Art Harun: Who’s the danger to society?

Source: FMT News 

Azhar Harun (Art Harun)
Pic drawn from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer and activist today criticised those who label individuals or groups as “liberals” or “secularists” for advocating a way of life which is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Azhar Harun, better known as Art Harun, said the concept of liberalism was well embraced in all other parts of the civilised world, where the struggle for equality, emancipation, freedom, liberty and universal human rights is seen as the duty of every peace-loving citizen.

In Malaysia, however, those who uphold such concepts are ridiculed, threatened and seen as a danger to society, he said. Read more

‘Defend M’sia as secular nation’

Source: The Star Online

Former Court of Appeal Judge, Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus. Pic from the Star Online.

KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysians must defend Malaysia as a secular country as inspired by the nation’s founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, said a former Court of Appeal judge.

Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus (pic) said the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (RUU355) was not suitable and would not be accepted by most Malaysians.

The argument that the RUU355 will not affect non-Muslims also cannot be accepted, he said.

Hishamudin said there were common cases such as orang asli wrongly registered as Muslims, non-Muslim children being converted to Islam by one parent and corpses seized by Islamic authorities claiming that the deceased was a Muslim despite having no concrete proof. Read more

What system of governance: Theocracy, democracy or secular? — Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos

Source: The Malay Mail Online


An opinion piece - file pic

An opinion piece – file pic

SEPT 19 — To me, and I repeat, to me, it is not about being obsessed with the label of “secular” or “Islamic” country though I do not have serious problems with people using the term. I try to understand what they are actually saying as the substance is more important than the label.

My position is clear: I do not support oppressive regimes or ideas whether they are labelled “secular” or “Islamic”. To be clear, I do not support a “secular system” that is anti religion as that is oppressive of a person’s faith. Likewise I do not support an “Islamic system” that takes away the professed Muslim’s inherent right to serve Allah as he understands it from the Quran as that is equally oppressive of faith.

In any case, I believe the practice of one’s faith or religion should not be allowed to affect national security, general public order, peace and harmony in the country or deny the basic fundamental rights and liberties of other citizens guaranteed under our Federal Constitution.

A theocratic state is often understood to be a political State which is founded on a particular religion. A theocracy may be defined as a form of government which defers not to civil development of law, but to an interpretation of the ‘will of a God’ as set out in religious scripture and authorities.  Read more

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

Enough of this nonsense! Malaysia was created as a secular nation — Clive Kessler

Source: The Malay Mail Online

JANUARY 19 — Enough of this nonsense! Enough already!

Malaya and then Malaysia was created as a secular nation.

Denial of this basic fact has become commonplace in recent times.

The pioneers in promoting the revisionist myth that there was or is nothing secular in the nation’s origins or about its Constitution have been the creative legal innovators and myth-makers of the PPMM: Persatuan Peguam Muslim Malaysia (Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association) –- notably Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar — and their like-minded associates in CENTHRA, the Putrajaya-based and Saudi-friendly Centre for Human Rights and Advocacy, headed by on Azril Mohd Amin.

Their lead is followed, and their disruptive views are echoed, by a horde of Utusan Malaysia scribes and ideologues and, in their wake, a claque of well-connected writers and publicists and ambitious politicos.

In the absence of any clear refutation, their increasingly unchallenged view now threatens to become “the default position”, the received and undeniable truth.

But are they right?

In short, no. And for three main reasons. Read more

Malaysia among nations least tolerant of atheists and freethinkers, says report

Source: The Malay Mail Online

GENEVA, Dec 10 — Amid a global decline in religious belief, some governments are stepping up efforts to portray atheists and secularists as a danger to society and even as terrorists, according to a report issued today.

The study, by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), pointed to “hate campaigns” launched by public figures against those who renounce the dominant or state religion in Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Egypt.

It said “the overwhelming majority of countries fail to respect the rights of atheists and freethinkers” as set out in UN treaties, adding that 13 states, all of them Muslim, had made apostasy or blasphemy against religion a capital offence. Read more