine, then God (and God alone) shall judge me in the life hereafter. I assure you that no member of BADAI will be sitting on my judging committee and neither will I sit on any of theirs. So in this lifetime, as a citizen of this country, please allow me the right to exercise any and all freedoms guaranteed to me under the Constitution. That is all I ask. Absolutely nothing more and nothing less than what has already been guaranteed to me by virtue of being a citizen of this dear country.

posted by Nizam Zakaria at 10:00 AM |