“You Are Not Qualified To Talk About Islam”: How to Respond to Attempts to Close the Public Domain

By Farish A. Noor ~ June 16th, 2009. Filed under: TOM_Main.

“You are not qualified to talk about Islam”. How many times have I heard and read that same line, again and again? And more often than not, the same sentence is uttered or written by precisely the sort of self-trained autodidact whose own knowledge of Islam came from whatever he or she read on the internet or some cassette he bought at the local market.

It has become rather commonplace for conservative Muslims – as well as conservative Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews – to claim monopoly over the discourse of Islam and to try their best to close off the space of public discourse on all matters religious for the sake of protecting the integrity and sanctity of that discourse. Or so we are told. But one can also argue that such attempts at restricting the participation and contribution of others in a discursive arena that is hotly contested is little more than a conventional and predictable attempt at censorship and the narrowing of the Muslim mind.

A recent case in point is the attempt to once again label the Muslim feminist movement Sisters in Islam of Malaysia as a group of ‘western-educated’ ‘liberal’ feminists who have no right to speak on matters Islamic. And once again we are in a paroxysm of anxiety as to how to deal with such accusations.

Let us therefore calmly and rationally look into the matter and dissect it piece by piece:

First of all, the claim that someone is ‘not qualified’ to speak about Islam simply because he or she did not go to a religious school is a rather bogus and shallow argument that should be exposed for what it is. The comparison that is often made is thus: Only a doctor can speak about medicine as he is trained to speak on medical matters, and only a pilot can speak about flying as he or she is trained in such matters as well; hence it follows that only the learned scholars (ulama) can speak about Islam as they have been trained to do so.

Now allow me to interject at this point: If I were to go to my doctor and complain to her of a headache, and she attempts to cure my headache by cracking my skull open with a hammer, I do reserve the right to object and to tell her that she is not a very good doctor. Likewise if I chose to take a flight to Jogjakarta and end up in Cuba, I do reserve the right to admonish the pilot. I don’t have to be trained in medicine or avionics to register such a complaint, for the simple reason that I am not objecting to the discipline of medicine per se, but rather the normative conduct of my doctor.

Likewise when Muslim feminists object to the abuse of women’s rights at the hands of misogynistic men who hide behind the cloak of religiosity, they are not condemning Islam or religion as a whole, but rather the normative culture of Muslims, and the abuse of law in the name of Islam. At no point is Islam being criticised or rejected, but rather the abuse of the law and the transgression of the egalitarian spirit of Islam.

This is the point that is often lost in the over-heated debates that take place between Muslim progressives and the more conservative Ulama in our midst. Whenever there is an attempt to question, debate, reform or develop the normative religio-cultural praxis of Muslims anywhere in the world, we often see the same reaction from conservative Ulama who will never accept that those who didn’t go to the same schools as they did have the right to speak on matters of religious praxis.

But if we accept this argument of the Ulama then we are in danger of overlooking the reality of history and how the greatest advances in Muslim normativity and thought came from those who were precisely outside the traditional circle of orthodox thought. Today many Islamists claim to have received their inspiration from the likes of Abul Ala’a Maudoodi, Hassan al-Banna, Syed Qutb, et al. But have we forgotten that men like Maudoodi and Qutb were themselves lay Islamists whose own education sometimes was not rooted in classical Islamic teaching? Maudoodi was, after all, a journalist by training.

Dealing and responding to such attempts at discursive closure would therefore require us to look beyond the discursive pyrotechnics of legalism and theology, and to see that beneath all these warnings and demands for closure is nothing more than a strategy of censorship at work. For those who are trying to engage critically and intelligently with the discourse of religion, abiding by the rules of traditional conventional scholarship will simply not get us anywhere.

