Guan Eng ‘not qualified’ to speak of the Caliph?

I’ve been rather out-of-sync lately, only having the time to browse through *some* news items and other such articles. So I was rather surprised to read the following excerpt from the Malaysian Insider:

Sewaktu saya membuka lembaran akhbar The Edge Financial Daily yang bercerita tentang Dr Hilmi Yahaya mempersoal penggunaan nama Kalifah Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz dan frasa ‘amar ma’aruf nahi mungkar’ oleh Lim Guan Eng (‘Hilmi questions Guan Eng’s frequent mention of Caliph Umar’, 18 Nov 2008).

Akhbar itu memetik Dr Hilmi: “You should not use these at your whim and fancy. Are you qualified to speak about the caliph?… It has not been ascertained if you or even Professor P Ramasamy is qualified to use them.”

Apakah kualifikasi yang dimaksudkan Dr Hilmi itu? Keratan itu memetik lagi: “You are not Muslim, so you should not use it.”

Dalam senario ini agama diguna sebagai alasan dan lesen untuk mendiamkan pendapat yang membangkitkan persoalan tentang cara mentadbir dengan adil dan saksama. Di manakah disebutkan bahawa penggunaan frasa ‘amar ma’aruf nahi mungkar’ dikhaskan untuk penggunaan orang beragama Islam sahaja? Secara lebih dasar, mengapa mengaburkan persoalan pokok – suatu pentadbiran yang mengajak rakyatnya kepada kebaikan dan mencegah keburukan – dengan mempersoal pemilihan kata-kata sahaja?

I’m not sure where the direct link of the Edge article is (would be glad if someone has the link handy), but I’m assuming that the article is as below, taken from Malaysia-Today:

The frequent mention of Caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz and the phrase ‘amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar’ (enjoining good and avoiding wrongdoing) by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has been questioned by a Barisan Nasional backbencher. Lim frequently mentioned the caliph, a social reformist and one of the finest rulers in Muslim history, who ruled from 717 to 720.

Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya (Teluk Bahang-BN), during his debate on the Supply Bill 2009, questioned if Lim was qualified to invoke the caliph’s name or the phrase. “You should not use these at your whim and fancy. Are you qualified to speak about the caliph? Even the phrase ‘amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar’ has been used in your posters all over the place.”

“It has not been ascertained if you or even Professor P Ramasamy is qualified to use them. The matter should be referred for clarification with the mufti who has to determine if you can use the caliph’s name and the phrase,” Hilmi added.

Permatang Berangan assemblyman and Penang Islamic Religious Affairs president Shahabudin Yahaya said Lim should not use the term ‘amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar’ as he is not a Muslim.

Debating the Supply Bill 2009 presented by Lim last Friday, Shahabudin said Lim and other non-Muslim assemblymen and MPs should stop using them on the banners put up in the state. “It means to avoid or shun wrongdoing, do good and to enhance one’s faith in Allah, and not to Jesus or to any ‘tokong’ (deity). You are not Muslim, so you should not use it,” he added. – The Edge.

I *think* this was in the Penang State Assembly, although I’m not sure. But that is not of importance. What I don’t understand, is why the sudden need to question the ‘qualification’ of someone to mention people or phrases. Or to be more detailed, the ‘qualification’ of a non-Muslim to mention a Kalifah, and a phrase that he used.

I agree with RPK in the sense that Muslims should be proud that non-Muslims find the phrase, and the Kalifah inspiring enough to quote. I’ve always thought of Islam as an inclusive religion, as it *invites* people to understand the religion, and not *shun* people away.

And besides, I remember spending at least half a year in Form 2 studying about sejarah Islam. We learnt about how the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) got his first premonition, about the 4 great Kalifahs who ruled after him, about the Hijrah, about the Mujahidin and all that. Forgive my spelling errors if any, my memory of history is not too good. But that was the kind of stuff that I studied back in Form 2.

Why teach us, and then say that we aren’t ‘qualified’ to talk about it?

In fact, I’ve borrowed a couple of books on the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam in general. Surely there’s no problem in doing that, simply because I’m a non-Muslim? If I find the stuff that I read and find out interesting and inspiring enough, should I not be allowed to quote them to other people so as they might find some insight as well? Or do I have to first convert?

There is this thick fat line being drawn between Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, which I think shouldn’t be there. By claiming that one has to be ‘qualified’ or a Muslim in order to quote of Kalifahs and phrases from the Quran drives people away.


4 Comments on “Guan Eng ‘not qualified’ to speak of the Caliph?”

  1. You wrote “There is this thick fat line being drawn between Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, which I think shouldn’t be there.”

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with you on this. If only we can get around it!


  2. anakpakross says:

    People talk, so whats new. In fact this is a politician talking, one trying to better or belittle the other. IMO, I see them as politician first and therefore not necessarily representing the views of ‘islam’. So lets not confuse between the two.

    After all have we forgotten how the statement of taking oath in mosque by the politicians not so long ago? Surely we need to be able to differentiate between political statement or otherwise. So, the question is are you interested in the remarks by the politicians or the applicability of the statement by non-muslims? i.e. can a non muslim say ‘amar makruf nahi munkar’.

    My opinion, when someone ask to do good and forbid evil deeds, then in principle that is alright no matter what language it is uttered. I believe all religion would agree to this without exception.

    I hate to think of a scenario where people start to read too much into things. As an example, ‘munkar’ or evil deeds can be interpreted in its finer details as anything that is against the will of god. So, if god says that you shall not eat pork, then going against it is to do an evil deed. So, technically if LGE says ‘amar makruf nahi munkar’ and he goes back home and had a good helping of pork, where does that take us?

    I say you should not read too much into this. Again, IMO to invite people to do good and fobid evil is always good. But politician will be politicians, and we just have to understand their nature of business. Unless we want to extend their game and further confuse the people, let us differentiate between what is said AND who says it. Afterall, we can never stop people for talking!

  3. fishfootsedai says:

    I don’t know what’s with Islam in Malaysia nowadays. To me it feels like religion is becoming some sort of commerce or business, like we’ve stopped giving out free samples to people so that they won’t reap the supposed benefits until they actually bought the products themselves.

    What happened to the good old marketing strategy? Has it been discontinued from use due to failure? Did it really fail, and is there proof of such a thing?

    I mean, come on! Even popular fiction stick more to the side of justice than the side of evil! Or do these word-confused politicians [and I mean the UMNuts] even know what’s good or evil?
    We were given the ability to think for a reason. It’s basically that. It’s just a question if they’ve used that ability lately. At all.

  4. khairi ali says:

    It is because LGE is not just anybody. Matters pertaining to religion will be the sole right of its followers…. unless it is in some academic or university forums.

    But muslims do not forbid non muslims to speak about Islam. They must be discrete and understand the ‘communicating situation’.

    But I dont think LGE will ever understand this kind of understanding, simply because he does not belong to any religion. And if I’m not mistaken, atheistic person may accept any religion, as according to their whim and fancies.

    Afterall it is a human trait that if you see something good, you should be with it, not just say: hey its good. That will be hypocrite.

    Its just like saying that I dont have any grudge with that guy, but it will be better if I have the upperhand over the guy… which is of course, worst than hypocrite.

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