A couple of years back, I, somehow, pointed out in another website that Syariah legislation (in Malacca at least) explicitly recognizes the acceptance of huqm/principles from the following mazhabs Syafie, Hanafi, Maliki, Hambali and Syiah (albeit restricted to Zaidiyyah and Jaafariyyah). In other words, Syiah Muslims are not banned from professing their belief in any way in Malaysia. This was not accurate.
In 1991, that was true but not in 2002. In 2002, the definition of accepted principles of syarak was amended. The Syiah mazhab was no longer accepted and since then, Syiah Muslims were, in essence, banned in Malaysia.
Of course, some of you may be wondering why I am pointing this out now. Well, at the time I said it, it was in relation to a discussion about a book authored by Syed Akbar Ali Malaysia and the Club of Doom. I am about to do a ‘book review’ about his new book Things in Common and it seemed sensible to put things in their proper order.
Things in Common, the author’s new book, is in a sense a sequel to Malaysia and the Club of Doom. In either book, the author has his sights trained on Muslims and how their practices do not accord with the tenets of the Islamic faith as laid out in the Quran.
However, in other respects, Things in Common departs from Malaysia and the Club of Doom as this time around, the author goes further by illustrating how some of those actions are reflective of the traditions or practices of the adherents of other faiths.
For Muslims who take pride that the Quran is the final Message sent by God as all earlier ones deviated from its original Message, this must come as a shock – to be told that you are no different from those you claim are in error.
Stylistically, the author has maintained the informality of Malaysia and the Club of Doom. The book is simple to read and the arguments easy to follow. However, this is the least significant aspect of the book.
What is significant is that the book is a timely reminder that Muslims may be in danger of abandoning the true spiritual traditions that is Islam and does so by holding up a mirror for Muslims to see what their true reflection looks like. It does so forcefully and makes no apologies for doing so.
Granted, at a time when Islam – the religion – seems to be taking a lot of brickbats, such criticisms and hard talking may be somewhat uncomfortable. It is all too easy to think that Islam itself is being besieged from without and within.
However, the focus of the book isn’t on Islam but those who call themselves Muslims and seen in this light, Things in Common is merely staying true to message inherent in this Quranic verse:
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (2:170)
castigating Muslims for aping others, knowingly or unknowingly, and abandoning what Allah has revealed.
So, it the book worth a read? I think so. Like any book, one can quibble about this or that – such as the fact that there are some portions of the present book which repeats the themes covered in Malaysia and the Club of Doom – but such remarks are just that, mere quibbles.
Its sensible to be self-critical and if we Muslims lack the wherewithal or the courage to do so, the author facilitates the process and does so with his usual verve and panache.
Posted in Islam, TV, Books & Movies | 1 Comment »