Why Malaysia is not a moderate Muslim country

SHAFAQNA – Two years ago, in April 2013, PEW Research Center released a report entitled, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society” and Malaysia was one of the countries included in the study. Interviews were conducted face-to-face; across peninsular Malaysia, East Malaysia and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur with adults 18 years of age and older. The study revealed some noteworthy findings about a country so often hailed as a tolerant and moderate Muslim country.

According to the report, 86% of Malaysian Muslims want shariah law to be the law of the land, with 62% believing apostates should be executed. Considering 61% of Malaysians adhere to Islam, this translates to nearly 10 million Malaysian Muslims (1/3 of the country’s population) believing that apostates of Islam should be sentenced to death. Ironically, 79% of Malaysian Muslims believe trying to convert others is a religious duty, but I digress.

The variance of those Malaysian Muslims who support shariah is hardly highlighted in the report, and must be noted. If 62% of the Muslims who want to see shariah law implemented in Malaysia believe apostates should be killed, why do 38% disagree? Are 38% of the Muslims who want shariah law opposed to the death penalty for apostates because they are insouciant to the fact that shariah law prescribes the death penalty for apostates, or they are aware and just do not agree with the prophet’s recommended punishment? I hope for the latter; nonetheless, I invite you to ask around.


Furthermore, shariah law also states that adulterers should be stoned to death. Unfortunately, a majority (60%) of Malaysian Muslims who want shariah law in Malaysia believe adulterers should be executed. Even more disconcerting is that 41% believe that shariah law should apply to all Malaysians – not just Muslims. Achieving social harmony is hard enough considering 93% of Muslims believe that only Islam leads one to heaven and that those of other faiths (the other 39% of Malaysians) are damned to hell, but with 35% of Malaysian Muslims wanting to foist their religious law on others, veritable social harmony is a chimerical idea at this point.


The report also indicates that 18% of Malaysian Muslims believe that suicide bombing against civilians is often – or at times – justified, with 74% believing it is rarely or never justified. Of the 74% who believe such untenable acts against innocent civilians is “rarely” or never justified, it would be helpful to know what percentage believes suicide bombing against innocent civilians is “rarely” justified.

Suicide bombing against innocent civilians can never be justified – end of moral discussion. One can only hope the majority of this 74% believes that such violence against innocent civilians can never be justified. Regardless, 18% is a distressing minority that equates to more than three million Malaysian Muslims (1/10th of the total population).

Regrettably, in the two years that have passed since this report was released, radical Islam has been proliferating in Malaysia. Currently, more than 60 Malaysians are waging jihad in Syria and Iraq and countless more continue to be arrested in transit, while six Malaysians have already died fighting for the Islamic State. One such story was recently highlighted by the New York Times in a mystifying eight-minute video entitled, “The Jihadist in Our Family: Malaysian Muslims Travel to Syria to Fight Assad”.

In light of these facts, only 8% of Malaysian Muslims are very/somewhat concerned about Muslim extremists while 31% are very/somewhat concerned about Christian extremists. This essay is the corollary of that statistic. This figure must raise one’s eyebrows, for how can the issue of Muslim extremists and the current phenomenon of jihad be addressed when so few Malaysian Muslims view this as a serious problem? I urge you to engage in discussion with family, friends, colleagues, et al – for dialogue is the strongest weapon we have against such ideas. – April 10, 2015.

*Source / writer :  Bill Ozanick , The Malaysian Insider.

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