LAST_UPDATEMon, 21 May 2018 11pm

16 Religious Speakers Banned From Preaching, Muslims Must Agree To Disagree To Move Forward

In this Information Age, the world has no limits. One who’s living in Kota Bharu, Kelantan also has the privilege to sit and watch "Peace TV", a television channel that operates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates airing Islamic programmes, in the comfort of their homes. Its founder and president, Dr Zakir Naik, is an Indian Islamic speaker in comparative religion since 1991, and is also recognised as “the world's leading Salafi evangelist", but was previously trained as a medical doctor.

The 50-year-old who founded the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) is not only blessed with the ability to memorise the Quran and Hadiths, but also the Vedas, Tripitaka, Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Bible. He has succeeded in converting thousands of Hindus and Christians in India to Islam. Thousands of non-Muslims who attend his lectures, have also converted to Islam on the spot, seeing his proven ability to give a spot on answer to every single question thrown at him.

Zakir, who is also deemed “Ahmad Deedat Junior” for his lectures is followed and watched by many on the official Peace TV YouTube channel, which to this date, has amassed over 100 million viewers from all over the world.

Apart from Zakir, one of the house speakers on Peace TV is Ustaz Hussein Yee, president of Al-Khadeem in Sungai Kayu Ara, Petaling Jaya, who is a Malaysian Chinese born in 1950 to a Buddhist family but later converted to Islam at the age of 18. He furthered his studies at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia, majoring in Hadith and served as a Counsellor and Mubaligh Officer at PERKIM in 1984.

Hussein who is committed to da’wah (missionary work) and social work, has now become a recognisable personality in the Islamic world and as an international missionary. He is often invited to give insightful talks on the international Islamic lecture circuit, by Islamic media networks and hails as one of the most prominent Chinese Muslim missionaries in the world.

Now, Muslims around the world can also watch their favourite missionaries in Islamic forums – whether it is listening to lectures by Ustaz Azhar Idrus or hearing Ustaz Haslin Baharin singing Hindustani songs, subsequently earning him the title 'Ustaz Bollywood', all thanks to the advancement of satellite television and high-speed Internet.

Social media networks have also made da’wah through writings and video possible, via postings like the ones on the Facebook page of Dr Abu Anas Madani, or Dr Abdul Basit Haji Abdul Rahman, a Shariah lecturer at the Sultan Ismail Petra International Islamic College, PERKIM State Committee since 2008, and an invited panel at television shows on TV9 (Tanyalah Ustaz dan Muqaddimah) and TV3 (Al-Kuliyyah).

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Dr Fadlan Mohd Othman, senior lecturer at the Department of Al-Quran and Al-Sunnah Studies, in the Faculty of Islamic Studies, UKM, the President of the Yang Dipertua Pertubuhan Ilmuan Malaysia, and executive advisor for Dr Fathul Bari Mat Jahya is also among the notable religious speakers in the country.

However, all the names mentioned were recently published in a notice that banned 16 religious speakers, which went viral online, as it is believed that their teachings were allegedly not aligned with those in the Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWAJA) and deemed as causing confusion to the Muslim community.

The ban which was based on the state’s constitution and existing enactments which are aimed at protecting the sanctity of Islam, has caused confusion to the public and other Islamic scholars, what more those interested to set foot in the religion – they too would be confused as to which of the teachings in Islam are correct?

All this commotion and we have not even gotten started on the issue of Shia. Then, there’s the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh terrorists who have caused discrimination against Islam by the non-Muslims. But how can Muslims preach to other non-Muslims about Islam if they themselves are divided with all these conflicting issues?

Clearly, this ban is not beneficial to any party whatsoever. And indeed, the image of those involved to some extent has been tarnished based on the notion that went viral. However, their lectures and talks, can still be followed by many anytime and anywhere in this Information Age.

The public will refer to religious scholars or experts should they have doubts and concerns about anything regarding the religion. But what happens when there are discrepancies between the answers given by the religious scholars themselves? Who is correct? Are we choosing to listen to the ones that are simple to follow? Or should we choose to listen to the ones with the most authentic opinions? How can Muslims determine whose opinion is the most authentic?

Muslims must agree on matters concerning the faith, but are however allowed to have differing opinions. Where there is a difference in opinion, we are taught to refer to the Quran and Sunnah. Understanding the interpretation and the transcription of both, will allow religious scholars who have a greater knowledge in the matter to come to a mutual understanding and reach an etiquette of disagreements. After all, disagreements have existed even in Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) time.

Evidence for acceptable disagreements in Islam comes from a Hadith reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, in which the Prophet ordered his companions after the battle of Al-Ahzaab saying, “No one of you should pray Asar until you reach the village of Bani-Qurayzah (A Jewish tribe).”

While they were on their way, the time of Asar came. Some companions said we should not pray until we reach Bani-Qurayzah. Others said we should pray Asar now because the Prophet did not mean for us to leave the Asar prayer, but he wanted us to be in a hurry. So some of the companions prayed Asar, while others continued on until they reached Bani-Qurayzah after sunset.

When they went back to the Prophet, they mentioned to him the story and he did not blame either one of them." This Hadith clearly shows us that the Prophet accepted both opinions, because if one of them were wrong then the Prophet would have expressed it at that time.

Recently, the Muslim community seems to be an increasingly partisan one. Take a look at the political parties of Muslims in Malaysia that are all falling apart. Politicians will do whatever it takes to discredit their rivals, be it in the opposition or the same party. Instead of serving the community, political mileage has become their priority. In the end, the only ones that will benefit from it are the enemies of Islam.

The Muslim community must agree to disagree. We do not need to be too obsessed on any disagreements we have amongst each other. The unity and bond amongst Muslims are by far more important and should take precedence above all other matters. Let’s go back to the Quran and Sunnah to seek the truth, and let’s all do things with ease, not make things more troublesome.


Johari Yap
Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Kelantan Branch