Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The Al-Quran Says "Let There Be NO Compulsion in Religion” (Verse 256, Sura al-Baqara)

Read HERE Commentary on this article on Screenshots

Acknowledgement to Screenshots for the link to Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil's essay published in the Asian Journal of Comparative Law .
The following essay by Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil makes an in-depth study of the right to freedom of religion and the issue of apostasy from the Islamic law perspective.

It argues that Muslims who intend to leave the Islamic faith are only required to undergo a process of repentance (tawba), and any punishment prescribed for apostasy is contrary to the right to freedom of religion.

The right to freedom of religion is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed in Islam, which is emphasised in verse 256 of Sura al-Baqara: “Let there be no compulsion in religion”.

In reality, punishment for apostasy is NOT prescribed in the Qur’an and had not been practised by the Prophet (S.A.W.). Instead, the Prophet (S.A.W.) had imposed the death penalty upon apostates because their acts were contemptuous of, and hostile towards, Islam.

Muslims who merely renounced the Islamic religion were only required to undergo a process of repentance (tawba).

The right to freedom of religion is guaranteed in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

However, as Islamic matters belong to the state jurisdictions, most provisions in relation to apostasy are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Shari’a Courts and apostates are subject to punishments such as fine, imprisonment and whipping.

"Law of Apostasy and Freedom of Religion in Malaysia".


Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil

(Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil is fromMARA University of Technology, Shah Alam, Malaysia, and can be reached at

EXCERPTS from Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil's paper "Law of Apostasy and Freedom of Religion in Malaysia'. Read here the full paper


While the right to freedom of religion is guaranteed in all religions, classical Muslim jurists argue for a restrictive scope of the right to freedom of religion in Islam.

According to these classical Muslim jurists, Muslims who intend to leave the Islamic faith are subject to the death penalty. These classical Muslim jurists argue that the right to the freedom of religion only applies to those who wish to convert to Islam. Once an individual becomes a Muslim, he is prohibited from converting out of Islam.

In Malaysia, although the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion, Muslims who intend to renounce Islam or who have apostatised, in reality, face considerable obstacles, among others, various punishments for apostasy.


Apostasy, in its ordinary meaning, denotes “abandonment of one’s religious faith, party, cause, etc”. The Arabic equivalent term for apostasy is ‘ridda’ and ‘irtidad’. The former signifies turning back from Islam to another religion or to unbelief, while the latter has an additional meaning, i.e. one who forsakes Islam for unbelief or for another religion is called a ‘murtadd’.

In Islamic jurisprudence, most classical and modern Muslim jurists attempt to define apostasy as a “disbelief or turning back from Islam through belief, word or deed”.

A Muslim who insults Islam by banishing the Qur’an, humiliating the Prophet,and denying Islamic ritual obligations such as exclamation for praying and fasting, or neglecting forbidden acts such as drinking liquor, committing adultery and fornication could constitute apostasy.

In most of the classical Muslim jurists’ writings, there are four broad aspects of the constitution of apostasy, i.e.
a) Apostasy in Faith (Ridda fi al­‘Aqida),

b) Apostasy in Actions (Ridda fi al-Af’al),

c) Apostasy in Statement (Ridda fi al-A qwal) and

d) Apostasy in Abandoning of Obligation (Ridda al-Tark).


The root source of this FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT is embodied in verse 256 of Sura Baqara: “Let there be NO compulsion in religion”.

Based on this command, many jurists and scholars postulate that among the rights that are manifested in personal liberty is the freedom of the individual to profess the religion of his or her choice WITHOUT compulsion.

A person also has a freedom to observe and to practise his or her faith without any fear of, or interference from, others. Hence, every individual is given the absolute freedom to choose any religion he or she prefers.

The Qur’an says: “The truth is from your Lord. Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it)”.

The Qur’an also states that under no condition should anyone be forced to accept a religion or belief against his or her will.

As Fathi Uthman observes “No power of any kind in the Islamic state may be employed to compel people to embrace Islam. The basic function of the Islamic state, in this regard, is to monitor and prevent the forces which might seek to deny the people their freedom of belief”.


There are at least two different views over the issue of the right to freedom of religion in Islam.

  1. The first view echoed by the classical jurists suggests that freedom of religion in Islam is not absolute. Hence, Muslims are strictly forbidden to leave the Islamic faith. For those who infringe this rule, the punishment of death penalty is likely to be imposed.

  2. The modernists argued that the right to freedom of religion in Islam is absolute, as humankind is bestowed with a choice whether to accept or reject the Islamic faith. Furthermore, whether a person embraces Islam is closely connected to the ‘hidaya’ (guidance) embodied in the Qur’an. According to Abdulaziz A Sachedina, a human being may reject this guidance without giving any reason for it. If he rejects the guidance provided by the Qur’an, he will be led astray spiritually, and will suffer for the choice that he had made.

    To the modernists, absolute freedom of religion means that an Islamic state cannot force a person to embrace Islam, as each individual has a right to follow the religion of his choice.

    In fact, history shows that the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. did NOT compel non-Muslims to embrace Islam. As a messenger of Allah S.W.T., the Prophet merely asked his fellow beings to follow the right path. He invited non-Muslims to embrace Islam but did not use force to make them accept Islam. As such, the majority of Muslim jurists are of the view that if a person is compelled to accept Islam, then such an act of conversion is not valid.

The most common verse that deals with the right to freedom of religion is stated in Sura al-Ba qara where Allah says:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks”.
This is generally taken to mean that ISLAM promotes religious FREEDOM and is AGAINST any compulsion in religion.

According to the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Islam never imposes on an individual to accept its religion. He further says:

Compulsion is incompatible with religion. Because religion depends upon faith and will, and this would be meaningless if induced by force. Truth and error have been so clearly shown by the mercy of Allah that there should be no doubt in the minds of any persons of good will as to the fundamentals of faith. Allah’s protection is continuous, and His plan is always to lead us from the depths of darkness into the clearest light.
In many books of Tafsir al-Qur’an (Interpretation of The Qur’an), many commentators support the right to freedom of religion.

However, some of them adopt a restrictive interpretation on this matter. Al-Qurtubi, al-Tabari and al-Tusi, for example, are among those that suggest that the verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” does NOT actually carry the literal meaning, i.e. a person is actually free from being compelled in religion.

According to them, there are four views on this matter.

  1. First, the right to freedom of religion only applies to the people of the book (ahl al-kitab) from which the Islamic state received a poll-tax (jizya).

  2. Second, that the verse “Let there be no compulsion in religion” was abrogated by the verse that ordained jihad (holy war) “Seize them and slay them wherever ye find them”, since Allah had ordered a war against them. It was also due to the compulsion carried out by the Prophet towards the Arab tribes to accept Islam, failing that they shall be killed.

  3. Third, it was said that the people of Ansar (local community of Medina) intended to compel their children to convert to Islam, and Allah prohibited them from carrying this out. There are numerous narrations with regard to whom this verse was revealed to.

  4. Fourth, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” means people who have converted to Islam after being rebels should NOT be killed, and their conversion to Islam should be accepted even though there was an element of force.

As far as punishment for apostasy is concerned, there appears to be NO CONSENSUS among the Muslim jurists. There are at least three views:

  • the first group, representing the classical Muslim jurists, opines that Muslims who apostatised should be sentenced to death penalty after the lapse of the period of repentance, as this offence is categorised under the hadd offences.

  • The second group, comprising the modernists, suggests that the act of leaving the Islamic faith is a matter of the right to freedom of religion. A mere renunciation from the religion of Islam without contemptuous attack on the religion of Islam is free from worldly punishment as he will be punished in the hereafter.

  • The third group of Muslim jurists argues that the type of punishment for apostasy is categorised under ta ’zir on the ground that there is NO single verse from the Qur’an mentioning such worldly punishment.

  • It must be noted here that there is a conflict of Hadith on whether an apostate should be put to death.

    It has been pointed out by some Muslim jurists that the Prophet S.A.W. had sentenced a death penalty upon traitors (baghy) not as a result of apostasy.

    According to Ibn Taimiyyah, the Hadith that states “the life of a Muslim can be taken if he commits adultery, murder or leaves his religion” is directed specifically against a traitor (baghy) and NOT against the apostates.

    Furthermore, the principal Hadith that says “whoever changes his religion shall be killed” is considered weak (daif), and is conveyed in the form of a general provision (‘am) which is in need of specification (takhsis). It is further said that instead of being specific, the said Hadith is too general in scope.

