Shah Alam. 16/7/2014
Further to our earlier denunciations of the atrocities; we reiterate our condemnation of the latest massacre of more than 100 Palestinians including women and children in the Gaza by the Israeli regime of Netanyahu and call on the international community to collectively put pressure to stop the atrocities.
It is clear that the Israeli regime is exploiting the killing of the three Israeli youths as a pretext to attack Gaza and start a chain of violence and bloodshed so as to destabilize the unity government between Hamas and Fatah.
In his desperate attempts at destroying the prospect of a united Palestinian state in the near future, Netanyahu is prepared to drag the Israeli people to the brink of outright war.
No doubt, he is committing these acts of violence with impunity, emboldened by the fact that neither the United States nor the European Union will condemn these crimes, let alone intervene to stop them.
In this regard, the Western powers have once again displayed hypocrisy in their muted response to the atrocities. This is a disgraceful abdication of moral responsibility and exposes their double standards to the cause of democracy, freedom and justice.
Even more tragic is the fact that Muslim countries, except possibly Turkey and Iran, appear to be powerless in the face of these unmitigated acts of violence and cruelty while so-called jihadists are keener on killing fellow Muslims and proclaiming a caliphate than helping their downtrodden Palestinian kin.
Meanwhile, the Western media continue to report the latest rounds of violence in its usual skewered manner by its constant reference to Hamas firing of missiles into Israel so as to justify Israel’s utterly disproportionate retaliation.
The media and Western leaders continue to downplay if not entirely ignore the fundamental issue of the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and Israel’s blatant disregard of UN Resolution 242 in their barefaced drive for territorial aggrandisement.
Indeed, the current round of murdering and wounding of hundreds of innocent Palestinians is but yet another episode of the continuing saga of brutality, ruthlessness, inhumanity, and injustice committed against them by the Israelis.
Member of Parliament,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader
Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has denied accusations by the Malaysian Government that he’s trying to smear the country’s reputation overseas, by calling on foreign governments to speak out against human rights abuses in his country.
There are no ideologues in a financial crisis, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke once said. Clearly the same doesn’t hold true for political crises, as a comparison of Malaysia and South Korea very quickly reveals.
Tragedy has struck both nations in recent weeks, their travails played out in horrifying detail on the world’s television screens. Fairly or unfairly, the hunt for a missing Malaysian airliner and the desperate attempt to rescue and now recover victims from the sunken Sewol ferry are being viewed as tests of the governments in Putrajaya and Seoul, if not of Malaysian and South Korean societies. The grades so far? I’d give Korea an A-, Malaysia a D.
In the two weeks since the Sewol tipped over and sank — almost certainly killing 302 passengers, most of them high school students — Korea has been gripped by a paroxysm of self-questioning, shame and official penitence. President Park Geun Hye issued a dramatic and heartfelt apology. Her No. 2, Prime Minister Chung Hong Won, resigned outright. Prosecutors hauled in the ship’s entire crew and raided the offices of its owners and shipping regulators. Citizens and the media are demanding speedy convictions and long-term reforms.
And Malaysia, 55 days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished? Nothing. No officials have quit. Prime MinisterNajib Razak seems more defiant than contrite. The docile local news media has focused more on international criticism of Malaysia’s leaders rather than on any missteps by those leaders themselves.
Both countries are democracies — Malaysia’s even older than South Korea’s. The key difference, though, is the relative openness of their political systems. One party has dominated Malaysia since independence, while Korea, for all its growing pains and occasional tumultuousness, has seen several peaceful transfers of power over the past quarter-century. Unused to having to answer critics, Malaysia’s government hasresponded defensively. Korean officials, on the other hand, are reflecting, addressing the anger of citizens, and delving into what went wrong with the shipping industry’s regulatory checks and balances.
That’s why Korea is likely to come out of this crisis stronger than ever, unlike Malaysia. The two nations responded similarly after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, too. Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sought to prove Bernanke’s axiom wrong, bizarrely blaming some shadowy Jewish cabal headed by George Soros for the ringgit’s plunge. Malaysia didn’t internalize what had gone wrong or look in the mirror. It didn’t admit it had been using capital inflows unproductively and that coddling state champions — including Malaysia Airlines — was killing competitiveness. Never did the ruling United Malays National Organization consider it might be part of the problem.
