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The Case of Indira Gandhi & Rizuan Abdullah

Much has been said about this case. I have been quoted twice.

The first quote agrees with the shariah court’s decision, the second does not. Confusion? Most definitely, but not on my part, I hope!

Given the intricacies of the case, the confusion is quite understandable.

However first I need to clarify, the shariah court’s judgement or decision was never discussed. When I was first quoted saying I agreed, I objected. I was then quoted as having said I disagreed! I objected as it was never specifically discussed or referred to. As such agreement or disagreement was never the issue. Anyway, the problem runs deeper than that.

The problem lies in a situation where the two court systems do not talk to one another as though they exist in two different worlds.

Problems involving a Muslim and a non-Muslim are then heard separately and two pronouncements are achieved, each then vying for supremacy. Is there a problem for these two institutions to talk to one another and coordinate in the interests of justice? Are we living in two different worlds or two different countries thousands of miles apart?

I for one do not see the problem for interaction and I definitely see the need.

Even in the times of the Prophet (MPBUH) the Prophet himself would meet with the Jewish scholars in Medina and discussed with them issues of theology and law. Said Ramadan in his book, ‘Islamic Law – Its scope and Equity’ wrote, “Ibn Hisham recorded that the Bayt Al-Midras was an active educational centre for the Jews of Medina during the lifetime of the Prophet. He even used to visit it and answered many questions on Islam.

“When a Jew and Jewess were brought before him in a case of adultery, he called on the Rabbis of the Bayt Al-Midras to consult their knowledge of the Torah for the punishment applicable in the case”.

Living under one leadership it was impossible for there not to be any form of interaction between the two communities. Yet here in Malaysia, under the leadership of Umno/BN, we have a dual system but the two do not talk to one another. It maybe alright if there are no common issues but surely cases like this has happened frequently enough for us to understand the need for such interaction. I am sure the learned personalities who head these institutions are more than capable of finding a just solution if given the chance.

The problem, I believe, is that the Umno/BN government is unwilling to allow such interaction. Believing in their own misconceptions, particularly about Islam and Islamic law, they assume that no common solution can be found and as such have taken it upon themselves to decide for everyone.

A decision by the Cabinet denies the courts, be it shariah or civil, its rightful role. It denied at least one parent his or her right and by so doing, denies the children their rights as well. I disagree with the decision by the Cabinet for these reasons. It short-circuits the process and like all short circuits, gives rise to bigger problems.

In dealing with this issue and those like it, which is not as numerous as some may think given the publicity accorded to it and it’s sensitive nature, we should return to basic principles. The first basic principle is the principle of justice.

The Principle of Justice
As a Muslim, I know that the Islamic courts are supposed to judge justly between the parties concerned, even if one party is Muslim and the other non-Muslim.

Justice is a pivotal principle in the message of Islam. The Quran says in Surah An-Nisaa’ or ‘The Women’ verse 58 : “….and when you judge between men, judge with justice…”.

The Arabic word used is ‘An-Naas’ or men or more correctly ‘people’ and it includes both Muslims and non-Muslims as well as male and female.

Also in Surah Al-Maidah (The Tablespread), in verse 8 Allah says : “…be steadfast for the sake of Allah, being witnesses for justice. And let not your enmity towards a people lead you to act unjustly. Be just as it is closer to being God-fearing…”

Here the warning against being unjust against any particular community, be they Muslim or otherwise is clear. Clearer still is the equating of justice to being God-fearing.

Given the above, the Islamic courts are expected to act justly by acknowledging the rights of both parents over the children. These rights are not recognised by the Cabinet short-circuit which cancels all claims by the parent who converts. Does conversion mean the nullification of these rights? I don’t think so. No, I know it doesn’t..

Islamic law recognises the rights of both parents and although a divorce occurs, plus a conversion, these rights are still intact. The Islamic courts are then to find a judgement which would recognise the rights of both parties and give justice to them both.

The second basic principle is that religion is a matter of belief and conviction resulting from divine guidance. In Islam we call this divine guidance “Hedayah”.

The question of Hedayah
The Quran says in Surah Yunus or Jonah verse 99;

“And if your Lord had enforced His will, surely all who are on the earth would have believed (in Islam) together. Will you then use force on men (An-Naas) in order that they become believers? And no soul can believe except by the permission of Allah and He casts humiliation upon those who do not use their powers of reasoning.”

Those who do not use their powers of reasoning also include those who wish to forcefully convert other people.

Given that religion is a question of Hedayah or Divine Guidance and cannot be forced unto an individual, the best that one can do is to present one’s religion as convincingly as is possible so as to influence the other party. The rest is in the hands of God.