    A number of Muslim jurists argue that apostates should be sentenced to death penalty.

    Abdul Hamid A. Abu Sulayman tried to explain how the classical jurists could have gone wrong in their interpretation.

    According to him, there at least three confusions.

  • First, there is a confusion in regard to the space-time factor where the issue of apostasy related to a conspiracy led by some of the Jewish communities to create chaos and confusion. The tactic used by this group was to convert to Islam and subsequently leave the religion as a group. This hypocritical conduct on the part of this group had resulted in the Prophet sentencing them to death based on that particular incident.

  • The second confusion occurred in the early period of Islam, when the classical Muslim jurists took the act for what it appeared to be and not for what it was meant to be. They mistook political conspiracy for eliminating the exercise of the right to freedom of religion. The classical Muslim jurists seemed to exercise little analysis concerning the whole question, as the word ‘apostasy’ alone determined their position. Hence, the position taken by the classical Muslim jurists pertaining to the issue of apostasy was not against the right to freedom of religion, but rather to enforce the Islamisation policy on the warring Bedouin tribes and towards checking conspiracy.

  • The third confusion arises in regard to the action taken by the first Caliph, Abu Bakar, against those who were reluctant to pay zakat, which the classical Muslim jurists would regard as acts of apostasy. In reality, the action taken by Aby Bakar was merely a political measure against subversive activity, and had nothing to do with the exercise of the right to freedom of religion.

    A contemporary scholar, ‘Abd al-Muta’ali al-Sa’idi agrees with the modernists.

    According to him, an apostate is NO different from a person born as a non-believer; just as the non-believer is allowed to profess his religion, the apostate is allowed to leave Islam.

    For support, he cites the views of the Muslim jurists of the past such as Ibrahim al-Nakha’i, Hassan al-B asri, Sufyan al-Thawri, ‘Abd Wahab al-Shar’rani and Shams al-Din al-Sharakshi. It is to be noted however, that Al Sa’idi’s views are not free from controversy.

    The modernists adopt the view that those who leave Islam without committing acts of sabotage or betrayal against Islam or without insulting, degrading, reviling or ridiculing Islam will NOT suffer any punishment in THIS world as such punishment is postponed to the hereafter.
  • It is said that the stand of the classical Muslim jurists that an apostate should be sentenced to death is due to a failure on their part to appreciate the difference between an act of apostasy and an act of blasphemy.

    It has been argued that by virtue of the difficulty of differentiating these two acts, it is quite understandable that the classical Muslim jurists would have regarded an act of blasphemy as a category of apostasy, and that those who commit the two offences would suffer the death punishment.

    In reality, apostasy may occur without the presence of elements constituting acts of rebellion or insult against Islam; on the other hand, acts of insulting Islam may lead to acts that ridicule Islam or are hostile to Islam.

    As there is a difference between the two offences under the law, the punishment must necessarily be different.


    The Report of the Reid Commission was silent on the provision on Islam as a State Religion.

    The Alliance party had recommended that a provision on Islam as the religion of the Federation should not effect non-Muslims who would not be imposed with any disability in professing, propagating and practising their religions, and indeed, it would not prevent the State from being a secular State.

    It was understood that in the early stage of the meetings, the Rulers were reluctant to accept this proposal as they were doubtful whether the provision might have taken away their powers on Islam.

    In the end, the final version of such provision was inserted in the Federal Constitution, which provided that: Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

    However, clause (4) provided: State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, Federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

    Thus it would be constitutional for a law to be enacted to restrict the propagation of non-Muslim religions among Muslims.

    Article 3(1) appears, to some extent, to reiterate the rights protected under Article 11(1) and also to reaffirm the supremacy of the position of Islam under the Federal Constitution.

    Furthermore, the interpretation on the position of Islam is very crucial. Islam seems to be placed beyond other religions in the Federation. The Supreme Court held that the provision of Article 3(1) merely provided for a ritualistic and ceremonial role of Islam.

    The Supreme Court (as it then was) (said) that the provision in Article 3(1) does not actually give a meaning that Malaysia is an Islamic state, where in reality Islamic law only applies to Muslims on matters that related to personal laws. And since the Constitution makes a clear distinction between private law and public law, offences like drug trafficking are under the Federal List, and therefore constitutional.

    The debate on whether Malaysia is an Islamic state or a secular state was again raised in 2001, when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state. This announcement was not followed by any amendment to the Federal Constitution.

    According to Tan Sri Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman, the religious adviser to the Prime Minister, “Malaysia has fulfilled the requirements of an Islamic State”. He refers to a book written by Wan Zahidi Wan Teh entitled Malaysia Adalah Sebuah Negara Islam (Malaysia is an Islamic State).

    In this book, the author attempts to ascertain whether or not Malaysia is an Islamic state, and argues that reference must be made to the opinion of Muslim scholars about the definition of an Islamic state. First, the nation has to be under Muslim governance, its defence in the hands of Muslims, and it must be the responsibility of every Muslim to defend it. Second, the nation is controlled by Muslims, in which they attain peace within it. Third, the laws of an Islamic ruler are enforced, and finally, Islamic law must be adhered to.

    Some legal commentators suggest that these criteria will not change the status of Malaysia being a secular state. The provision in Article 12(2), that allows the use of official funding to promote and facilitate Islamic institutions, also proves that Malaysia is not a secular state.

    Perhaps the position taken by Shad Faruqi, Aziz Bari, Lee Min Choon and Hassan Bahrom that categorised Malaysia somewhere between the secular state and the Islamic state could be the answer to the ambiguity of the position of Islam in Malaysia. Thus, according to Shad Faruqi, “Malaysia is neither a full-fledged Islamic state nor wholly secular”, but that “in view of the fact that Muslims constitute the majority population, and Islamisation is being vigorously enforced, Malaysia can indeed be described as an Islamic or Muslim country”.

    In addition, Shad Faruqi adds that “in a secular constitution, there is no prescribed official religion and no state aid is given to any religion or for any religious activities, but the word religion does occur at least twenty four times in the Federal Constitution”.

    It must be emphasised that despite the policy on Islamisation that has taken place for at least two decades, there was no attempt by the present government to amend the Federal Constitution to declare Malaysia an Islamic state.

    However, the recent approach taken by a High Court judge seems to elucidate that Islam is a superior religion in the Federation.


    The only provision where the Federal Constitution does state ‘Shari ’a Courts’ is Article 121(1 A), where it takes away the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts on matters that are within the jurisdiction of the Shari’a Courts.

    The jurisdiction of Islamic law is specifically provided in the Ninth Schedule, List II – State List,98 which among other things, covers only persons professing the religion of Islam. Matters that are provided under this jurisdiction are strictly confined to personal laws such as marriage, divorce, and all ancillary matters related to them and succession.

    With regard to criminal laws, jurisdiction relates only to offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion such as the offences of eating and drinking in public during the month of Ramadhan, neglecting from performing the Friday prayer, committing zina and khalwat and other matters that are strictly provided in various States’ Islamic Criminal Laws.

    It must be noted that Parliament has no power to legislate any law under the Ninth Schedule, State List – II.

    The Supreme Court (as it then was) held that it was the power of the respective State Legislative Assemblies, not the Parliament, to pass such law as being legislation on the Islamic religion according to Article 11(4) and item 1 of List II, Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

    The Supreme Court held that there must be a declaration that Section 298A of the Penal Code is a law with respect to which Parliament has no power to make and such section was invalid and therefore null and void and of no effect. The ruling, however, shall not apply to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.

    The jurisdiction of the Shari ’a Criminal law is also confined to persons professing the religion of Islam. The Shari ’a Courts Act 1965 (Criminal Jurisdiction) gives jurisdiction to the Shari ’a Courts to punish with up to 6 months of imprisonment, or fine up to RM1,000.00, or a combination of both. The Shari’a Courts’ jurisdiction pertaining to criminal matters was amended in 1984 which gave the Shari ’a Courts the power to sentence up to 3 years of imprisonment, to fine up to RM5,000.00, to order up to 6 strokes of the cane, or any combination of these punishments.


    Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion, provides:

    (1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to clause (4), to propagate it

    It must be noted that Article 11(1) contains two important expressions, namely ‘to profess’ and ‘to practise’.

    However, the terms ‘profess’ and ‘practise’ are not defined.

