Thursday, 3 November 2011

Q & A bersama Dr Jasser Auda mengenai Seksualiti Merdeka

Me: Salam Dr.Audah. Currently, in Malaysia, there is an LGBTQ advocacy group called Seksualiti Merdeka (Sexual Freedom) which is demanding their rights to stage a week-long series of events to educate the public about freedom and diversity in sexual orientation. As a Muslim who considers himself as an Islamist democrat, I am rather perplexed on how to respond to this issue from an Islamic perspective. What is your take on it?

Dr. Jasser Audah: wa alikom assalam akhi. The way I respond to this question is that practicing any sexual relation outside marriage, whatever it is whether between male and female, or males, or females, or any other shape or form, are all major sins in Islam. This is a fixed Islamic principle. On the other hand, however, these people who are different could be advised (if it is not something natural that they cannot change), but they are not to be treated with violence or discriminated against. They (al-kuntha) did exist at the time of the Prophet (s) and he ignored them. They should be left alone, as long as they did not act indecently in public according to the conditions of zina (4 witnesses, etc).

Finally, banning such practices by the law should be treated in the same way zina is banned, which means that people should be left in their private life and not to be spied upon, unless they commit such a sin with 4 witnesses seeing it, etc... I hope that this is helpful.

Me: But Malaysia is a multi-religious and multi-racial country. Wouldn’t the banning of such practices be contrary to the democratic spirit? It seems to me that this is more of a clash between liberal and conservative elements in society, not necessarily Muslims and anti-Muslims.

JA: Banning such practices is 'democratic' if it comes from within the system, and not forced on it! I mean, Islamic groups and parties could campaign the way they like and for whatever 'Islamic' laws they wish. If the society and its democratic system approves such laws, then they are abiding. But if the democratic system does not convert it to a law, which will obviously be the case in Malaysia, then it remains a belief of some people and not a law. Such important changes require a clear 'consensus' of the society (or the very vast majority of it), and not just a parliamentary committee or something. This 'consensus' will never happen in Malaysia, realistically, but Islamists -and nonIslamists- do have the right to call for whatevere moral system they believe in. You see what I mean?

That is how we balance freedom and democracy, in my humble view.

Me: So the best way to balance freedom and democracy is through public rational debate? This would render courts and legal institutions secondary to the process.

JA: of course, this is the only way. And education and culture is the best way; not the law and courts

Me: Yes, but at the same time the Malaysian state is very undemocratic. The slightest issues can be manipulated and twisted by the media – which is strongly biased towards the government - to favour the government’s perspective and interests. We cannot rely on the public sphere as much compared to other democratic states

JA: well. The dictatorship mentality is the problem.
We need to fix 'dictatprship' not only in the gov but also in the people, and especially Islamic groups!

Me: Agreed. Many are expecting the general elections to happen soon inshaAllah. So what should be our priority now? Personally in the name of Islamic democracy, we have a serious problem with our moral commitments. We cannot seem to stand by our principles.

JA: i think the best approach is to say that your priorities are the welfare of Malaysia and the Malaysian people, first and before any Islamic or moral agenda, and that you will respect the multi-religious free society of Malaysia, and that you will leave the Islamic agendas to the areas of Islamic education and Islamic media, but not to the political institutions. How's that?

Tamat setakat ini, Wallahua'lam dan semoga bermanfaat.

MBH, Irbid.

*Dr Jasser Auda:

1. Ph.D. Theology & Religious Studies (Islamic Law) University of Wales Lampeter, U.K. Dissertation- Based 2008
2. Ph.D. Systems Analysis & Design (Systems Analysis) University of Waterloo, Canada Course Average: A 1996
3. M.J. Comparative Jurisprudence (Principles of Islamic Law) Islamic American University, USA GPA: 3.86/4.0 Thesis: Distinction 2004
4. B.A. Islamic Studies Islamic American University, USA GPA: 4.0/4.0 2001
5. B.Sc. Engineering Cairo University, Egypt Course Av. 83% 1988
* Classic Training: In parallel to my early engineering studies in Cairo, I attended a weekly non-degree ‘study circle’ in al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, under the supervision of its Imam, Sheikh Ismail Sadiq al-Adawi, between 1984 and 1990, where I studied the Quran (full memorization according to Hafs narration), Bukhari and Muslim Hadith Collections (with Ibn Hajar and Nawawi commentaries), Fiqh (al-Shaf`iah), Ulum Hadith (isnad wa takhreej), and Usul Fiqh (comparative).

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