Thinking of Malaysia as an Islamic state ― Part 2

MAY 23 ― The first part of this article reported that 52 per cent of Malaysians want national laws to strictly follow the teachings of the Quran and 17 per cent of Malaysians wanted national laws to follow the values and principles of Islam but not strictly follow the teachings of the Quran.

Among Malaysian Muslims, 78 per cent had the view that Malaysian laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran and 16 per cent wanted national laws to follow the values and principles of Islam.

These were findings from the Pew Global Research Centre 2016 survey.  

Is this view persistent among Malaysians?

Between December 15 and 18, 2005, Associate Professor Patricia Martinez conducted a survey of over 1,000 randomly selected Malaysian Muslim across peninsular Malaysia.

The survey had a wide range of results but only those relating to Malaysian Muslim identity and the importance that they have for the Quran and teachings of Islam in the public sphere are reported below.

The full article is available here:

― 57.3 per cent want the hudud to be implemented;

― 63.3 per cent opted for the Shariah to remain as it is under the Constitution of Malaysia (the other answer-option given to the question was, “The Shariah to replace the Constitution in Malaysia”);

― 72.7 per cent chose being Muslim as their primary identity, with Malaysian as their second choice (14.4 per cent) and Malay as their third (12.5 per cent), when asked to choose which defined the most: being Malay, Muslim or Malaysian;

― 99.4 per cent responded yes when asked if they felt all three identities with 79 per cent ranking being Muslim first when asked a follow-up question on which identity among the three ― Malay, Muslim or Malaysian ― defined them the most in order of importance; and

― 97.7 per cent chose the option “No” to the question on whether Muslims should be allowed to change their religion.  

Between October and November 2010, 1,060 Malaysian Muslim youths (ages 15-25) were surveyed as part of a wider report on Muslim youths in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The findings are available in the report titled, “Values Dreams Ideals ― Muslim Youth in Southeast Asia; Surveys in Indonesia and Malaysia.” The survey canvased a broad range of questions but only a select number are reported below: 

When asked, “What do you think about the headscarf?”, 69.3 per cent answered that “it is compulsory.”

When asked, “Do you agree or disagree with the following regulations?”, 71.5 per cent agreed with “cutting off the hands as a punishment for thieves”; 92.5 per cent agreed with “death sentences for murderers”; and 92.4 per cent agreed with “whipping for alcohol drinkers.”

The report also stated that more than 70 per cent of the respondents wanted the Quran to replace the Federal Constitution of Malaysia although in Sabah and Sarawak only half of those surveyed wanted it.

A 2013 Pew Research Centre report titled, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society“, had the following survey results for Malaysia:

― 41 per cent of Malaysian Muslims say that Shariah is the revealed word of God and 35 per cent of Malaysian Muslims say that Shariah is developed by men, based on the word of God;

― 86 per cent of Malaysian Muslims favour making Islamic law the official law in Malaysia. 

The Malay Mail Online in an August 10, 2015 article reported findings from the Merdeka Center (of a survey undertaken as part of a project on national unity) that 60 per cent of Malay respondents saw themselves as Muslim first while only 27 per cent saw themselves as Malaysians first.

If there were a referendum in Malaysia today, on changing the Federal Constitution, with the following three options:

― Malaysian laws should strictly follow the teaching of the Quran;

― Malaysian laws should follow the values and principles of Islam; and

― Malaysian laws should not follow the values and principles of Islam.

what do you think the outcome would be?  

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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