    Constitutionally, a person can profess a religion “without having to prove the worthiness of his religious profession”.

    The most important thing is that accepting a particular religion indicates that one professes such a religion. The extent of knowledge of that particular religion is also irrelevant when the question of the right to profess a religion arises.

    In the eyes of the law, a person could be said to be professing a particular religion by simply adhering to such religion although he does not attend a specific place of worship at all.

    The Court held that in order to maintain the status as Muslim one does not need to observe the ritual obligations but “a person who was born in the Muslim faith and has never been proved to have adopted any other religion must be held to be a Muslim”. The Court decided that a person is considered Muslim as long as he professed the religion of Islam.

    Since there is a distinction between the profession of religion and its practice, one could argue that practising a religion is not a prerequisite element to be regarded as a follower of a particular religion.

    Such a distinction was lost in Ng Wan Chan v Majlis Ugama Islam, Wilayah Persekutuan. In this case, there was a dispute whether the husband (the deceased) of the plaintiff was a Muslim or Buddhist at the time of his death. The plaintiff claimed that her husband was a Buddhist at the time of his death, while Majlis Agama Islam (Council of Islamic Religion) claimed otherwise. She led evidence to show that her husband had renounced Islam and had converted back to Buddhism when he died.

    The Court ruled in her favour since it was clear that her husband was a Buddhist at the time of his demise.

    However, the Court in Dalip Kaur v Pegawai Polis Daerah Mertajam, took a different stand. Although the widow (appellant) claimed that her late husband was no longer a Muslim at the time of his demise, the High Court (as it was then) held that the deceased was a Muslim at the time of his death and had not reconverted back to Sikhism. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

    One of the most vital issues surrounding the question of profession is the position of a Muslim who leaves the Islamic religion.

    Given that Article 160(2) stipulates that a Malay must professes the religion of Islam, habitually speak the Malay language and conform to the Malay customs, the issue of conversion out of Islam remains controversial and ambiguous.

    While non-Muslims could profess any religion they wish, including changing from one religion to another, Muslims particularly from the Malay ethnicity are prohibited from doing so. It seems that the right to profess a religion in Malaysia is not an absolute right.

    Of course a person who frequently changes his religion will not win the respect of others but what is the position in the case where a person changes his religion once in his lifetime?

    One would not be concerned if the parties are non-Muslims.

    But if a Malay leaves his Islamic religion, then the question of the freedom of right of profession arises.

    Lee Min Choon, for example, postulates that the right of profession of a religion is an unrestricted right. In other words, a person has the right to choose and embrace any religion at any particular time. This does not mean that a person can only choose one religion for his whole life. He therefore argues that the expression “his religion” in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution must necessarily mean that the religion adopted by a person should be one free of choice.

    As a result, a person who changes his religion freely, without deception, coercion or undue influence, is exercising his right to freedom of religion.


    The non-absolute nature of the right to freedom of religion in Malaysia, at least insofar as Islam is concerned, was given judicial recognition by Heliliah Mohd Yusoff J in the case of Ahmad Yani b Ismail v Ketua Polis Negara.

    Articles 11(1) and 11(4) of the Constitution indicate that the provisions on Islam as a faith and Islam as a law are intertwined; one cannot look at one provision in the Constitution without looking at the other provisions. This is how Article 11(1) should be construed.

    It becomes evident therefore that the issue of a Muslim attempting to apostate is not merely an issue of faith but one of law i.e Islamic law, which applies to all Muslims in the States of the Federation.


    As far as the law of apostasy is concerned, there are three approaches taken by the states.

    First, states have enacted laws whereby apostates are subject to punishment. This can be seen in Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Malacca and Sabah. All these five states laid down provisions whereby any Muslim who renounced Islam shall be punished with fine, imprisonment or whipping (in Pahang).

    In other states, those who leave Islam are not regarded as offenders (apostates) but are detained and given counselling in a “faith” rehabilitation centre. At least three states adopt this practice. In Sabah and Kelantan, for example, if a person leaves Islam or intends to leave Islam, he can be detained at a faith rehabilitation centre for a period not exceeding 36 months. In Malacca he can be detained for a period of 6 months.

    In Negeri Sembilan, the law does not provide for detention. In fact, it provides a remedy to any Muslim who intends to renounce the Islamic faith, although the applicant is subject to certain procedural conditions that are consistent with the requirements of the Shari ’a.


    States such as Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Selangor, Federal Territories, Johor and Sarawak do not make any provision on the punishment for apostasy, nor do they provide any facilitation for apostasy.

    Since these States’ Enactments are silent on this matter, Muslims particularly by conversion who wish to leave the Islamic religion are in a legal quandary.

    Such experience could be seen in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, where until August 2004, twelve applications to renounce Islam at the Shari ’a Court were rejected due to there being no provision in the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act of 1998 to deal with such applications.

    Sarawak seems lenient in approving applications to renounce Islam. As the majority of the applicants are Muslims by conversion, the Chief Minister appears to have compromised on the matter.

    Though the Shari ’a Court seems reluctant to declare a person has apostatised, such approval could be obtained from the Religious Department.

    The procedure seems very straightforward.

    Muslims who wish to convert out of Islam may apply for approval from the Religious Department. The officer-in-charge will ask the applicant the reason why he intends to renounce Islam. In most cases, the applicant will undergo a series of counselling for the purpose of repentance. If such process fails, the officer will issue a letter confirming that such person is no longer professing the religion of Islam. By this document, the person can apply to change his Muslim name to a non-Muslim name at the Department of Registration, which in this case faces no obstacle. It is believed that Sarawak has one of the highest numbers of such applications to renounce Islam in Malaysia.


    The new regulation by the Department of Registration makes it impossible for Muslims to change their Muslim names to non-Muslim names unless the applicants have successfully been declared as non-Muslims by any Shari ’a Court or Religious Department.

    The new rule, namely National Registration Rules (Amendment 2001), states that application to change name shall not be related to the changing of religion.

    However, if there is an application to change a Muslim name to a non-Muslim name, the applicant must attach a supporting document either by the Religious Department or the Shari ’a Court that indicates that he has been declared apostate.

    Based on statistics issued by the Registration Department from 1999 till July 2003, there were 750 applications to change from a Muslim name to a non-Muslim name.

    Out of this number, only 220 applications were granted where there were supporting documents either from the Shari ’a Courts or Religious Departments, which indicates that the applicants officially renounced the religion of Islam.

    For the year of 2003 (until July), there were 81 applicants. There are also certain cases whereby, the applicants applied to use the original non-Muslim name as issued in the birth certificate.

    Most cases of approvals involved Muslims by conversion. If there were cases involving Muslims by birth, it is likely that either one of their parents or both of them are Muslims by conversion.

    This indicates that there is only a small number of applications to apostatise by born Muslims.


    Despite the apparent jurisdictions awarded to the Civil and Shari ’a Courts, conflicts between the two court systems have never been considered. One particular area of conflict in recent years has been the issue of jurisdiction in matters concerning apostasy cases.

    One of the main reasons that contributes to this dichotomy is that, some of the state legislatures, despite being conferred the power and jurisdiction of the Shari ’a Courts, have failed to take substantial steps to confer an explicit jurisdiction on Shari ’a Courts over the jurisdiction of apostasy.

    The question which arises here is whether the Shari ’a Courts have jurisdiction over those matters listed in paragraph 1 of the State List even in the absence of an express state law conferring such jurisdiction on the Shari ’a Courts?

    In addition, because the word ‘jurisdiction’ in Article 121(1 A) of the Federal Constitution seems ambiguous, there is a need for a proper construction of its interpretation by the Federal Court. As such, it has led to conflicting judicial decisions on the question of which court has jurisdiction when apostasy cases arise.

    There are two approaches taken by the courts in deciding whether the Shari’a Courts have jurisdiction in matters concerning apostasy.

    1. The first approach suggests that the Shari ’a Courts have no jurisdiction whatsoever in matters relating to apostasy in a case where there is no express jurisdiction conferred in the State laws. This approach is taken even though the Federal Constitution provides that the State has jurisdiction over matters relating to Islamic law. The view that postulates that State Legislatures need to expressly confer jurisdiction on the Shari ’a Courts was affirmed in Ng Wan Chan v Majlis Ugama Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan.

      If State law does not confer on the Shari ’a Court any jurisdiction to deal with matter stated in the State List, the Shari ’a Court is precluded from dealing with the matter. Jurisdiction cannot be derived by implication.