Contrast that with Korea’s response to 1997. The government forced weak companies and banks to fail, accepting tens of thousands of job losses. Authorities clamped down on reckless investing and lending and addressed moral hazard head-on. Koreans felt such shame that millions lined up to donate gold, jewelry, art and other heirlooms to the national treasury.
South Korea’s response wasn’t perfect. I worry, for example, that the family-run conglomerates, or chaebol, that helped precipitate the crisis are still too dominant a decade and a half later. But the country’s economic performance since then speaks for itself.
Now as then, Korea’s open and accountable system is forcing its leaders to look beyond an immediate crisis. Ordinary Koreans are calling for a national catharsis that will reshape their society and its attitude toward safety. Park’s government has no choice but to respond.
Malaysia’s government, on the other hand, appears to be lost in its own propaganda. To the outside world, acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Husseinperformed dismally as a government spokesman: He was combative, defensive and so opaque that even China complained. Yet Hishammuddin is now seen as prime-minister material for standing up to pesky foreign journalists and their rude questions. The government seems intent on ensuring that nothing changes as a result of this tragedy.
As hard as it seems now, South Korea will move past this tragedy, rejuvenated. Malaysia? I’m not so sure.
By ANDREW KHOO
When U.S. President Barack Obama visits Malaysia this weekend, he will be the first American president to do so since Lyndon Johnson in 1966. Kuala Lumpur will seek to take advantage of the much-anticipated trip to showcase Malaysia as a moderate Muslim-majority democracy, a model of interracial and interreligious diversity heading for developed-nation status by 2020. It will present itself as an ally in combating arms proliferation and transnational crime, and friend of the U.S. in Asia.
President Obama should not accept this fiction or defer to the Malaysian government because of regional security concerns. Instead, he would do well to note the sorry state of its human rights and call for greater respect for civil liberties.
Since the last general election in May 2013, when Prime Minister Najib Razak’s governing coalition was returned to power but lost the popular vote, racial and religious extremism has been on the rise. Pro-government extremist groups have responded to self-perceived slights and insults against the ethnic Malay majority and Islam by declaring that they are prepared to shed blood to defend their honor and sanctity.
These groups have made direct references to May 13, 1969, an infamous date in Malaysian history when race riots between Malays and Chinese led to killings in several cities and towns, and emergency rule. A 1996 fatwa forbidding the practice of Shia Islam has recently received renewed attention, leading to raids on and arrests of Shia adherents. Followers of the Ahmaddiya Islamic sect have also lately been targeted. Their prayer sessions and religious activities have been interrupted by Muslim religious authorities enforcing the state-sanctioned version of Islam.
A Malaysian Court of Appeal held in October 2013 that a Roman Catholic Church newspaper could not use the Arabic word “Allah” to refer to God. According to the court, use of the word was exclusive to Islam and not intrinsic to the practice of Christianity in Malaysia. Language has become a flashpoint in Christian-Islamic tensions. One Muslim group even suggested that using the Malay language to advertise an Easter concert meant that Christians were attempting to convert Muslims, which is an offense. The group openly questioned the very celebration of Easter, calling it un-Islamic.
Freedom of speech is also under threat. In an attempt to improve Malaysia’s human rights, a coalition of civil society groups submitted recommendations to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights back in September 2013. In January 2014, the government called these “haram,” or sinful, and declared the coalition unlawful.
Additionally, the government has renewed its use of the Sedition Act, a colonial-era law that makes it unlawful to “cause disaffection” against the government or the hereditary rulers. It has been used on everyone from politicians to social media commentators.
Clearly the public wants genuine reform. There was tremendous clamor for clean, free and fair elections in 2012, when hundreds of thousands risked tear gas, water cannons and arrest to participate in the BERSIH 3.0 peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur. Yet the government has hardly been receptive.
Recent changes in legislation introduced by Prime Minister Najib Razak are the opposite of needed reform. They include outlawing street demonstrations, requiring a 10-day prior notification period for public assemblies, and introducing two-year without-trial detention orders, renewable indefinitely, for those alleged by the government to be involved in serious criminal offenses.
Individuals facing trial for unlawful assembly from the 2012 rally and subsequent protest gatherings have been predominantly political opponents of the Malaysian government. The most notable dissident is former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, recently convicted for sodomy, which many saw as a trumped-up charge.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has promoted Malaysia internationally as a leader in a global movement of moderation. But these actions show the government is anything but moderate. Mainstream newspapers, many of which are owned by political parties within the government, brazenly promote such double-speak. Those who dare to criticize put themselves at risk of vituperative attacks from extremist groups, police investigation and politically motivated prosecution.
