Malaysiakini Letter

Self-denying ordinance for ulama

Clive Kessler
 |  Published:  |  Modified:

Terengganu Menteri Besar Abdul Hadi Awang says that allowing people other than his own kind of conventionally certified experts to write about Islam would be like allowing non-economists to write about economics.

Does this mean that he will henceforth cease pronouncing on "non-interest banking" — and everything else that lies outside his own narrow expertise in traditionalistic fields of Islamic knowledge?

This would be an interesting "self-denying ordinance" for all traditional ulama (Muslim scholars) and PAS spokesmen to impose on themselves.

Somehow, I don't think that's what they intend, or are ready for ...

Ustaz Hadi further asserts that monkeys do not know the value of flowers.

How does he know? Did he consult, or is he himself, a credentialled expert in tropical ecology and simian behaviour?

All current knowledge suggests that African chimpanzees and Nustantaran gibbons, for example, have detailed knowledge, and a subtle appreciation of the characteristics, of their natural habitats including the properties of the various plant species they contain.

Ustaz Hadi may soon learn that his advice urging "every cobbler to stick to his own last", i.e., for people to remain confined to their own narrow technical competence, is a two-edged sword.

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