If, for instance, a Muslim feminist were to abide by the rules set by some conservative male Ulama, they would be forced to conform to all the standards set by men: They would have to start from the beginning, go to the same schools as the ulama did, read the same books, dress and behave the same way, etc. But in the end, they would still be faced with yet another barrier to their participation into the discursive domain: “No, you are not qualified to speak on Islam. Why? Because you are a woman of course!”

In the struggle to understand and render relevant the concerns of religion in the modern age we live in, blind adherence to traditional conventions will get us nowhere; and can only in fact retard our development even further. What holds true for contemporary Muslim praxis is equally true for contemporary Christian, Hindu and Buddhist praxis as well. Conservative Muslims on the other hand have to realise that we now live in an age where modern developments in communication, education and the dissemination of knowledge means that Muslim women are more intellectually emancipated and equipped than ever before. Rather than silencing the voices of Muslim women who are trying to understand and make relevant Islam for the age we live in, the conservatives among us should learn to listen to the critical and often constructive comments of others instead. If Islam is indeed a universal religion, then it has to be open for discussion for all. If Islam is indeed for everyone, then everyone has the right to have a say in it.

36 Responses to “You Are Not Qualified To Talk About Islam”: How to Respond to Attempts to Close the Public Domain

  1. pete

    One good way to save Islam is to let it be openly discussed and understood ,thus reducing the misunderstandings about the religion which certain quarters have been claiming monopoly.
    Also, the way Islam get disseminated needs to be changed, there is a dire need for a good source of reference in reading materials instead of the present way “coffee-shop-talk”.
    What we have now is a bunch of non thinking followers, easily manipulated by those stake holders, who fear losing their “trade-secrets”.

  2. Karcy

    I certainly know what it feels like to be viewed as not worthy of offering my opinions on a religion because of certain personal characteristics (heh), but I think that your argument still skirts the point, and that point is that the theologians are fighting with theology.

    Assuming that Sisters in Islam are deemed worthy to speak up on religious matters, are there any views held by Sisters in Islam (or other reform-inclined Muslims) that are theologically incorrect? It seems to me that the appeal to authority does make sense. After all, if you need to wade through thousands of Hadith to arrive at a doctrine, I’d rather listen to someone who has done that, rather than someone who has not.

    To me, there seems to be a faith-based division going on (that is, the arguments made by both parties are purely based on faith): reform-inclined Muslims believe that through some adjustments and re-examinations they will arrive at ‘true Islam’, whereas the ulama and the theologians believe that true Islam has always been there. Being an outsider, I have no stakes in arriving at ‘true Islam’ at any point, but to be honest, I am personally more inclined to trust the ulama.

    I think the issue is simple: the arguments are theological, the methods of replying to them too, should be theological. If SIS offers a strong argument on any issue, then religious authorities need to back down in good faith (though highly unlikely, given how many other things are at stake), but if SIS’s arguments are weak, then the charge that they are deviant Muslims might probably be well and true.

  3. zane

    I agree that everyone has the right to know about Islam, to talk about it in order to get better understanding about it. BUT, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO INSULT ISLAM AND THE ULAMA!

    Remember what Zainah, the president of SIS said about Islam dan role of ulama? That muslim should not follow what ulama is teaching because Islam can freely be perceived in one way or another! This is very misleading because the prophet himself has said they ulamaks are prophet’s legacy. When he died, the ulamak will carry on with the teaching through Al Quran and Al Hadis.

    She also condemned the Fatwa Counsil for stating that asset that is left by the decease should be distributed among the family members according to Syariah law, through faraid. She further clarified that it is not fair to the women. When she said the ruling is not fair, she is saying that what has been stated in the Quran is unjust! As muslims, we all know what is the consequence of makin such statement, right?

    There were numerous statements that was misleading to the muslim from this organisation. If nobody dare to highlight what this organisation is trying to imply, then it would be confusion among the muslims. This is of course, very dangerous to the muslims’ faith.

    When everybody can freely talk about Islam, nobody should talk as if he or she has the right to mislead people especially when aqidah ( faith) is concerned.

