Book ban: who are we to question gov't?

S Abdullah

Modified 13 Feb 2008, 9:37 am

I am refer to the letter Book ban: the two faces of Islam Hadhari .

I believe the Internal Security Ministry banned all the books the writer mentioned in good faith because the ministry, as I understand it, has religious experts to evaluate all the books.

Furthermore, they can refer material to Islamic Development Department (Jakim), a division under the Prime Minister’s Department, or state religious departments and muftis.

In fact, as I was told, a well-known mufti Harussani Zakaria chairs the Jakim's censorship committee. He is also the chairperson of the National Fatwa Committee and the Perak mufti.

This committee then recommends to the Internal Security Ministry to ban any book deemed detrimental to Islamic beliefs and values. The ministry does not ban any book because of political pressure or political reasons as suggested by the writer or the author Stephen Schwartz.

The writer’s claims that ‘our government is protecting and nurturing a fundamentalist mindset among Muslims’ and that ‘his Islam Hadhari project has been infiltrated by fundamentalist elements’ are a far-fetched insinuations.

One of the books recently banned is the locally published Islam dan Pluralisme edited by Al-Mustaqeem Mahmod Radhi and Khairul Anam Che Menteri. The book tried to project the idea that Islam can tolerate or accept any truth, even those from other religions. This is a fatally dangerous notion propagated by liberal Muslims worldwide.

The banned book tried to sell the idea that Islam and other religions are ‘the same’ because any religion will lead its followers to the Truth and heaven. See, for instance, Chapter Three of Islam dan Pluralisme as written by Asghar Ali Engineer. The whole section argues that other religions are as true as Islam!

See also the next chapter ‘Macam-macam Jalan ke Syurga’ authored by an Iranian by the name Reza Shah-Kazemi, and his subsequent chapter ‘Kristian di Masjid Nabawi: Renungan ke dalam Sunnah’ and ‘Pluralisme Keagamaan dan Islam’ written by John Hick.

Very unfortunately, however, Muslims cannot swallow such liberal, pragmatist ideas. If the writer may refer to the Quran, it says ‘the only religion recognised by Allah is Islam’. Religious experts and our muftis, including Harussani Zakaria, have criticised such ideas and warned Muslims against the danger of being influenced by them.

"If left unchecked, liberalism and pluralism will be difficult to control," said Harussani Zakaria when speaking at the Ulamak 2006 Convention.

I wonder why the writer only highlighted only one book, The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism and did not refer to the other 10 banned books.

Is he trying to accuse the present prime minister with dissemination of Wahhabism, allegedly funded by the Saudi Arabian government as insinuated by Stephen Schwartz’s term ‘Saudi- Wahhabi agents in Malaysia’?

Is he also saying the Malaysian government now is under ‘fundamentalist’s hands’?

The writer’s analysis not only provides an incomplete picture of the censorship policy of the ministry, but also distorts the truth and puts the Malaysian government in bad light. By portraying the wrong picture, he accused Islam Hadhari of having ‘two faces’ or double standard.

If the writer is willing to see the truth, he may refer to Jakim’s website or call the ministry’s office. This before writing a letter with such a bend.

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