Dr M's motives on Islam questioned: Why suddenly bring Kassim Ahmad back into the limelight?
A Muslim NGO has taken former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad to task for defending controversial scholar Kassim Ahmad.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisation (Mapim) president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said the views put forth by Kassim have been considered deviant by Islamic scholars and thinkers.
“But Mahathir however is of the opinion that Kassim’s move to question the fundamentals of Islam - which is the proclamation of faith for Prophet Muhammad is not part of the proclamation of faith for Allah - is not wrong.
“Mahathir believes that Kassim’s view should be accepted if it cannot be argued to the contrary,” he added.
Kassim has argued that the Quran should not be interpreted using the 'hadith' (sayings and actions of the Prophet) but be reinterpreted for modern times.
'Hadith' has been traditionally used by Islamic scholars to help interpret the Quran.
Mapim also called on the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to put its foot down on this matter. The latter had issued a statement earlier calling for action to be taken.
“Just because he (Kassim) had been given an avenue supported by Mahathir as the ex-PM, it does not mean that the religious authorities cannot rebut Kassim and Mahathir and take action if the two continue to be stubborn (in their views).
“Both of them are very old and those who are like-minded may not want to repent from this deviant view, but this view cannot be allowed to spread in the form of publications or talks,” he added.
Dr M himself not without controversy
Expressing regret over Mahathir’s defence of Kassim, the Mapim president said the scholar’s comments on the “priest caste” were akin to rejecting the Fatwa Council, which comprises qualified muftis.
“Mahathir himself is not free of controversy with regard to his view towards religious authorities. He had questioned the credibility of the ulama, who issued an edict forbidding Muslim women from participating in beauty contests.
“This was the Miss Malaysia Petite in 1977, where Mahathir locked horns with Selangor mufti Ishak Baharom, who was later expelled in 1997 on Mahathir’s urgings,” he added.
Azmi said that Mapim feels that the time has come for Islamic authorities to come up with a definitive stand on the viewpoints perpetuated by Kassim.
During a recent lecture at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, officiated by Mahathir, Kassim had also called on Muslims to return the Quran as the sole and highest source of guidance in Islam, and to reinterpret the holy book to suit modern times. - Mkini