Even the Holy Prophet (MPBUH) adhered to this principle when he had to surrender Abu Jandal to the non-believers of Mecca due to an agreement signed prior to Abu Jandal’s migration to Medina. The Prophet said, “Oh Abu Jandal, persevere and put trust in Allah! Allah will surely find a way out for you and those who are oppressed like you. We have signed a peace treaty with the Quraish. It is imperative that we fulfil the terms of the agreement which was made in the name of Allah and we cannot commit treachery towards them!”

It was a difficult decision but one based on the belief that faith cannot be forced unto someone nor can one be forced into disbelief.

The surrender of Abu Jandal was even more difficult as Abu Jandal was an adult Muslim, converting out of his own free will but such were the circumstances then. And as it turned out Abu Jandal persevered and remained a Muslim even though he was tortured by the Meccans.

The need for Ijtihad
It should be clear to all who study Islam or wish to understand Islam that Islamic law is made up of laws which are divine and as such permanent as well as laws which are opinions expoused by learned jurists. The jurists differ on matters which are of the second category, thus the reason for the existence of the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

An example of a difference of opinion between the companions of the Prophet is quoted by Said Ramadan in the above mentioned book. A case was judged by Ali and Zaid, both senior companions of the Prophet (MPBUH). Umar asked the litigant on the judgement given. When the man told him Umar said, “Had I been the judge, I would have decided differently”.

The man then asked, “Why then do you not enforce your decision, you being the Caliph?”. Umar answered, “Had it been a decision based on a specific ordinance of the Quran or the ‘Sunnah’ (The sayings and deeds of the Holy Prophet) I would do so but here it is a matter of opinion and thus we are all equal”.

‘Opinion’ is derived by a process termed according to Islamic juristic terminology as ‘Ijtihad’ or the striving for a solution or decision based on principles derived from the Quran and the Sunnah.

The justification for its use is the discussion between the Prophet and Muadh Bin Jabal on the eve of the latter’s departure to Yemen where he was assigned as a judge. The Prophet asked Muadh, “What will you judge by?” Muadh replied “According to the Quran”.

“What if you do not find it therein?” asked the Prophet. “Then according to the Sunnah of the Prophet”, replied Muadh. “And if you do not find it therein”, asked the Prophet again. “Then I will do Ijtihad (exert myself to form an own judgement which conforms to the objectives of the two initial sources)”, replied Muadh. Thereupon the Prophet said : “Praise be to God who has guided the messenger of His Prophet to that which pleases His Prophet.”

There is a tendency for the Islamic Court to simplify the problem of giving judgement by refering to judgements made from another era and implement it lock, stock and barrel, in our times. This may be acceptable in some of the cases but definitely not all.

This comes from their unwillingness to partake in ‘Ijtihad’ whereas even in the case of the Shafiite school of Islamic Jurisprudence, it is acknowledged by the master himself, meaning Imam Shafii (May God be pleased with him), that juristic opinion can change due to different circumstances and conditions.

This is evident from the existence of his ‘Qaul Qadim’ or ‘early opinion’ and ‘Qaul Jadid’ or new opinion.

When asked about the two Shafii clarified saying that the earlier opinion was based on what he saw then and the new opinion is based on what he sees now.

It is my humble opinion that judgements made in the times of the Abbassid Caliphate, though just and prudent at its time, should not be ‘copied’ without first confirming that the justice intended by its pronouncement is still achieved under our current circumstances when such judgement is implemented.

In other words, our Islamic Jurists of today should not shun nor fear the practice of Ijtihad but should on the contrary revive its practice and fulfill the basic objectives of the Shariah, namely justice.

Based on the two very basic principles and the principle of Ijtihad above, I would venture to say that the case should be handled as follows.
  1. The question of custody be decided in the manner it is decided in any other case. The religion of both parents is put aside when making this decision.

  2. The rights of both parents to teach their children their respective religion is acknowledged and the court is to ensure that both parents are to provide their fullest cooperation in this matter.

  3. The children then decide for themselves their religion of choice when they come of age.
I hasten to add that this is my personal opinion and am willing to stand corrected should what is proposed contradicts the two basic principles mentioned earlier. I am the first to acknowledge that I am not qualified to undertake such a decision but I present the above so as to initiate the necessary discussion on the matter.

For Muslims who wish to see the day when Islamic Law becomes the law of the land, as I do, our ability to prove the justness of the Islamic legal system, especially towards non-Muslims is of utmost importance.

Otherwise why would they wish or allow the Islamic legal system to take precedence? As such, this basic nature of Islamic law, that which emphasises justice for all, needs to be shown and highlighted at all times.

