Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (popularly known as Dr MAZA) has always been outspoken about the way Islam is practiced in Malaysia. His approach is often debated amongst religious groups in Malaysia, even a PAS member once called him out for being “too liberal”. Recently, Dr MAZA spoke up and encouraged the new government under Pakatan Harapan (PH) to focus on public crimes or sins rather than what people did in their private lives.
As reported by Free Malaysia Today, in a post on Dr MAZA’s Facebook, he said that this statement is due to the approach of “some parties” who exerted too much focus and concern over personal misbehaviours in the past causing the public to misunderstand the religion.
“An approach like this causes some ‘Islamist’ groups who are not willing to associate themselves with those whose wives are not covered or veiled, but feel no wrong in associating themselves with those who are clearly corrupt and abusing their power. Religious groups like these defend issues like corruption but speak up about personal flaws of their rivals,” he said.
He described personal sin as a sin that affects the sinner and no one else, like zina, drinking alcohol and gambling: “In other words, it’s a sin or aib between a servant and his God.”
“We are forbidden to spy on these personal takings. If the sin is happening in front of us, we are told to prevent it, but not to fend it off,” he said.
He then described public misbehaviour as any sin that affects others such as bribery, robbery, drug trafficking, rape, breach of trust and spreading false hadith. “This is not only a sin between a servant and his God, but it can be harmful to others,” said Dr MAZA.
On the act of exposing the guilty he had this to say: “Public offences can harm others, so we are allowed to expose them to safeguard others.” He stressed that the government should be able to differentiate between public sins and personal sins.
“Unfortunately, when we fail to distinguish it, then some pious religious groups will be thrilled when a public figure is having infidelity, but remain silent when corruption and abuse of public property is prevalent. Personal issues are raised and given various religious comments, while issues of public crimes are silenced by many religious groups. This is a sign for a convergence in understanding the kinds of sins,” he said.
He also advised the government to avoid raising cases of “personal shame” brought to court, as taught in the hadith. “This is very different from the mentality of some religious authorities who likes seeking out personal sins,” he said.
Effectively, in my opinion, what Dr MAZA is calling for here, is for an end to the religious policing that has befallen our nation for decades. Let a person’s personal life be that of their own for there are bigger crooks out there that actually need to be stopped before they do more harm to the entire country–and spending taxpayers’ money on catching kids in parks is just us getting our priorities wrong.
You can read the original post here.