Mufti, Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. vs. Ali Sina
Dear Ali Sina,
I am a muslim and I
dare you to debate with The Mufti of Perlis, Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul
Abidin. You must know that he IS influential especially with the young
(if you didn't know, Perlis is a state at
). He is a sunni Muslim. I have already e-mailed him about you
and the website. If you must know, when somebody is called a Mufti, he
holds a HIGH position in an Islamic council. His e-mail is:
moasriza at yahoo.com That is all. Talk to him....if you are
Thank you for your email
and for inviting Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, the Mufti of Perlis and myself
to debate on Islam.
I searched Dr. Asri on
Google and was delighted to learn about his views. As someone has described
him, Dr. Asri is indeed a breath of fresh air in this fetid atmosphere of
Islamic obscurantism and violence.
Let me introduce Dr. Asri
to my readers.
Dr. Asri hopes to push
Islam towards modernity and out of the clutches of extremism. He proposes a
different reading of the Islamic sacred texts to create a modern and
compassionate Islam. For example, Dr. Asri opposes the khalwat law. Khalwat
means privacy, but do not jump to hasty conclusions. This law is not what
you think. In democratic countries privacy is sacrosanct. No one can take
your privacy away from you and those who transposes can be charged and
prosecuted. Most Islamic countries, including
, also have privacy laws, but with a diametrically different meaning. In
these countries, the law says that individuals do NOT have the right to
privacy. The state has the right to spy on the citizens to make sure that
they abide by the laws of Sharia (Islamic laws) and enforce those laws. The
Malaysian khalwat law is part of this Islamic ruling. Empowered by the
khalwat law, the vice squads spy on people and if they are caught breaking a
religious law, fine them, beat them, jail them or put them to death. These
vice squads sneak on citizens and encourage people to spy on one another and
report any unIslamic conduct, like couples holding hands, kissing or
expressing affection for one another in public. If the sinners are found
guilty in the court, the informers are then rewarded. The vice squads check
the guest lists and bang on hotel doors. They peep through windows to catch
couples in close proximity. To further humiliate the culprits, they invite
members of the press and ruffians to witness their raids. The khalwat laws
have been on the statute books for a long time and thousands have been
charged and fined.
At 36,  Dr. Mohd
Asri is the youngest mufti from the smallest state in
. He has defied the understanding of other religious scholars, twice his age
and claims that the application of “enjoining good and preventing evil”
(Amir bil ma’roof and nahi min al munkar) should be more pragmatic and
ethical. He has wisely stated that it is not up to the state to preoccupy
itself with what the citizens do in the privacy of their homes but rather it
should be more concerned with addressing the pressing moral and social
problems like corruption, crime and drug addiction.
In an article published in
The New Straits Times, Dr. Asri has remarked, “State religious authorities
must stop spying, snooping and the practice of looking for couples to be
charged with khalwat (close-proximity).” The Perlis Mufti said such
practices are against the Islamic principles of privacy and denoted the act
of trespassing. "It's an embarrassment to Islam to see religious
officers going to hotels and demanding the guest list,” he said.
"Islam does not
encourage people to look for acts of sins. The principle of amar bil
ma’roof and nahi min al munkar (performing good deeds and abhorring evil)
must be implemented only when sins and crimes are committed in the open. To
invade an individual's privacy is against Islam."
Dr. Asri lamented the
recent case of a khalwat raid mistakenly carried out against an elderly
American couple in Langkawi. “There were many other similar cases where
local husbands and wives were raided in their homes” said Dr. Asri.
“Such activities give the impression that Islam encourages invasion of
He also questioned the practice of bringing along unauthorized people for
khalwat raids such as the Press.
"What is the purpose
of bringing along the media, and sometimes members of the public? Are we
trying to shame a private individual publicly or are we really abhorring
Dr. Asri has criticized
the government for being confused about its responsibilities. He has said
that instead of harassing the citizens the government should try to force
the deadbeat fathers to pay their alimony and child support, which they
don’t enforce because they claim to lack manpower, while they have enough
manpower to sneak on citizens to see if they are conducting themselves in
accordance to Islamic morality.
Unlike other Muslim
apologists, Dr. Asri does not blame the non-Muslims for misunderstanding
Islam. He lays the full blame on
the shoulders of the Muslims themselves who through their attitudes, their
appearance and their focus on petty issues have portrayed Islam as a
backward religion. He believes that this is because they have turned
non-religious matters into religion.
“While people all over
the world are building intellectual thinking, some religious people are busy
with jampi (incantation) with 'magic water' to make us more clever. They are
not interested in focusing on research or study,” repines Dr. Asri. He
believes that the fear that the non-Muslims have of Muslim is justified.