Islamic law should not be seen as a law which discriminates in favour of the Muslims as if that is the perception, then we would have done Islam a great disservice irrespective of the short term ‘gains’ some consider we would have made.

Allah knows best.
*this article was originally published in The Malaysian Insider (07/05/2009)

Related: Influential Scholar Adds to Muslim Disquiet in Conversion Row [Dr. MAZA]
Video: PR Tubuh Jawatankuasa Cari Keputusan Yang Lebih Adil


Anonymous said…
syabas YB. could not say it any better. this is the best solution. oh, how i wish PAS will have future leaders like you, insyaallah!
Megat Jittendran said…
The problem is our country is one nation wih two systems based on two sets of laws.

To get rid of the problem is to have single uniform civil code for all based on universal concept of human rights, natural justice and rule of law.

We need not implement religious laws because they are sectarian, partisan and bias.

Religion is a set of practises to actualise the concept of belief in god.

Each religion has its own sectarian, bias and partisan practices.

So I disagree on establishment of any Islamic or any other religious theocratic and mythological states anywhere in the world.

Let us live and enjoy together under a universal rule, indeed espoused by all religious and philosophical values and virtues.
nur mohd nidzam said…
Thank you YB for your enlightment on all the grey areas, muslim and non muslim surely would have got a better idea after reading the article.Like ananymous 3.47 said, malaysia will be the model country for the world if only we have more leaders like your good self.
Anonymous said…
As long as the BN government is doing what it is doing islam will lose respect and dignity amongst non Muslims. Hpwever, why is that Islamist like you do not organise protest like the mahasiswa etc etc do?
Don't you think justice shouls be done? Islam is used to get at the spouse in a negative manner. It is shameful that the islamic courts can accept just a peice of paper like a birth cert and convert a minor child/ infant without even checking if there is such a child.Did the child came to the world without the mother? How can learnred Muslim man make this kind of decision. Is Islam so complicated that every one can interpret the rules diffrently? This is shameful to Islam!!

If people like u try to talk only behind curtains, the hatred and disrespect towards Islam will only grow amngst non Muslims. Go oit there and make a point Datuk!!!
Xenan said…
assalamualaikum YB,

mohon bantuan support n hebahan demi nasib tahanan ISA.Apa lagi lah senjata yg kita ada nak lawan.

Harap boleh ajak kawan2 sign petisyen
Anonymous said…
salam yb,dr Maza ada artikel terbaru sapa yg layak jd pemimpin samada ulama atau profesional.

ini linknya:

menarik kupasan bekas mufti ni.

oh lagi satu,saya tertarik dgn idea xenan.ramai lagi melayu muslim ditahan,sampai lebih 6 tahun.tapi teressa kok dan kerajaan selangor tak tekankan pasal mereka.

pliss yb,help melayu muslim ni.DAP dan PKR tak amik peduli pasal tahanan melayu muslim yg kena ISA.kpd Pas lah kami mengharapkan usaha membebaskan meraka lebih bersepadu.pliss yb,your are our last hope.
Pastidakberkupiah? said…
Assalamu 'alaikum,

YB Khalid's Article

Please be careful, as this article is adopting liberal thinking in Islam. I would like to question several phrases in this article that CONTRADICT with the basic teachings of Islam.

You said, "In dealing with this issue and those like it, which is not as numerous as some may think given the publicity accorded to it and it’s sensitive nature, we should return to basic principles. The first basic principle is the principle of justice."

1. Is the first basic principle is the principle of justice or al Quran? You have said that it is justice, not al Quran. Our aqeedah is Justice comes from al Quran, and justice is not from the word itself.
2. Ridzuan want to ward off his sons from the fire of hell. Allaah (Exalted is He) Says, "O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones..." [Quran; 66:6].
3. Supporting Ridzuan to get custody for his sons is a part of Iman. Allaah (Exalted is He) Says, "Believers are but brothers so set things right between your brothers and fear God so that you may find mercy" (49: 1 0).
4. Have you ever thought that Ridzuan is your brother in Islam and defending him is a must, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon said) said, "A believer is a mirror to his brother. A believer is a brother of a believer: he protects him against any danger and guards him from behind." [al Bukhari]?

You said, "Even the Holy Prophet (MPBUH) adhered to this principle when he had to surrender Abu Jandal to the non-believers of Mecca due to an agreement signed prior to Abu Jandal’s migration to Medina."
You said, "The rights of both parents to teach their children their respective religion is acknowledged and the court is to ensure that both parents are to provide their fullest cooperation in this matter.
You said, "The children then decide for themselves their religion of choice when they come of age."

