Shiism in Islamic Studies – What do you include?

Shiism in Islamic Studies – What do you include?

It is interesting to see the views of Penang Mufti Dato’ Seri Wan Salim Mohd Noor calling for Shiism to be included into the syllabus of Islamic Studies.

“Educating Muslims on the issue is the best and most effective way to overcome the Syiah-phobia here,” said Wan Salim in a report in Malaysiakini.

“We must use the informative approach instead of indoctrination, with emphasis on the need to be tolerant to those who are from different Islamic sects and belief.

“Teachers who teach students on religious matters need to be specially trained so that they can effectively send the right message to their pupils,” he said.

He added that it is okay for the Shiites to practice their belief in private.

His remark comes two days after Johor Islamic Affairs Department and the police crashed into a private function held to celebrate Ashura, the death anniversary of Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, a central figure in Islam who was butchered in Karbala.

A total of eight people including a Yemeni and Singaporean were arrested under Section 9 of the Johor Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment.

Similarly, Malaysian Syiah Association chairman Mohd Kamilzuhairi Abdul Aziz was arrested in Gombak, Selangor by the state religious authorities.

Shiism has been declared as deviant teaching, which explains the condescending Friday sermon on Sept 6.

Legally speaking, there are legal opinions which are converted into state enactments to give it a legal bite.

On that note, it is strange to see Malaysia being a party to Amman Message, an international agreement signed during the administration of Tun Abdullah Badawi. 

Why did Malaysia make itself a hypocrite by signing the Amman Message? Or shall we say that Malaysia is a munafiqun state?

The Amman Message, among others, recognises Shiism as a denomination within Islam.

I first heard about Shiism when it was raised by then Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in 2013 during the Umno general assembly.

Shiites were depicted in a negative manner due to the political motive of going after then PAS deputy president, Mohamad Sabu.

Having covered that assembly, I did my research on Shiism and interestingly, I found out that the average Muslim man on the street had no inkling of an idea what Shiism is about.

What they do know is generally related to the government propaganda which includes allegations that they are a threat to the government, deviant and even considered as heretics.

To make matters worse, books on Shiism are banned.  Even works of fiction that has shades on Shiism are banned.

One only needs to ask author Faisal Tehrani about that. A large number of his works were banned for this reason.

Sebongkah Batu di Kuala Berang”, Karbala”, “Tiga Kali Seminggu”, “Ingin Jadi Nasrallah”, “Perempuan Nan Bercinta”, “Sinema Spiritual: Dramaturgi dan Kritikan:”, and “AKU___, MAKA AKU ADA!” are his books that were banned by the former government.

Having said all that, lets go back to Wan Salim’s proposal.

If the Education Minister Maszlee Malik takes up this proposal, what would the syllabus be like?

Would the narrative reflect the anti-Shiah sentiments in Malaysia or would it reflect what Allah said in chapter 96 verse 1:

“Recite in the name of your Lord who created.”

K Pragalath is a member of The Leaders Online

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Islamic StudiesShiism