For some, liberal Muslims are the real extremists

Participants reading the Quran while waiting for the ISMA symposium to start in Putrajaya, September 28, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Participants reading the Quran while waiting for the ISMA symposium to start in Putrajaya, September 28, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov  7 — Liberal Muslims were “extremists” similar to those  resorting to violence, according to an activist from Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) who sought to denounce the former group’s moderate tag.

According to Gombak Isma activist Umar Hakim Mohd Tajuddin, the Islamic approach taken by liberal Muslims cannot be afforded the label “moderate”, and would threaten the “true” teachings of Islam if allowed to run riot.

“The effort to put the moderate label on these groups is inaccurate and deviant,” said Umar in Isma’s website here, referring to the liberal Muslims.

“Indeed, their approach and leanings can be categorised as a form of extremism towards Islam’s syumul (universal) understanding, just like the approach that leans towards violence, just different at the opposite polarity.”

In a rallying call to Malaysian Muslims, Umar urged them to be wary of any thoughts that “look foreign” and backed by those fond of Western ideas, alleging that the teachings could potentially threaten the position of Islam here.

Umar also repeated Isma’s attack against the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango), which was involved in the recent human rights peer review against Malaysia last month.

On Monday, Isma said that there is no room for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights or religious freedom in Malaysia, as it lobbied Putrajaya to ignore the proposals put forth by the local human rights activist coalition in Geneva recently.

Isma deputy president Aminuddin Yahya called Comango’s recommendations an affront to the religious sanctity and the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution for insisting on religious freedom and LGBT rights and also on the right of a Muslim to be an apostate and pressing for the removal of Malay privileges.

In October, Gombak Isma had organised a seminar titled “Ancaman Liberalisme” (The Threat of Liberalism), during which it suggested for syariah to be the law of the land replacing the country’s existing dual-track legal system.

One of the resolutions adopted by the seminar included a rejection of a “West-interpreted democracy”, to be replaced with “syariah supremacy”, in order to solve “political liberalism”.

In another Isma symposium on the “Malay Leadership Crisis” in September, one of the speakers had also accused the US of backing “liberal Muslims” in an attempt to colonise Malaysia and other Muslim-majority countries.

Islamic preacher Mohd Hazizi Ab Rahman told a thousand-strong crowd attending a symposium that the world superpower is adopting a “soft power” approach to curb the rise of political Islam, which he said is posing a major threat to the US’ global influence.

Mohd Hazizi described “liberal Muslims” as those who support democracy, pluralism and human rights and do not see those values as opposed to Islamic ones.

He also said such “liberal Muslims” also value a democratic government that ensures good governance, instead of insisting on an Islamic state, and would not mind if a non-Muslim were to one day take over the leadership of the country.