Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jakim warns Muslims to stay away from book

The book “Muslim Women and The Challenge of Islamic Extremism” can create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country, according to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

Its director general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Wan Mohamad said the contents of the book contravened the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Guidelines issued by Jakim in 1996. “Several obvious errors were found (in the book),” he said in a statement today.

He said among others the book stated that Islamic family laws and Syariah criminal laws were promoting prejudice and discrimination against women.

The book also questioned the Fatwa institution and the ban on non-Islamic scholars from discussing Islamic issues, besides promoting re-interpretation of the verses in the Quran, especially on gender bias, he said.

Wan Mohamad said the book had been scrutinised, checked and referred to the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Committee chaired by the Mufti of Perak, Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria.

“Hence, Muslims in the country are advised to be wary of reading materials which contravene Islamic teachings. If in doubt, refer to the guidelines issued by Jakim,” he said.

Wan Mohamad said Jakim also respected the High Court’s decision yesterday to lift the ban on the book, but felt that it was its responsibility to explain to the public on the errors found in any Islamic book in the market. — Bernama

Back in the 60s, when I was in secondary school, English Literature was one of my favourite subjects. I read books by George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Hardy and William Shakespeare. After having gone through some chapters, the teacher would invite us to comment on the characters, the storyline, etc. She would like to know our thoughts as to how certain scenes could fit in to today's real life situation. There were many poignant scenes from Shakespeare's work and one that stood out in my mind till this day is from the book, "Merchant of Venice". Portia acting as a judge reminded Shylock that since his contract with Antonio read '1 pound of flesh', he was therefore entitled to that stipulated '1 pound of flesh'. However if there was one drop of blood, his properties would be forfeited. Again, since the contract stipulated '1 pound of flesh', and if the flesh cut from Antonio weigh more or less than a pound, his properties too would be forfeited. As it turned out, Shylock lost the case. Now the teacher asked us to look at the issue from Shylock's point of view. Had he not lend the money to Antonio, Antonio's fortune would have been lost forever. So, he was a life saver to Antonio. So now that he had lost the case, he had also lost the money he lent to Antonio. So did justice prevail, the teacher asked and we were told to brainstorm over this issue. Was it a moral issue? Was it right that Antonio got off the hook due to technical reasons? We found it difficult to comment and I even asked myself how could I possibly comment on the works of a great master like William Shakespeare? The teacher explained that although a person like William Shakespeare was a great writer, he was also human being and his views, though acceptable during his time may not necessary be so now. Aha, now I got the point. Fast forward present time. A few years ago, when the film 'Da Vinci's Code' was making waves in town, priests in many Catholic churches warned their congregation about watching the film for fear of being influenced by the distorted facts contained therein. However, on my part, I encouraged my children to watch the film and decide for themselves intelligently the difference between a make believe story and facts. They came home and told me it was good entertainment, no more no less, and their belief in their faith as Catholics have not even wavered one single bit. Get the message?

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