    By the way, why is SIS not registered under NGO? Why registring it as a company?

  4. samy vellu

    aiyoy yo

  5. Gadfly

    I understand that the issue is about ‘aboutism’. If you do not study this or that scripture, then you cannot talk ‘about’ that subject. But, if you study your mind and heart or soul directly without any agency or medium of books or scholars or church or temple or mosque, then can you talk ‘about’ something called human dignity and freedom or compassion? If religion do not study the humand heart directly, what do they study?The head that has no feeling?They study about’ about something’? Is it because they study ‘about’ something and not directly at the thing in itself that is the root cause of the prejudice and discrimination? There is a thin line between ‘aboutism’ and ‘absolutism’.

    Those who are qualified to talk ‘about’ doctrines does not mean they are equally qualified to talk on what it is to be human.which is the the essence of all great religions.

  6. Hamid

    Dear Farish A. Noor

    Maybe “Sisters in Islam ” are not qualified To Talk About Islam, but they do qualified to talk about “Muslims”! Don’t you think so ? And don’t give a crap by saying talking about Muslim’s is like talk about Islam, if you say so then whatever Muslims does will hold Islam a responsible.

  7. Fawzia

    I don’t have any beef about SIS, only one. At a conference organised or supported by SIS in K.L. some time ago, I remember SIS allowing a woman to be Imam to lead a mixed congregation. After that incident, I totally lost interest in SIS where Islam is concerned.

  8. nakula sadewa

    the feminist should learn from ZAINAB AL-GHAZALI

  9. durianguy

    Doc, sorry to deviate …. but whilst reading this paragraph;

    “Likewise when Muslim feminists object to the abuse of women’s rights at the hands of misogynistic men who hide behind the cloak of religiosity, they are not condemning Islam or religion as a whole, but rather the normative culture of Muslims, and the abuse of law in the name of Islam. At no point is Islam being criticised or rejected, but rather the abuse of the law and the transgression of the egalitarian spirit of Islam.”

    I can’t help it but relating it to the infamous NEP.

  10. hashem

    here we go again to this fasik farish noor. Why he’s a fasik? He knows boozing is haram, but he is at ease with it. And many more.
    No one questions this bitches SIS, but when they question about Faraid, why men get 2 women 1, now , who the fuck are they and who the fuck are you to be not referring to views from Jumhurul Ulema on this matter and to be apologetic about Islam in the 1st place ?
    Hadi was right, you assholes, even miss your 5 daily prayers, and you got no authority man to speak about faraid!
    Shit heads!

  11. Kaiser

    Agree with zane and Fawzia,

    SIS certainly start to change Islam, or some things in the Quran in other words condeming Quran. what are they trying to do? Create a new Sect in Islam?Ammend the Quran? Start to redefine Quran? or Retranslate Quran according to their perspective? I think most Muslims knows that Quran must first be thought by a teacher not by just reading it on your own first time.

    Even though most Muslim’s does not bother with women without Hijab but, Islam clearly states that Hijab is a must, most SIS not wearing Hijab.

    The comparison on the Pilot and Doctor is nice and I do agree with the comparison the only problem is I object and complaint about pilot and doctors but I sure don’t tell them how to fly the plane better or tell them which button to press in the cockpit and for the doctors i sure don’t re-prescribe what ever they prescribe or tell them how to diagnose a disease correctly, well maybe some of us do but i sure don’t. I think that’s what SIS is doing.