      In Shaik Zolkaffly Shaik Natar v Majlis Agama Islam Pulau Pinang, the High Court of Penang echoed a similar view. The judge held:When there is a challenge to the jurisdiction of the High Court, the key is not whether the High Court had jurisdiction, but whether jurisdiction of the matter at hand is with the Shari ’a Court.
      Jurisdiction to Shari ’a Court is given by state laws but if state law did not confer on the Shari ’a Court any jurisdiction to deal with any matter in the State List, the Shari ’a Court is precluded from dealing with the matter and the jurisdiction cannot be derived by implication.

      The High Court found that, because there was no express jurisdiction conferred on the Shari ’a Court, the sole jurisdiction rested with the Civil Courts.

      The final example is the case of Mohamed Habibullah v Faridah Talib. This is an important case involving Article 121(1A) although it does not directly involve the issue of apostasy. The Supreme Court held that the provision of Article 121 (1A) was to give the Shari ’a Courts an exclusive jurisdiction over matters related to Islamic law among persons professing the religion of Islam. Hence, the Civil High Court is precluded from having any jurisdiction over such matters.

    2. The second approach, however, postulates that the Shari ’a Courts do have jurisdiction over matters concerning apostasy even where there is no express provision in the State statutes. The main reason for this approach is that the word ‘jurisdiction’ in Article 121(1 A) of the Federal Constitution “refers to the wider jurisdiction stipulated in Item 1 of the State List”. Under this category, such jurisdiction is awarded to the Shari ’a Courts by Item 1 of the State List, though such provision is not implicitly provided.

      Justice Abdul Kadir Sulaiman ruled that the question of apostasy was not within the jurisdiction of High Court and only the Shari ’a Court can deal with this matter even though there was no provision with regard to apostasy in the State Enactment.

      The learned judge ruled that the issue of apostasy is under the state jurisdiction, even though the state legislation is silent on this matter.

      Indeed, by virtue of Article 121(1 A) of the Federal Constitution, the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to hear such application and to determine an application concerning renunciation of Islam, as such power and jurisdiction are in the hands of the Shari’a Courts.

    Although Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion, it seems that some states have penalised Muslims who renounced Islam.

    This can be seen in the states of Pahang, Perak, Terengganu, Melaka and Sabah.

    In the states of Sabah, Kelantan and Malacca, Muslims who intend to renounce Islam are detained at the Islamic rehabilitation centre for counselling purposes to keep their Islamic faith. Other states are silent on the provision of apostasy.

    Given the provisions of Articles 11(1) and 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, the writer is of the view that the law of apostasy must be standardised and uniformed.

    Provisions on punishment and mandatory detention at the Islamic rehabilitation centre for apostasy should be reviewed.

    It seems that the Negeri Sembilan’s law will be a good model for adoption, whereby Muslims who intend to leave the Islamic faith must undergo a counselling process for repentance purposes.


    From Abdul Malik: Read here for more in Malaysiakini

    ".... It’s true that once upon a time, Islam was a great empire. When was that? When the dinosaurs went extinct?

    What happened to the greatness of the past Muslim scholars who created trigonometry and contributed to knowledge and mankind, at the same time not forgetting their responsibilities to God?

    What happened to these people? Did their ideology and thinking die with them?

    What is happening today is that the Islamic world is very weak. No matter how much Abdul Rahman wants to glorify the past, look at us today, in a pathetic state of denial, fighting among ourselves and the most common excuse is to blame the Western mentality. Oh come on, what a sad state of mind. History should teach us to become better people, but not the Muslim world. We do not use history to improve ourselves. Abdul Rahman comes from Cairo, Egypt so he should look at the state of his neighbour before condemning anyone else.

    In the past, Islam was practiced as a whole, contributing to knowledge as well as religion. So much so, that Islam gained the confidence of the people making it one of the biggest empires of all times.

    The ‘quran’ and the ‘hadith’ were practiced wholeheartedly. What is happening today? Only bits and pieces of the ‘quran’ and the ‘hadith’ are used.

    The sad thing is that the ‘quran’ and the ‘hadith’ are not used to improve society but to create fear. The fanatics of religion choose to neglect the other elements in the Quran to create an unhealthy environment and always use the successes of the past as the milestone for the future.

    As an Islamic scholar, I have one question to ask - are we a religion of the past, or one working for a better present and future?

    Today, there are two groups of Islamic scholars, one who are is still attached to the glory of the past while the other wants to strive for the present and future.

    Fortunately, I fall into the second group wanting to bring Islam to new heights. Dr Syed Alwi Ahmad, myself and many more out there have realised that something has happened to the Islamic civilisation to make it so weak. The leaders of the past have failed to see the implications of neglecting science and technology.

    This created a loophole that has been monopolised by the so-called ‘Western secular liberal paradigm’. In order to make up for lost time, we have to sit at the same table with these brilliant Western minds to learn from them.

    For most of us, Western civilisation is the one guiding us towards a more civilised society, as there are no role models for us in the Islamic world, particularly in terms of knowledge advancement in science and technology.

    After many years working with my seniors from UK and Australia, I am beginning to realise why Islam feels so threatened by the West. But at one point, the West, too, was threatened by Islam. What did they do? What are we doing? Who is the one that has failed to think out of the box?

    As a moderate Muslim, I will continue my contribution to knowledge, and will continue to strive to make this world a better place for my child, learning from the past to improve the future.

    Moderate Muslims must unite and fight these radicals who are making us weaker and may Allah swt bless us in our quest."

    Tuesday, 26 June 2007

    Must Read Article !! A Foreigner's Perspectives on the NEP on Malays and Malaysia

    From Malaysiakini: Read here article by Feroz Qureshi


    "...In my dealings with the Malaysian government, I have learnt that there is a feeling of ‘entitlement’ among Malays that makes for a curious insight. Their behaviour can be as patronising and feudal as kings of old who place themselves above all others, on a misguided notion that they were born into the ‘RIGHT GROUP '.

    The young educated Malays will HIJACK the NEP (New Economic Policy).

    There is already much rhetoric coming from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s own son-in-law towards this end.

    To me and others who swear by free competition, the NEP is flawed from its conception in 1970. What baffles me is that the Malay political elite remains adamant that a redistribution of wealth via such means is THE ONE AND ONLY solution.

    My assessment is that the Malay-educated is OBSSESSED with getting a BIGGER slice of the domestic pie. His perception of the NEP is nothing short of ridiculousa sense of righteousness amidst misplaced ideology, borne out of fear and resentment towards others who seem better off economically. It lies somewhere along the lines of, ‘If the Chinese and Indians are unhappy with it, they can leave Malaysia’.

    As long as the NEP remains in its present form, the Malay-educated can NEVER RISE FULLY . At best, they become ‘BIG fish swimming in SMALL ponds’ and will NEVER be able to compete at an international level.
    After all, fish in PONDS will DROWN in the ocean.

    The LESSON here is a simple one. When you do NOT allow the BEST and BRIGHTEST to rise or lead, then you DEGRADE SOCIETY as a whole.

    I tell my clients that in SINGAPORE, everything from education to jobs to business and government contracts, we have to compete with the rest of the world.

    In MALAYSIA, the MALAY only needs to be better than OTHER MALAYS.
    - Feroz Qureshi


    Feroz Qureshi

    After reading the comments made by the European Commission’s top envoy to Malaysia, I can’t help but put my two cents worth into the fray.

    I have worked and lived in Malaysia and am well accustomed to its social fabric and political system.

    As a foreigner, I have a better understanding than Westerners on this issue because I speak Bahasa Malaysia and have been exposed to Malay culture and traditions from young.

    Still, I am perplexed by the NEP and its predictable ills especially coming from an environment where ‘meritocracy’ is, to a small extent, worshiped.

    Essentially, all societies are unequal in some form or other.

    But few in the developing world would attempt to make more equal by legislating a heavy-handed unequal-ness. This is what Malaysia has done.

    The extreme of this ideology has to be Mugabe’s confiscation of white-owned farm lands in Zimbabwe.

    To me and others who swear by free competition, the NEP is flawed from its conception in 1970. What baffles me is that the Malay political elite remains adamant that a redistribution of wealth via such means is the one and only solution.

    In my dealings with the Malaysian government, I have learnt that there is a feeling of entitlement’ among Malays that makes for a curious insight. Their behaviour can be as patronising and feudal as kings of old who place themselves above all others on a misguided notion that they were BORN into the ‘right group’.

