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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mufti Collision Update

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Last week, myAsylum highlighted a collision of muftis over a training program. There have been some developments and Walski felt that he should do this follow-up post just to keep you folks up to speed.

The National Fatwa Council has apparently deliberated over the matter, and it appears that the ESQ Training program has received the council’s blessing, with some caveats.

Now, if you’ve read the clip above, there are some interesting observations that Walski has made. And among these observations, one involves this sometimes unexpectedly tricky thing called timing
(Walski’s long-ish, rant-ish observations, and more, in the full post)

The council conference (muzakarrah) to deliberate the matter was conducted on June 16th, according to The Malaysian Insider report above. The Federal Territories (FT) fatwa above was issued by FT Mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh almost a week earlier, on June 10th.

The fatwa gazette, however, was published on June 17th, one day after the conference. The date being a day after is probably a coincidence – the REAL question is, if the matter was to be deliberated by the National Fatwa Council, why didn’t the FT Mufti put the fatwa on hold until after the conference?

Power play, perhaps? Or something more of a personal chip on Wan Zahidi’s shoulder? The man is a known anti-liberal, from what Walski gathers, and an article published in Berita Harian on July 11th gives us a clue as to just how anti-liberal this non-progressive is (translation by myAsylum).

KAJIAN yang dilakukan Mufti Wilayah Persekutuan, Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, terhadap gerakan Islam liberal di Indonesia dan kaitannya dengan program motivasi yang dianjurkan ESQ Leadership Center Sdn Bhd (ESQ) mendapati ia sarat dengan metodologi dan fikiran liberal yang bertentangan dengan ajaran Islam dan boleh merosakkan akidah.
A STUDY done by Federal Territories Mufti, Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, on the liberal Islamic movement in Indonesia and its relationship with motivation programs organized by ESQ Leadership Center Sdn Bhd (ESQ), found it laden with the methodology and ideas of liberal Islam, are contrary to Islamic teachings, and can destroy our faith.

Wan Zahidi yang mengeluarkan fatwa mengharamkan program motivasi ESQ pada 10 Jun lalu, berpendapat adalah sangat berbahaya apabila fahaman itu diserapkan dalam satu platform latihan kepemimpinan yang terlepas daripada pengawasan pihak berkuasa agama.
Wan Zahidi, who issued a fatwa banning the ESQ motivational program on June 10, was of the view that it is very dangerous when this creed is adopted into the leadership training platform, which escaped the supervision of religious authorities.

“Oleh itu, ia perlu disekat sebelum merebak menjadi barah yang bakal merosakkan akidah dan syariah serta sukar dikawal lagi,” katanya dalam kajiannya bertajuk ‘Gerakan Islam liberal di Indonesia dan kaitannya dengan program motivasi yang dianjurkan ESQ Leadership Center Sdn Bhd (ESQ),’ yang disiarkan dalam web pejabat Mufti Wilayah Persekutuan.
"Therefore, it should be prohibited before it becomes a cancer that can destroy our faith and the syariah, and becomes more difficult to control," he said in a study entitled ‘Liberal Islam movement in Indonesia and its relationship with motivation programs organized by ESQ Leadership Center Sdn Bhd (ESQ)', published on the Federal Territory Mufti Office website.

Beliau berkata, gerakan Islam liberal adalah usaha halus untuk mengeluarkan umat Islam daripada agama mereka tanpa disedari dan ia dilakukan atas nama Islam.
He said the liberal Islamic movement is a subtle effort to inadvertently remove Muslims from their religion, and done in the name of Islam.

Katanya, pengasas ESQ, Ary Ginanjar Agustin yang berpendidikan Universiti Udaryana, Bali dan Tafe College, Australia, tidak mempunyai asas pengajian Islam secara formal dan mendakwa belajar agama melalui metodologi ‘kemerdekaan berfikir’.
He said the founder of the ESQ, Ary Ginanjar Agustin, who was educated in Udaryana University, Bali and Tafe College, Australia, has no formal training in Islamic and religious studies, and claims he studied religion through the methodology of 'freedom of thought'.

“Buku ESQ Rahsia Sukses Membangun Kesedaran Emosi Spiritual ESQ yang dihasilkan Ary Ginanjar walaupun membicarakan mengenai latihan kepemimpinan, ia penuh dengan perbincangan mengenai perkara yang sangat dasar dalam Islam seperti rukun iman, rukun Islam, tauhid, mukjizat dan sebagainya.
"The ESQ book, 'Rahsia Sukses Membangun Kesedaran Emosi Spiritual ESQ' (The Secret of Successful Realization of ESQ Emotional Spiritual Awareness), produced by Ary Ginanjar, although talks about leadership training, is full of discussions about the very basis of Islam, such as tenets of faith, pillars of Islam, unity of God, miracles and so forth.

“Penggunaan ayat al-Quran dan hadis dibuat secara bebas sesuai dengan metodologi pengajian beliau iaitu ‘kemerdekaan berfikir’,” katanya.
"The use of verses from the Qur'an and Hadith were made independently, in accordance with his "freedom of thought" methodology of study," he said.

Wan Zahidi mempertikaikan topik utama dalam program motivasi ESQ iaitu kecerdasan spiritual (SQ) dan ‘God Spot’ iaitu konsep yang diilhamkan oleh pemikir bukan Islam yang dikaitkan dengan ayat al-Quran dan hadis.
Wan Zahidi disputed the main topics in the ESQ motivation program, namely spiritual intelligence (SQ) and the 'God Spot', a concept inspired by non-Muslim thinkers, which were then associated with al-Quran and Hadith.

