‘C for crescent’: Isma launches campaign to recognise Malaysia as ‘Islamic state’

Isma members show the 'C' handsign in support of the Malaysia Negara Islam campaign. ― Picture via Twitter/Malaysia Negara Islam
Isma members show the 'C' handsign in support of the Malaysia Negara Islam campaign. ― Picture via Twitter/Malaysia Negara Islam

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) is initiating a campaign for Malaysia to be recognised as an “Islamic state”, citing among others the position of Islam in the Federal Constitution and influence of the religion here.

It is employing the handsign of letter “C” to symbolise the crescent moon, one of Islam’s symbol.

The five-month campaign called “Malaysia Negara Islam” (Malay for “Malaysia an Islamic State”) aims to gather one million signatures to support its claim, which will then be presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Promotional materials for the campaign also employs the Jawi script — where Arabic alphabet is used to spell Malay words ― rather than the Roman script, ostensibly to direct it exclusively to those who can read it and are most likely to be Malays.

A thread on Isma’s Twitter account listed eight items on its agenda, most notably the rejection of Malaysia as a secular country, and to stress that Malaysia is “Tanah Melayu” or “land of the Malays” with the Malays its native citizens.

In addition, it called for stronger role for Islamic jurisprudence in the national justice system. Currently, Shariah jurisprudence is under state jurisdiction instead of federal.

The campaign urged Malaysians to fight in implementing Islamic obligations in the national context.

It also wishes to promote the assimilation of Islam into the Malay culture, among others in its language, tradition, clothing and food.

In a promotional video of the campaign, Isma listed the Putrajaya Mosque, the Islamic architecture of the Prime Minister’s Department, congregational prayers, the Malay martial arts of silat, daily calls to prayer and Muslim women covering their heads as “proof” of Islam’s influence in the country.

Malaysia continues to debate whether the country is secular or Islamic as the Federal Constitution does not explicitly state either, but the Malaysian Bar and Attorney-General Tommy Thomas have both previously affirmed the country’s status as secular.

Article 3(1) of the Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation, but the Reid Commission that drafted the document wrote that the Article “...shall not imply that the State is not a secular state”.

At the launch in Kuala Lumpur International Hotel yesterday, Isma president Aminuddin Yahaya claimed there is a concerted effort to declare Malaysia as a secular country following Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) win on May 9.

“We see these evil attempts still continue, and more dangerously when those who believe in that are among the country’s leadership,” he said.

Aminuddin also leads Gerakan Pembela Ummah, a coalition of Malay-Muslim groups that have held several rallies against the PH administration this month — on December 8 against an anti-racial discrimination convention, and last Friday over the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Muhammad Kassim.

“Islamic state” is a modern Muslim political concept that can be defined as a government that base itself on the Shariah code, with Islamic scriptures as the ideological foundation of the state and its constitution.

Modern Islamic states include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan.

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