    All throughout history, when a group of people are content with the status quo, it is only because they are its prime beneficiaries! To the point that even when they see injustice in the system, they are unlikely to get rid of it.

    And believe me, education doesn’t change a thing. Human nature is such that when one enjoys ‘unfair advantages’ - be it through the NEP, farm subsidies from the EU or simply having wealthy parents - one is somehow driven to rationalise these advantages as deserving and good.
    Malaysia is now experiencing its second generation of NEP legislation and this is where grave danger lies, for it will, if not already, be deeply entrenched in the psyche of the Malay.

    Far from being more even-handed in its application, the young educated Malays will hijack the NEP.

    There is already much rhetoric coming from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s own son-in-law towards this end.

    Efforts by the present government to weed out corruption (smokescreen or otherwise) will be seen in some quarters as depriving new Malays from benefits their parents enjoyed.

    The late Peter Drucker once famously said, ‘It is foolish to expect change from those who have benefitted from the old order’.

    This development, nay, stubborn continuation of a poorly-conceived set of laws, does not auger well for Malaysia among its non-Malay citizens. And although they have put up with it, foreigners and foreign capital don’t always have to. The moment profits are not good enough and the NEP erodes margins, they will pack and go.

    Thus, the government now finds itself in a quagmire – expectations from both sides are beginning to exceed the ability to deliver.

    While there is strong political will to maintain the NEP, the system itself is headed for collapse in the foreseeable future.

    Fast-forward 30 to 40 years and you will arrive at the same disturbing scenario as a few socialistic European governments of today – overbloated and inefficient civil service, pension schemes defaulting, government subsidies propping up unsustainable businesses, high unemployment from lack of new jobs, healthcare crises, etc, etc.

    The lesson here is a simple one. When you do not allow the best and brightest to rise or lead, then you degrade society as a whole.

    My assessment of this issue is that the Malay-educated is obsessed with getting a bigger slice of the domestic pie that this outlook seems insular and resentful.

    His perception of the NEP is nothing short of ridiculous – a sense of righteousness amidst misplaced ideology, borne out of fear and resentment towards others who seem better off economically. It lies somewhere along the lines of, ‘If the Chinese and Indians are unhappy with it, they can leave Malaysia’.

    And this belies one of the tragedies of Malaysian society – it is never short of able and bright minds, but ethnic suspicions make all Malaysians under-perform as a collective. Perhaps the NEP should be phased out to blur the lines of ethnicity in the country, albeit gradually to lessen the shock impact.

    And my conclusion is that as long as the NEP remains in its present form, the Malay-educated can never rise fully. At best, they become ‘BIG fish swimming in SMALL ponds’ and will never be able to compete at an international level.

    Hence, I will not be surprised if Malaysia’s economic pie vis-à-vis the rest of the world’s grows insignificantly. After all, fish in ponds will drown in the ocean.

    I use a business pitch when differentiating from Malaysian firms and companies. I tell my clients that in Singapore, everything from education to jobs to business and government contracts, we have to compete with the rest of the world.

    In Malaysia, the MALAY needs to be than BETTER than OTHER Malays.


  • From Dr. Syed Alwi Ahmad: Read here for more on Malaysia-Today
  • " Malay Rights? What About Malay Responsibility?

    I find it very strange that
    political discourse in Malaysia today, revolves around Malay rights (Article 153), Ketuanan Melayu, NEP and so on.

    For one thing, rights always come with responsibilities.

    How many Malaysian Malays talk of the Malay responsibilities that accompany their much touted Ketuanan Melayu?

    It makes no sense to me to talk of rights without qualifying it with responsibilities.

    You want to be a Tuan? Then you must also shoulder the responsibility of being the Tuan. That's only fair and reasonable.

    And what might those responsibilities be? Here is a sample:

    1) The responsibility to maintain racial and religious harmony.

    2) The responsibility to maintain sustainable economic development for all

    3) The responsibility to pursue scientific and technological development,and so on.

    But it seems to me that those who want to be Tuans have NOT fulfilled their responsibilities! So how to be a Tuan?

    I have been following Malaysian politics since the early nineties.

    Throughout this entire period - NOT even ONE Malaysian Malay leader raised the issue of Malay responsibilities that ought to come with Malay rights and the Ketuanan Melayu.

    Thats very telling of the Malaysian psyche. Its pretty damning!

    To talk of rights without responsibilities will only encourage people to take advantage of the situation.

    After all - who does not want freebies and unlimited social welfare in the form of the NEP? From tongkat to wheelchair and then finally - to the ambulance!

    Yes - keep Article 153 and the NEP. But balance it with MALAY responsibilities.

    Only CHILDREN have rights WITHOUT responsibilities.

    To be a true Tuan, you also need to shoulder the Tuan's responsibility.
    - Dr Syed Alwi

    Malaysian Minister Says in Parliament Singapore is NOT a REAL Country

    Read here for more and here in Malaysiakini

    Another Literate But Uneducated Fool
    Sitting in the Malaysian Cabinet

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
    Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz,
    Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

    “Singapore is NOT a REAL country, it is a small island.

    Singapore’s population is just three to four million and there are no opportunities for corruption, unlike in our country."
    -Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the PM's Department
    (source: Malaysiakini )

    Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has envisioned that her country will be like Singapore, 20 years from now.

    President Arroyo said:
    "We would like to be like SINGAPORE... a FIRST WORLD COUNTRY.

    We would, by that time, be able to drastically reduce poverty, create a robust middle class and have all the hallmarks of a modern society and strong and stable institutions.

    The Philippines has become an increasingly competitive location for manufacturing services and high skilled jobs, along with the booming call centre business which Singaporean companies are quite familiar with and have invested in. "
    In her speech, President Arroyo invited Singapore businesses to invest in the country's growing industries, in particular the power sector, tourism and infrastructure.

    Monday, 25 June 2007

    Understanding the Malay-Muslim Mind

    Read here in Malaysia-Today


    "... Islam, to the Malays, is basically Arabisation.

    They look up to the Arabs as the PERFECT example and ROLE MODEL of Islam and anything Saudi Arabian is considered the BEST example of the Prophet Muhammad, which should be emulated by ALL good Muslims.

    Dressing the way of the Prophet, eating and drinking the way of the Prophet, in short, conducting your entire life the way of the Prophet is virtuous and scores points.

    The only thing is, they do NOT really know what it was like in the time of the Prophet other than that he was an Arab -- so what is Arab TODAY must then be what it was like in the time of the Prophet.

    It is those people who believe they are holding dear the true version of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad’s version, who are resorting to this INTOLERANCE. And these people look to the Saudi Arabian model of Islam in moulding their opinions and beliefs. In short, they are following the Wahhabi version of Islam.

    The Arabs, to the Malays, are the BEST example of the Prophet and to insult the Arabs tantamount to insulting Islam and the Prophet.

    If the Malays only knew the truth! But they refuse to recognise the truth because they are worried that the truth may erode their akidah whereas this has nothing to do with akidah, or even religion, but has everything to do with history and reality
    -Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Raja Petra Kamarudin

    Excerpts: Read here for more

    On 19 June 2007, one Malaysia Today reader who goes by the nickname of anon sent in a letter (that said) there was this Malay teacher who chided Malay students for getting to chummy with the non-Malay students.

    I hope, through this piece, I can help non-Muslims better understand the Muslim mind, in particular the Malay mind.

    After you understand how the Malay mind works, meaning Muslim mind of course, you may actually end up pitying Malays rather than hating them.

    I hope you will then better comprehend the confused state of mind the Malays are in and how Islam, or rather their version of Islam, has led them up the garden path.

    Religion is supposed to enlighten one. In the case of the Malays, Islam has shackled their minds instead of opening it and allowing them to think.

    It is not the fault of Islam though, if that is what you are thinking. Ideologies are never at fault. It is the wrongful application and misinterpretation that is at fault.

    And I hope this piece will help enlighten you on the real problem, which may differ from the perceived problem.

    ISLAM, to the MALAYS , is basically ARABISATION.

    This is the very narrow viewpoint of the Malays. They look up to the Arabs as the perfect example and role model of Islam and anything Saudi Arabian is considered the best example of the Prophet Muhammad, which should be emulated by all good Muslims.

    Dressing the way of the Prophet, eating and drinking the way of the Prophet, in short, conducting your entire life the way of the Prophet is virtuous and scores points.

