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Monday, December 11, 2006

Credit where credit is due

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Yesterday (Sunday, December 10, 2006), the NST ran a couple of interview with two religious ulamas, the newly appointed Mufti of Perlis, Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (the youngest mufti at the age of 35) and Deputy Mufti of Sarawak, Dr Juanda Jaya. (Alternatively, PDF versions can be accessed here and here)

Some common gists gleaned from both interviews include:
- The misdirected focus of Muslims on apostacy, whereby Muslims are more concerned about punishment, rather than why apostacy occurs in the first place.
- That Muslims cannot live in a coccoon anymore.
- The focus on petty issues, while missing the bigger picture entirely.
- That there is an aura of mistrust among Muslims towards "the others"

The views expressed in both interviews are perhaps the most intelligent and rational Walski's read from local religious figures of authority in a long time. And what Walski reads between the lines is that there are certain parties within the Muslim community itself sowing the seeds of unfounded fears, and that herein lies the bigger danger.
(more thoughts in the full post)

Indeed, these fear driven sentiments are way too easily believed by Muslims at large, perhaps because there is a certain hesitancy to question. But as Dr. Mohd Asri said in his interview (emphasis by myAsylum),

"Many Muslims know that some of the things that religious people talk about are contrary to scientific facts. But they dare not say anything for fear of being accused of being opponents of Islam.

What makes Muslims confused is the question of which is the opinion of an ulama and which is the textual evidence of Islam.

We can’t oppose the evidence of Islam, and what is in the Quran and Sunnah. But the interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah by the religious experts are open to evaluation.

Walski suggests you read both interviews first before offering any thoughts or comments. More so because they actually deserve a read.

Related to the two interviews is this editorial in the same newspaper (or the pdf version here),

And while Walski may not agree 100% with everything the two learned gentlemen have to say, it's noteworthy to point out the objectivity in putting forward their thoughts and arguments. Objectivity is one attribute that is sorely lacking in most religious discourse these days, with proponents usually resorting to hurling labels and making lofty and sanctimonious stands.

While some self-professed "protectors of the faith" continue to piss in the wind as usual, the views expressed by these two individuals are intelligent, sober and insightful.

Perhaps there is hope yet for the Muslim community, God-willing.