President Obama needs to deftly use his public appearances and statements to demonstrate concern about what is happening in Malaysia –and to say what many Malaysians fearfully cannot. The usual mantra of moderation can no longer conceal the escalation of extremism and repression.
Mr. Khoo is co-chair of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee. He writes in his personal capacity.
I have been receiving calls from the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan; the Governor of Bangkok, Mr Sukumbhan Paribatra; former President of Indonesia, Mr Jusuf Habibie and renowned Islamic Scholar, Dr Yusul al-Qaradawi since the Appeal Court judgment on the 7th of March. They have all expressed grave concerns over the manner on how the case was rushed and the subsequent ruling.
I was also visited by the American Ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Joseph Yun and his political officers at my residence on the 9th of March who have also express similar concerns. They have committed to convey these to President Obama soon.
The results for the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that were presented in early December showed that of the 10 countries that topped the performance, not one of them is a Muslim country. As a matter of fact, of the final results tabled, not one Muslim country was placed in the top 40.
Half a million pupils in 65 countries and local administrations were tested in the three core areas of mathematics, science and reading. Shanghai scored the best result with 613, followed by Singapore and Japan.
With the exception of Turkey which took the 43rd spot scoring the highest among the Muslim countries followed by UAE, of the rest of the Muslim countries that took part such as Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar, Jordan, Tunisia and Indonesia, suffice to say that they were placed within the bottom 50 and 60 jostling with Columbia, Peru and Albania for the award of worst performer!
Before anyone jumps the gun by blaming this OECD study as essentially biased and Eurocentric, let us be reminded the top three performers are Asian. It is indeed noteworthy that the results for 2012, 2010, and the 2009 Assessment showed that Shanghai students scored the highest in all categories.
According to the OECD, this study considers Shanghai a pioneer of educational reform, having transformed their approach to education. Instead of focusing merely on the elite, it appears they have adopted a more inclusive system. In other words, the democratization of access to quality education is a key factor.
Below is the table for the 2012 results:
|Programme for International Student Assessment (2012)|
|1||Shanghai, China||613||1||Shanghai, China||580||1||Shanghai, China||570|
|2||Singapore||573||2||Hong Kong, China||555||2||Hong Kong, China||545|
|3||Hong Kong, China||561||3||Singapore||551||3||Singapore||542|
|5||South Korea||554||5||Finland||545||5||South Korea||536|
|16||Germany||514||16||Macau, China||521||16||Macau, China||509|
|23||New Zealand||500||23||Austria||506||23||United Kingdom||499|
|24||Czech Republic||499||24||Belgium||505||24||United States||498|
|26||United Kingdom||494||26||France||499||26||Czech Republic||493|
If we take ourselves off the intellectual pedestal, let us ask what lessons we can take home from this study, apart from other indicators in different studies.
Firstly, there is no basis for the conventional argument that because Muslim students have to attend extra classes for religious studies over and above the routine academic lessons in the schools, they have less time to study and prepare for exams and hence perform not as well as non-Muslim students. In Malaysia, for example, Chinese students who also attend extra classes for Chinese-based subjects over and above the national-type syllabus do just as well in both.
Pedagogy and quality of teaching
Finland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland were among the best of the European nations. Studies have shown that students from Finland produced very good results in various subjects when compared to students from the United States and other countries. This was attributed mainly to the fact that in Finland, the very best graduates were recruited to become teachers.
Also important is the question of content and curriculum, including pedagogy. The quality of teachers is a matter of concern. The teaching profession needs to be given greater priority by the state. A proper incentive scheme must be introduced and to restore the profession to its earlier recognition. As it stands, apart from infrastructure constraints, Muslim countries suffer from a shortage of good teachers. But the issues should be more than that just a question of material resources.
Spending on education
The conventional belief that greater spending on education would yield better performance was also shown to be not always true. Thus, the analysis of the 2003 results showed that Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan and South Korea, which had spent less on education than the United States actually did better. While this should not be taken as an excuse to spend less on education, allocation of such funds for Muslim countries must be beefed up with the rider that the resources are to be spent effectively.
The issue of governance remains a serious problem in Muslim countries. For example, cases of misappropriation of funds allocated for poorer students continue to be a source of embarrassment. Poor governance also breeds corruption which then leads to wastages and leakages. Where financial resources get mis-channelled or misused, schools suffer and students become victims.