    The only thing is, they do not really know what it was like in the time of the Prophet other than that he was an Arab -- so what is Arab today must then be what it was like in the time of the Prophet.

    At one point the Saudi Arabian ulama (religious scholars) refused to allow aeroplanes to land in Saudi Arabia because they considered it un-Islamic seeing that there was no such thing in the time of the Prophet. The same thing went for radio and television as well.

    The ulama refused to allow Saudi Arabian soil to be ‘contaminated’ with these non-Muslim inventions. It took a long time for the rulers to slowly persuade the ulama to ease up on the ruling and allow western inventions onto ‘sacred’ Saudi Arabian soil. Even then they agreed reluctantly and with very strict conditions attached.

    It also took a long time for the ulama to agree to allow western magazines and publications into Saudi Arabia. Magazines and publications that were eventually allowed into Saudi Arabia were heavily censored though. The government employed hundreds of people to go through each and every copy of the magazines and publications and paint out pages after pages of offending material using paint brushes and pots of black ink. Some pages were torn out entirely if there was too much to censor, in particular advertisements featuring women not covered from head to toe.

    Now, why is it like this?

    Why is the Saudi Arabian version of Islam so intolerant?

    You might not realise that the majority of Muslims are actually not like this at all but are really very tolerant.

    It is those people who believe they are holding dear the true version of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad’s version, who are resorting to this intolerance. And these people are those who look to the Saudi Arabian model of Islam in moulding their opinions and beliefs.

    In short, they are following the Wahhabi version of Islam.

    The majority of the Malays in Malaysia accept the Saudi Arabian version of Islam as the correct and true version.

    Just like the Sauds of 100 years ago, the Malays too regard all other versions of Islam as deviant to the true Islam. All other Muslims are apostates and infidels. The Sauds solved this problem of ‘deviant’ Muslims by massacring all the men and capturing the women as slaves.

    Through ethnic cleansing the different variations of Islam were wiped out from the Arabian Peninsular. But other variations of Islam still remain in other countries in the Middle East as well as in countries like India, Indonesia, etc.

    Most Malays actually have NO inkling about the history or origins of Wahhabi Islam.

    Many Malaysian ulama acquired their religious knowledge through Wahhabi schools, so invariably they end up following Wahhabi Islam.

    And since Malays have been taught to never do any independent research on religion but just take the word of the ulama without question or dispute, then what the ulama teach would be accepted as the gospel without challenge.

    But religion is one thing and history is another.

    Granted, only the ‘experts’ should be allowed to interpret religion. You do not, however, need to be a member of the cloth to study history.

    Researching Wahhabi Islam is NOT about studying religion. It is about studying HISTORY.

    And if you research Wahhabi Islam then you will know the movement is about militancy and politics. That was exactly what the Wahhabi movement was set up for.

    So you need to study history, not religion, and analyse Wahhabi Islam from the historical angle; where it came from and how it emerged.

    Malays believe that Islam is a PEACEFUL religion.

    The Wahhabis do NOT . They believe that Islam is militant and political. That one fundamental issue contradicts what Islam stands for.

    So, Malays sincerely believe that when they tell their kids to not mix with non-Muslim kids this is what the Prophet Muhammad preached and this is what Islam is all about.

    Actually, what they don’t realise is, this is what Wahhabism and not Islam preaches.

    Therefore, in that sense, you must pity the Malays for they are grossly misguided.

    What I have written here will be disputed by 99% of Malays who will accuse me of running down Islam.

    The Arabs, to the Malays, are the best example of the Prophet.

    And to insult the Arabs tantamount to insulting Islam and the Prophet.

    If the Malays only knew the truth! But they refuse to recognise the truth because they are worried that the truth may erode their akidah whereas this has nothing to do with akidah, or even religion, but has everything to do with history and reality.

    Brief History of Wahhabi Islam

    Let me at this point give you a brief history lesson on Wahhabi Islam. Wahhabi Islam did not always exist.

    The Arabian Peninsular was not even a nation or country until less than 100 years ago. For more than 1,000 years it was a peninsular inhabited by various tribes that were perpetually at war with one another. This scenario was no different from that of North America before the coming of the whites. War was a way of life and caravan raids plus attacking each other’s communities, killing the men, and taking the women and the children as slaves, was an accepted and normal way of life in the Najd Desert. No one actually ruled the Najd or the Arabian Peninsular.

    One of the many tribes was the Saud tribe that around 1500 settled in the area where Riyadh is now situated.

    In the 1700s, a local tribal chief by the name of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab tried to introduce a very strict version of Islam. No doubt Mekah and Medina were the centres of Islam and which were then under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire based in what is known today as Turkey.

    But the other tribes living farther away from these two Islamic centres had reverted to pagan practices steeped in superstition and a corruption of what Islam really stood for. In that sense Islam had deviated and had been reduced to what it was in the pre-Muhammad days. So the Arabian Peninsular, other than Mekah and Medina, was not Islamic at all. And this al-Wahhab wanted to change.

    Al-Wahhab was actually a child prodigy who had memorised the entire Quran at the age of ten. He married at the age of 12, which was quite common in many parts of the world until even quite recently (and I believe is still practiced in some parts of Indonesia).

    Al-Wahhab travelled to Iran and Iraq to learn about Islam and he eventually came back to the Najd to preach his version of Islam. His students and followers called themselves mujahideen and this was when the term started to become popular. But of course their enemies called them Wahhabis and until today this is how they are referred as. Al-Wahhab’s interpretation of Islam is that Islam is militant and political and that is how Islam must be propagated.

    Al-Wahhab and his followers began to destroy what they viewed as pagan sites and he was soon enough sent into exile in an area known as Ad Dirayah. That was when he attracted the attention of Muhammad Saud, the head or Emir of the Saud tribe that had established itself 200 years or so earlier.

    In 1744, Muhammad Saud and Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab took an oath of alliance. If I may be so dramatic as to say that this oath of alliance changed the entire course of Islamic history after the first change of course in 656 soon after the death of Uthman and the election of Ali as the Fourth Caliph of Medina. It took Islam about 1,100 years to finally ‘find its roots’, if I may be permitted to put it that way for want of a better phrase.

    When Muhammad Saud died 21 years later, his son, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, took over as the new chief of the tribe. By then the Saud family, through its army, was already in control of most of the Najd region.

    In 1801, the Saud-Wahhab army attacked Hussein’s shrine in Karbala and destroyed it. Hussein, the son of the Fourth Caliph Ali, is revered by his followers who are now known as the Shias, which is the short term for ‘The Party of Ali’.

    Those the Wahhabis considered as ‘deviant’ Muslims were massacred by the thousands. They then attacked the city of Taif and massacred its inhabitants. After that Mekah and Medina surrendered without a fight. Monuments were destroyed, graves desecrated (including shrines of saints), and thousands of books which did not fit the Wahhabi version of Islam were burnt.

    The two holy cities of Mekah and Medina then came under the Ottoman Empire and at first the Ottomans did not know how to deal with the Wahhabis. Eventually, the Ottomans sent the Egyptian army to take care of the problem and the Wahhabis retaliated by declaring the Ottomans and Egyptians as infidels (kafir) and apostates (murtad).

    In 1811, a bloody battle ensued which resulted in the defeat of the Sauds-Wahhabis. The Saud-Wahhabi imam was arrested and brought back to Istanbul where he was beheaded in public. Ad Dirayah was burnt to the ground and until today still remains in ruin.

    The Sauds retreated to an area north of Ad Dirayah into a small town called Riyadh, which they proclaimed as their new capital in 1824. However, instead of consolidating, they spent the next 60 years engaged in tribal and interfamily conflicts, which weakened them even further.

    By 1890, they had to retreat to Kuwait because they had lost control of Riyadh to the more moderate Muslims who moved into Riyadh and soon outnumbered the Wahhabi Sauds.

    By 1906, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, Muhammad Saud’s grandson, had restored the influence of the Saud tribe in the Najd.

    In the merciless battle for control of Riyadh, the detractors were beheaded and their heads placed on spikes in a ring surrounding the gates to the city. 1,200 others were burnt alive and the young women captured as slaves and some given away as presents to friends of the Sauds. Mekah was captured in 1924 and Medina the following year.

    By 1932, the Sauds had control over the entire Arabian Peninsular. Abdul Aziz then proclaimed himself King and declared the Arabian Peninsular as his personal fiefdom.

