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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should non-Muslims in Malaysia have a say regarding Malaysia becoming an Islamic state?

This post is a response to Friday Special: Rights of non-Muslim in an Islamic state which in turn was a post published in response to my comment in the above blog which was reproduced verbatim in that post. First, I would like to thank Malay Women in Malaysia for being willing to engage in discussions about Islam with a non-Muslim unlike many others who would suppress discussions as they say non-Muslim do not know Islam and therefore have no right to talk about Islam. I have followed the links given in that post and now I think I am ready to respond.

It was educational. At least now in addition to knowing the people of the book are referred to as dhimmis in an Islamic state, I now know the rest are called thimmies (also referred to as Ahl Zimmi?) and the the tax paid by non-Muslims is called jizyah. If the site that discussed this issue is accurate, my misconception that non-Muslim cannot serve in the military is wrong for a non-Muslim may opt to serve in the military and is then not obligated to pay jizyah (but see my comment below regarding services in the military). However, I cannot find any reference to what happen in that case. Would that non-Muslim be obliged to pay zakat or escape paying any tax at all?

The second link perhaps answered this question. In a reply to a question about Muslim paying the taxes in the United Kingdom, the response was it is permissible for a government to impose taxes to pay for the public sectors and common welfare. So I would suppose in an Islamic state, in addition to jizyah and zakat, there could also be taxes like Income Tax, sales tax, service tax, etc.

The third link addressed the rights of non-Muslims in an Islamic state: "Muslims and Zimmis have the same rights and are subject to the same obligations in the Muslim country, but there are exceptions. Zimmi is not allowed to be the president of the Muslim state or even to be leaders in army or judges among Muslims (condensed)." In essence, the second part negate the first part as the second part imply that non-Muslim DO NOT have the same right. If anybody do not agree with this statement, please put your arguments in the comments.

Further, serving in the military have many implications. In the military, you are to obey without questions. This mean whoever serve in the military must have full faith in those higher up in the chain of command. There are such a thing as "cannon fodder". But non-Muslims cannot lead in the Islamic military, only follow orders. Not all who professed a religion (I am not just referring to Islam) adhere fully to its noble teachings, and I don't think you can blame a non-Muslim if he is reluctant to serve in such a military. What should he do when ordered to kill someone of his own faith? It would also not be fair as he would have no chance of advancement in the military, and not only military. A non-Muslim will also have no chance to lead the country or to become a judge.

In an Islamic state, the supreme law will not be the Constitution, but the Syariah law. If I remember correctly, someone said that the actual leader of an Islamic state may not be the President but the Supreme Leader elected from an assembly of mujtahid (Islamic scholar). Essentially, all this mean the non-Muslim can have no say in the running of his country. Now you tell me how all that had been discussed above can justify saying non-Muslims shall have the same rights as a Muslim. I am open to comments to rebut all this.

Every person will have their own opinions of things. Some are colored by their bias towards their own religion (and please don't take this as referring to Muslims only), others try to be objective. Let us say we accept that "the whole thing (taxes, rights, governance of the country) would be fair for all Muslims and non-Muslims" is accepted, but let me ask this simple question. Is it right or fair to impose an Islamic state upon citizens of a country which originally was not formed as an Islamic state and the non-Muslims who originally was a part of the group of people who helped form Malaysia were assured that the country being formed will NOT become an Islamic state. Further, is in right that the people of Sabah and Sarawak who were never given an indication of the possibility that Malaysia may become an Islamic state will have such a state imposed on them? May I speculate on the possibility of them agreeing to join Malaysia if they had been told that one day, Malaysia will become an Islamic state? I asked a Sarawakian, and the answer was obvious.

Further, the Reid Commission dated 27/9/1956 at page 19 stated that "The religion of Malaya shall be Islam. The observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religion, and shall not imply the State is not a secular State." This was what was agreed to when the United Kingdom granted independence to Malaya. Is this not saying that Malaya is a secular state? Is this binding?

