An open letter to the NFC

I read with interest today that the highest Islamic body in the land is discussing about banning yoga the popular exercise routine, for Muslims. I must confess I don't know much about Yoga. I also don't consider myself as a deeply pious and knowledgeable Islamic cleric. Maybe there exist a few parts of Yago that is indeed against Islamic teachings like reading the mantras or what not. If that's true then why not just skip that part? After all, I think there's nothing wrong with exercising. With the increasing amount of obese people nowadays we should encourage exercising even more not ban them.

Anyway, I'm sure the members of the council is all men of deep knowledge and understanding on Islam. If not they won't be on the council in the first place. And for that I totally respect them. But before the members of the council go into meeting tomorrow, deciding whether Yoga is haram or not for Muslims all over, let me divulge my thoughts on several things that is openly haram but continued to be practised in Malaysia.


Islam forbids its followers from hurting themselves and causing harm to others. That's why it is haram to consume alcoholic drinks or eat anything detrimental to one's health. Alcoholic drinks is medically proven to be hazardous to the human liver not to mention it's negative impact to society. Smoking (cigarettes, cigars and drugs) is also detrimental to one's health. I think I still remember once upon a time ago there was a near fatwa decreeing smoking is haram. Don't know what happened to that. But the important thing is, cigarettes is still freely available everywhere in the country and people young and old is still puffing away like there's no tomorrow. Why haven't the council done anything about this?

Gambling and SMS quizzes

Gambling is haram in Islam because it is simply wrong to gamble our hard-earned money to chance and because of the obvious social implications caused by it. SMS quizzes is no different from gambling. You gamble your money spent for the SMSs sent totally to chance. Sometimes you win, most of the time you don't (you loose). Might as well throw all your money at the poker table or the slot machines in Genting. I thought there's already a fatwa for this. Is it fully enforced? God knows.

Conventional banking, loans and interests

Riba means usury (excessive interest) and is explicitly forbidden in Islam. However, most major banks and financial institutions in this country offers banking and loan services to the people, Muslims included using that very same interest rates system to make profit. Yes maybe there's a lot of Islamic banking services offered nowadays but still the majority of loans offered, car, housing, business loans are still using the interest rate system. So generally speaking, this haram practice had been going on for decades and the religious authorities didn't do anything to stop it.

Hijab, tudung and the covering of woman's hair.

The Qur'an instructs the male believers (Muslims) to talk to wives of Muhammad behind a hijab (tudung). However, in later Muslim societies this instruction, specific to the wives of Muhammad, was generalized, leading to the segregation of the Muslim men and women. Today it is generally accepted by Muslim scholars worldwide that a Muslim women who had reached puberty should be covering their entire body except for the hands, the feet, and the face, hence the wearing of hijab (well unless you're anti-hadith that is). That is why you can see more than half of Muslims women in this country don the tudung. Then what about the rest of them? Are they not Muslims? True believers of the faith? You can see them everyday and everywhere. If they call themselves Muslims, why haven't they abide to God's words and the teachings of His prophet? Can I expect a fatwa decreeing those woman as deviant Muslims? I don't think so.

The sin tax

Every year the government collected millions of tax money from the sale of cigarettes and alcohols and also from the gambling business (like 4D and the casino in Genting). One is vaguely prohibited in Islam but the others is explicitly prohibited. So where do this tax money go? They're used to pay the wages of you my friends, the civil servants, teachers, policemen, ustaz, and also not forgetting the members of the council. Is this permissible in Islam? Shouldn't all our earning comes from a clean, unpolluted source?


And the biggest sin of all, the Internal Security Act perpetrated by the government of the day. Islam forbids injustice, including detention without trial where one is denied the chance to defend oneself against one's alleged crime. If anybody is suspected to be guilty of a crime, let them argue and present their case in a court of law and then let the judge decides whether he or she is guilty. If the judge erred in his/her judgement then the judge answerable to God in the hereafter. One cannot simply play judge and decides that someone is a threat to national security and use his powers and influence to banish a person indefinitely. That is gross injustice not only according to Islam but also against humanity. Save for the mufti of Perlis, has anyone else lift a finger to condemn this atrocity? Indeed it makes me wonder who are they more afraid of, God or politicians.

With regard to the religious authorities in this country, I do believe they do play a pivotal role in giving guidance and education to the Muslim in the challenging and ever-changing world we live in today. In fact I honestly think that most of the fatwas issued by council is totally valid and relevant to Muslims in this country. Having said that, I urge the council to analyse and do a discourse on the points that I have raised above. Don't be a hypocrite (munafik). Selective decrees fatwa on certain matters but turn a blind eye toward others. Time and again you read and hear JAIS and JAWI raiding night clubs and discos, busting unwed couples in close proximity (khalwat) and snooping on lovers in parks. While there's nothing wrong in that but they should also haul up Muslims who throw away money on 4Ds and husbands who neglected and abuse their wives and kids. I'd like to see PEKIDA throwing a demonstration protesting against riba in local banks or against female singers and celebrities who don't cover up. I want to see ABIM go rallying in front of TV3 and Astro protesting against Jom Heboh, Akademi Fantasia on all those sinful programs they show on TV today. I'd love to hear a fatwa decreed that ISA is haram and all its detainees face charges or be freed.

Just my 2 cents. Wallahualam.


  1. interesting piece.

  2. I like your two cents...BTW, I think Islam is in a dire need of a good publicist. Any taker?

  3. Actually..our Muslims council/religious authority do not have any power to act.. Reason? ...just see what happened to our ulama who gave the fatwa of smoking? Then, who dare to act?

  4. In Malaysia, Religion and Politics are intertwinged in deep embrace. Fatwa are issued to suit whoever is in power.
    Interestingly, someone asked me: "What's the difference between eating pork and drinking hard liquor and gambling? They are all considered haram, but yet quite a lot of Muslims merrily drink, smoke, and gamble, but recoil in horror when it comes to eating pork."

  5. Don't fool the fools, when the fools, are easily fooling, the foolish stake holders of the nation.
    The question is, who allows these fools to foolish, the stakeholders, especially when the foolish, keep allowing the fools, to manage the nation for the foolish.
    Ultimately we as stakeholders will remain as foolish.

  6. a very good and eye opening article, but how many of our ruling and managing and decree issuing "pom-pom boys" do have the competence to dwell upon the article.

    keep on coming with good articles like this, i am sure - there are oxford graduates and uitm graduates who can understand the article well if its translated into "kampung english"

  7. Well said but how are the common folks going to react to this article. They have been taught not to question Islam. There lies the problem..