“Istilah ‘God Spot’ lahir daripada bukan Islam, maka ‘God’ itu bermaksud sama ada ‘Yahweh’, ‘Father’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Brahma’, ‘Vishnu’, ‘Shiva’ dan sebagainya. Dengan itu konsep ‘God Spot’ adalah jelas syirik dan kufur.
"The term 'God Spot' was born out of non-Muslims, therefore 'God' here means either 'Yahweh', 'Father,' Jesus', 'Brahma', 'Vishnu', 'Shiva' and so on. The concept of 'God Spot', therefore is clearly polytheistic and heretical.

“Ary Ginanjar juga banyak kali menggunakan konsep suara hati sebagai sumber rujukan dalam menentukan baik buruk sesuatu dan menggunakan konsep ini untuk menafsirkan ayat al-Quran.
"Ary Ginanjar a lot of times also uses the concept of conscience as a source of reference in determining whether something is good or bad, and uses this concept to interpret the verses of the Qur'an.

“Pertamanya, konsep suara hati ini adalah ajaran kristian,” katanya sambil menegaskan yang Ary Ginanjar dalam bukunya itu juga menerima pendapat Muhammad Husein Haikal yang dikatakan mengingkari mukjizat.
"In the first place, the concept of conscience is a Christian teaching," he said, asserting that Ary Ginanjar in his book also accepted the opinion of Muhammad Husein Haikal, that is said to deny miracles.

Selain itu, beliau mempersoalkan tindakan Ary Ginanjar yang mengguna teori kod 19 Rashad Khalifa untuk mentafsir al-Quran sedangkan Rashad diisytiharkan sesat kerana menolak hadis.
In addition, he questioned Ginanjar Ary’s use of Rashad Khalifa’s Code 19 theory to interpret the Quran, when Rashad had been declared a heretic due to his rejection of the Hadith.

Beliau juga mempertikaikan tindakan Ary Ginanjar yang memberi penghargaan tinggi kepada dua tokoh liberal terkenal di Indonesia, Nurcholis Madjid yang membenarkan anaknya kahwin dengan Yahudi Amerika dan Harun Nasution yang mendakwa Yahudi memelihara kemurnian tauhid.
He also disputed Ary Ginanjar’s acknowledgement of  two well-known liberal figures in Indonesia, Nurcholish Madjid, who allowed his child to marry an American Jew, and Harun Nasution, who claimed that Jews preserved the purity of faith.
(source: Berita Harian article, “Gerakan Islam liberal rosak akidah perlu disekat” dated July 11th, 2010 [in PDF])

If it really interests you, Wan Zahidi’s research paper quoted by the article above can be found either via the FT Mufti’s Office website, or alternatively from here. It’s 44 pages long (PDF format), and Walski has so far only glossed over its contents. He intends to read it later, and if time permits, he may even translate it to English.

There are a couple of things about what the article reports that Walski finds really disturbing, and to some degree, summarizes why conservative Muslim clerics like Wan Zahidi are regressive elements with a lot of harm potential.

The first is how Muslims shouldn’t have the freedom to think. It’s almost like once you’re a Muslim, better check your brain in at the door, and let the more “qualified” do the thinking for you. It’s exactly this kind of mind-numbing environment that breeds religio-automatons ripe for recruitment by those intent to use religion as an implement of control, terror, and destruction.

In a way, it kind of explains how people who are otherwise educated can be convinced to sign up for less than savory causes like JI (Jemaah Islamiah) or Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad. Intellectualize all you want about inorganic chemistry, and the molecular subdivisions thereof, but when it comes to religion, check your thinking cap at the madrassa steps. The end-product? Infamously explosive characters like Noordin Mohammad Top.

The second, and perhaps even more disturbing, is the insinuation that having a conscience is a bad thing, if you are a Muslim. Why? Oh, because the conscience is a “Christian” concept. So, does that mean “good” Muslims cannot have a conscience?

Actually, this startling revelation does make sense if you think about it – you have undoubtedly read (likely one too many times) how the morality police can, and do, go to all kinds of lengths to ensure that their khalwat raids are successful, right? Causing someone to jump out of tall building windows – out of fear and panic, usually to their doom – is probably easier to stomach when you don’t have a conscience.

The same goes for blowing up a roomful of football fans just because you’re pissed off that your government sent peacekeepers to neighboring Somalia. It’s easy when this Christian concept called a conscience doesn’t get in the way.

Less drastic and dramatic perhaps is how Malaysian religious authorities simply love to make life difficult for the Muslim populace by creating intricate and needless bureaucracies. There’s a lot to write about in this department, so Walski will leave it for another rant some other time. Suffice it to say that this sheer inconsideration can be attributed to the missing element of conscience.

Put the two negatives together – deprecation of intellect and elimination of conscience – and it’s no wonder at all why Muslims at large the world over are in the sorry state they’re in. And no, it’s not a uniquely Malaysian thing, either. Walski has a lot more to rant about when it comes to this, but let’s leave it for another time.

So, the conclusion to this recent fi-ESQ-o, with colliding muftis and all?

Well, it now appears that ESQ training is kosher everywhere in Malaysia, except for the Federal Territories. In other words, nothing’s changed since Walski first highlighted this a week ago.

Looked at in a different way, “God’s Law” within the Federal Territories says one thing (because the fatwa HAS been gazetted as “law” within the FTs), while on the national level, it’s another story.

Go figure….