Bad governance in the running of schools also impacts on the quality of teaching when for example school authorities haphazardly transfer teachers to other areas without considering the effect on both the teaching and the teachers themselves.
Yet another lesson is probably the obvious one considering that the top three performances are connected one way or the other to the Confucian model of learning. Surely, Muslim countries should be able to draw some lessons from this phenomenon. Muslim intellectuals worth their salt must get off their high horse and study the Confucian model, adapt it according to Muslim requirements, if need be, and start preaching a culture of diligence in the pursuit of knowledge. The defensive response about reminding people of Islam’s glorious history of learning and advancements in science serves no purpose if all it does is encourage us to rest on past laurels.
While it is known that Muslim countries are facing a crisis in higher education, this study is significant in showing that even in the formative mid-secondary school stage, we are seeing a crisis of alarming proportions. The fact of the matter is that Muslim countries are occupying the bottom rungs in higher education and advancement in science and technology. The PISA results are therefore a precursor to worse things to come.
Failure to take immediate remedial action may lead to a deeper crisis. In this regard, we call on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to take the lead in addressing this problem.
27th December, 2013
Keynote address by Anwar Ibrahim at the Symposium on “Reform of Higher Education in Muslim Societies,” organized by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) on December 9-10, 2013 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.
The crisis in higher education in Muslim societies is manifested in myriad ways not the least of which are impacting socioeconomic development. Among the root causes of the crisis are those related to choice, content, quality and financial resources and issues of governance.
It is said that Islamic education has not progressed much from its traditional form with its emphasis on Qur’anic and Hadith studies and while other societies have transformed their systems, Muslim countries are still grappling with the challenges of integrating within modern education.
Another major concern is the accessibility of education to the people. The need to democratize access to education has been canvassed for some time but this has remained a long-standing problem in Muslim countries.
It is obvious that the traditional system, without more, is unable to meet the needs of contemporary Muslim societies what with the additional pressures of globalization and the increasing need for education to produce problem-solving capacities. I believe all these issues are being discoursed in our two-day symposium and as such I shall confine my address today to the conceptual issues pertaining to the ummah and the intellectual crisis.
The economics of education
To begin with, there is a general perception in the discourse among many Muslim scholars that Western education and philosophy is secular and bereft of an ethical and moral dimension. To my mind, this is unfounded.
In John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, it is clear that the driving concern is morality which for him, “is the one area apart from mathematics wherein human reasoning can attain a level of rational certitude.”
In The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which debunks the notion of him being the free market fundamentalist, Adam Smith asserts:
How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.
Expounding his moral philosophy, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen is of the view that Adam Smith has two fundamental propositions on the functioning of the economic system in general, and of the market in particular. The first principle, being epistemological, is that human beings are not guided only by self-gain or even prudence. The second is one of practical reason: That there are good ethical and practical grounds for encouraging motives other than self-interest.
According to Professor Sen, Smith argues that while “prudence” was “of all virtues that which is most helpful to the individual”, “humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit, are the qualities most useful to others”.
The point is that these are principles about which “unfortunately, a big part of modern economics gets both of them wrong in interpreting Smith.” Making him out as an advocate of pure capitalism, with complete reliance on the market mechanism guided by pure profit motive, is altogether misconceived.
So, it appears that the misperceptions are not only pervasive among Muslim scholars but even among Western scholars in this regard, Smith – the icon of ‘capitalism’ – has been seriously misread.
Coming back to our original concern, I believe these ‘moral sentiments’ are not at loggerheads with Islamic precepts. After all, the guiding principle in political economy as summed up by al-Marhum Ismail al-F?r?q? is that economic action is the expression of Islam’s spirituality: The economy of the ummah and its good health are of the essence of Islam just as Islam’s spirituality is inexistent without just economic action.
According to al-F?r?q?, if charity is to serve as a tool of religion whose purpose is the well-being of mankind, then it must have for its object goods of economic value. Religion, therefore, seeks to subject Man’s economic behaviour to the norms of morality. Islam, the religion of world-affirmation par excellence, seeks to order human life so as to make it actualize the pattern intended for it by its Creator. Hence the Islamic dictum: Inna al din al mu’amalah (Religion is indeed man’s treatment of his fellows).
