Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail Wants Jakim Abolished

9 11 2015

Today TMI publishes an article regarding their interview with former Deputy Prime Minister’s son, Tawfik Ismail who is another member of G25, about the religious authorities in Malaysia.

Tawfik who is Tun Dr. Ismail’s eldest son said that he wants the days when JAKIM did not exist and ‘no one batted an eye when Muslims owned dogs’.

It is so sad to see a son of a great and good man turning into a liberal who are against the religious authorities in Malaysia.

G25 ‘attacked’ the religious authorities in its open letter dated December 7, 2014.

I’ll try to answer Tawfik’s uncalled and rude statement; TMI’s article is in red and my answer is in blue.

There was a time in the country’s history when the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) did not exist, Putrajaya did not tell Malaysians how to practise their faith, and no one batted an eye when Muslims owned dogs.

And the former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman’s eldest son, Tawfik Ismail, wants those days back.

I am very sad if that is what Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman’s eldest son, Tawfik Ismail really wants. He is a Muslim but he does not want the Islamic authorities to uphold Islam; very odd. He seems to be confused about Islam and he needs help from JAKIM to go back to the right path of Islam.

The main step is to dissolve Jakim, Tawfik said during an interview in conjunction with the release of “Drifting into Politics”, a collection of his late father’s writings during the nation’s formative years, edited by Tawfik and academic Ooi Kee Beng.

Jakim was created during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time and seems to serve no other purpose than to intervene in the personal lives of Malaysians, Tawfik told The Malaysian Insider when met at his house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

“I think Jakim should be abolished. I don’t think Jakim should exist. What is the government afraid of? You have 13 muftis with 13 different fatwas and 13 different ways of approaching it (religion).

Abolish JAKIM? Tawfik Ismail does not understand the function of JAKIM. Article 37 says that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong must take his oath to protect the religion of Islam before exercising his functions. JAKIM is one of the authorities appointed to carry the duty to protect Islam and uphold Islam on behalf of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. (Please click here for the oath.)

As an Islamic country, we have different Islamic authorities and each has its own duty. It will be impossible for the mufti do everything.

“What is the purpose of Jakim? Halal certificates? That can go to the health ministries, trade ministry. What else does Jakim do? Print the Quran? We have a communications minister,” said the softspoken, yet candid, 64-year-old former MP.

Do not belittle JAKIM for protecting and upholding Islam. Regarding the halal certificates, it is a very serious matter to the Muslims, not only in Malaysia but all over the world. In fact JAKIM’s halal certificates are recognised by Muslim bodies all over the world. The health or trade ministries cannot certify that something is halal because they are not Islamic experts.

Naysayers may argue that Jakim is needed to “protect” the sanctity of Islam, but Tawfik was quick to point out that the Agong, sultans, imams (Muslim scholars) and muftis already filled that void.

The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Sultans, imams and the muftis have their duties to protect the sanctity of Islam and so is JAKIM. JAKIM as the Federal Islamic authority, works under the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong while the muftis are under the State authorities, working under their respective Sultans.

“Jakim is an advisory body to the government, but constitutionally it really has no role. Islam is the province of the sultan of the state, it has nothing to do with the government.”

I do not agree with the above statement. Malaysia is an Islamic country, because Islam is the religion of the Federation as written in Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. And constitutionally, JAKIM has a role to uphold Article 3(1) and carry the duty of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong as in Article 37(1) to protect Islam.

So which areas of Muslim life should the government intervene in? Tawfik flat-out said nothing at all.

“National integration in this country is the biggest challenge. How do you integrate the nation if you are going around this route of looking for faults among Muslims?” he asked.

But, Tawfik clarified that his views on dismantling Jakim were his own, and that G25, the group of retired Malay top civil servants of which he is a member, did not share them.

Please understand our Federal Constitution. In the judgment of ZI Publications v Government of Selangor, The Right Honourable Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Md Raus bin Sharif concluded that:

Taking the Federal Constitution as a whole, it is clear that it was the intention of the framers of our Constitution to allow Muslims in this country to be also governed by Islamic personal law. Thus, a Muslim in this country is therefore subjected to both the general laws enacted by Parliament and also the State laws enacted by the Legislature of a State.

