Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fixation with Hudud by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

Hududis not central to Islam. True, the modes of punishment for murder, robbery, theft, adultery and apostasy spelt out in Hudud enactments are part of Islamic law.But it is not one’s observance of these modes of punishment that definesone’s piety. It is one’s commitment to justice demonstrated through actual deeds that is the ultimate measure of one’s goodness.

The preoccupation with hudud and with punitive law in general, as the single most important attribute of Islamic governance developed partly as a reaction to Western colonial rule. It has continued in this era of Western global hegemony. It is an attempt to re-assert what is perceived as Muslim authority at a time when the forces challenging the community’s power are overwhelming. In a sense, this emphasis upon hudud( plural of ‘had’) as punishment is at variance with the Quranic meaning of the term which alludes to the limits or the restraints that one is advised to adhere to in one’s behaviour.

Hudud fixation has also diverted the attention of the Muslim ummah from those fundamental values and principles that had endowed strength and dynamism to Islamic civilisation in its heyday. Apart from justice, the passion for knowledge was the driving force behind Islam’s much acclaimed role as the leader of scientific and social thought between the 8th and 14th centuries.How to enhance the pursuit of knowledge within the ummah rather than the implementation of hudud should be our primary concern today.

Those who are obsessed with hudud have also failed to examine the actual performance of states that have implemented hudud in recent decades. From Sudan and Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan and Iran, what has been the balance sheet like from the perspective of the very values and principles that the Quran cherishes--- distributive justice, accountability on the part of the ruler, freedom and dignity of the human being? Are these hudud states worthy of emulation?

Hudud advocates sometimes argue that whatever the shortcomings of these states, some of them have managed to curb hudud related crimes among the people such as stealing and illicit sex. Even if we accept the veracity of their claim, one wonders whether these vices have also been eliminated at the level of the elites?Has hudud led to a decline in elite corruption --- whichis another name for elite theft--- or has it tamed sexual licentiousness among the rich and famous in these countries? Or is it only the weak and the vulnerable wholive in fear of hududpunishments?

These are important questions that should be raised because one of the major political actors in the country is undoubtedly hudud oriented and is determined to occupy Putrajaya. This is why as soon as it came to power in Kelantan in 1990, PAS sought to introduce hudud. It did the same thing in Trengganu in 1999, after its victory in the 10th general Election,even thoughthe common manifesto PAS shared with its other BarisanAlternatif partners made no mention of hudud or an Islamic State.

No one should be under the illusion that PAS has abandoned its hudud goal. Its espousal of a “Welfare State” instead of ahudud committed Islamic State is a crafty political tactic geared towards winning non-Muslim votes. A number of other hudud fixated political parties in other countries have also adopted various tactics and manoeuvres with the aim of garnering popular support. Indeed, obtaining power by whatever means is often the mission of hudud parties which makes them no different from parties that do not speak on behalf of religion.

The lust for power is also the reason why the de facto leader of the Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar Ibrahim, has given his backing to PAS’s hudud stand. His stance should not surprise anyone. The chameleon he is, Anwar has over the last 40 years, incarnated and reincarnated himself as Malay nationalist, Islamic champion, state-centric leader, West oriented liberal--- and hudud advocate.

Contrast PAS and Anwar with the men who have been at the helm of our nation since Merdeka. No Malaysian Prime Minister was---or is --- hudud inclined.This is a fact of tremendous significance that all Malaysians should appreciate.

And yet, each of our six Prime Ministersin the past and the present have pursued policies which in one way or another are related to Islamic values and principles. The first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, for instance was deeply committed to unity among the different communities, in consonance with Islam’s recognition of the oneness of the human family. The second Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, sought to reduce poverty, improve educational opportunities for the people and enhance the nation’s independence and sovereignty---- goals which reflected the essence of the Islamic faith. The third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, a man of integrity, was determined to eradicate corruption, a noble mission from an Islamic perspective. Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, our fourth Prime Minister, not only made the middle-class multi-ethnic and thus reinforced social stability but also raised Malaysia’s profile in the eyes of the Muslim world and the Global South. His successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, expanded space and scope for freedom of expression which in itself is an Islamic virtue. The present Prime Minister, DatoSri MohdNajibRazak, is attempting a major economic and political transformation while strengthening national integration through 1Malaysia. The overall aim is the well-being of the people. No goal is more laudable in Islamic governance.

