Atheism is Indeed Unconstitutional
- Apl Lain
PEACE Islamic Da’wah Centre of Excellence is appalled at Amanah central committee member, MP Hanipa Maidin’s recent view (http://ift.tt/2iyltU3) against Dato Dr. Asyraf Wajdi’s statement saying atheism in Malaysia is not bound by the Constitution, particularly by Article 11 that guarantees freedom of religion for every citizen.
There were many contradictions and absurd accusations from Hanipa’s article against Asyraf’s standpoint, but one view that remained consistent throughout his article was that Hanipa thinks atheism is a form of religion and therefore should have the same protection and freedom to be practiced like other religions in this country.
Perhaps we can remind ourselves of the first phrase of our Rukunegara, that is “Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan” (Belief in God), that already sums up the argument on whether or not the practice of atheism (not necessarily atheists as normal, law-abiding citizens) is protected under our Constitution. The short answer to that, according to our very own National Principle, and consequently the Constitution itself, is, ‘No, it is not’. Let me explain.
Malaysia has long been a multi-religious country, not only constituting Islam as the religion of Federation, but of other religions including Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, amongst others. We have been brought up with religion; it’s in our culture. Ask the majority of Malaysians of their childhood and I can assure you that at least some small or big part of it constituted religious practices, rituals and/or ceremonies that were practiced revolving around God as the ultimate theme, whether they as children were aware of it or not.
This is completely different from Western settings, by which atheism and secularism is already inherent in people’s livelihood and way of life. Most children in the West are brought up lacking religiousness, despite Christianity (supposedly) representing the religion of the West. Religion is becoming (or has become) irrelevant in influencing the Western lifestyle and acts only as an accessory, never the guiding principle.
This is not the case in Malaysia. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as religion has become more relevant than ever before, particularly for many Muslims in Malaysia. That is a fact, and it seems Hanipa has forgotten or choose to ignore this fact.
What does this mean though? It means that atheism had never been part of Malaysia socio-religious structure and was never recognised as part of the Malaysian Constitution. Therefore, Asyraf Wajdi’s statement (that atheism is unconstitutional) is correct, whether you are on his side or not.
It’s only relatively recently that more choose to adopt atheism as their way of life in Malaysia. Further, some try to amend, or give new meaning to Article 11 of the Constitution, as exemplified by Hanipa who vaguely implies that atheism is a form of religion (and therefore has a right to be practiced).
Which brings me to my next point, addressing to Muslims who, like Hanipa, seem fine to have atheism as a system alongside other religions in Malaysia.
As Muslims we believe that Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were sent as mercy to the world and all mankind. “And We have not sent you (O Muhammad), except as mercy to all mankind” (Al-Anbiya’:107).
Being in Islam and following the principles true to its teachings are the ultimate guidance to peace and happiness in this life and the hereafter. We have to believe this if we call ourselves Muslims.
Therefore, by allowing a new generation of atheists to propagate in Malaysia, whom we know would have been originally Muslims (as in the case with Malays), isn’t it going against the very notion that we believe in as Muslims?
When we see someone leaving Islam and proclaiming he or she an atheist, instead of trying our utmost effort in bringing him or her back to Islam, why do we quickly choose the path to ‘protect their right’ to remain out of Islam?
Has it become politically incorrect to say to such people that God does exist, and to argue that there is ultimately a Higher Being who governs the universe? And that there is a Judgment Day where all of our deeds and misdeeds will be held accountable?
I leave these questions to my Muslim brothers and sisters to answer in staying true to the Islamic spirit and the real meaning of rahmatan lil ‘alamin.
All in all, one thing remains clear: Atheism has no place in our Constitution, nor should its right to be practiced championed by Muslims and people of religion.
Dr Hazlin Chong
PEACE Islamic Da’wah Centre of Excellence