Ahmad Farouk Musa
article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) reads: “All human
beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of
generally known that the UDHR was promulgated with one sole purpose to promote
the universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for every
person without any distinction irrespective of race, sex or religion.
happened in the past few days has been a disgusting blot on the history of a
country that has twice been on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.
with a Friday sermon by Jais – Selangor’s religious department – to be read
state-wide in all mosques in the state last Friday.
was more of a hate speech against the minority Shia community in this country
especially when Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, when the Shias commemorate
the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet was around the corner.
proves one thing, that there has not been any change in terms of religious
tolerance despite the change in government in the last election.
forget, this is the same Jais that had conducted a raid on a church way back in
2011 during their fund-raising dinner for a HIV/AIDS support programme for
suspicion of proselytisation.
satisfied with just a sermon demonising the Shias, Jais conducted a raid on
their “hauzah” despite it being in a private property holding a private
that Jais thought they were doing it on behalf of God’s commandment in
preserving what they believe to be a pristine Islam. This is where Jais fails
to understand what freedom of conscience as enshrined in the first article of
the UDHR is all about.
freedom of conscience was enshrined in the Quran itself in verse 10:99. Faith
is a personal conviction, and that the state has no authority to interfere in
one’s choice of faith.
We have to
understand that the heart of the UDHR proclamation is that “all human beings
are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. This first article is the core
principle of human rights which is basic to everyone on this earth.
on the assault of this basic principle is not only on the minorities in this
country such as the Christians, Hindus, or Buddhists, but also the minorities
within Islam itself, such as the Shias and the Ahmadis.
concerns of ours cut across all borders, all nationalities, and all religions,
not only on the persecuted rights of the Rohingyas or the Uighurs, but the idea
of the universality of human rights.
cannot be a double standard that we fight for the rights of some Muslim
minorities who are persecuted in a far-away land, but forget about the
persecution of the Muslim minorities in our own backyard.
thing was that the gung-ho attitude of Jais was supported by the seemingly
“moderate Muslim” organisations like Ikram, as well as the menteri besar of
This is an
MB from a party that wanted to promote reform but seems to have very little
knowledge about human rights. What kind of substantive reform can we expect
from this new government when there is no change at all in the mindset of its
scared stiff of these little Napoleons in the Islamic bodies as if these people
are the gatekeepers of heaven and hell.
it is this failure to understand the language of human rights that has kept
this country among the third-world despite the incessant lobbying to be in the
UN Human Rights Council.
What is the
need to be in such a Council when we are not a role model in observing basic
human rights and we fail miserably when it comes to respecting the freedom of
conscience which is the core principle of the UDHR?
course, perhaps the minister in charge of religious affairs could defuse the
tension and put some sense back into those possessed souls of the religious
he abdicated his duty and passed the ball back to Jais. What kind of
irresponsible and impotent religious minister do we have in this new government
that promised so much change.
them into power thinking that there won’t be a repeat of all this nonsense and
that the Islamic bodies would be reined in. But our hope for a new and better
tomorrow remains just hope.
is time to look back at history on how Ali, the fourth Rightly-Guided Caliph
and his family, the Ahlul-Bait, or the household of the Prophet, were
vilified at every Friday sermon during the time of the Umayyad dynasty’s rule.
during the reign of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz, a caliph of the Umayyad, that he
instructed all the imams to stop vilifying Ali and his family and changed it to
the verse of the Quran:
“Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness, and
the doing of good to kith and kin, and forbids all that is shameful, evil, and
today, after more than a thousand years, imams everywhere recite this verse in
the second sermon during Friday prayer.
could put a stop to all these vilification of Shias during every Friday sermon,
just like Umar, he will be remembered for years to come.
needed now is an enlightened and principled leadership that understands the
language of human rights and one that works towards the implementation of the
ideals. Not a coward leadership that is always beholden to the repressive and
abusive religious institutions.
be some legal entity or instruments that could effectively seek to establish
justice and monitor the human rights abuses in this country.
abuse of human rights are rampant in every corner of the world but we must
stand up high among all others to uphold the human rights values and be a
leader especially among the Muslim nations of the world.
Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa is director, Islamic
Renaissance Front, and Commonwealth Commissioner of the Commonwealth Initiative
for Freedom of Religion or Belief
Headline: Shia-bashing, impotent leaders and our mockery of human rights
Source: Free Malaysia Today