Muslim docs say no to punitive amputation

Source: Free Malaysia Today

picture of doctor

Pic drawn from Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Three prominent Muslim doctors of medicine have voiced outrage over the Kelantan government’s proposal to use the services of surgeons in amputating the hands of thieves found guilty under hudud law. They told FMT that would mean asking a doctor to violate his professional oath of doing no harm to the human body.

The three are Islamic Renaissance Front director Ahmad Farouk Musa, who is a cardiothoracic surgeon, California-based surgeon and political commentator M Bakri Musa and Kota Raja MP Siti Mariah Mahmud, a doctor who used to teach medicine at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

In a recent press interview, Kelantan deputy menteri besar Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said contemporary Islamic scholars were of the opinion that the services of surgeons were needed in carrying out punitive amputation to ensure that no part of the body beyond one of the wrists would be harmed.

Farouk said Amar was perhaps unaware that a universal guiding principle for physicians is, “First, do no harm.” He criticised Amar for ignoring the “moral wrong” of what he was suggesting.

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What doesn’t kill makes you stronger — The other side of Farouk Musa

Source: FMT News

Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)’s Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa — Pic drawn from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The year 2017 was eventful for Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), an organisation he formed eight years ago with the aim of empowering Muslims intellectually.

But it was a path full of thorns, especially when not many, especially within Malaysia’s Islamic bureaucracy, share his ideas on Islam.

His arguments in favour of liberal democracy, secularism, and human rights offer a completely refreshing view from what many have been accustomed to. Farouk believes that challenging long-held views thought as “Islamic” is most effective, and credible, by approaching it from the Islamic scholarly tradition.

That did not stop the government from taking action on him amid accusations that he was promoting “liberal Islam”. Read more

‘Restricting foreign Islamic experts stunts intellectual development’

Source: FMT News

Pic from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Using laws to restrict intellectuals from abroad from discussing Islam will stunt the intellectual development of the country, warned Universiti Malaya Academic Association chairman and law professor Azmi Sharom.

“By not appreciating intellectual development, you are actually being anti-patriotic and you are destroying this nation.”

Azmi was responding to a report today that a prominent US academician had cancelled her trip to Malaysia after learning about Turkish-born writer Mustafa Akyol’s experience here.

Akyol, who came to Malaysia to deliver a talk, was detained and questioned by religious authorities on suspicion of speaking on Islam without officially recognised credentials. Read more

After Akyol’s arrest, American Muslim scholar rejects invite to Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 ― An American Muslim scholar has declined to visit Malaysia for a speaking engagement after learning about US-based Turkish scholar Mustafa Akyol’s brief detention here.

According to a report in Free Malaysia Today, Indiana University academic Asma Afsaruddin did not accept an invitation by local Muslim group, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), after learning about Akyol’s episode.

Islamic authorities here detained Akyol, who came to Malaysia to participate in a few seminars and lectures organised by IRF back in September, for allegedly teaching without religious credentials.

“Given the current atmosphere, however, I regretfully will not be able to respond positively to your very kind invitation,” Afsaruddin reportedly wrote in her email to IRF declining the invitation. Read more

Academic body opposes accreditation idea for speakers on Islam

Source: FMT News 

Mustafa Akyol- Pic drawn from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE) opposes any action by the government to require speakers at public forums, who focus on issues surrounding Islam, to apply for formal accreditation beforehand.

In a statement today, its executive council said the idea of the stipulation had come about following the detention of Turkish author and journalist Mustafa Akyol by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) on Sept 25 after he had come to Malaysia on a lecture circuit.

“This is unprecedented and unreasonable, casting the net of authoritarian control over intellectual discourse way too far,” it said, adding that academics would also be affected. Read more

Roundtable Discussion: Human Rights & Diversity: Challenges for A Muslim Society

It is widely agreed that human rights and diversity of cultures have a mutually interdependent and beneficial relationship. Human rights provide various important facets like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, as well as the rights for each individual citizen in the member of the society to take part in cultural life and to education, and play a direct role in the promotion and protection of cultural diversity.

In fact, human rights flourished through pluralistic society as each member of different cultural and religious background can only live peacefully with each other when they learned to respect others for their individual rights. This resonates with The Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity that was adopted by the Member States of UNESCO in 2001, which dictates that “that ‘the defense of cultural diversity is…inseparable from respect for human dignity’ and ‘implies a commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms’.

Yet, the manner in which human rights are observed in a society of diverse cultural and religious background is more complicated, and to certain extent very problematic. Most of the Muslim majority countries scored relatively low in international human rights index and did not do very well in promoting freedom and democratic rights to their own citizen especially the minorities.

One can only turn to ten countries most closely associated with Islam that comprised of 90% Muslim in the population: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Afghanistan, and the record shows that seven of these ten countries listed as “authoritarian regimes” in 2014 Democracy Index.

Another measurement developed and published in book called “The Price of Religious Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century” (2011) by sociologist Brian Frim and Roger Finke on Religious Freedom in Muslim majority countries shows that seventy-eight percent of Muslim-majority countries have high levels of government restrictions on religious freedom, compared with forty-three percent of all other countries and only ten percent of Christian countries

This roundtable discussion will then try to dissect this phenomenon, and will attempt to put forward an explanation why Muslim majority countries, with diverse religious and cultural traditions, faced real difficulties in setting the human right agenda at the national level and how they can go forward.