    Let’s try setting up an NGO may be for health welfare and start to tell doctors what to do? What should be in Medic School syllabus, and best of all most of the members are non Practitioner :)

  12. Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman)

    Brilliant argument as usual from Mr. Farish Noor - the true intellectual! PAS is not to be trusted - since it is an Islamist organization. Many do not understand the difference between ‘Muslim’ and ‘Islamist’. Islamists are supporters of Arabic-centric medievally dogmatic political Islamic ideology i.e. Islamism (just like Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism etc), and do not have to be Muslims, that seeks to construct or sustain racist, sexist and fascist dominant power over ordinary Muslim believers and non-Muslim communities alike. This is in order to achieve an absolute “(One i.e. homogenous) Islamic Empire/Ummah”, from east to west, in opposition to modernity and westernization, especially against universal human and women’s rights. Whereas Muslims are ordinary believers who regard Islam as a personal belief between oneself and God (thus not interested in gaining dominant power over anyone). Further, Islamist ideology will never fundamentally recognize full liberation and equality for women/girls, gays, non-Islamic communities, converts/apostates from Islam and so on. Moreover, this include forcing girls as young as from three years old to SUBMIT to Arabic-centric veiling ideology; so that their consent can be manufactured as when they become adults, rather than from rational i.e. complete, free will! Go to PAS organized meetings and you will see this very clearly - disgusting!

    Lastly, even in oil-rich Malaysia and Indonesia, the Pakistan-led (& Bangladesh to a certain extent – including by marrying local village or poor women/girls especially in Borneo – including non-Muslims) Islamist groups have infiltrated local Islamist movements, including PAS and fanaticized such groups, thus causing increasing extremist Islamisation of the two countries, besides targeting our oil, including in oil-rich Borneo. Further, these once dynamically multicultural tolerant two countries will be the Islamist Empire base in South-East Asia.

    Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman)

  13. Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman)

    CORRECTION: I mean to actually say on this particular context - Whereas TRUE Muslims are ordinary believers who regard Islam as a personal belief between oneself and God (thus not interested in gaining dominant power over anyone).

  14. i love islam

    this is not the suitable place to discuss the article.. mgkin sesetengah orang akan emotional when discuss about religion especially ISLAM.. peace be to all, lets god bless us

  15. Jinny

    If there is nothing to hide why can’t it be discussed? Is it because its teachings cannot stand up to testing and close scrutiny? Is it because its a weak religion? Is it because Muslims are not proud of their religion? Or is it because they are afraid they might offend God if non-believers start questioning the religion? Or is it because they do not have ready answers to their questions?

  16. islah_2000

    Islam is undoubtedly a religion that promote peace and righteousness to mankind alike. It is not just a system of belief one might casually give a literal term for it. It is a way of life in which a true and authentic believer takes pledge in the name of the Mighty God and His Messenger (pbuh), its not just a walk in a talk.
    Thus, the core element of FAITH is embedded in ones who will give total submission to the pleasures of the Al- Mighty God, the ONLY CREATOR , clearly stated in His Book, the Holy Koran and in the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). No Question asked.

    Only Allah in His knowledge knows best.

  17. Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza Othman)

    Islah_2000, so “No Question asked” - so you thinkor would love for Muslims to be stupid enough to follow religion blindly! This is what exactly what deceitful and primitively fascist Islamists want! They want ordinary mass Muslims, not to possess rationality, besides faith, as in parallel with modernity and civilized humanity. By the way, always remember, whatever holy book there is, it’s all hand-written by men! Especially powerful men, as in Islam, in Saudi Arabia land! Just as Christianity - it was in the absolute power of the Pope & Vatican. But fortunately the Great Reformation process in the 16century gave birth to diverse interpretation, including the “priesthood of all believers”and the birth of Protestantism , where everyone has equal rights (men/women, poor/rich etc) to interpret Christanity freely since religion is personal - priests are only teachers, not judges.

  18. Sarah Elizabeth

    Compelling and thought provoking.

