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Book ban: The 'two faces' of Islam Hadhari

Reader comment on item: John Esposito and Karen Armstrong – Banned in Malaysia
in response to reader comment: Malaysia is not yet dangerous

Submitted by Ismail Che Yahaya (Malaysia), Feb 11, 2008 at 14:51

Book ban: The two faces of Islam Hadhari
By: Ismail Che Yahaya (Malaysiakini.com, Feb 11, 2008)

On Jan 29, the Malaysian government banned 11 books, one of them The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism authored by Stephen Schwartz, a Muslim convert.

Schwartz suggested that ‘Saudi-Wahhabi agents' in Malaysia had become alarmed by the publication of the book in Bahasa Indonesia, Dua Wajah Islam.

In a protest statement against the Malaysian ban, Schwartz commented: ‘It's contemptible and, frankly, reveals the backward-looking attitudes of authorities in Malaysia, a country which prides itself on its alleged modernisation as an economic tiger.

‘In reality, books cannot be banned today. They are smuggled, pirated – especially in Southeast Asia – downloaded, and, in the case of my book, can easily be imported from Indonesia and read by Malaysians who do not know English'.

Regardless of Schwartz's wild guess, book banning in Malaysia of late has gone beyond ‘Saudi- Wahhabi agents'.

Before The Two Faces of Islam, the Internal Security Ministry banned four titles on religious fundamentalism over two years.

They are: Islamic Fundamentalism since 1945 (banned 07 June 2007), Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The Limits of Postmodern Analysis (26 April 2007), The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (8 June 2006) and, A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and The Emergence of Islamism (8 June 2006).

See the ministry's full list of banned books here.

Islamic fundamentalism is a broad phenomenon, not solely engineered or funded by the Saudi regime. In fact, fundamentalism is no longer a Christian or Muslim political landscape. It has gained currency and inflicted other religions too.

Karen Armstrong, in her banned book, describes religious fundamentalism of the 20th century as a response to modern, liberal, materialist globalised civilization. She writes: ‘The West has developed an entirely unprecedented and wholly different type of civilisation, so the religious response to it has been unique'.

Religious fundamentalists, she elaborates, ‘have absorbed the pragmatic rationalism of modernity, and, under the guidance of their charismatic leaders, they refine these ‘fundamentals' so as to create an ideology that provides the faithful with a plan of action'.

Therefore, it is of no surprise that even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions.

That is why I find the banning is so overwhelming in that it shows the ‘two faces' of Islam Hadhari as formulated by our present prime minister. On one hand, he tries to promote more tolerant, progressive and moderate Islam but on the other hand, his government has time and again banned such scholarly books on fundamentalism.

Does it mean our government is protecting and nurturing a fundamentalist mindset among Muslims? Has his Islam Hadhari project been infiltrated by fundamentalist elements in his bureaucracy?

Source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/77904


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (14) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Karen Armstrong is a wannabe historian [66 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 13, 2008 18:58120158
Don't Give a Toot to the Malaysian Internal Security Ministry [200 words]Marco HiirataFeb 13, 2008 12:51120113
full List of books banned [253 words]Ipnat DrosotFeb 9, 2008 11:48119849
Malaysia looks to be a very dangerous and obscure nation [117 words]YnnatchkahFeb 2, 2008 17:18119469
Malaysia is not yet dangerous [202 words]John BastileFeb 3, 2008 00:59119469
Book ban: The 'two faces' of Islam Hadhari [460 words]Ismail Che YahayaFeb 11, 2008 14:51119469
Dear Messrs. Ynnatchkah & Bastile [680 words]Marco HiirataFeb 13, 2008 21:42119469
nurturing prejudices [157 words]bibliobibuliMar 10, 2008 00:26119469
You replied against prejudices with your own prejudices [547 words]John BastileApr 8, 2008 21:58119469
Well deserved [14 words]VijayFeb 1, 2008 04:39119427
Are you sure they banned a book ? ? ? [211 words]Phil GreendJul 17, 2007 15:32103862
Research Armstrong's doctrine before banning [311 words]Tommy PetersJun 28, 2007 21:28101906
Is there a reason? [38 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
MuslihoonJul 16, 2006 04:1649779
Well deserved [47 words]VijayJul 14, 2006 06:0049621

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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