1100-1105:   Welcoming speech by Prof Zaharom Naim

1105-1110:   Speech by moderator Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

1110-1145:   Presentation on “Human Rights and Diversity: Challenges for A Muslim Society” by Dr Nader Hashemi

1145-1200:   Intervener I: Yusmadi Yusuf

1200-1215:   Intervener II: Dr Dian Diana A.H Shah

1215-1230:   Intervener III: Salbiah Ahmad

1230-1245:   Intervener IV: Prof Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi

1245-1330:   Discussion

1330            :   Lunch

Book Launch Islam, Sekularisme dan Demokrasi Liberal: Membentuk Teori Demokrasi Untuk Masyarakat Muslim

imageIslam and the notion of secularism have quite a complex relationship throughout history. For many Muslims, however, secularism is viewed as an instrument used to undermine religious heritage and deny the relevance of moral teachings to public life. While this perception has an element of truth, it does not necessarily depict the general nature of Western secularism.

Evidently, Muslim perceptions of secularism are not formed through an understanding of the original purpose and historical circumstances of Western secularism, but is influenced by the Muslim experience of secular dogmatism and the intolerance of the secular state in contemporary Muslim societies, most notably that of Atatürk’s Turkey.

Dr Nader Hashemi’s book “Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy”, first published in 2009, is one of the very important academic literatures that attempts to make sense of this collective trauma towards Secularism in the Islamic World.

In this book, Hashemi revisited the history of secularism as an idea in both the Western and Muslim experiences and try to put forward an explanation and reconciliation to the alleged tension between the two. Hashemi firstly challenged the widely held belief among social scientists that religious politics and liberal-democratic development are structurally incompatible. He argued for rethinking of a democratic theory so that it will incorporate some facets of religion in the development of liberal democracy.

He later urged Muslims to construct their own indigenized version of secularism and democratic theory based on their organic socio-cultural Islamic traditions. In this book he examined three case studies from Iran, Turkey and Indonesia, and concluded that there is already a robust debate on reformulating religious political thought from within, and this trend must get wider attention and be replicated by other Muslim countries in their own societal and political context.

Hashemi’s mastery of both the Western and Islamic political thoughts, paired with an in-depth knowledge on political history from both civilizations, has led him to produce this profound scholarly work that comprised of rich and critical insights on the predicaments that have fallen upon the Muslim countries. And the Islamic Renaissance Front has decided to translate this book into the Malay language with the hope that it will ignite further discussions among the Malaysian public and enable them to be enlightened on the issues of Secularism and Liberal Democracy.


1430 – 1440: Welcoming speech by the translator Mohamad Basil Hazman Baharom

1440 – 1500: Opening speech by YB Nurul Izzah Anwar

1500 – 1510: Speech by the moderator, Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

1510 – 1600: Speech by Dr Nader Hashemi

1600 – 1615: Speech by Dato’ Redzuan Khusairi

1615 – 1630: Speech by Dr Mustafa K Anuar

1630 – 1645: Speech by Dr Azmi Sharom

1645 – 1725: Q & A session

1725:              Token of appreciation to the panelists by YB Nurul Izzah Anwar

1730:              Tea

Roundtable Discussion: Rethinking Islam and Secularism

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Muslims are grappling with the existing power vacuum while at the same time are forced to face impending internal and global crises. The centralized political power that has for centuries been the Muslim identity has vanished, thus paving the way towards the emergence of politically oriented movements, which aim to reinstate the lost order.

At the same time, we also witnessed the emergence of authoritarian Muslim leaders who imposed political secularism on their respective national institutions, such as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Jamal Abdul Nasser. This fact, coupled with the trauma experienced by Muslims as a result of colonialism, break-neck industrialization, and series of wars, has made the idea of “secularism” to be seen as “sinister”, “anti-religion”, “atheistic” and many other negative connotations. Things turned to worse when secularism in the Muslim world has always presented as an ideology in direct opposition to Islam and to equate secularism with Europeanization.

This trend dominates the political discourse in the Muslim world until the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia in 2010, and has taken its own course. To many Muslims, the Arab Spring has given a new hope. It somehow signifies a new beginning, a new hope for a better future to live under civil governments and civil states. Since then, the demand and inquiries over the question of Islam and Secularism was amplified and many, both in Muslim and Non-Muslim countries, began to revisit this old debate again.

This lecture is another addition that debate, and intended to explore more closely the relationship between Islamic political thoughts and the idea of secularism, and how one can learn and benefit from history and the tradition of both the Islamic and the Western world in constructing new normative political theory.


1000-1030:          Registration

1030-1035:          Welcoming speech by Chairperson, Dr Elma Berisha

1035-1050:          Opening speech by Dr Wong Chin Huat

1050-1100:          Speech by Moderator, Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

1100-1130:          Presentation on “Rethinking Islam and Secularism” by Dr Nader Hashemi

1130-1145:          Intervener I: Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad

1145-1200:          Intervener II: Xifu Naser

1200-1215:          Intervener III: Dato’ Dr Mujahid Yusoff Rawa

1215-1300:          Q&A

1300:                     Lunch