In looking at the economics of education, while the profit motive may be a legitimate factor, it cannot be driven purely by self-gain. On the contrary in line with the Islamic dictum on charity as expounded by al-F?r?q?, where the purpose of religion is the well-being of mankind, the promotion of education must be conducted as a virtue at par with such other virtues as “humanity, justice, generosity, and public spirit.”
Going back to first principles
It is important to remind ourselves that Muslim societies will not be able to progress by merely resting on the laurels of its time honoured labels. It is doubtful indeed that anything productive can emerge from the exercise of finding fault with the Western systems. The crisis in higher education – and for that matter, crisis in education at all levels – is most acute in Muslim countries, not in the West.
In fact, in the West, much less is said about the need for moral rectitude and ethical behaviour in education, yet the universities are at the forefront in producing the most sought after graduates, and in research and development. In saying this, I am not suggesting that moral rectitude and ethical behaviour in education are irrelevant but that this has to be seen in deed and action, not in proclamation of intentions.
In analysing the causes of the decline of the ummah be it in the field of education or any other field of significance, we should do away with the defensive mind-set that seems to have exemplified Muslim writers. Though Islamophobia is indeed a real problem, it is nevertheless not a cause or a factor that may be legitimately linked to the decline.
In this regard, going back to first principles is a better recourse. The Qur’an reminds us:
“Similar situations [as yours] have passed on before you, so proceed throughout the earth and observe how was the end of those who denied.” (Ali Imran: 137)
It is clear that much can be learned from the lessons of history. Malik Bennabi’s central thesis is indeed relevant concerning the need for original ideas and that a vibrant progressive society may emerge only if it can break free from the tradition of intellectual retardation.
Bennabi tells us that a society’s wealth is not measured by material possessions but by ideas and that it is only from creative ideas alone that great strides in civilization were made.
In the area of scientific and technological advancement, it bears recalling that Bennabi was already advocating the importance of the inculcation of skills and competencies in all fields as well as vocational and technical training for the ummah. And this is absolutely essential for the ummah to move ahead with the times.
Education, rationality and ijtihad
Education must proceed on the basis of rationality and with that ijtihad. I am using this term in the sense as explained by Al-F?r?q?, where he has said:
As a methodical principle, rationalism is constitutive of the essence of Islamic civilization. … Rationalism does not mean the priority of reason over revelation but the rejection of any ultimate contradiction between them.
Al-F?r?q? presented Islam as the religion par excellence of reason, science, and progress with a strong emphasis on action and the work ethic. Any suggestion that the advocacy of rationality in the articulation of educational policies and principles is grounded in secular thinking is therefore without foundation.
For the advancement of the ummah, Al-F?r?q? advocates the fundamental processes of tajdid and islah in order to renew and reform the educational system.
To move ahead with the changing times is not tantamount to abandoning first principles or a rejection of tradition. Professor Naquib al-Attas, always mindful of the need to reassert the primacy of Islam as an intellectual tradition, persuasively argues that real modern education cannot be separated from the categories of knowledge fundamental to the Islamic tradition whereas contemporary modern knowledge should be freed from its secular-bound interpretations.
To al-Attas, the major cause of not just of the crisis of Muslim education but the general retrogression of the ummah is the failure to inculcate ta?dib, which is the cultivation of the inner dimensions of the self, centering on the spirit of knowledge and education.
To my mind, and in this regard, it might constitute a contrarian view, rather than viewing it as a clash of views, I see a convergence of approaches between al-F?r?q? and al-Attas. If I may use the analogy of the Baytu l-?ar?m, there are various entrances to the holiest of holy sites in Islam but by which ever entrance used, the ultimate destination remains the Ka’aba. In both their approaches, we can discern a unified concern for the revivification of Islamic knowledge and thought.
That concern was not entirely new. From the time of Muhammad ‘Abduh, the call for change was couched in the language of modernity. Even back then there was the suspicion of ‘Abduh attempting to introduce secularism through the back door of ijtih?d but we know that such allegations are misconceived. On the contrary, what ‘Abduh did was to subject the moral and epistemological premises of secular modernity to scrutiny and he came to the conclusion that Islam’s modernity was both non-Western and non-secular.
Allama Iqbal reminded us of the inadequacy of fiqh for the requirements of his time and called for ijtih?d. In doing so, he rightly cautioned that in the area of legislation for the State, ijtih?d should be undertaken as a collective enterprise and not individuals going on their own ways.
