By Tajuddin Rasdi
March 14, 2019
It was reported that at least two state muftis support the use of the derogatory term “Kafir” (infidel) on non-Muslims in Malaysia.
They were responding to a leader from the influential Indonesian Islamic body Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) calling on Muslims not to use the term to refer to non-Muslims.
Back here, Umno Youth’s Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki called for jihad against the “enemies of Islam” after a man was charged with insulting the Prophet, while PAS leaders called on Muslims not to choose non-Muslims as leaders.
In Islamic literature, the term “Kafir” is generally understood to mean the enemies of Islam, those who try to cover up the truth of the religion.
This definition is along the views of the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs Mujahid Yusof Rawa, and NU scholars.
But is the definition of Kafir based on time and place? If it is temporal, then it is acceptable as it deals with a specific time in history when Muslims were at war with the Persian and Roman empires.
If it’s situational, then it is acceptable only if used on those in antagonism or war against Muslims.
So why did the two muftis say that “kafir” is a normal address for non-Muslims, in total contrast with Mujahid’s view?
Do they think that as they are not under any federal agency, they are free to make enemies of the citizens of Malaysia beyond the purview of our constitution?
I understand that the muftis in Malaysia are powerful, checked only by the sultans.
We respect that because in one sense, they can act as a check and balance when the federal government becomes corrupt.
We have never heard any mufti exercising that sacred duty. But we now hear some muftis “encouraging” the heightened state of religious and racial tension in the country by supporting the “infidel” label on our fellow citizens.
What about the highly paid academics in public universities? Their salaries come from the government coffers, money from Muslims and non-Muslims.
Where is their responsibility to the millions of Malaysians worried over the rising tide of extremism?
Is it not part of iman or Islamic spirituality to right wrongs? Is it not part of the faith to protect everyone regardless of religion, social status, race or lifestyle from the injustice of a group of Muslims trying to divide this country through their selfish and narrow-minded understanding of Islam?
And why the silence from professors, associate professors and senior lecturers numbering in the thousands? Do they also not understand the concept of Malaysia, Rukun Negara and the simple teaching of being good to your neighbours regardless of race, faith and lifestyle?
Malay academics are comfortable in their daily prayers at the mosque, yearly retreats in Mecca and private devotions during Ramadan. But are these enough to place them in the first of the seven heavens?
The Prophet said that if a man finds a tree branch obstructing a road that may cause harm to people and he does not remove it while he can, this man does not have any iman or faith.
Rituals and prayers that produce a sense of love and care for others is the true measure of one’s faith. It is not making enemies of other peace-loving Malaysians.
So to our leaders, should we allow the two muftis to undermine the idealism of Malaysia?
Academics in the public universities should help reinstate the place of Islam in our constitution and uphold the values of the Rukun Negara. If academics can educate the people, especially Muslims, on the moderate and socially acceptable aspects of Islam, we can thwart whatever extremist views officials or politicians might proclaim.
The present and future peace of Malaysia lies with all of us as responsible citizens and decent human beings in this country.