We wish to express our concern with the statements made by a number of religious officials and other individuals who have condemned or even issued threats against our colleague Dato’ Noor Farida Ariffin following her statement on the issue of the khalwat laws during the G25 press conference at the end of the Forum on Islam in a Constitutional Democracy on 6 December 2015.
The attention of those interested in the work of the G25 should have been on the honourable objectives of the G25 to bring about change and a better Malaysia at a time of very difficult challenges facing our nation today.
The purpose of the G25 press conference was to explain and elaborate on the G25 Statement of Reaffirmation and the proposed creation of a Consultative Body for the harmonisation of Shariah law and the Federal Constitution.
We wish to emphasise that the statement concerning the khalwat law was merely an illustration of our stand against moral policing which was one of the issues highlighted in our open letter addressed to the Prime Minister dated 7 December 2014.
We had also raised our concern in the open letter about the current situation where religious bodies seem to be asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; where issuance of various fatwa violate the Federal Constitution and breach the democratic process of shura and where those who hold different opinions on religious issues are accused of being anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-Malay and most importantly, where the use of the Sedition Act hangs as a constant threat to silence anyone with a contrary opinion. These developments undermine Malaysia’s commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law, breed intolerance and bigotry, and have heightened anxieties over national peace and stability.
The G25 will work towards making Malaysia a model for the world as a moderate, harmonious and progressive Islamic multicultural democracy and beacon of tolerance. Every action that we undertake is to preserve the harmony and spirit of muhibbah that we currently enjoy and hopefully, will enjoy for many more years to come. We have been in the forefront in calling for the authorities to uphold democratic principles and the rule of law and to strengthen our public institutions to combat corruption and the abuse of power.
The aforementioned G25 public forum on Islam in a Constitutional Democracy had among its objectives, the championing of a rational discourse on the ways that Islam is used as a source of public law and policy in Malaysia.
It was also intended to address the areas of conflict and overlap between civil law and shariah law and the apparent breakdown in the Federal / State division of powers. In addition, it was intended to raise awareness on the legal jurisdiction and substantive limits of the religious authorities and the administration of Islamic law in Malaysia.
The G25’s proposal for the establishment of a consultative process for the harmonisation of Shariah law and the Federal Constitution was endorsed by the participants of the public forum. The forum had also issued a Statement of Affirmation as mentioned above whereby the G25 reaffirmed our commitment to uphold the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the nation as well as to uphold the principles of the Rukun Negara which promotes mutual respect for and understanding of Malaysia’s diverse cultural and religious traditions.
The statement reiterated our commitment to promote peace, tolerance and moderation and to uphold democratic principles and the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights and upholding the institutions in the country. The Statement also reaffirmed our commitment to promote the Islamic principles of justice, compassion, mercy, equity and moderation and work towards the realisation of the Quranic principles of Maqasid Al Shariah and Wasatiyyah.
We wish to emphasise that our call for a rational and informed discourse on the administration of Islamic laws in this country should not be seen as an attempt to demean Islam or the religious authorities. Rathe, it is to protect and engender respect for Islam.
As Muslims we want the country’s Islamic laws to meet the highest standards of justice, precisely because it claims to reflect divine justice. Therefore, those who act in the name of Islam through the administration of Islamic law must bear the responsibility of demonstrating that justice is not only done but is seen to be done.
In conclusion, the G25 is fully committed to upholding the role and position of the Sultans over Islamic affairs and Malay customs as provided for in the Federal Constitution and the State Constitutions.
For further information about the work of the G25, please refer to our newly launched book called Breaking the Silence; Voices of Moderation: Islam in a Constitutional Democracy which is obtainable from bookshops in the Klang Valley.
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