Nevertheless, it would be timely to reconsider the constraints on the adoption of the ijtihad, including those advocated by Iqbal, removing them and allowing the doctrine to apply beyond legal matters into the realm of everyday life.
In this regard, we are in complete agreement with Sheikh Taha’s call for the revival of knowledge based on divine revelation against blind imitation of supposedly modern curricula in all areas of education where the dissemination of knowledge appears to be deliberately divorced from Islam’s core values.
One must not forget that taqlid can also refer to blind imitation of the West and falling prey, even subconsciously, to the influence of the biases latent in the language of discourse. Hence, the need to propound alternative views and articulate a greater degree of independent thinking.
The caveat against blind adoption of liberal views was sounded by Fazlur Rahman: “Universal values are the crux of the being of a society: the debate about the relativity of moral values in a society is born of a liberalism that in the process of liberalisation has become so perverted as to destroy those very moral values that it set out to liberate from the constraints of dogma.”
A tentative prescription in the tradition of IIIT
In formulating a new prescription for Muslims one can do no better than to echo the calls made in the tradition of the International Institute of Islamic Thought on the Islamization of knowledge as pioneered by al-Marhum Ismail al-F?r?q?. I use the word ‘echo’ deliberately with the rider that a fresh interpretation is called for in order to do justice to the purport of this approach. This fresh interpretation is in tandem with the commitment to the core values of Islam.
In my humble view, this is necessary because in failing to do justice to these fundamental principles, certain scholars and ulema have confounded the plain message of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. They call for the adoption of the Shari’ah without a deeper understanding of the maqasid, giving preference to scholastic views and speculative opinions, many of which rely on unauthentic hadith and a skewered understanding of hudud law. Indeed, this is clearly contrary to the clear message of the Qur’an:
“This [Qur'an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allah.” (Ali Imran: 138)
Though we would expect it to be taken for granted, yet it is imperative to remind ourselves that the Qur??n is more than just a moral code. Indeed it is a universal guide for the community. If we take the definition of education as a social extension of culture and culture as a definitive or core ingredient of civilization, then this approach of the Islamization of knowledge will lead to a truly holistic adoption of Islam’s core values. This indeed will be the best answer to the question what is the Islamic weltanschauung:
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” (Ali Imran: 110)
Secondly, to my mind, there is some substance in the observation that in the current approach to the Islamization of knowledge endeavour, there is a preponderance of focus on the social sciences while the crisis of the ummah in practical terms can be traced to it being technologically and scientifically lagging behind the non-Muslim communities.
The project should therefore be broadened to attract more scholars and participants from the physical sciences and in time this will add a more balanced critical mass to the intellectual force. After all, the Bayt al-Hikmah of the Golden Age of Islam gave birth to not just philosophers but eminent scientists. In fact, the bifurcation between the two was not the norm as the holistic pursuit of knowledge saw the genesis of “philosopher-scientists” competent in a wide spectrum of intellectual disciplines. At the core of this focus, I believe, is the divine injunction on the use of the intellectual faculty.
Thus, the Qur’an enjoins the use of reason to ascertain the truth as provided by the senses, and truth grounded on revelation:
“And He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth – all from Him. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (al-Jathiyah:13)
Finally, we must consider it a jihad to free ourselves from a new shroud of ignorance that has been cast upon the ummah. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali reminds us that “ignorance combined with bigotry and caprice are a great misfortune.” The antidote to this is the pursuit of knowledge which will widen our horizons and strengthen our resolve and will-power for individuals as well as communities.
 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-moral/ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, in P.H. Nidditch (ed.), An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, based on the fourth edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975.
