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Screenshot of BFM website promoting the interview with Reza Aslan

Screenshot of BFM website promoting the interview with Reza Aslan

The Riong Kali’s pro-Opposition news portal and Business FM 89.9 radio station are doing their bit to systematically provoke the Muslims and antagonise the Court of Appeal decision last week pertaining to the ‘kalimah Allah’ issue and the Home Minister’s authority to ban the sacred word by being abuse for the purpose of prosetylisation of Muslims.

Award-winning American Muslim scholar on Allah ruling: “We are laughing at you”

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
OCTOBER 22, 2013

Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. - Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College, October 22, 2013.Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. – Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College,

October 22, 2013.A well-known American Muslim theologian has joined a long list of critics over the recent Court of Appeal ruling on the use of the word Allah, saying it was a “political decision more than anything else”.

“This notion that Malaysian Muslims need to be protected by the court because you can’t think for yourself, you can’t make decisions on your own. We are laughing at you,” said Reza Aslan, speaking on BFM Radio’s Evening Edition programme yesterday.

“That you can control people’s ideas, their behaviour, their faith and their minds simply by trying to control the words that they use, is absurd. It is an embarassment to a modern, constitutional, democratic and deeply Muslim state like Malaysia,” he added.

Aslan insisted that Christians using the word Allah – which means God in Arabic – were not a threat to Islam.

“A Taliban put a bomb in the Quran and took it to a mosque in Pakistan, where Muslims were slaughtered on one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar. You want to talk about threats to Islam? That’s a threat to Islam,” he said, in dismissing the argument that allowing Christians to use the word in their worship was a threat to Malaysian Muslims.

He was referring to an incident during the Aidiladha holidays, in which Afghan governor Arsala Jamal was killed while scores were injured after a bomb placed in a copy of the Quran went off in a mosque during the Eid sermon.

Aslan, who wrote the international bestseller No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, said he was mystified by the court ruling on October 14, stressing that the word Allah was merely an Arabic term for God, “any God”.

“Allah is constuction of the the word al-Ilah. That’s what the word is,” he explained.

“Al-Ilah means ‘The God’. Allah is not the name of God. Frankly, anyone who thinks that Allah is the name of God, is not just incorrect, but is going against the Quran itself. It is almost a blasphemous thought to think that Allah has a name.

“And this is not an interpretation. It is a historical fact,” Reza added.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal’s three-man panel ruled that the word Allah “was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice and that such usage if allowed, will inevitably cause confusion within the community”.

The decision sparked a debate among local clerics and scholars, while several editorials in Muslim countries expressed their surprise over the issue.

Pakistan’s Daily Times questioned the ruling, asking why Malaysia would deny people of other faiths to “own God in all His attributes”. The United Arab Emirates’s The National called the court ruling “wrong”, and said the word Allah was never exclusive to Islam but used by both Christians and Jews to refer to God even before the advent of Islam.

Aslan poured scorn on the court verdict, asking, “How can you read that and not laugh?”

Soon after the court ruling last week, he had taken to Twitter and remarked, “How stupid has Malaysia just become? In honor of Malaysia banning the word Allah by non-Muslims I suggest US ban the word ‘twerking’ by anyone over age of 17,” he said, referring to a type of sexually provocative dance.

Much of Aslan’s interview yesterday was made available on Podcast.

In it, he slammed those who argue that the faith of Malaysian Muslims can be undermined if Christians use the word Allah.

“This idea that not only should Christians not be able to use this word, but that using the word is somehow a threat to Islam… that Malaysian (Muslims) are so stupid if they hear a Christian use the word Allah, they will accidentally become Christians. I mean, the idiocy of that statement speaks for itself,” he said.

Echoing many other Muslim scholars and writers, Aslan said Christians and Jews in the Arabian peninsula since before the time of the Prophet Muhammad had been referring to God as Allah.

“Why? Because they spoke Arabic… that’s why. Not because Allah meant a specific God but because that it is nothing more than the Arabic word for God. It is not an opinion. It is a fact,” he pointed out.

“Any Imam that tells you God has a name, is blasphemous. It is as simple as that. Allah is not God’s name. Muslims do not own the word itself,” said the 41-year-old Iranian-American, who is Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa. – October 22, 2013.

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Aslan is totally out of context and his interpretation of Islam is very dubious. He sounds as if he is not a Muslim and never had been one. Even legally, he should have referred to the complete judgement of the three Court of Appeal Judges.

He also did not consider the Federal Constitution, laws of this land, norms and values of this country, will of HRH Malay Rulers nor take into consideration what HRH Sultan Selangor’s reminder titah on the matter, dated 9 January 2013.

Probably it is alright for Aslan to do that because he is not a Malaysian citizen nor a resident of this country. However, it is inexcusable for BFM and TMI to spin and manipulate the issue further in this manner.

BFM 89.9 as a radio station licensed by Malaysian Communication and  Multimedia and Commission, the owners, producers and editors should understand their limitations which have been spelt out clearly in the license condition. One of the items prohibited for them to air are materials obnoxious against race and religion.

Probably the producers of BFM 89.9 thought they could go scott free by airing the phone interview with Aslan since it is conducted in English.