    Thereafter, he made an announcement that his family was of royal blood and, on 22 September 1932, he renamed the Arabian Peninsular the United Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And so a country was born.

    Abdul Aziz then declared Wahhabi the official religion of the land and all other religions and other versions of Islam were banned.

    Tolerance was not on the agenda as what Abdul Aziz said, “The Arabs understand two things only; the Word of Allah and the sword.”

    EC Ambassador says NEP is a Stumbling Block for European Investments in Malaysia

    From Malaysiakini: Read here full article by Fauwaz Abdul Aziz

    Read HERE FULL TEXT of EC Ambassador, Thierry Rommel's Speech (.doc file)

    Fact Sheet on EU's Relations with Malaysia: Read here for more

    The EU ranks among the main trading partners of Malaysia. In 2004, it absorbed 15.5% of Malaysia’s merchandise exports and provided 12% of its imports.

    The EU is Malaysia’s third largest export market after ASEAN and the US. It is Malaysia’s fifth biggest source of imports after ASEAN, Japan, the US and China.

    Merchandise trade flows between Malaysia and the EU have remained stable overall in the past five years.

    Malaysian exports to the EU amounted to roughly €15.9 billion and Malaysian imports from the EU to 9.2 in 2005. Machinery and transport equipment are the main merchandise in Malaysia’s trade with the EU, in import as well as in export.

    Over 70% of Malaysia’s exports to the EU enter tariff-free. T
    here are no bilateral preferential trade arrangements between Malaysia and the EU.

    Malaysia benefits from the EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which provides tariff preferences to developing countries in general.

    Concerning foreign direct investment, the EU has been the biggest foreign investor in the Malaysian manufacturing sector for the past five years.

    With a value of RM23.8 billion, it has accounted for 30% of the total value of approved projects with foreign participation.

    In 2004, the value of approved FDI projects with EU capital amounted to RM5.4 billion. The bulk of this investment was in the electrical and electronics sector.

    Excerpts: Read here for more

    Malaysia needs to re-look its pro-Bumiputera policies if it is to attract European investors or make headway into the European Single Market, said European Commission (EC) ambassador Thierry Rommel.

    He said the “moment of truth” is all the more compelling because the National Economic Policy (NEP)...causes many of the inefficiencies that dissuade foreign investors from the country.

    Rommel said among the reasons for Malaysia’s poor standing as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the lack of a level playing field for foreign companies “even when they are in a partnership with Bumis.”

    The public education system also has NOT served the need for skilled human capital, which Rommel said is “the single biggest challenge yet and one that brings us right back to the Bumiputera policy.”

    While the public service delivery system lacks efficiency, responsiveness, transparency and accountability, corruption as well as the questionable and unchecked practices of Malay preferential treatment also plague the business environment and economy of the country, he added.

    Timely reflection

    Aside from all these reasons, Rommel said, a re-look at the NEP is all the more timely now as Malaysia is at a crossroads in its economic future and relations with the EU as several international agreements and negotiations command Malaysia’s attention.

    .... negotiations with other Asean countries (except Burma) are in the final stages of signing their respective Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) which would ink the framework and content of political dialogue and cooperation with the EU.

    Only Malaysia has NOT made any indications of its commitment to begin negotiations on a PCA with the EU.

    Rommel said there are short-term political risks to the government in opening up an honest and public debate on the NEP. He also said the 2006 Approved Permit saga showed that such a debate on the NEP was possible and had proved to have positive results.

    Rommel added:

    “If we all were to continually submit to internal pressure groups and vested economic interests, who indeed are often the same, we, as policy-makers in a democracy, would fail our nation.

    Political leaders are elected to act responsibly and be far-sighted for the benefit of the nation they have been elected to lead, even if this implies taking political risks with regard to a part of the electorate which can, in any case, be managed by transparency, dialogue and education.”


  • James Wong Wing On: Read here for more
    "... like it or not, the NEP has come under even greater international scrutiny for elements that are deemed to be obstructive to free trade and detrimental to the open market. Besides the EU, the Bush administration in the United States is also believed to be “very unhappy” with the Malaysian government which has slowed down the US-Malaysia FTA negotiations considerably because of the latter’s concern for the FTA’s implications or repercussions on the continuation of the NEP within Malaysia.

    So, it is quite clear now that the NEP is not only opposed by an increasingly large number of Malaysians within the country on the grounds of racial discrimination, intra-Malay class bias and inefficient allocation of public resources, but it has also come under more and more critical scrutiny from the US and EU, two largest economies of the world, for its protectionism and close market. In short, the NEP and its supporters are truly besieged by a new configuration of internal and external forces for change and reform.
  • Jeff Ooi : Read Here for more
  • Not many took note when I first blogged February 16 about Thierry Rommel'sperspectives about Malaysia.

    In the blog entry, I quoted Rommel, as saying that Malaysia had a very frank and bold presentation at Parti Gerakan's White Coffee Talk series where he had several members of the government among his live audience.

    I also said intelligence officers should feedback to their bosses how a certain political party -- I don't have to name it -- has been seen as being racist from the global view.

    The centre-piece of the discourse was on the never ending policy of NEP, a product of the late Razak Hussein that identified poverty and wealth by race.

    None of the mainstream media in Malaysia had carried this.

    Today, the same shebang of mainstream media in Malaysia make Rommel an easy punchbag after DPM Najib opened his mouth to react to a piece of news that, again, they didn't print.

    The piece of Rommel opinion about Malaysia, which the DPM claimed to have interfered Malaysia's domestic affairs, was originally dispatched by Associated Press correspondent Eileen Ng, datelined Kuala Lumpur, June 21.

    It was a story that journo-blogger Rocky's Bru said even Bernama did not carry.

    According to the AP story titled EU Envoy Blasts Malaysia's NEP, Rommel urged the government to roll back its affirmative action policy for majority Malays, saying it is discriminatory and amounts to protectionism against foreign companies.

    I wonder the goons have read the original AP story, but one after another have jumped on the Rommel-bashing bandwagon to drown the core issue that the EU raised -- the menace of the NEP from the global perspective.

    So far, the foreign affairs minister and the education minister have mechanically uttered their displeasure.

  • "The Aisehman" Blog: Read here for more

    ".... The NEP is discriminatory (if Rommel won’t say it, I will, as I have many times before) to many Malaysians.

    And I will say this again: If we could have the NEP and at the same time provide the so-called “level playing field” the EU seeks, Rommel would probably not have raised it at all.

    Yes, the NEP will set us back in the global economy. I know that, you know that. We don’t need anyone to tell us that. We’ve known it for fucking years.

    But why has nothing changed much?

    Because unlike Rommel, we are guilty of dereliction of duty. It is our duty as citizens to make this country better.

    Too many of us seem to think that if we bitch and moan about it, things will change. In case you haven’t noticed, they have not. And they will not. Bitching and moaning will not get us far.

    Too many of us seem to be unwilling to go one step further, that is to punish, at the ballot box, the people who resist our demands.

    But if you don’t do that, things will pretty much stay the same. Do we wait until this country is totally fucked and the economy goes down the drain before we act?
    Stop looking at others to “save” us, because only we can save ourselves.

    So do your duty to your country, to your fellow Malaysians, to your families, and to yourself. Just motherfucking do it. "
  • "Rocky Bru" Blog: Read here for more and here

  • "...... After Najib's rebuke, we've now got Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar speaking in Rome that Wisma Putra will summon Thierry Rommel over the EU envoy's NEP slur.

    Our ambassador to Brussels Kamal Yan Yahya will meet EU officials to convey Malaysia's stance and after that, Syed Hamid said, Malaysia will then study the possibility of sending a protest note [

    In KL, Hishamuddin Hussein, the Education Minister, called Rommel arrogant and excessive. He said Rommel overstepped his authority and a protest note should be sent to the EU [

    The newspapers will now write their columns and editorials lambasting Rommel. Or will they wait for the PM to say something first? Will the MCA and Gerakan leaders also wait?

    Rommel criticized the NEP, most of the major dailies and tv stations failed to report it. Was it self-censorship, did they all miss it, or were they told to ignore Rommel?

    But when the Deputy Prime Minister reacted to Rommel by telling him not to interfere in Malaysia's domestic policies, they all went to town with it. Was it because it's politically correct or were they told to front-page Najib?

    How does such editorial conduct affect Civil Society?

