An inevitable clash of two great names of Islamic clerics are ready to get one over on each other at any times. The scoreline could somehow determine the future of this country & its people. Some quarters believe the views of the conservatives were not shared by the majority of ordinary Muslims, the moderates were just generally failing to speak out. Hence, that gave free reign to a small but vocal minority of conservatives, represented by the religious bureaucrats who are the guardians of Islam in each of Malaysia’s states.
Islamic cleric, Asri Zainul Abidin, 39-year-old, stands for liberal Muslims who are tussling with hardliners in this multi-ethnic nation. He is a top Islamic theologians and has a growing following of young, educated Muslims who are drawn by his moderate views. He considers the conservatives are ramping about their rhetoric and imposing harsh punishments in a bid to cement their power base. He accuses the conservatives who espouse “narrow views” were damaging the delicate multi-ethnic balance in Malaysia. He together with his scholars & supporters believe there is an attempt to muzzle liberal voices in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
“Now they just say punish, punish and punish. Religion is not about punishment. Right now we have to educate the people. It is not the right time to impose punishment,” Asri said.
Harussani Zakaria, the 71-year-old Mufti of Perak state and one of the leading voices of Islamic conservatism in Malaysia, a group who are pushing for a conservative form of Islam. They are in power now. They want to do what they have been taught without taking into account the environment around them. For them, the country and this world will be a safer place if we have Islamic laws. Therefore, Harussani describes Asri as a “strange person” who had become “arrogant” after his advanced studies in Islam. He warns that Asri’s teachings could cause dangerous rifts among Malaysian Muslims.
“Muslims will be divided. Malaysia will become like Pakistan. We will bomb each other,” he said, urging Asri to respect the version of Sunni Islam officially sanctioned in the country.