LKY’s Haram Truths

From ‘M’sia religious body still studying Hard Truths’, 10 Dec 2011, article in Today

Malaysia’s government has said that a book on Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew is “still being studied” despite federal Islamic authorities earlier confirming that it has been placed on a list of books declared “haram”, or forbidden to Muslims.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr Jamil Khir Baharom, said the book, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going (picture), was being “examined”. “It is under the Home Ministry … it is not haram,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

When told that the book was one of 15 listed by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) as haram, the senator replied that “this just means it is being examined by the censorship committee”.

In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a ‘fatwa’, technically a death sentence and manhunt, against Salman Rushdie for ‘The Satanic Verses’, declaring it ‘against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran’.  LKY’s Hard Truths, as its title suggests,  isn’t a work of fiction (though probably no less entertaining) like Rushdie’s Verses. If it weren’t written by a powerful politician, Hard Truths might have been regarded as more blasphemous than it really is and incite Muslim extremists to call for the old man’s head as well.

Our own authorities have a habit of putting authors in prison for exposing the criminal justice system (Alan Shadrake’s Once a Jolly Hangman, for example), so it would be indeed ironic if certain religious councils in our neighbouring countries call for more than just a ban on Hard Truths the book, but issue ‘fatwas’ on its prolific and outspoken author as well. Incidentally, Hard Truths speaks of Muslims marginalising themselves from society by being too ‘strict’ with their beliefs.

Memoirs aside, here’s a terrifying list of non-food things classified as ‘haram’ by Islamic authorities around the world.

  • Yoga: A fatwa was issued against yoga in 2008 by Sarawak authorities, and Muslims were advised to do other forms of physical activity to keep healthy, because yoga originated from ‘Hindu spiritual teachings’.
  • Aerobics: According to the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), aerobic moves ‘tended to spark sexual desire and therefore were contrary to Islamic mores’. Practitioners of this erotic exercise should also refrain from wearing ‘transparent clothing’.
  • Valentine’s Day: The JB state Religious Department issued a fatwa for V-Day in 2005, stating that such celebrations ‘involved elements of vice’.
  • Poco-poco: Though not eventually banned, this dance routine was frowned upon by the Perak Fatwa Committee, not because it was overtly erotic, but because the steps involved making a cross with your feet. Heck, some states even ban public SINGING and dancing altogether (No public singing and dancing, decrees Kelantan government, 7 Oct 1995, ST). Yet there’s a Malaysian Idol?
  • Sperm banks: The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)  declared that the presence of sperm bank in the country was haram or prohibited. “Sperm donor is haram, so is sperm bank”, so says a spokesman. One can only speculate why the generous life-giving  act of donating sperm is forbidden.
  • Taking part in SMS contests: Jakim says this tantamounts to betting, and betting is a form of gambling, which is forbidden in Islam. I guess carnival ‘games of chance’ should be banned as well.
  • Tomboys, or ‘pengkid’: The fatwa reads ‘Pengkid, that is, women who have the appearance, mannerisms and sexual orientation similar to men, is haram in Islam’. It was supposed to ‘save these women from lesbianism’.
  • Marrying a transgender: In 1982, the national Fatwa committee in Malaysia ruled that it is haram for a man to marry another man who has undergone a sex change to be a woman (Sex change marriage is haram, 17 April 1982, ST)
  • Buying a cucumber: Not surprisingly this comes from Al Qaeda in Iraq. What about bananas then?
  • Elton John:   Josephine Teo would surely approve.
  • Wearing wigs: Especially those made of human hair
  • Body building contests: Banned by the Sarawak Religious Affairs Dept (Jais) for over-exposing bodies (Sarawak bans bodybuilding contests for Muslims, 24 Aug 1997, ST). I suppose Abercrombie and Fitch is haram too.
  • Delivering a buffalo head to appease a sea demon: Don’t ask why.

2 Responses

  1. The world is in the present state of deep rooted human conflicts not because of god or religion. God does not promote evil deeds, hates and marvellian divide and rule running of businesses or governments. God as witnessed by the diverse bibles and korans love human beings and promotes love and brotherhood.

    The current state of running of businesses and governments under the concept of democracy and capitalism, man-made laws and regulations, though desirable at first sight by comparison with dictatorship and communism etc is still the root cause of persistent human problems and conflicts.

    What the world truly needs to do is to upgrade the current self-centered and intuitive systems of running businesses and governments to one based on internationally acceptable human codes of inter-human behaviors such as those stated in the Confucius and Lao Tzu’s tenets including “gentleman speaks with behavior; petty man with tongue”, “do not do unto others what one does not want to be done to oneself”, “when the top beam is crooked the bottom will be twisted” “way of the Tao” etc, All such behavioral causation can be processed by way of a human resource department taking care of major decision making and execution of such major decisions affecting businesses and governments at the appropriate level – approval/policy level and payment certification. This is the so-called process management which will be ultimately needed for world peace. Try it. It will bring peace, lasting peace because all the leaders and men in control of power will finally be bound by it solving human greeds for power and monies at the root.

  2. Hmm… Perhaps the ‘hard truths’ presented might be a little too hard to swallow? Or were they even ‘truths’ to speak of in the first place? Opinions from a skewed perspective is never the actual truth.

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