Of course, our past Prime Ministers had their flaws and their failings. Najibis also very much aware of his shortcomings. But Najib, like his predecessors, is not fixated on an idea which has not --- and will not --- enhance the dignity of the human being.

Dr.ChandraMuzaffar is Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Yayasan 1Malaysia & a political scientist who has written extensively on religion and Malaysian society.

27 September 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

International Youth Leadership Program - Limited complimentary space

Dear all,

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST), of which I am a member, will be organizing their 5th Inter-Civilizational Youth Engagement Program this November.

  • It is a unique opportunity for youths between the ages 21 to 25 to engage in inter-civilizational dialogue in an international setting
  • The costs for participation, accomodation and meals will be borne by the organizers, but participants will be recruited based on certain criteria

If you or someone you know want to experience engaging with people from all over the world in an international setting, go to or read further for more information.

Let us add value,
anas zubedy


Inter-City Youth Engagement Program 2011


9-13 November 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Organized by the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

The International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Malaysia; is organizing the 5th Inter-Civilizational Youth Engagement Program 2011 (JUST IYEP5) on the theme:


The Program will bring together some 50 youths between the ages of 21 and 25 of different nationalities and religions to reflect upon inter-civilizational relations in today’s world, based on the growing challenges to culture and cultures in today’s societies. The uniqueness of the program will be underlined by the shared spiritual and moral discourse each civilization can bring to the debate. This year, the emphasis will again be upon the young participants themselves and their ideas and visions for the future.

With this objective in mind, we are now starting our process of recruitment of participants. It would be much appreciated if you could nominate 1 or 2 candidates from among your young employees, interns or members to participate in our Program.

To apply or to find out more about JUST and the JUST IYEP program, please visit or go to YOUTUBE using keyword ‘IYEP2, IYEP4’ to see highlights of previous JUST IYEPs.

We would be grateful if the forms duly filled could be returned to the address below by 30th September 2011.

Information about the selection process

As highlighted previously, the youths themselves will be held responsible for initiating debates and discussions.

Given this emphasis, the organizers have worked out a careful process of selecting participants who have the potential to contribute in a significant manner to the Engagement Program. Candidates should be between 21 and 25 years of age. There should also be a healthy gender and religious balance. The selection process will happen over a few weeks and eventually a total of 50 participants will be selected for the Program. Therefore, it is important you send in your nominees as soon as possible.

Since the Program will be conducted entirely in English, the nominees should have a good command of the English language. They should also exhibit a keen interest in, and display some awareness of world affairs. One also hopes that those nominated will be amiable and friendly, with a team spirit. They should also be respectful towards religions and cultures other than their own.

It should be noted that the cost of accommodation, meals and seminar facilities will be covered by the organizers and participants would not be required to pay any fee. They will however be required to make and pay for their own travel arrangements to and from the JUST office in Petaling Jaya.

We thank you most sincerely for reading this invitation. Your support and cooperation is much appreciated. We are looking forward to a positive response from your esteemed organization.


Organizing Committee

Inter-Civilizational Youth Engagement Program 2011

ISA update - Keep the momentum up by P. Gunasegaram

The momentous changes proposed by the Prime Minister need to be pushed through with the utmost urgency for greater effect.

THE overwhelming support and acclaim from Malaysians over the proposals by the Prime Minister to repeal the Internal Security Act or ISA and lift all proclamations of emergency show just how unpopular these measures are among Malaysians.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has read the signals right. But as important as these and other proposals are, the larger agenda is even more significant – to review and if necessary repeal and replace all laws which stand in the way of demo-cracy, legitimate free expression, and human and individual rights.

Two paragraphs from Najib’s speech last Thursday are worth re-quoting: “It is absolutely clear that the steps I just announced are none other than early initiatives of an organised and graceful political transformation. It stands as a crucial and much needed complement to the initiatives of economic transformation and public presentation which the government has outlined and implemented for over two years in the effort to pioneer a modern and progressive nation.

