The Speck Of Dust

PAS has found an ally in its attack on the Sisters in Islam (SIS) in Parti Keadilan Rakyat Member of Parliament for Kulim-Bandar Baru, Zulkifli Noordin.

He has joined in the fray and accused SIS of misappropriating the word “Islam.”

“In fact,” Zulkifli, who is also a lawyer, blogged Tuesday, “I suggest that this group change its name to the Cosmopolitan Women’s Alliance, in line with their image since most of them do not wear tudung and some of them are not even married.”

His party as well as DAP, which are partners with PAS in the PakatanRakyat opposition coalition, have both rejected PAS’s controversial stance on SIS.

A resolution was passed undebated at PAS’ recently concluded muktamar or general assembly calling for the Muslim women’s rights group to be investigated and declared “haram” if it is found to be anti-Islam.

The Islamist party also said SIS members should undergo religious rehabilitation should the Muslim women’s rights organisation be found to go against Islam.

Raising an anti-Islam allegation is as good as labelling someone a heretic or infidel. And this is no small matter. This sounds like the Inquisition. What terrible sin did the younger sisters in faith commit? Or are the ulamas afraid of them?

Interestingly, although the resolution against SIS was tabled by the women’s or muslimat wing of its Shah Alam division headed by its urbane Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, some of its women leaders seemed to have distanced themselves from the move.

Central working committee member Dr Lo’ Lo Mohamad Ghazali was quoted as saying,” I have a more open attitude … if you don’t agree with them, you can just state your views.”

She preferred engagement to exclusion.

Former central working committee member Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud was quoted as saying, “

“I don’t agree with banning them because I believe everybody needs to be able to speak their minds.”

She too preferred engaging with SIS and added that while she did not agree with everything SIS did or said, she respected that SIS performed good work in protecting the legal rights of Muslim women.

“So if they invite me to their functions, I will go, because I don’t have any problems with them,” she said.

The intolerance is evident during its just concluded general assembly where one of its male delegates poured scorn on non-Muslim women journalists present during the event for not covering their heads and chided them for mixing freely with their male counterparts.

So why is the Sisters in Islam such an abomination?

According to the PAS resolution, it was SIS’s liberal views that have caused confusion and were a threat to Muslims’ faith, especially to the younger generation and to those who have a secular education.

PAS has dangerously gone down the path of bigotry and intolerance. The issue at hand is PAS cannot tolerate the liberal position taken by Sisters in Islam. The correctness of SIS’ liberalism or otherwise is subject to public discourse. PAS must see itself as keepers of the faith.

PAS call to “mengharamkan” SIS is not to only “ban” but to declare their sisters in faith as “unclean” as the word in its proper context suggests.

PAS should be reminded: Why do you see the speck of sawdust in your sister’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

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