    As a Muslim convert from America, and as a liberal woman, sometimes I do wonder if there is a place in Islam for someone as liberal as myself. I am the first to admit I am western and liberal, and also Muslim. I practice all 5 pillars as anyone else who chooses to. I also believe strongly in human rights/civil rights, including women’s rights. When someone gets mad because a woman leads prayer, I say “so what.” When someone gets mad about women not wearing hijab, I say “let her decide.” And when people complain about gay people, all i can say is “they have a place on this earth and deserve their civil rights.” Is the teachings of religion not of compassion? Sometimes we get so caught up in rules that we forget what Allah is trying to teach us. The prophet (PBUH) was an orphan, married a much older, INDEPENDANT woman, who had her own business… How can we squander women’s God given rights and then claim to know the prophet?? It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t need to be a scholar to know that…

    My Islam is one of love and self-control. My Hijab is carried in my heart with me.

    I am always going to be liberal and open minded.. And yes, I have chosen to be a Muslim.

    Am I a contradiction to Islam?? Some may say I am not Muslim…

    I am a Muslim, and I will not change my perspective, I will not change my compassionate heart to fit into some mold of what people think a Muslim is supposed to be..

    I am following how Khadijah lived.. I am following the first single mother of Islam, Hajar.. There are so many strong women in Islam…

    It seems everyone has forgotten.

    I support having different opinions about Islam, and I completely support Sisters In Islam.

  19. AA

    Farish, your argument on the doctor/pilot analogy is sound indeed. However, the problem is, while cracking your skull open with a hammer and landing in Cuba are mistakes or wrongs that can be proven and are rooted in things actually happening, the approval of God and admission to heaven is something no one can prove. Thus, those who claim to be making the correct intepretations of the word of God continue to insist that they are right and Farish Noor, SIS etc are wrong.

    Following your doctor analogy, only when all parties involved in this argument die and meet in the hereafter could the wrong or mistake be proven. It’s like when you suspect you’re being flown to a place other than Jogjakarta but can’t prove it until the plane lands and you find yourself in Cuba instead. While in flight, the captain continues to insist that he’s flying to Jogja even though he’s been flying for ten hours when it should only take three. He points to the electronic equipment in the cockpit and makes his case by talking avionics and you can’t argue the details because you’re not trained in that field. You can only draw on common sense in this case, which he dismisses condescendingly since you’re not trained in avionics. This is, of course, irksome if the circumstances show that the pilot is very likely wrong. But as we know, many an airplane has crashed because officers subordinate to the pilot could not bring themselves to point out that the pilot was probably making a mistake.

    So, we’re all in a flight and some of us feel that the plane is being flown in an improper manner but the ulama-pilots are telling us to shut up and buckle up since we mere passengers.

  20. dr majezan

    For SIS sympathizers,
    God is one,heaven is for everyone.
    All men can perform their Jumaat prayer start this week anywhere they like,office,stadium,taxi stand etc. and their Imam could be one of SIS officers.
    Any syariah matters,please call Aminah Wadood for help.
    No compulsion in religion,all go to heaven at last.
    I like to differ.

  21. Shafique


    I really in shock and frighten of the articles and comments being discussed here.

    To all muslims that still have faith in Al-Quran and As- Sunnah and still practices Islam according to it, i’ll pray for us all so that we’ll given strength and hidayah so that our faith remains intact umweavering.

    And to all you liberal, i do hope that you’ll find what ever you searching for. Just don’t force us to follow your’s way just because you don’t have any faith in Islam anymore. And of course i do pray for you guys too.


  22. Hong


    The issue with PAS’s current stand on SIS has yet to reach the stage of theological debate. The former just wants to ban the latter outright (notwithstanding the excuse by Shah Alam PAS chief Khalid Samad that the wrong resolution had been sent to headquarters).

    As such, the article above deals more with the notion that PAS reckons it has the right to call for a ban of the SIS by virtue of the fact that it is led by ulama. No discourse is actually going on at the moment.

    As for your opinion that the appeal to authority makes sense, ulama are not ulama merely because they have waded through ahadith or memorised the Qur’an. Anyone with enough time on their hands can do it. Ulama are ulama because they have ostensibly learned the underlying principles of their religion enough to interpret scripture vis-a-vis unfolding events. It is the conservative version of these principles that SIS is challenging.