1. Do you who is Abu Jandal (ra)? Do you he is among the sahabi among the muhajirin and ansar that have been promised with al Jannah by Allah (Exalted is He), "And the early pioneers - the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who follow them in good: Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with him. And He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein, forever. (at-Tawbah:100)"
2. How could you compare with Ridzuan's sons are still young and need to be raise up with Islam.
3. Does this ayat uplift your Iman to defend Ridzuan and sons? Allaah (Exalted is He) Says, "O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones..." [Quran; 66:6]
4. We must defend Ridzuan for raising his sons with Islam. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon said) said, "No child is born except on Al-Fitra (Islam) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?" [al Bukhari]
5. Have you forgotten this hadith, "When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased)" [Muslim]?
6. Or have you ever consider yourself as a leader, as what the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon said) said, "Take care! Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked concerning his flock; a leader is a shepherd of his people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a man is a shepherd of the people of his house, and he shall be asked concerning his flock; and a woman is a shepherd of the house of her husband and over their children, and she shall be asked concerning them.” [Al-Bukhaari, Muslim] ?
7. Have you forgotten about these daleels when you wrote this liberal thinking article?
8. Or at least you respect the comments made by Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said the government needs to get the views of the Malaysian Mufti Council, stressing that "in Islam, when the father or mother is a Muslim, the child automatically becomes a Muslim unless the child is above the age of 15 and can choose his or her own religion".

You said, "The question of custody be decided in the manner it is decided in any other case. The religion of both parents is put aside when making this decision."

1. How do you defend Islam with a statement like this?
2. How can we as muslim put aside Islam in this matter?
3. How can every muslim will not feel ashamed with an article like this, even worst from a PAS representative?

You said, "Islamic law should not be seen as a law which discriminates in favour of the Muslims as if that is the perception, then we would have done Islam a great disservice irrespective of the short term ‘gains’ some consider we would have made."

1. Have not you read al Quran, "Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. and those who are with him are STRONG AGAINST the Unbelievers, (but) COMPASSIONATE amongst each other.[Quran: 48:29]
2. We must raise Islam to be above all, and why do you feel it discriminates others?
3. Do you idealize the statue of liberty rather the al Quran itself? Please don't be naive to answer this question.

Anwar's Speech

When I sees Anwar's link made by you, I would like to question his liberation speech of 'Ketuanan Rakyat' in Bahasa,

Anwar menyebut, "Ketuanan rakyat yang kita maksudkan adalah demokrasi yang matang di bawah naungan raja beperlembagaan. Demokrasi yang matang adalah demokrasi dimana rakyatnya perkasa, jiwanya merdeka, akalnya pintar, tindakannya dipandu oleh prinsip moral dan idealisme. Demokrasi inilah yang kita perjuangkan. Pohon demokrasi ini akan kita suburkan dengan pembinaan institusi-institusi masyarakat madani, media yang bebas serta bertanggjung jawab dan perlaksanaan undang-udang dengan seadilnya."


Adakah Islam disebut untuk pembentukan negara yang diidam-idamkan beliau? Jawabnya tidak ada. Sedangkan Allah swt berfirman,

"Sesungguhnya yang agama di sisi Allah ialah Islam." *(Ali-Imran:19).

Tafsir al Azhar oleh Dr Hamka,

Kata ad-din ialah biasa kita artikan ke dalam bahasa kita dengan agama. Sedang arti ad-din itu menurut asli Arabnya ialah tha'at tunduk dan juga balasan. Sebab itu maka yaumud-din, berarti hari pembalasan. Maka di dalam ta'rif syariat segala perintah yang dipikulkan oleh syara' kepada hamba yang telah baligh tapi berakal (mukallaf), itulah agama dia. Kadang-kadang disebut juga dengan kata lain, yaitu mullah, yang berarti agama juga. Dengan memakai kata millah atau millat, maka cakupan ad-din itu menjadi meluas lagi, mencakup sekalian peraturan hidup, bukan saja ibadat, bahkan juga mengatur negara.

Anwar menyebut, "Justeru itu kita mahukan demokrasi yang matang, dan, manakala terdapat kebuntuan dan krisis berlarutan seperti yang berlaku di Perak, kewajarannya ialah untuk kembali kepada rakyat."


Anwar menyeru kita kembali agar kepada rakyat, dan tidak kepada Allah. Kemanakah aqidah beliau? Allah swt berfirman,

"Aku hanya bertujuan hendak memperbaiki sedaya upayaku dan tiadalah aku akan beroleh taufik untuk menjayakannya melainkan dengan pertolongan Allah. Kepada Allah jualah aku berserah diri dan kepadaNyalah aku kembali." (Hud:88)

Anwar menyebut, "Kini tibalah masanya kita merebut kembali erti perjuangan kemerdekaan; perjuangan yang bertunjangkan Ketuanan Rakyat."