    This may be one of the hot issues that will be discussed at the Siri Pemikiran Kritis on "Re-thinking Malaysia" this Wednesday, 27th June 2007, at 8pm.

    It's being organised by the Bar Council and the Youth for Change, and the venue is the Bar Council auditorium in Leboh Pasar Besar, KL.Two of the panelists are from All-Blogs: Ms
    Elizabeth Wong, who is also member of Suaram, and Jeff Ooi the Screenshots blogger.

    They'll sandwich the third panelist Paul Low, the secretary general of Transparency International Malaysia.
  • Dr Nav Sidhu: Read here for more
    "....Maybe we shouldn't have interfered with South Africa's apartheid policy then? The same goes for Aung San Suu Kyi and the plight of the Burmese people. Let’s not talk about Zimbabwe, given that Robert Mugabe being such a ‘close friend’ of the Malaysian people.

    I used to believe in the racial quota policy while I was in school, probably because the bumiputera kids in my area were not very well-off, just like everyone else in town.

    However, there is nothing ‘affirmative’ about handing out multi-million ringgit contracts to multi-millionaire bumi individuals who have close connections to the ruling elite, and who then goes on to deliver a sub-standard product by selling the contract to someone who has to work with tighter margins.

    Thierry Rommel, please continue speaking and let the world know of the institutionalised racism and corruption that is being practiced in Malaysia..."
  • Dr. Jacob George: Read here for more

    "....I feel really sorry for European Commission ambassador Thierry Rommel and certainly not because he has done anything foul or against international law.

    ... he spoke honestly and intelligently based on facts, figures and knowledge of countless cases the world over but in a country where politicians cannot accept criticism and are politically fragile when it comes to debating an issue on a level playing field.

    He can even be expected to be called all kinds of names and alleged to be an operative of the Zionists and racists, or worse still part of a clandestine group out to topple the Malaysian leadership!

    It has sad that our leadership is quick to criticise others and call for radical changes in world bodies but cannot tolerate criticism when we are on the receiving end.

    As far as international trade talks are concerned, Rommel was on cue when he advised Malaysia to re-look its pro- bumiputera policies if it is to attract European investors or make headway into the European single market.

    .... Rommel was kind enough to offer us frank advice and honestly, it is now left to those who are in positions of power to act responsibly for the benefit of the nation.

    The truth is that Europe has nothing to lose but Malaysia has..."
  • NAN: Read here for more

    "....The European Commission ambassador Thierry Rommel must have hit some raw nerves when he suggested that the NEP be reviewed as it is discriminatory against the minorities in this country.

    ... this policy created a society which has depended on ‘crutches’ in getting business and other opportunities from the government.

    And who can forget the AP fiasco where it was revealed that a lot of politically-connected Malay individuals - due to their close connections with the International Trade and Industry minister - became car-import kings who could afford to have their personal helicopters take them to their golf game?

    Rather than bark at the EU ambassador for his forthright comments on the NEP, it would do the government good if it can admit its mistakes in the implementation of the NEP particularly with concerns to the majority of poor Malays have not benefitted much from this affirmative action policy. ..."
  • Dr. Lim Teck Ghee: Read here for more

    "... I am sure Malaysians will welcome a detailed a point-by-point rebuttal by our leaders of the speech by ambassador Thierry Rommel.

    The issues raised by him are serious and warrant an open and objective discussion by all Malaysians, especially by our country’s business leaders and policy-makers whom, I hope, will not be mute on this issue.

    But they are certainly not factually disputable as the deputy prime minister and the foreign minister have described them; neither are these concerns new, irrelevant, tangential or irresponsible.

    They are the same issues that are being raised by concerned Malaysians all the time over the freer web media and in closed-door business meetings.

    To continue to be in a state of denial over these issues will only compound the pain and dislocation when these concerns are finally addressed.

    It is noticeable that it is Umno leaders who have spoken out so far. Other Barisan Nasional leaders need to find their voices on this important issue which is not going to go away any times soon.

    Finally, Rommel deserves a vote of thanks from Malaysians for his warning on how Malaysia is marginalising itself though archaic racial protectionist policies and the consequences on our competitive edge..."
  • The Malaysian: Read here for more

    "....For too long has our government been getting away practically unnoticed, unremarked and unchastised for relentlessly pursuing a course of ruthless apartheid, in the form of the NEP.

    By right, Malaysia should have long ago been classified as a pariah nation joining the ranks of other evildoers of the 20th century.

    But our government was lucky. Small inconsequential countries like ours usually escape the oversight of powerful nations.

    As long as we kept our peace, regularly took part in international conferences and our leaders paid friendly visits to western capitals, no one was really too concerned or cared about what was going on in this developing 'Muslim' country.

    Then suddenly out of the blue appeared this one-man Panzer-Division packing the wallop of an Arsenal striker, who momentarily sent our pemimpin2 into a state of dazed disbelief.

    Thierry Rommel had arrived.
    And hopefully here to stay.

    The white Messiah, with balls as big as Mercedes hubcaps, grabbed the racist bull by the horns, stripped it of its layers of legal protection (sedition) and laid it bare for the whole world to see and cringe in horror.

    For right there in the backyard of democratic nations, was this tiny anomaly called Malaysia where abominable racist practices and abuses of human rights, were even now taking place with glee, pride and a measure of gay abandon.

    I say honour this man's courage.

    In fact our foreign minister has threatened to summon him over his 'irresponsible' remarks on the NEP.

    Of course that is just another government sandiwara for local consumption, as they fully well know that there is precious little they can do to him or make him retract his perfectly accurate findings.

    Not to be left behind was the notorious keris-waving Umno youth chief, Hishamuddin who accused Rommel of arrogance and attempted to justify the continuation of the NEP with the same old lame, tame, untenable excuse - "our historical and development background."

    The British should give this chap an honorary knighthood or two. Her Majesty can rest assured that no other country or people will protest the award.

    No Arab or other Islamic nation will come out against the honour, for they too, like the rest of the civilized world, have a great aversion for mistreating and discriminating fellow human beings.
  • 'Disgusted Malaysian': Read here for more

    "...Najib the DPM should realise that Malaysia with its Malay hegemony should stop hoodwinking the world and must now dismantle its racist policies against the non-Malays which has been in existence for the last 37 years.

    Calling for a level playing field is restoration of human rights for the non-Malays. When Tun Dr Mahathir, the ex-premier, attended a Commonwealth conference, he referred to South Africa as a 'pariah state' for the apartheid policy practised against the blacks in that country.

    Now who is the pariah state?

    Isn't it obvious that Malaysia discriminates in all fields against the citizens of the country who are non-Malays.

    Najib, shame on you for getting that sensitive when the truth is spoken by the EC ambassador to Malaysia. .."
  • Joe Lee: Read here for more
    "....Your Excellency, Ambassador of the European Commission,

    As an ex-Malaysian, may I extend our thanks to you for plainly telling the facts to the Malaysian government. The NEP is the greatest impediment to progress in the country- the quicker it gets reviewed, the better it is for 99 percent of Malaysians.

    By helping to reform the NEP, Your Excellency will also enhance the human rights of all Malaysians including the Orang Asli of Peninisular Malaysia, as well as the Ibans, Kadazans, Penans, etc of East Malaysia.

    Ideally, you will be able to help make your approach an EU official policy that will remind the world constantly of the real nature of the Malaysian government..."
  • Ken: Read here for more
  • "... The world at large appears to have been oblivious to the ills brought about by the ruthless manner in which the NEP has been implemented all these years to the detriment of not only non-Malays but also a large number of Malays in the lower segment of Malaysian society.

    The European Commission has SUDDENLY seen the ‘EVIL’ of the NEP, and ambassador Thierry Rommel criticised the NEP.

    Where has the EC been ALL these years?

    Were they blind, deaf or illiterate and hence could not see, hear or read about the NEP all these years?

    The sudden awareness is perhaps due to the fact that the NEP is thwarting EC's commercial interests in Malaysia, as revealed in the ambassador's statement: ‘
    In a dominant part of the domestic economy, there is no level playing field for foreign companies.’

    As in the case of VW's bid for Proton, the NEP is an obstacle in EC corporations' strategic plans to exploit Malaysia, hence the criticism against the NEP.

    Let us NOT be deceived that the recent European objection to the NEP is borne out civic consciousness and concerns about human rights, democracy and ethics in Malaysia."