KUALA LUMPUR: Islam does not ask its followers to intrude into homes and look for people’s sins as it cares deeply for the rights of humans, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Islam is not a cruel religion and it is not about chopping (off) heads (or) hands,” the Prime Minister said.
“There are various ways of punishment, which are much milder, but these people want to harass, want to cut people’s hands (or) heads. That is not Islamic.”
The religion, said Dr Mahathir, took care of humans’ lives.
“It is not easy for the religion to kill people – to cut off heads – because that is killing people and Islam does not agree to killing (even) if it incurs a sin,” said Dr Mahathir.
He was commenting on a statement by Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa in an exclusive interview with The Star that there should be an end to khalwat raids on personal premises.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department also said the government practised a compassionate form of Islam.
Agreeing with Dr Mujahid, Dr Mahathir said: “Islam does not ask us to go look for people’s sins, until you intrude into people’s houses – that is not Islam.”
In his blog, former minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin said Dr Mujahid’s interview clearly showed the Pakatan Harapan government’s approach in the development of Islam in Malaysia, which stressed on individual rights and the practice of religion that did not require law enforcement or moral policing.
“Under this policy, khalwat raids may no longer be needed. The same can be said for segregation of gender when making payments at shopping malls. This is not something new as such rights are enshrin-ed in the Federal Constitution. It is not wrong for men to wear shorts (above the knee) as well as women not to wear clothing based on Islam that is advertised on television or in public areas,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, he said, had made the right choice in appointing Dr Mujahid to be in charge of religious affairs.
“He (Dr Mujahid) has a vision to retain an approach that is true to the Constitution, which has been practised since the time of (first Prime Minister) Tunku Abdul Rahman to Dr Mahathir,” he said.
Sisters in Islam (SIS) said it welcomed the stance that what Muslims did behind closed doors was none of the government’s business.
“The prioritisation of the concept of rahmatan lil alamin (compassion for all) reflects a mature Islamic position in line with Malaysia’s ambition to be a modern and progressive country.”
SIS said there were Muslims who suffered from trauma following instances of moral policing in private and public spheres, such as khalwat raids, punishing people who did not fast during Ramadan and penalising women for their clothing.
Society, said SIS, needed to learn to differentiate between the personal affairs of individuals and combating cases of “real violations” like domestic violence and child abuse.
“The emergence of violent vigilante groups following in the footsteps of religious authorities has not only grievously harmed social order but fuelled Islamophobia in the country.”