 Ismail Raji al Faruqi, Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life, 2nd ed., Herndon: IIIT, 1992, p. 157
 Ibid. at p.170
 Badrane Benlahcene, The Socio-Intellectual Foundations of Malek Bennabi’s Approach To Civilisation, IIIT, 2011
 Malik Bennabi, Mushkilat al Afkar fil Alam al Islami, trans. M Ali, Cairo: Maktabat Amar, 1971, 56
 Abdulaziz Berghout, The Concept of Culture and Cultural Transformation: Views of Malik Bennabi, Intellectual Discourse, 2001 Vol. 9, No 1, pp. 78-79
 Ismail R. al Faruqi and Lois Lamya al Faruqi, Cultural Atlas of Islam, Macmillan Publishing Company: New York, 1986, pp.78-79
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 Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam: An Exposition of the Fundamental Elements of the Worldview of Islam, Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, 1995
 Tradition and Modernity – Christian and Muslim Perspectives, ed. David Marshall, Georgetown University Press, 2013, Chapter on “Muhammad ‘Abduh – A Sufi-inspired Modernist?” by Vincent J. Cornell p.108
 Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Kitab Bhavan, 2000
 Taha J. al-Alwani, Islamic Thought: An Approach To Reform
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 Liberal Islam – A Sourcebook, ed. Charles Kruzman, Oxford University Press, 1998, Ch. 31 on Fazlur Rahman’s Islam and Modernity p.317
 Mohammad Omar Farooq, Toward Our Reformation: From Legalism to Value-Oriented Islamic Law and Jurisprudence, IIIT, 2011
 Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, “Islamization of Knowledge: A Critical Overview”, Islamic Studies Vol. 30, No. 3 (Autumn 1991), pp. 387-400
 Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “The Teaching of Philosophy.” In Philosophy, Literature, and Fine Arts, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, pp. 3–21. Islamic Education Series. Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, 1982
 Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali, A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an, trans. Ashur A. Shamis, rev. Zaynab Alawiye, IIIT, 2000, pp. 516-517
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) (AFP) – A notorious Malaysian wildlife trafficker dubbed the “Lizard King” for his smuggling of endangered reptiles is back in business, according to an Al Jazeera report that prompted outraged wildlife activists on Friday to demand action.
Anson Wong was arrested in August 2010 at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport while attempting to smuggle 95 endangered boa constrictors to Indonesia.
He was sentenced to five years in jail, but a Malaysian appeals court freed him in 2012, sparking an outcry.
Malaysian authorities had said in the wake of Wong’s arrest that his licences for legitimate wildlife trading were revoked.
But, in an investigative report, Al Jazeera said Wong and his wife Cheah Bing Shee were believed to be trading albino pythons and other wildlife from their base in the northern Malaysian state of Penang.
Trade in the pythons requires a permit, said the report by the Qatar-based network, which saw journalist Steve Chao go undercover to talk with wildlife dealers and associates of Wong’s.
The report, called “Return of the Lizard King” and aired late Thursday, said documents also revealed shell companies used by Wong to hide his activities.
Illegal trade in wildlife is thought to be worth at least $19 billion a year worldwide, according to conservation groups.
Outraged conservationists demanded action from the government and expressed shock over the lax attitude by the authorities for failing to monitor Wong.
“The ‘Return of the Lizard King’ raises so many doubts and questions about Malaysia’s commitment to that fight. It is time we had some solid answers from government,” Shenaaz Khan, an official with wildlife-trade monitoring network Traffic, said in a statement.
Traffic views the revelations about Wong’s post-prison activities with deep concern, and seeks a credible explanation on his apparent ability to continue trading wildlife despite government promises to the contrary, she said.
In Penang, Al Jazeera’s Chao confronted Wong on camera, but he declined to comment.
Several of Wong’s former associates also claimed that corrupt customs officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Madagascar were helping to facilitate Wong’s activities, the report said.
In a press release, Al Jazeera said Chao and his team worked with anti-trafficking groups to track Wong’s Malaysian-based operation.
Kadir Hashim, enforcement director of Malaysia’s wildlife department, confirmed Wong’s permits remained revoked.
“The department is investigating both” Wong and Cheah, he said in an e-mail response to an AFP inquiry, without elaborating further.
Wong is described by wildlife groups as one of the world’s most active smugglers of wild animals.
He was sentenced to 71 months in jail in the United States in 2001 after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered reptiles.
Despite efforts by Southeast Asian authorities to crack down on animal smuggling, the practice persists and poses a threat to a number of threatened species, conservationists say.
Malaysian students in Adelaide have been warned off going to hear Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim during the Adelaide Festival of Ideas on Saturday.
An email sent on Monday to 90 Malaysian students in Adelaide warns “stern action” would be taken against them if they attended.
Anwar Ibrahim, who is due to fly in to Adelaide on Friday morning is world famous as a reforming politician in Malaysia, where he has been harassed and jailed on successive charges of homosexuality and sodomy, which he denies.
He is Leader of the Opposition in Malaysia and was invited to the Festival of Ideas to speak on Dissent and Democracy.
The email is addressed to JPA scholars, those who have received scholarships to study here funded by Malaysia’s Public Service Department.