    Are SIS qualified to do this within the framework of Islam? I believe so. Although it is arguably not extant, a historically important practice in Islamic law and philosophy was itjihad, which basically allows ‘an educated Muslim to make up their own ruling on the permissibility of an Islamic law but only for themselves.’

    No doubt the gates of itjihad were closed a long time ago but perhaps this is a practice that needs to be resurrected, if only to stem the tide of anachronistic, fundamentalist taqlid (’imitation’) that has increasingly relegated a large proportion of Muslims to passive or reactionary roles in the world.

  23. Lucifer

    right o wrong, good or bad is depend on your own perception!

  24. Justice

    Fellow commentators, pls get down to the crux of the issue. If you know enough about human nature, history and religion, these are the truths which we need to see:

    1. Acting religious: That theology is nothing if it fails to change a single man or woman completely. Change that is cosmetic like praying 5 x a day or going to chruch on Sundays and coming back home beating your kids and wife is useless.

    2. Pretending to act religious: even worse are people who know how easy it is to act religious without inner change in their minds and hearts. They will pretend to act religious by condemning those who don’t follow the form of religion. In actual fact, they don’t even bother following the form.

    Now, the squabble between PAS and Sisters of Islam is important in revealing and resolving the intellectual problems of practising religion in a secular modern society. But apart from the main issues, we have a fight between group 1- the religious actors and group 2 - the pretenders trying to be classified as religious actors.

    I take Farish Noor’s doctor analgoy further. As the bible said, know a tree by its fruits. When I go to a new doctor and enter his room, the doctor need not hammer me in the head for me to suspect soemthing fishy about him. All he has to do is to have bad manners, look sloppy, messy desk, etc for me to assess his professionalism and credibility.

    So if any religious person (be it from Islam, Christianity or Buddhism) who claim they are close to God or enlightenment do not treat women equally with respect and try to judge and ostracise other groups of people (be they in the same religion or not) on the basis they are far from God or have deviated form God, let them prove their religious credentials first by their lifestyles and testimonies from family and friends.

    Just because you went to religious school or a member of PAS or whatever party does not mean you have a platform to condenm the beggar in the street who may be closer to God than you.

  25. Justice

    Allow me to correct myself as I have almost fallen into the temptation to judge group 2 people: “even worse are people who know how easy it is to act religious without inner change in their minds and hearts.”

    what I meant is that the first group are unconsicous hypocrites and the second group are conscious hypocrites. So the ones who consciously pretend to be religious are more accountable to God then the ones who don’t know they are living a superficial religious life.

  26. Farish A Noor

    Apart from one rather silly comment that ended with the phrase ’shit heads’ above, Im rather optimistic as thus far everyone seems to be discussing things in an open and rational manner. But let me emphasise one simple point again:

    As far as I know it Sisters in Islam have NEVER questioned the fundamental articles of faith in Islam or any other religion. The questions of the unity of God, the finality of Prophethood etc have never arisen. All they have done is to question the application of Islamic law and praxis by religious scholars and institutional bodies that are not in keeping with the egalitarian spirit of Islam. So what is the problem with that?

    Here is a comparison: In contemporary Hindu circles there are also progressive Hindu intellectuals such as Arvind Sharma, who have questioned the praxis of the caste system in the modern day context. Sharma’s thesis is that caste has to be understood as a ’state of mind’ rather than social divisions that lead to class differences. He proposed this approach to deal with the very real problem of caste discrimination among Hindus.
    Instead of taking on Sharma’s thesis, conservative right-wing Hindu groups have likewise labelled him ’secular, liberal’ and a ‘Hindu-hater’ etc.

    This shows that whenever there are progressive intellectuals trying to make religion relevant in the modern day context, the conservative backlash will come not long after. Sad, but true- and it underscores the need to keep on struggling to understanding faith praxis in the modern age in a rational (rather than emotional) manner.