G25 does, however, want Jakim to justify its existence as well as the hundreds of millions of ringgit it receives from the federal budget each year, which he said could have been funnelled to the Health or Education Ministry instead.

The Government allocated funds to all federal departments, including the Islamic authorities. The problem is, why is Tawfik against the Islamic department getting allocation from the federal budget? Is Islam not important to him? As a Muslim he must put Islam above everything else in his life.

“I think there’s a subversion of the constitution by religious authorities at the state level where they are actually testing the limits that they can go in intruding on a person’s personal life,” he added.

It’s to fix a person’s belief or akidah, not ‘intruding on a person’s personal life’.

Putrajaya had not always acted as the defender of the people’s faith, revealed Tawfik, who served as MP from 1986 to 1990.

He said that during the time of Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, only a small religious department existed in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Our Islamic authorities are doing their best to protect Islam and the akidah of the Muslims in Malaysia. As a Malaysian, he must be proud to see the small religious department grows into what it is now and hope it will be better in the future and not the other way around. 

There was no minister of religious affairs, and no national outcry over the fact that his father, Tun Dr Ismail, owned a dog.

“My dad had a Boxer, and, before that, an Alstatian,” recalled Tawfik.

He said all this changed after Dr Mahathir took over and his then deputy, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, tried to infuse their definition of “Islamic values” into every aspect of Malaysian life.

People must not be proud of doing things against their religions. He is a liberalist but he cannot expect other Muslims to be liberal because it is against Islam. Spreading liberal teaching to the Muslims is against the Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.

It is good to promote Islamic values into every aspect of Malaysian life. Islam is not only ritual but Islam is the way of life. And every Muslim must be subjected to the Islamic laws.

This was done to counter the growing influence of PAS, which had never been an issue during the early years of Independence, said Tawfik.

As a result, Malaysia today is now facing “Arabisation”, with society eschewing its Nusantara roots in favour of appropriating the culture of the Middle East, he said.

What does he mean by Arabisation? Is it the Muslim clothing and way of life? Then why didn’t he complain about Westernisation; where people wear miniskirts, coats, ties and others? If he wants to preserve our Nusantara roots, we should also put away the Western way of life. Is it alright for him when the “society eschewing its Nusantara roots in favour of appropriating the culture of the” West?

“We seem to be delighting in coming up with creative ways of ‘speaking’ Arabic in this country.”

Arabic is the language of the Qur’an. It’s very important to learn Arabic and it’s also good to learn other languages. I’m learning German. Why didn’t he complain about Malays learning Chinese, or Indian, or even European languages like German?

Tawfik said it was for this reason that Drifting Into Politics may not sit very well with Putrajaya.

“Certain things my father says here are quite interesting.

“For example, he said whenever Tunku had a meeting at his house with a group of people… occasionally one or two of them would go into the kitchen and have a drink of brandy and whisky, then come back and join in. He admits this.

Is he proud of that? First, brandy and whisky are against Islam. Secondly. even non-Muslims must not drink alcohol during meetings, because how can one focus with the effect of alcohol? I can’t imagine having a country led by people who drink brandy and whisky during important meetings.

“Yes, it’s an open secret, but it’s never been in writing by a leader,” chuckled Tawfik.

His father died in 1973 at the age of 57, after just three years of serving as deputy prime minister. November 4 was his 100th birth anniversary.

With such records in existence, no matter how it tried to Islamise Malaysia, Tawfik said, the government would never be able to rewrite history nor erase its roots. – November 9, 2015.

As a Muslim, even if that is true, he must not be proud of something haram. I pity his father who was a good man.

Tawfik should learn history. Malaysia came from Malaya, and before that, the Federated Malay States which was formed from nine different sovereign Islamic countries; the sovereign Malay States. He should attend one of Datin Paduka Datuk Professor Dr. Ramlah Adam’s talk, then he can understand more about our roots.

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6 responses

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