Amongst the points Aslan raised on top of what reported in the TMI story are:

“Islam says ‘X’ or Islam says ‘Y’. I know this will make them feel good but it is nonsense”

and

“Allah is not a name of God. Allah means God. Allah means every God. Allah is nothing more than the Arabic word for God”.

He also went on to say,

“Using the word is a threat to Islam. Malaysians are so stupid when they hear a Christian use the word ‘Allah’, they accidentally becomes Christian. The idiocy for the statement speaks for itself”.

A lot of what Aslan explicitly expressed in the interview is not acceptable for the consumption of Malaysians because it would definitely cause a lot of anger amongst Malay-Muslim, especially when the points that were put forth are manipulated further.

The fact that the two BFM 89.9 presenters Ezra Zaid and Umapagan  in the show were laughing at some part of the interview demonstrates their distasteful and disrespect to what the Court of Appeal decision.

Aslan also went to insult further “I get there are political machinations taking place here. This court is not exactly independent of the executive branch. This is more of a political decisions than anything else. Muslims in Malaysia got to be protected by the court because you cant think for yourselves, you cant make decisions on your own. One of the judges even make a remark to the effect that ‘This is a threat to Islam'”.

It is also a sinister agenda of TMI to expand the story further and carry the anti-Malay/Islam sentiments by reproducing it in a news report, both in English and Malay. These are very serious matters that MCMC should investigate from the various perspective of the law including Sedition Act and Communication and Multimedia Act.

This is also an indirect insult against the Court of Appeal unanimous decision Monday last week.

The title in English means “Poking hornet’s nest”

*Updated 2359hrs

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 18:30  Comments (40)  

Stand up, human rights fighters

Kingdom of Brunei Darul Salam, which is an absolute monarch, decides on stiffer shariah penal laws.

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22 October 2013| last updated at 01:33PM

Brunei introduces tough Islamic punishments

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN : The Sultan of Brunei announced the phased introduction of tough Islamic punishments including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery, in the monarchy’s latest step towards conservatism.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — one of the world’s wealthiest men — said in a  speech that a new Sharia Penal Code which has been in the works for years had  been gazetted Tuesday and would “come into force six months hereafter and in  phases”.

Based on the details of particular cases, punishments can include stoning  to death for adulterers, severing of limbs for theft and flogging for  violations ranging from abortion to consumption of alcohol, according to a copy  of the code.

“By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation,  our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled,” said the sultan, now 67 years  old.

An all-powerful figure whose family has ruled the languid, oil-rich country  of 400,000 for six centuries, the sultan first called in 1996 for the  introduction of sharia criminal punishments.

Brunei already practices a conservative brand of Islam relative to its  Muslim neighbours in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The sale and public consumption of alcohol are banned and authorities  closely restrict the activities of other religions.

It was not immediately clear how aggressively the new criminal code, which  applies only to Muslims, would be implemented.

Brunei already has a dual-track system combining civil courts based on  British law — the sultanate was a British protectorate until 1984 — and  Sharia courts that are currently limited to personal and family issues such as  marriage disputes.

Two years ago, a top official in the Attorney-General’s office said Brunei  would apply an extremely high burden of proof for sharia criminal infractions  under the code, and that judges would have wide discretion in applying the  Islamic punishments.

The comments were aimed at easing fears expressed by some Bruneians of a  lurch toward draconian punishments.

Nearly 70 percent of Brunei’s people are Muslim ethnic Malays, while about  15 percent are non-Muslim ethnic Chinese, followed by indigenous peoples and  other groups.

Funded by oil and gas wealth mainly in offshore fields in the South China  Sea, Brunei has one of Asia’s highest standards of living.

The government provides citizens with free medical care and education  through the university level.

But the sultan has leaned increasingly towards Islamic orthodoxy in recent  years, including the introduction of mandatory religious education for all  Muslim children and ordering all businesses in the country closed for two hours  during Friday prayers.–AFP

Read more: Brunei introduces tough Islamic punishments – Latest – New Straits Timeshttp://www.nst.com.my/latest/brunei-introduces-tough-islamic-punishments-1.382179#ixzz2iQgJJUyh

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This must be against a lot of fundamental and universal principles of human rights.

The question now, what are the stance and where are the human rights fighters on this ruling?

Especially to allies of Brunei and friends of His Majesty Sultan Sir Hassal Bolkiah like the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore and those liberals and activists within these countries and not forgetting Malaysians in Malaysia.

Do they dare to be heard on the subject matter?

This is not withstanding that the fact Brunei is a kingdom of absolute autocracy without any form of democracy. All those so-called human rights fighters were very strong and bold against Myanmar. Even when they are abroad.

However, they were completely silent about Brunei not being undemocratic. And these new laws they should deem loudly as ‘draconian’. Considering these harsh laws have been pronounced without the public comprehension to its condition of implementation and protocol of execution, it is interesting to watch if ever they will say anything negative about it.

And what is more interesting if they will say anything about His Majesty Sultan of Brunei for this bold decision.

*Updated 1800hrs

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 14:00  Comments (3)