Click here to read more on this article

ISA Update - Changes in the nation's horizon by Shad Faruqi

Whether by revocation by the King or annulment by Parliament, all emergency legislations will cease to exist six months after the end of an emergency proclamation.

THE Prime Minister’s surprise announcement that the Emergency will be lifted, that the Internal Security Act will be repealed, and that laws like the Printing Presses and Publications Act will be amended to constitutionalise and humanise them has fired everybody’s imagination, and at the same time raised apprehension among the defenders of the status quo.

One reader asked whether the Prime Minister consulted with, and obtained, the consent of the Cabinet before making these bold pronouncements.

No outsider can answer this accurately, but what can be pointed out is that in parliamentary democracies, prime ministers are known to launch bold initiatives on their own and to present their Cabinets and their countries with a fait accompli.

Clear examples are decisions on premature dissolution of Parliament and budget and foreign policy initiatives.

click here to read more on this article.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Promise Made A Decade Ago :)

It was ten years ago that I made a promise to God and myself. To play a more active role in creating value and promoting Unity in Malaysia. One of the plans then was to spend money and promote Unity via impactful, down to earth and relevant to daily living advertisements.

I wrote a mission statement (see below) and today I am taking stock. Perhaps by year’s end I will write an updated one. Thank you for being part of my quest to add value. But most of all let us give thanks to God, The Gracious and Merciful for giving us this chance to live as His creation.

Peace, anas

The Promise – Written in 2001

I intend to ADD VALUE to everyone and anything that I come to interact with and make the world a better place.

As this is an unending journey, I will never achieve my dreams … not in their fullest form. They are too far away in the idealistic world... but,

" The quest of truth will set you free, even if you never catch up with it".

I am one of those dreamers who have found a practical formula of living for today (compartmentalization) and try to achieve parts of my dreams a moment at a time, part by part. It is okay to die without achieving all the lofty dreams, as the spirit will be passed on to others, who are dreamers too.

I also plan to be rich, very rich! Not for the money but for the use of money as a platform to help me achieve my ideals.

God willing, you will see advertisements in the near future communicating universal values and spirituality by ZUBEDY the Brand.

Encourage schools and libraries and sponsor the poor's basic needs of food, shelter and education.

I hope to live to a century or two with healthy living, modern medicine and God's permission. Lead a full life, have many children. But not necessarily sired by me. Travel the world to witness God's creation and be at awe with the creativity that greets us wherever and whenever we turn.

I want to smell all the fragrance in the world be it the stink of the squatters in Mumbai or the pleasing scent of devotional flowers at a Balinese lebaran.

And to know that each experience has a purpose which is to ADD VALUE to the living, the dead and the unborn.

Anas Zubedy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ISA update - Prime Minister's courageous move by Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

For those who value freedom and justice Prime Minister Dato Sri MohdNajib’s sweeping changes to laws that have fettered Malaysian democracy for decades is the greatest Malaysia Day gift that they could have wished for.

Civil society groups have for long asked that the Emergency Proclamations be rescinded; that the Internal Security Act (ISA) be abolished; that the law requiring a publisher to renew his licence on an annual basis be revoked; and that the freedom to assemble peacefully be concretised. These issues were discussed in depth last year in a series of dialogues initiated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Through his courageous move, the Prime Minster has shown that he is responsive to the people’s aspirations. He realises that this is the sort of political transformation that will take Malaysia to greater heights.

There is no doubt at all that Dato Sri Najib is a transformational leader committed to values and principles that are pivotal for sustaining progress and success in the 21st century.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,


Yayasan 1Malaysia.

15 September 2011.

ISA update - Towards a brave new Malaysia by Karim Raslan

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak may have appropriated core Pakatan Rakyat issues with his Sept 15 civil liberties announcements, but more crucial is whether Malaysians are ready to face up to the challenges.

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak surprised Malaysia on Sept 15. In one fell swoop, he appears to have turned the civil liberties agenda into a Barisan Na­­sional initiative.

