Are there good and bad religions? Or, is the question itself a bad one? Maybe then, the right question is: are there good and bad followers of specific religions? Now, if our real question is the second one; the core issue begs yet another question.
How or in what way do adherents of all religions learn to practice their faith, or, to put their faith into practice? Do they really have a choice between differing interpretations within their faith systems, or is such a faith always one monolithic, and a commonly understood faith and belief system regardless of individual and personal differing interpretations?
Or, yet another valid question: does that religion really permit its adherents to “choose their personal practice of faith, in terms of specifics, or does it only promote compulsory adherence to a specific but blind compliance code of rules?”
If the adherents are really allowed to make free choices, what then is the basis of those choices, and who gives such an authority, or who really is their real authority to make that specific choice? Is not the individual freedom premised upon their own larger personal but rational self-knowledge; of both God and Man?
The basis of such a personal faith journey is always larger than life-egos, or even what may be termed a ‘superego’. Which full range of choices is really then available, and again, who then determines the right or wrong choices for the individual?
Election or selection
Are not all these personal choices (as a range of options) already classified as implicit challenges arising out of different interpretive options found and known within all religious texts?
Is not also such a study of accurate interpretations of all traditional or original texts called “hermeneutics; or the science of interpretation of all texts being located within their context”? Often, the primary focus of such studies is religious texts, and especially in terms of translation of these texts into other languages.
In some fields and within most religious thinking, these options are argued as complete ranges of choice often labelled as “selection versus election,” by the explicit will of God.
Our question then
The above are valid and relevant questions; especially in Malaysia, since our defence minister has argued that Malaysia faces the dangers of Islamic extremism of the kind and quality we saw in France with a small group of people. The minister was reported by Malaysiakini as saying: “I see the French society as democratically responsible and mature. The majority of them do not lay blame on and label the Muslims (as terrorists),” he said.
“However, back home, are we as mature as western (society) when we talk about the issues of race, religion and politics?” he asked. If there is no culture of dialogue, he said, it will bring chaos to the country.
Crime and criminality
In all civilised societies, wherein public space belongs to all citizens and never to any minority group of vigilantes; the criminal element of rights and wrongs are clearly spelled out through legal system as crimes against the public interest, or often described as ‘the state’. Therefore, these are defined as the only criminal wrong-doings.
These then become the public domain and jurisdiction of the state-sponsored criminal legal system. Usually, the appointed authorities for such crime prevention and enforcement against all publicly agreed criminal misconduct against the state are their respective police departments.
Therefore, within any mature system of responsible governance of a truly democratic form; all such public space rules of conduct can be negotiated and commonly agreed upon through an open and due process of democratic discourse.
But, in most immature systems, and for example especially within closed religious systems, these rules and regulations are not open for dialogue and discourse but rather merely declared for enforcement by ‘so-called’ moral police. Iran and Saudi Arabia are obvious case examples of such systems.
Their enforcement authorities are closely linked to their specific religious ideals or worldviews, and often operate as moral but also legal police for and on behalf of the state. They operate out of compulsion for/by the state and often use force to execute their way of thinking, or their right way of life; as interpreted and applied by that specific view of life.
Is Hadi’s Act backdoor moralising of our royal police force?
For example then, while Abdul Hadi’s Act 355 amendments claim to redefine the current Administration of Syariah criminal law enforcement by enhancing existing limits, will that not effectively move State-Enacted Syariah to become Federal Law previously disallowed by the federal legal system and its consequential enforcement?
My thesis and concluding question to all authorities is: are we then generalising criminality in Malaysia to include “moral violations against personal faith of private individuals”; by making them all federal criminal punishments?
KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia.
Source : @ Malaysiakini