LETTER | Recently, my son who is in secondary school, told me that he had a disagreement with his ustazah (Islamic studies teacher) during his Kelas Agama (Religious Class).
His ustazah insisted that it is God’s words that an adulterer should be stoned to death. My son, a teenager said that could not be. God could not be so cruel. The ustazah then scolded him in front of the class and said he must believe this to be true if he were to call himself a Muslim or else he would be a murtad (apostate).
When my son asked for evidence that it was God’s word, the ustazah admonished him and told him to read the Quran. This situation pitted the entire class against my son and caused some discord with his fellow classmates.
As a parent, I am deeply concerned about this. What kind of national school system tells students that it is God’s word to stone someone to death for adultery and if you do not believe it, you are an apostate? This is a very extreme view.
The ustazah, as a religious teacher, holds a position of authority in a national school. What she is doing is preaching an extremist view to young impressionable minds, i.e, stoning to death as a religious obligation that cannot be questioned.
Just imagine the kind of citizens we are producing with this kind of teaching that leaves no room for debate or discussion. A peace-loving citizen or a violent and judgmental person?
As a Muslim, I have read the Quran and there is nothing in the Quran that says an adulterer or anyone should be stoned to death. And the Quran is believed by Muslims to be the word of God.
It is irresponsible to use God’s name to justify contentious viewpoints especially when the subject matter is Islamic jurisprudence debated even among Muslim scholars. Many Muslims in Malaysia nowadays don’t read. They simply believe what the religious teachers tell them as the word of God.
It is worrying that contentious issues are paraded around like they are God’s words that cannot be questioned. It creates an oppressive and closed society where only the powerful who hold religious titles can speak and anyone who disagrees, like my son, is punished and silenced.
This case is not an isolated one. It reflects the larger change in our society where the interpretation of Islam has become more and more harsh and singular and whoever does not follow the mainstream interpretation is often outcasted and labelled as "liberal" or kafir.
Then following that labelling, anyone is free to make violent comments on social media that the blood of those who do not follow their interpretation of “God’s law” is halal to be spilt.
Time and again, I have come across these kinds of violent and threatening comments on social media against those who simply had the misfortune of being labelled a “liberal Muslim” whatever that means.
Dear Prime Minister and Education Minister, what is a responsible government of a multireligious and multiethnic society that follows a parliamentary democracy system doing about this trend?
It pains me as a Muslim and a citizen of this country to see that Islam is being seen as a violent religion especially when viewpoints like the ustazah I mentioned are not isolated cases.
Is Islam not a religion of peace and love? Do we just parrot BismillahiRahmanirRahim (In the name of the Most Compassionate and Merciful), the opening verse of almost every surah which Muslims recite every day while performing the solat without understanding or believing in it?
Why has faith become so narrow and oppressive that you can be vilified or even investigated simply for holding a viewpoint that is different from the majority? Where is the gentle and loving religion that holds that everyone is equal before God and that only one's righteous acts make the difference?
As a citizen of this beloved nation, I urged the honourable prime minister and the education minister to do something to stop this unhealthy and dangerous trend, starting with the school system, before it is too late.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.