“Malaysia goes Islamic” – Does it?

On October 21, Guardian carried a ‘Islamophobic’ headline Malaysia goes Islamic for an article written by some armchair ‘expert on Islam’ by the name Mazna Mohamad. The article was picked by most of the Zionist think tanks such as Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Mazna Mohamad’s ‘Islamic credentials’ flies out of window when she wrote: “After Iran or Saudi Arabia, Malaysia’s Shari’ah court system is probably the most extensive in the Muslim world, and the accompanying bureaucracy is not only big but has more bite than the national parliament.” In other words, she doesn’t want a country’s judiciary system to be independent of the Executive, but under the foot of the government. Saudi Arabia and Iran have overwhelming Muslim population (over 98%) – but in Malaysia Muslims make 60.4% of country’s total population of 25 million. The remaining are Buddhist (19.2%), Christian (9.1%), Hindus (6.3%), Chinese traditional religions (2.6%), and unkown. In a country with such religious diversification – it would be impossible to impose the will of the slight Muslim majority over the 40% non-Muslim population – unless it’s a foreign colonial system like Israel.

The Shari’ah court system in Saudi Arabia is not independent of the governing royal family. In Islamic Iran – there is no such thing as the “Shria’h court system”. Everyone is judged under the same laws, which were formulated by the consent of the religious leaders of the minority groups in Iran. The country’s judiciary is independent of both the Majlis (Parliament) and the Executive. It’s responsible only to Iran’s Spritual Leader, Ayatullah Khameini.

The governing party in Malaysia, UMNO, which has ruled the country for the past 50 years – is not an Islamic party but is based on Malayan ethnicity. The major opposition party, PAS, do have ‘Islamic credentials’ and has no significant voting-base with the 40% non-Muslim population, Malayan or non-Malayan.

How much Islam is marginalized in Malaysia by the political leaders – can be judged by the battlecry of “I Malaysia” by the current prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, which could be more appealing to “Islamophobes” than the failed “Islam Hadhari (‘progressive Islam’, whatever, the hack that mean)” slogan of the former prime minister Abdullah Badawi.

It was not the ‘Sharia court’ which ordered Kartika to receive six lashes – but her on free will. She wanted to be punished to clear her guilty conscience as a Muslimah – something secularists like Manza would not understand. PAS’s recent call for the regulation of alcohol created such a storm among the non-Muslim leaders that the issue had to require intervention by top leaders. That even such an issue that has more to do with social life than ‘religious policing’ can be politicized in a predominantly Muslim country shows that the Zionists’ fear of Islamic Shari’ah is not true.

Professor Noah Feldman (Harvard University), is a American Jewish scholar, who writes for the New York Times magazine and is a senior member of the Zionist think tank CFR. In his article, titled Why Shariah?, published in March 2008 by The New York Times – he wrote:

No legal system has ever had worse press (in the West). To many, the word “Shariah” conjures horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed. By contrast, who today remembers that the much-loved English common law called for execution as punishment for hundreds of crimes, including theft of any object worth five shillings or more? How many know that until the 18th century, the laws of most European countries authorized torture as an official component of the criminal-justice system? As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them — hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.

In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world. Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act. The extremes of our own legal system — like life sentences for relatively minor drug crimes, in some cases — are routinely ignored. We neglect to mention the recent vintage of our tentative improvements in family law. It sometimes seems as if we need Shariah as Westerners have long needed Islam: as a canvas on which to project our ideas of the horrible, and as a foil to make us look good.

In the Muslim world, on the other hand, the reputation of Shariah has undergone an extraordinary revival in recent years. A century ago, forward-looking Muslims thought of Shariah as outdated, in need of reform or maybe abandonment. Today, 66 percent of Egyptians, 60 percent of Pakistanis and 54 percent of Jordanians say that Shariah should be the only source of legislation in their countries. Islamist political parties, like those associated with the transnational Muslim Brotherhood, make the adoption of Shariah the most prominent plank in their political platforms. And the message resonates. Wherever Islamists have been allowed to run for office in Arabic-speaking countries, they have tended to win almost as many seats as the governments have let them contest. The Islamist movement in its various incarnations — from moderate to radical — is easily the fastest growing and most vital in the Muslim world; the return to Shariah is its calling card.

How is it that what so many Westerners see as the most unappealing and premodern aspect of Islam is, to many Muslims, the vibrant, attractive core of a global movement of Islamic revival? The explanation surely must go beyond the oversimplified assumption that Muslims want to use Shariah to reverse feminism and control women — especially since large numbers of women support the Islamists in general and the ideal of Shariah in particular.

To believing Muslims, Shariah is something deeper and higher, infused with moral and metaphysical purpose. At its core, Shariah represents the idea that all human beings — and all human governments — are subject to justice under the law.

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