Do we have a say on this matter? And if the authorities insist on pushing it down our throat, and we do not want to accept, what can we do? I did not chose to be born in this country, but I was, and I grew up here, started a family here and will live the rest of my life here. If an Islamic state is imposed upon me and my family over our objections, where can I go? I can't go to China as I am not a citizen of that country and they may not accept me. By the way, China has more Muslims than Malaysia, but are they hankering for China to become an Islamic state? Will Malaysia allow itself to be divided into two, one an Islamic state, and one a secular state and its citizen given free choice as to which part they want to go to? And even if that is ever allowed to happen, can you imagine the chaos and hardship as homes are not easily portable.

Will a fair-minded Muslim impose the Islamic state upon me and my family over our objections?

Malay Women in Malaysia, if you took the trouble to read up to here, I thank you. I also believe I read "democracy" being discussed in one of your posts. I think you had a negative opinion regarding democracy, and if so, we were of the same mind if I had stuck to what I wrote in an essay for General Paper in the 60's (we had to take HSC or Higher School Certificate then). We were asked to write an essay on democracy. I had opined that democracy is rule by the average (which are not the most intelligent) as there is such a thing as a normal curve - huge majority (average) of average intelligence in the middle, a small fraction of high intelligence and low intelligence on both side of the curve. A democratic government got to go back to the electorate every so many years to get a mandate from the people (majority of average intelligence) to continue to rule. A smart politician who only value power may not dare to implement policies which he or she knows is good for the country but which the majority of average intelligence cannot see the merits and may not accept. He or she may implement policies which are popular but detrimental to the country. I got an A for that essay. I have matured since and have seen many things happened around me. If you did discuss about democracy in your blog, to save me the trouble of searching for it, I hope you will leave a comment and a link to that post because I will like to give my response to that post.


Anonymous said...

Will a fair-minded Muslim impose the Islamic state upon me and my family over our objections?

YES. In an Islamic state, it will not matter if you are Muslim or "dhimmi," you still are obligated to obey the law. Sharia law.

Whizzed is right; you DO NOT WANT an Islamic state. Ask the average Iranian--yes, a Muslim Iranian. They do not like living under the rule of mullahs!

Your women, non-Muslims too, will be treated as second-class citizens; certainly not they way they are accustomed to. You WILL be paying jizya AND regular taxes. It is like a penalty for not following "Allah." The ladies of Malay Women may be kind and perfectly lovely, but I assure you, they will not be setting the rules. The men in power will be, and they will not be as accomodating of your questioning as Malay Women might be. They WILL NOT.

No, no, no. No non-Muslim should allow this, and of course you have every right to object to it! You are a citizen of Malaysia! It is your country too!

Do you love your country? Would you be happy to leave forever? Because you will, if/when Malaysia falls to Islamic rule. Fight it! Fight for Malaysia's heritage! Fight for FREEDOM!

Whizzed said...

My own or personal view bearing in mind I do not reside in Malaysia and am Australian is that it should not become an Islamic State.
That was not the intention when Malaysia was granted Merdekka by the then British government of the day.
I have found on latter visits to Malaysia the last one in June 1996 was that Malays have better privileges than other races eg Chinese, Indian etc. to me and no doubt to non Malays this is most unfair, making it an Islamic state will make this problem far worse, indeed it has already.

Whizzed said...

I left a comment on here I am certain possibly you deleted it I know not why but I don't think Malaysia should be an Islamic state at all to my thinking it is multicultural

Anonymous said...

I think there is some misconception here about the establishing "Islamic State". If we look back at the historical fact from prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) until the Ottoman
Empire, the Islamic state or empire
were establish through war or negotiation where the citizen of a country agreed to be apart of the Islamic state - please correct me if I'm wrong or as an ally.

This is altogether different in our Malaysian contact - where the constitution
that was agreed upon during Independence - is that the official
religion is Islam - again please correct me, if I'm wrong.