Announcing plans to abolish and/or amend the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) as well as other laws, Najib has cleverly appropriated core Pakatan Rakyat issues.

In doing so, he has also demonstrated that Umno is capable of renewal. Indeed, the party of Merdeka – as I’ve always argued – is infinitely more diverse than many realise or wish to acknowledge.

After all, it ranges from figures such as Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah at the moderate end of the spectrum to hardliners such as Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zarkashi.

Click here to read more on this article

Monday, September 19, 2011

The ISA update: 3 good articles to read


I would like to share 3 good articles:

1. A new dawn beckons by Shad Saleem Faruqi

The Prime Minister’s announcement on a number of changes to the country’s laws, including ending the Emergency, will have massive positive implications.

THE Prime Minister’s speech last night evoked the kind of hope and exhilaration I felt many decades ago on Aug 28, 1963, when I heard American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his “I have a dream” speech at the steps of Lincoln Memorial.

The Prime Minister pointed to a number of changes that he intends to bring to the country. Many of these proposals will have massive positive implications for the country’s legal system, its administration of justice and the sovereignty of law over personal discretion. He promised that:

> The emergency proclamations that are in operation will be presented to Parliament for annulment;

> The Internal Security Act will be repealed but replaced with two security laws framed under the Constitution’s anti-subversion provision of Article 149;

click here to read more on this article

2.Winds of change blowing by Bunn Nagara

THE relief that greeted the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and other repressive laws would be abolished was difficult to define for several reasons.

First, nobody expected Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to have gone so far in throwing off decades of unjust laws. When it happened, it took time to sink in, after more than a generation of having to endure those laws.

Second, mention of two new laws to replace the ISA tempered the plaudits from critical observers. Would that mean returning to square one through a bait-and-switch?

Third, those who had banked on the Government retaining the ISA in some revised form were caught unawares. Regardless of their own views of it, they insisted there would be little change, seeking to vindicate themselves and “save face”.

All these have been efforts to adjust to a new national reality post-ISA. A fourth reaction comes from political opportunism: robbed of their thunder, the Opposition tried to diminish the significance of the Government’s move.

click here to read more on this article

3. Dawn of a new era by Wong Chun Wai

Najib deserves credit for his move to reform some of the country’s most unpopular laws.

IT was the best gift for Malaysians on a special day. It is also a reminder that the nation has grown up and that we should move forward, leaving our baggage behind.

In a nutshell, the Prime Minister has stepped out of the shadows of his predecessors. It is a major step into the future. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak couldn’t have chosen a better day to make the announcement to do away with some of the country’s most unpopular laws.

It surely has not been easy. When bits of news filtered out about his Malaysia Day speech, there were doubts as to how far he would go.

Those who were privy to inner-circle discussions on how the speech would be crafted crossed their fingers and hoped there would be no last minute changes.

After all, as a politician, the Prime Minister has to balance the needs of the conservatives, right wingers and liberals within his party and also the Barisan Nasional coalition.

The PM understands fully how much the world has changed. The global political landscape has been altered drastically and the lessons to learn are that if leaders cannot change, the people will change them. There is plenty to learn from history, some very recent too.

Click here to read more on this article

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's takes an one page ad on " no political donations until Washington cleans up its act"

We’ve been impressed with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s ability to spread his “no political donations until Washington cleans up its act” message. In just a few weeks, he’s had over 100 CEOs — many of whom were big donors before — sign a pledge to stand with him in the no-giving promise. Today, he’s taken it a step further. He’s taken out a full page ad in the Sunday New York Times. Has he gone too far?

The ad isn’t a splashy call to arms, but rather a simple letter explaining his opinion of the government and his disappointment. No flashy colors or fonts here — just a pale yellow background and a letter that looks like it was written on a typewriter.