Anwar mengajak ummat untuk berjuang bertunjangkan rakyat, sedangkan Allah swt dengan jelas menyuruh kita berjuang untuk meninggikan kalimah Allah di muka bumi sebagaimana definisi perjuangan Islam di dalam shari'ah hanya boleh membawa satu makna iaitu "menentang orang kafir di medan pertempuran dan menghapuskan segala rintangan terhadap da'wah bagi menjadikan kalimah Allah (Islam) itu tinggi setinggi-tingginya".


Pemikiran-pemikiran sebegini dikenali sebagai pemikiran Islam Liberal. Ia telah menyelinap ke dalam PAS dan ia akan pasti menjadi barah jika tidak dicantas.

Jaringan Islam Liberal

Ana kemukakan tiga daripada agenda Islam Liberal daripada tulisan dari Luthfi Asy­Syaukani, salah seorang penggagas JIL yang juga dosen di Universitas Paramadina Mulya,

1. mengangkat kehidupan antara agama. Menurutnya perlu pencarian teologi pluralisme mengingat semakin majemuknya kehidupan bermasyarakat di negeri-negeri Islam.
2. mengangkat kesamaan di antara wanita dan lelaki, dan
3. kebebasan berpendapat (secara mutlak).

Sementara dari sumber lain, Greg Bertan, Gagasan Islam Liberal di Indonesia, Pustaka Antara Paramadina 1999: XXI) kita dapatkan empat agenda mereka adalah

1. pentingnya konstekstualisasi ijtihad
2. komitmen terhadap rasionalitas dan pembaruan

penerimaan terhadap pluralisme sosial dan pluralisme agama-agama
4. permisahan agama dari partai politik dan adanya posisi non-sektarian negara

Bahaya Firqah Liberal

1. Mereka tidak memiliki ulama dan tidak percaya kepada ilmu ulama. Mereka lebih percaya kepada diri mereka sendiri, sebab mereka mengaku sebagai “pembaharu” bahkan “super pembaharu” yaitu neo modernis.
2. Mereka beriman kepada sebagian kandungan al-Qur'an dan menyembunyikan sebagian yang lain, supaya penolakan mereka terkesan sopan dan ilmiyah mereka menciptakan “jalan baru” dalam menafsiri al-Qur'an.
3. Kesamaan cita-cita mereka dengan cita-cita Amerika, yaitu menjadikan Turki sebagai model bagi seluruh negara Islam. Prof. Dr. John L. Esposito menegaskan bahwa Amerika tidak akan rela sebelum seluruh negara-negara Islam tampil seperti Turki.
4. Orang-orang yang seperti inilah yang merusak agama ini. Mereka mengklaim diri mereka sebagai pembaharu Islam padahal merekalah perusak Islam, kononmya mereka mengajak kepada kepada Al-Qur'an padahal merekalah yang mencampakkan Al-Qur'an. Mengapa demikian ? Karena mereka bodoh terhadap sunnah. (Lihat Ahmad Thn Umar al-Mahmashani: 388-389)
5. Mereka berbahaya sebab mereka itu “sederhana” tidak memiliki landasan keilmuwan yang kuat dan tidak memiliki aqidah yang mapan. (lihat Ustadz Hartono Ahmad Jaiz, Bahaya Islam Liberal: 40, 64-65)
Lee Wee Tak said…
" that the Umno/BN government is unwilling to allow such interaction...."

Dear YB, spot on.

I suppose not allow inter-religion discussion is part of the "ketuanan melayu" package? Islam is the religion of Malay hence above the others?

well, the Pope visited a mosque a couple of days ago. Najib praised Buddhism on Wesak Day as "PM for all Malaysians"

Yet the application is so different from words?

I for one, cannot understand how harm can be done to any religion if the learned representatives can meet and foster understanding and goodwill; rather than fostering "one is holier than the other" mode.
Pastidakberkupiah? said…
Advice for Khalid Samad,

1. From the articles that have been brought up here, Khalid Samad have forgetten the beginning an basic struggle of PAS, that is to implement syar'iah law and to establish Islam above all. Maybe because of wealth and popularity.

2. This kind of 'swine flu' (put aside Islam to comfort others) has attacked UMNO right from the beginning, and it no surprise that the new liberal people of PAS (a.k.a. professionals) have started to get the symptoms. Ideas of backfiring ulama, new ijtihads, set aside Islam to please others etc is part of the symptoms of the 'swine flu'.

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