An open letter to Dr M and Maszlee on extremism in schools by Abdul Rahman
Recently, my son who is in secondary school told me that he had a disagreement with his teacher during his Islamic Studies class.
The ustazah insisted that it is God’s words that an adulterer should be stoned to death. My son, a teenager, said that could not be. God could not be so cruel.
The teacher then scolded him in front of the class and said he must believe this to be true if he were to call himself a Muslim, or else he would be a murtad (apostate).
When my son asked for evidence that it was God’s words, the ustazah admonished him and told him to read the Quran.
This situation pitted the entire class against my son and caused some discord with his fellow classmates.
As a parent, I am deeply concerned about this. What kind of national school system tells students that it is God’s words to stone someone to death for adultery, and that if you do not believe it, you are an apostate?
The ustazah, as the religious teacher, holds a position of authority in a national school. What she is doing is preaching an extremist view to young impressionable minds, i.e. that stoning to death is a religious obligation that cannot be questioned.
What kind of citizens are we producing with this kind of teaching that leaves no room for debate or discussion? Peace-loving, or violent and judgmental citizens?
I have read the Quran, and there is nothing that says an adulterer or anyone should be stoned to death. And the Quran is believed by Muslims to be the word of God.
It is irresponsible to use God’s name to justify contentious viewpoints, especially when the subject matter is something still being debated even among Muslim scholars.
Many Muslims in Malaysia nowadays don’t read. They simply believe what the religious teachers tell them is the word of God.
It is worrying that contentious views are tossed around like they are God’s words that cannot be questioned. It creates an oppressive and closed society where only the powerful with religious titles can speak, and anyone who disagrees, like my son, is punished and silenced.
This is not an isolated case. It reflects the larger change in our society, where the interpretation of Islam has become more harsh and singular, with those questioning the mainstream interpretation labelled as either liberal or kafir.
They are the target of violent comments on social media, because apparently it is halal to spill the blood of those who do not follow God’s law!
Time and again, I have come across violent and threatening comments on social media against those labelled as “liberal Muslims”, whatever that means.
What is a responsible government of a multi-religious and multiethnic society doing about this trend?
It pains me as a Muslim and a citizen of this country that Islam is seen as a violent religion. Views such as the one the ustazah holds are not isolated cases.
Islam is a religion of peace. Do Muslims parrot the phrase “Bismillahi Rahmanir Rahim” (In the name of the Most Compassionate and Merciful) without understanding it?
Why has faith become so narrow and oppressive that you can be vilified or even investigated simply for having a viewpoint that is different from that of the majority?
Where is the gentle and loving religion that holds that everyone is equal before God?
I hope the prime minister and the education minister do something to stop this unhealthy and dangerous trend. It must start at the education system before it is too late.
[Editor’s note: FMT is withholding the name of the school mentioned in the above letter.]
Abdul Rahman is an FMT reader.