PETALING JAYA: Muslims should have the freedom to think and discuss without being called “deviants”, says former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
He said Muslims in the country should be allowed to develop their potential like others.
“That’s why they do not develop their potential, because they are prohibited from exercising their basic rights like thinking for themselves,” he said.
He added that “the thinking ones are called deviants”.
Zaid was responding to a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, who said the Government was monitoring “liberal Muslim deviants” as part of its “crackdown” on liberal Muslims.
Zaid said Muslim leaders were using religion as a front for their obsession with controlling the masses.
“Their obsession for control is disguised as protecting the purity of the faith. They only know how to punish and to ban anything they don’t understand,” he said.
Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, a member of the G25 Movement of Moderates, said it was her personal view that rather than demonising the liberals and pluralism, it would be of more benefit if the authorities were more serious in combating matters such as corruption and abuse of power, which were regarded as major sins in Islam.
“To me, if a Muslim questions matters of aqidah (faith), or doubts the authenticity of the Al-Quran, he or she is a deviant and not a liberal,” she said.
However, she said questioning certain interpretations of the Quran or hadith should not be disallowed as prominent religious scholars throughout Islamic history have had differences of opinion on the interpretations of the Al-Quran.
“Some scholars lean towards a literal interpretation while others advocate a contextual approach. We live in a plural society which entails accommodating another’s culture and beliefs,” she said.
“Just because a Muslim, for instance, respects the rights of non-Muslims to worship in accordance with their faith, it does not mean that the Muslim believes in the teaching of the other religion.”
Businessman and moderation activist Anas Zubedy said the Government should first define the meaning of “liberal” before starting to monitor liberal Muslims.
He said the Government also need to show that it was legal to monitor those considered liberal Muslims and to define the ways that the liberal Muslims would be monitored.