Following last week’s announcement that the country created zero jobs last month, Schultz strikes a timely chord with his letter:

click here to read more on the letter

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On The Concept Of Paradise And Hell by Asghar Ali Engineer

Friends often ask me what do you think about paradise and hell? Are these spaces located somewhere out there wherein people would enter according to their deeds good or bad? Or are these mere symbols as those who believe in batini (concealed meaning) of Qur’an? Are these places wherein people would eternally abide in physical sense? In fact it is like people used to ask the Prophet (PBUH) about the Day of Judgment

It is important to note that Qur’an, like other scriptures, is more symbolic than descriptive though not altogether symbolic. No scripture could be mere descriptive in order to remain eternal. Symbolism both makes it multi-layered in meaning as well as eternal in application. The scriptures should make sense equally for ordinary people as well as those who have attained great heights in knowledge. Scripture, if it is means only for highly knowledgeable would leave ordinary people uninspired and if it is flat in description and without layers of meaning would not enthuse highly knowledgeable.

Thus what the Qur’an says about paradise and hell (jannat wa jahannam) should be inspiring for both lay persons as well as knowledgeable. And indeed it does provided we take description of paradise and hell both in literal as well as symbolic sense, its literal as well as concealed sense. There is one more aspect which one must be aware of and sufis have often emphasized that aspect. Sufis believe that one must not do anything for greed or fear i.e. for reward or punishment.

This is symbolized in the famous story of Rabi’ah Basri, the noted lady sufi saint. One day she was carrying burning flame in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When people asked her why are you doing this, she replied I want to set fire to paradise with this burning flame and put our fire of hell with this bucket of water so that people stop worshiping Allah for greed of paradise or fear of hell. A true worshiper would do that for neither but for its own merit. More of this little later.

Qur’an is wonderfully balanced book in terms of its symbolism and flat descriptive language. An ordinary reader benefits from it as much as one who has achieved great heights of knowledge. The rationalists found it as much useful as blind followers but there was great difference between the two in terms of its understanding. The m’utazila (rationalists of Islam), the Isma’ilis (those who believed in hidden meanings along with literal) and the sufis understood the Qur’an very differently from other literalists (zahiris).

For zahiris (literalists) paradise and hell have been described in vivid details in physical sense, like a place where there will be eternal gardens with canals of milk and honey flowing therein etc. and hell with burning fire causing great physical pain and nothing can rescue them from there. Both would be eternal. The whole description is quite tempting about paradise and that of hell inspires great fear. Description of hell is so fearsome that one can start trembling.

However, those who are knowledgeable treat this more symbolically and dive in for deeper meanings. The Qur’an calls paradise place of peace and security and it says :We will root out whatever of rancor is in their breasts – they shall be as brethren on raised couches, face to face, Toil shall but afflict them therein, nor shall they be ejected there from.” (15:45-48)

Firstly paradise is a state in which a believer would be feeling perfectly at peace and secure. There will be no fear or feeling of doubt, restlessness and fear. Only a person who is perfect in his/her faith can have such stage of mind. A doubter, an sceptic, without perfection of faith cannot feel so secure and peaceful at heart. The sufis talk of insan-e-kamil i.e. a perfect being. Their whole effort is to achieve this state of insan-e-kamil and such person is perfectly at peace with himself.

Also, there are stages of perfection and one has always to try to achieve higher and higher stage of perfection. It is not correct to say that paradise is a place of rest and enjoyment. Far from it. It is a place of constant e3fforts to raise oneself in higher degrees of perfection. Thus Qur’an says, “But those who keep their duty to their Lord shall have high places, above them higher places, built (for them)” (39:20). Thus paradise is not at all place of eternal rest and enjoyment but that of spiritual efforts for further stages of perfection.

It is abiding in the sense that these are ceaseless efforts and once you achieve one stage of perfection there is no looking back and one goes on and there is great enjoyment in making these efforts. More such efforts and more one feels at peace with oneself.

Similarly hell is, for those who are people of deep knowledge, a state of mind in which one is far from perfection in ones faith but in a constant state of doubt or even hypocrisy and thus remains in a state of torment and it is fire of doubt or hypocrisy which keeps on tormenting him/her and as those who rise in a state of perfection in case of paradise, one keeps on falling lower and lower in case of hell. Greater the depth of fall, greater the torment. However, Qur’an provides for what it calls taubat al-nusuh (sincere repentance which can redeem one of this torture.

One always has a choice either to rise higher and higher in a state of perfection or fall low and low in a state of lowest of low.