  27. Farish A Noor

    Oh and this is an editorial note: If you cannot write, think and communicate in a rational, objective and scientific manner, then perhaps this is not the site for you. At othermalaysia.org we do not tolerate any form of slander or abusive language, be it sexist, racist or communitarian. So keep your thoughts succinct and to the point please, and no swear words or obscenities or we will simply delete your comments ok?

    If you want to swear and shout, go do that in the streets or your local kopitiam!

  28. Puzi

    The doctor and pilot analogies, I believe, show that we should question anyone who deviate from the normal practice. I mean, we know from normal experience that headache is treated in certain way, certainly not by cracking the skull with a hammer!!!

    Based on the above then, the normal way is to follow the Ulama’ way. This means that SIS is the ‘doctor who want to crack the skull with the hammer’. Thus paraphrasing Dr Farish’s own word, “The normal Muslims do reserve the right to object and to tell SIS that SIS is not a very good Muslim.”

  29. Karcy

    Thanks Hong. Living as a Christian in a country where the discourse of Islam ultimately affects everyone else, it’s doubly annoying when you are both relegated into the realm of outsider because of one’s faith, and also when you lack the knowledge to really understand what is going on. It’s like hearing gunfire without being able to see the battlefield. The average conservative Muslim and the average liberal Muslim both seem to display a lack of necessary knowledge required to give the arguments for their stances.

    A non-Muslim simultaneously has no stakes in the argument — we don’t have the rights to interpret the religion — and yet everything at stake, because this is still our country, and despite continued arguments that the whole business ‘won’t affect non-Muslims’, it does.

  30. MK LIM

    Totally agreed with your view bro Farish. You should view this site on this courageous lady.

  31. Puzi

    Hi Karcy,
    Reading your comments, I guess one must begin to understand how those Muslims living in Belgium, Italy, France etc, or even in USA must feel where the Muslims, from what I have read, are being treated much worse than the non Muslims are in this country.

  32. Suriya Osman

    Salam Farish

    Dr Suriya here.
    Need to email you but do not know your latest email

  33. Farhan

    I think there should always be room for discussion concerning the application of law and jurisprudence in its practice by Muslims, within the modern day context. I feel that there should be an understanding where Islam (as an entity within itself) and application of Islamic law by Muslims fit, as Islam is universal and its teachings in the Al-Qur’an true and infallible, but the transition from text to application in law relies on human beings’ capability to interpret and understand, and this is always subjective. One cannot say that any particular interpretation is true or false, as the truth lies with the Creator. As long as this is true, then concepts such as law and its progressive reinterpretation is open to debate, as long as it does not evolve into a questioning of the articles of faith. However, the moral inclinations which human beings share has allowed us to have a “collective” interpretation. Having said that, this interpretation should not be placed on a mantlepiece, untouched due to fear and a sense that only a certain group have the authority to discern right and wrong. Each of us is blessed with the faculty to doubt, and to question. When this is suppressed, then there is no longer a reason to have faith from reasoned understanding.

  34. Jonah

    When comes to religious discussion, it is best to have an open mind. Preconcieved opinions or believes will hinder the free flow of thoughts. Afterall who have actually seen god? Isn’t it true that all religions are basically founded on faith and hope?

    A faith that we will enjoy a blissful afterlife and a hope that the present one will be good…if not better?

  35. Farish A Noor

    Suriya, just mail direct to othermalaysia ya? The address is on the bio page

  36. Karcy


    I’m not sure what’s your intention in bringing the issue of Muslims in the West up. If you compare the miseries of a few conservative Muslims in the West with the outright violence that happens against Christians in the Middle East, the former is really nothing (the capital administration centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church has been bombed no less than six times in the past few years).

    As a Malaysian, I’m a stakeholder in this country. I’m interested in Islamic theology. I’d like to know exactly which direction people are taking this country to, and I’d like to know where I stand as a non-Muslim and how those decisions will or will not affect me. I was not complaining about being persecuted or oppressed at all.