By examining of this fact, it is
difficult to establish Malaysia to
be an Islamic state - since this
require that the non muslim citizen
must agreed that the status of
the country to be change to be an
Islamic state.

I think when the muslim leader,
talk about Malaysia is an islamic state - it is in a contact that
of a country that was rule by Muslim with an Islamic ideal.

Peter said...

For Whizzed,

I did not delete any comment. As long as any comments are not considered seditious, insult Islam, the Monarchy of Malaysia, or is not appropriate, there is no reason for me to delete any message. These kind of comments can get me into trouble.

I cannot remember how I missed your comment about a comment being deleted, and I do not know if you are referring to your first comment. It all happened so long ago, I can no longer remember what happened. However, you are free to comment again what you think I may have deleted and I will examine it if it is OK to approve it. If I do not approve it, I will let you know why.

Anonymous said...

Salam & Peace to all,

Malaysia today at year 2009 is still a young democratic country ( i.e about 50 years compared to 200++ years of more established democratic countries ) and has much to learn from the mistakes made by other democratic states.
The issue of Malaysia adopting a religious state as policy would put it under similar broad umbrella of other simliar religious states & subjecting it citizens under RELIGIOUS LAW in which is a very precarious proposition as mentioned by others.

Would Malaysians be intelligent enough to fore-see the implications of self righteous dictates by religious leaders of the sort that has totally lead to corruption ( with much cover-up in rethorics of the sort ) & abuse of power, quote "ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY" unquote.
The other implication is that personal rights under any religious law is irrelevant ( only the personal rights of those who are in power is important ).
Zimbabwe ( & the rest of the Afican continent ), Middle East & Central Asia are some of the countries under religious & tribal tyranny.

The main sticky is that democracy is vunerable to being Hijacked by False Pretenses ( ie religion, ideology, economics or otherwise ), & its strength lies in those who understand & participate in what it really means to have a socio-democratic state & keep the politicians honest.
Therefore, if we appreciate our personal perspective on issues of religion, culture & identity, it would help if we give room to others of varying views just as this blog does. Otherwise, the chaos & conflict will continue because we are unable to give respect to others due to our personal narrow mindedness.


ali said...

First of all, interesting article. However, if this article is relating to matters in Malaysia, then it is not entirely correct. Malaysia is not an Islamic state. In an Islamic state, Muslims are not segregated on racial grounds. Again in an Islamic state, there is no elections like the one's we see in Malaysia - which follows an embryonic democratic process of first past the post and the 'secrecy' of votes.

In Islam, voting is an open business. Everyone knows who will vote for which candidate since every single individual has the right to state his or her preferences. There is no nonesensical secret votes in Islam!

Malaysia has a dualist judiciary system. One based on the conventional law and the other the Sharia law. The Sharia law is used mainly to 'manage' civil matters regarding Muslim heritage, divorces and marriages. They are limited and are powerless when it comes to issues like racial discrimination or corrupt practices by officials and so on. In a real Islamic state, such crimes are to be judged under the Sharia laws, which is not the case in Malaysia.

I can go on and on and include the case of Anwar Ibrahim here to state that Malaysia's ruling government should have prosecuted the Opposition leader under the Sharia law - which would surely be in the favor of Anwar - but they decided to use the conventional avenues to gain an edge in a high profile politically motivated case.

Malaysia will never become an Islamic state if it continues its biased anti-non-bumi Muslim policies, its race segregation and the suppression of other ethnic group's rights.

It does not have a 'Malay' majority to decide on that matter and will never get the majority of Malays themselves to vote in favor or decide in favor of an Islamic state. Hence it is a wild goose chase to debate on whether non-Muslims have or do not have a say in such a matter. Yes indeed have a say and they will vote against such a proposal if it was to be made, with the support of Muslims who would never want the country to be turned into a 'Melayunization' nation.