KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― PAS Youth castigated Sisters in Islam (SIS) today for plans to challenge in the courts a fatwa, or religious edict, against liberalism and religious pluralism, labelling the Muslim women’s group as “insolent” and “extremist”.
Defending Selangor’s Fatwa Council, the Islamist party’s wing also accused SIS of challenging the monarchy and the Federal Constitution, which it said puts Islam as the religion of the federation.
“SIS’ insolence in challenging the National Fatwa Council’s prohibition against it for professing liberalism and religious pluralism is proof that the group is driving a deviating agenda against Islamic teachings in this country,” said a statement by the wing’s deputy chief Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi.
The edict was issued by the Selangor Fatwa Council.
Khalil also accused SIS of spearheading a distorted teaching that is not based on “true sources” of Islamic laws: the holy book of Quran; the collective sayings of Prophet Muhammad, the hadith; the consensus of scholars; and derivation from previous religious laws.
SIS’s challenge is expected to be filed in the Kuala Lumpur High Court today together with several individuals who have been labelled “liberals” before, including prominent feminist Zainah Anwar and former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
The fatwa by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), gazetted on July 31, 2014, singled out SIS by name, in addition to “any individuals, organisations or institutions”.
It also deemed any publications with elements of liberalism and religious pluralism as haram, or prohibited, and can be seized by religious authorities.
PAS Youth claimed the fatwa was a result of a complaint by Shah Alam PAS against the group.
“SIS’s action challenging the fatwa in court will only widen the rift and stubbornness, in trapping the public in a deviant stream [it] calls Islam,” said Khalil, who is also the son of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
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.
“Liberalism” encompasses a wide array of ideas, but its supporters usually push for civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, free trade, private property, and free and fair elections.
Meanwhile, “religious pluralism” holds that no one religion holds the sole and exclusive source of truth, often promoting harmonious co-existence and understanding between all faiths and their adherents.