The email is signed by Shahrezan MD Sheriff, student adviser at the Public Service Department, and advises students not to attend the meeting.
It reads: “You are smarter to think and focus on what matters rather than joining this activity that could make your hardship in maintaining good grades and earning the scholarship goes down the drain (sic).”
While the email’s authorship has not been confirmed and Shahrezan MD Sheriff did not return calls to the JPA office at the Malaysian Consulate, based in Sydney, it has caused consternation both in Australia and Malaysia.
The visit of Anwar Ibrahim was organised by the Festival of Ideas, together with the State Government, Flinders University and Senator Nick Xenophon.
Mr Xenophon said he had no doubt the email was real.
“When I first saw it I thought it was a hoax, but there’s no denial of it,” he said.
“This is not unusual. This is the story of intimidation that Malaysian students face all the time and now they are extending their harassment to Australia.
“That’s unacceptable, and that’s why I am about to send a letter to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about this because this is clearly intimidatory.”
Professor Clinton Fernandez, a Canberra-based expert on Malaysia, said ASIO should also be called in to investigate.
“This is clearly an intrusion in Australia’s domestic affairs and if he is employed by the Malaysian Government (Shahrezan) should be deported,” he said.
Mr Xenophon, who described Ibrahim as a beacon of hope for democracy in Malaysia and the entire South East Asian region, was himself deported and banned from Malaysia earlier this year.
The threatening email was greeted with derision on chat sites of the Anwar Ibrahim Club, both for its poor English and for its threatening tone. “We aren’t stupid anymore. Go to hell, government!” says one.
Mr Anwar’s official engagement is to appear in conversation with ABC broadcaster Waleed Aly at Elder Hall on Saturday, October 19 at 11.30am, hosted by Senator Nick Xenophon. Entry is free.
However, separate meetings have been organised in the city tomorrow and at Bradford Lodge, an international student hostel in Rose Park by the Anwar Ibrahim Club and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia Adelaide on Saturday night.
It was not clear whether the threatening email was referring specifically to one or all of those events.
The 9th Adelaide Festival of Ideas continues until Sunday.
13 September 2013 (Bangkok, Thailand) -- Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC, the first female judge to be appointed to an Australian Federal Court, a former member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and a commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), will be observing the hearing of the appeal of Anwar Ibrahim’s case from 17 to 18 September 2013 at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya. The ICJ, a global organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, is composed of judges and lawyers who aim to promote and protect human rights through the rule of law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.
Anwar Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician and is currently the leader of the opposition party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, and the opposition alliance known as Pakatan Rakyat. The appeal hearing that Justice Elizabeth Evatt will be observing emerged from the 2008 charges filed against Anwar Ibrahim immediately after the general elections held that year. He was charged for allegedly committing sodomy, which is a crime under Section 377B of the Penal Code and carries the penalty of up to 20 years of imprisonment and whipping. The High Court acquitted Anwar Ibrahim on 9 January 2012.
This is the second time that Anwar Ibrahim is facing sodomy charges after his dismissal from the Malaysian Cabinet in 1998. In 2004, The ICJ also sent a representative to observe the sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim, where the Federal Court overturned the High Court decision to convict him. The ICJ called the Federal Court’s ruling “a step in the right direction in upholding the rule of law”.
Justice Evatt’s mandate as ICJ’s high-level observer to the appeal hearing includes monitoring the fairness of the proceedings against Anwar Ibrahim in the light of relevant international standards. These standards include, among others the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of Judges, which set out standards on the independence and impartiality of judges, and the UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors, which set out standards on the independence of prosecutors. Justice Evatt will also be evaluating whether the prosecution under Section 377B of the Malaysian Penal Code is being used in this case to suppress political dissent, contrary to the right to freedom of expression.
“The right to observe trials stems from the general right to promote and secure the protection and realization of human rights. Trial observation is a key tool in monitoring the respect for human rights and the rule of law. It is an effective method to examine the level of independence and impartiality of a country’s criminal justice system,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s International Legal Adviser on Southeast Asia. “Trial monitoring also serves to promote better compliance with both domestic law and international standards that aim to ensure protection of human rights, including the rights to fair trial and due process.”
For more information, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, International Legal Advisor, tel. no. +662 6198477 ext. 206 or email: [email protected]
[Download original document : Press Advisory_Justice Evatt_Trial Observation_Anwar Ibrahim appeal hearing_13 September 2013.pdf]