KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 — Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today warned of a global trend to “secularise” and “liberalise” Islam by using human rights as a façade and said the party would fight to stem the rise of such “threats”.
Speaking at the opening of the party’s Wanita and Youth general assembly here, Muhyiddin said the threat of liberalism and secularism has caused unease among the Malays who feel the ideologies could cripple the Muslim faith if not contained.
“There is a global trend to secularise Islam... in the context of Umno’s struggle, this is a challenge that we have never encountered before.
“Previously, we faced pressure from PAS to show who is more Islamic, but now, we are in a post-modern era that views religion as an obstacle to human freedom. In today’s reality, we are racing to show who is more liberal, not who is more Islamic,” Muhyiddin said in his opening speech.
Muhyiddin said one example of liberalism’s growing threat to Islam is an article by London-based current affairs weekly The Economist that suggested those who oppose same-sex marriage as archaic.
He then pointed out that the article described those who accepted same-sex marriage as “the great leap forward”, saying this was part of their idea of human rights and equality.
“And this trend has caused great unease among Muslims,” Muhyiddin said.
The Umno deputy president went on to say defending Islam has been a part of the party’s core struggle, noting that its constitution clearly stated that, among others, Umno was established to defend and propagate Islam.
Muhyiddin, however, said the party could no longer uphold and protect Islam from the threats of secularism and liberalism by taking to the streets and lodging police reports.
“Instead, we must increase the dialogue, presentation and discourse on human rights and freedom from the perspective of Islam and also how to counter threats to its existence.
“We must fight the trend of the secularisation of religion through the strength of our faith and sharpness of our minds, not by being emotional,” he said.
Often vaguely defined, liberalism and pluralism have become the catchphrases used by Islamic authorities to target ideologies, organisations and individuals that depart from the sanctioned religious narrative.
Malaysia’s religious authorities have long derided liberalism and pluralism, with Friday sermons nationwide claiming a conspiracy by “enemies of Islam” to manipulate Muslims through ideas like secularism, socialism, feminism and positivism, in addition to the two aforementioned concepts.
Recently, the Selangor Fatwa Committee issued a religious edict against Sisters in Islam (SIS), declaring that the Muslim women’s rights group had deviated from Islam because it was purportedly promoting liberalism and religious pluralism — concepts that the conservative committee has yet to identify.
SIS has since filed for a judicial review of the fatwa that was gazetted last July in Selangor, triggering backlash from the Malay-Muslim community.