PARTI Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Member of Parliament (MP) Zulkifli Noordin recently tried to move a series of constitutional amendments that would elevate the status of Islam in the country’s administration.
We know what he is asking for, but do we actually know why he is doing it? The Nut Graph spoke exclusively to Zulkifli via e-mail, and he tells us what his motivations and strategies are.
TNG: What are the chances of your motions — to amend the Federal Constitution — being heard in Parliament? According to PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah, it is virtually impossible for opposition MPs to have their motions heard in Parliament because of Standing Order 15(1) which privileges government business.
Zulkifli Noordin: I agree that it is almost impossible for a private member’s motion to be tabled and debated in Parliament because of Standing Order 15(1). However, there is always that slim chance that it may see the light, especially if anyone in government, especially a minister, picks it up.
I’m betting on those chances, hoping maybe any of the ministers will pick up on the motion. As the saying goes, you stand a better chance of getting a fish if you cast your line. So why not give it a try?
Why have you brought these motions forward, especially the ones to amend the Federal Constitution to elevate the status of Islam?
It is my opinion that based on the principle of freedom of religion as enshrined in Article 11(1), every person has the right to profess and practise his or her religion.
As you are aware, Islam is not a religion concentrating only on ritualistic practices. It is a religion that encompasses a whole body of jurisprudence that covers the entire aspect of life. From the simple issue of what to wear, to what to eat, how to govern, the economy, business, law, and so on.
So I believe Muslims should be allowed to profess and practise their religion to the fullest. And anything that prevents a Muslim from doing so should be removed, especially legal barriers. For example, a Muslim flight attendant with MAS or AirAsia should be allowed to cover herself, if she chooses to, in accordance with the Islamic dress code.
The same also applies to Muslims who commit crimes, for example, theft or murder and so on. Subjecting a Muslim to a non-Muslim law will be very unfair to him or her, unless he or she chooses to be subjected to that law.
If Muslims are tried based on Islamic law and jurisprudence, and then convicted or sentenced, that will not only serve as punishment in the world. It is also a means to relieve punishment in the hereafter as they have already been punished in accordance with Allah’s law in the worldly realm. A Muslim’s conviction or sentence in accordance with human-constructed laws will only serve as punishment to him or her in the worldly realm, but will not relieve him or her of punishment in the hereafter.
That’s the reason, you see, that I have proposed almost 20 motions that are inter-related.
One thing I wish to highlight is that none of the motions will subject non-Muslims to Islamic law or jurisprudence. It only covers, and only subjects, Muslims to Islamic laws and jurisprudence.
If the motions do get a chance to be debated, do you think you will be able to get the requisite support from the floor to pass the amendment?
I believe in this verse: “If you assist Allah in His religion, He will assist you and put you in a firm position.” (Al Quran, Surah Muhammad, Verse 30)
There are 132 Muslim MPs in Parliament currently. Any Muslim worth his or her salt would definitely support the motions that I’ve put forward.
Sivarasa says this is merely your personal view and not the party’s stand. I’d like to clarify with you whether or not the party, or Pakatan Rakyat, is supporting you in your motions?
I agree that those motions are my personal crusade. I don’t even know what is PKR’s stand on this issue. I do wish that PKR would make a very clear stand.
I must say, though, that there is an understanding among the Pakatan Rakyat [about] respect for freedom of religion and for Islam being the official religion. But on the general stand of PKR that every person has the right to profess and practise his or her religion, I believe the stand that I take does not contradict the general stand. I am merely upholding the right of Muslims to profess and practise their religion.
(Image source: zul4kulim.blogspot.com)
Will you keep pursuing these motions, even if they are not given the chance to be debated this time around?
Definitely! It is my personal jihad to uphold the right of Muslims to profess and practise their Islamic religion. And I will do so to my last breath. If I have to die in doing so, then I’m more than happy to give my soul for that struggle. It is my jihad to do so.
The big question that Muslims are asking now is, can we have our lives as Muslims back? And I’m nothing but an instrument of Allah to achieve just that — we Muslims just want our lives back.