“Islam, if explained properly, will make non-Muslims respect Muslims
When asked what he thinks
of his role as mufti, Dr. Asri responded: “To me, a mufti's role is to
forge his intellectual capacity to develop a fatwa in this world. He must be
responsible to bring the knowledge of Islam in this modern era. To me, my
duty is to present Islam in its modern face and get it out of the clutches
of ultra-conservatives, who have made the religion look obsolete.”
How does he propose to
achieve this? Through reinterpreting the Quran and sunnah. “We can't
oppose the evidence of Islam, and what is in the Quran and Sunnah. But the
interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah by the religious experts are open to
Dr. Asri encourages dialogue between religions. He says “Such dialogue
must be conducted harmoniously where everyone presents his case and others
listen to his view in a mature way. We shake hands, you tell us your belief
and I tell you mine in an academic discussion. After that it's up to both
parties to evaluate the discussion. At the moment, I don't see such a
dialogue being on the cards.”
He says that the dialogue
between religions does not mean trying to solely focus on Islam with an
agenda to impose the Islamic views on others. According to Dr. Asri, in a
true inter-religious dialogue, “everyone will have an opportunity to bring
up religious matters in an academic manner and others will listen and give
views.” He has further emphasized, “Such a dialogue should end without
any riots. After it's over, people can leave the hall and buy books sold
outside. They can buy the Qur’an, they can buy the Bible. People can
Dr. Asri opposes the ban
that his government has imposed on non-Islamic religious books written in
Malay. “When a community is strong, their level of knowledge is high,
nothing to be afraid of. Some religious people, including me, have to read
If we don't, how would we know about the Bible? There's nothing wrong with
reading the Bible.”
Interestingly enough Dr.
Asri opposes also the killing of the apostates. Acknowledging that Muhammad
has said "Whoever changes his religion, kill him," he believes
that this applies only to those who endanger the Muslim society and not to
anyone who simply changed his religion.
Well, my respected and
valued friend Dr. Asri.(i.e. if you allow me to call you that, despite being
an apostate and despite having launched a campaign to eradicate Islam), I am
open to dialogue. I believe that before trying to reach out to non-Muslims
in order to establish dialogues with members of other faiths, we Muslims
should talk among each other first. There are many questions within Islam
that need to be addressed. These are not new questions; they are old, as old
as Islam itself. However, they have been kept under the rugs and never
resolved, because Islam does not encourage dialogues. We both know that
Muslims have no tolerance for questionings. As you yourself have stated,
Muslims are more prone to riots and violence than to dialogue.
For the first time in
history, we can talk. The Internet has allowed many of us to come forth with
our questions and ask them without the fear of being killed. Now no one can
keep the dirt under the rugs anymore.
Many of us, who were born
in Muslim families, have questions about Islam. These are not sanitized and
the run-of-the-mill questions that the mullahs like to hear, such as how one
must perform allusion and how to clean inside the various orifices in
one’s body to please Allah, but fundamental questions about the very claim
of Muhammad as a messenger of God.
The reason this Muslim
friend has decided to invite you and this author to debate is because these
questions concern him too. He, obviously, has great respect for you and
believes that you are the kind of person that is able to answer my questions
and clear his doubts.
He is not alone. There are
many Muslims with similar questions and their number is growing fast. I
believe this is an opportunity for us to discuss these issues that have been
taboo for so many centuries and find answers to them once and for all.
You know very well that
Islam has been imposed on our forefathers by sword. My ancestors had no way
of investigating the truth of Islam. They were indoctrinated forcefully.
This is the first time that we have the chance to ask serious questions and
not fear for our lives. For the first time we want to know the truth of
Islam without coercion and threat of decapitation.
I believe you are
mistaken. I believe that Islam cannot be reformed through reinterpretation
of the Qur'an and Sunnah. I believe that Islam is essentially evil, that
Muhammad was a terrorist and that it would be a travesty of justice to hold
his memory alive and revere him. This is no different than trying to reform
Naziam and keeping the memory of Hitler alive. While Muslims have not been
able to give a single evidence to prove Muhammad's claim to prophethood, I
have given plenty of evidence that he was not. I believe that the
backwardness of the Islamic world is the direct result of the nefarious
influence of Islam and that our only hope to get rid of this backwardness is
to get rid of Islam.
However, I am a fallible
person. I could be wrong. If you think I am wrong I would be more than glad
to hear your opinion and publish your views. If you manage to prove me
wrong, I promise to publicly announce that I have been mistaken and acknowledge
the truth of Islam. Since millions of people visit our site, if you are
convinced that Islam is a true religion of God, it is your responsibility to
let the world know the truth and this is your
I am publishing this to
announce my acceptance of this friend’s invitation to debate on the truth
and falsehood of Islam with you. I hope you will accept it too. This is a
great opportunity to clear the air and resolve the questions surrounding
Islam once and for all.
I remain respectfully and