Sunday, November 1, 2015

Malaysia’s ‘Islam’ has negative impact on Singapore, says lecturer


From The Malaysian Insider

by Hasnoor Hussain, 

October 31, 2015. 

Malaysia’s brand of Islam has a negative impact on its neighbour across the causeway, a Singaporean academic said today.

Dr Nawab Osman, from Nanyang Technology University, said a puritanical mindset and intolerance has begun to seep into Singapore and Malaysia was one of the contributing factors.

“Singapore is where Malaysia was about 10 years ago. The impact of Malaysia’s Islam is real.

“When (well-known Malaysian preacher) Ustaz Azhar Idrus came to Singapore, 10,000 people went to his talk,” he said at the “Maqasid Shariah in a Constitutional Democracy” forum in Penang organised by G25 and think tank Penang Institute today.

Speaking on Islamic revivalism and its socio-political impact, Nawab cited incidents in the island republic such as the issue of Muslim women wearing headscarves, as an indication of the shift of Islam in Singapore.

He said as a secular state, headscarves were not allowed in Singaporean schools and certain departments, but the issue was the subject of a huge debate last year.

“A group of people advocated for headscarves to be allowed because it is their fundamental right to profess religion.

“But a few months later, the same group of people were in a wear white campaign opposing the Pink Dot annual rally by the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group.

“The argument was those people should not be allowed to express their sexual orientation. That was the big contradiction.

“The same people who argued for their rights to be respected, had no qualms to argue that the rights of others should be denied. That mindset is very entrenched,” he said.

Nawab also asked why the Islamic trend in Malaysia was not going in the same direction as others in the Muslim world, which were moving towards a post-Islamic phase.

“Why is it not the case in Malaysia, although it does have (Parti) Amanah (Negara)? It has not taken strong root,” he said.

Earlier, Nawab also spoke briefly on how Malaysia had taken a stronger Islamic tone with ruling party Umno facing Islamist party PAS.

He noted that the co-opting of Islamism happened during former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time and reforms took place across different sectors.

Islamic principles were introduced into the economy, banking, education and international policies; as well as a more serious effort in Islamising the judicial system, he said.

He said the impact of Islamisation on the government was a bureaucratic one.

Nawab said this led some Malaysian Muslims adopting contradictory attitudes towards religion, and intolerance.

“Some may adopt the black and white thinking of the Sufi sect. We may see a rise in non-violent extremism.

“Singapore has been very concerned about this for many years. Such people won’t be arrested but their mindset is extremely problematic,” he said.

He explained that those who subscribe to such an ideology would criticise acts of violence and aggression against Muslims, but there would be deafening silence when terrorist acts were committed in the name of Islam.

“They may not overly support violent extremism but they would condone the actions of their more violent brethren,” he said. – October 31, 2015.

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