Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas: Politicians not qualified to discuss theology

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Politicians should not be speaking about religion, particularly theology, as they are not qualified to discuss such things, Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas, former director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding (Ikim) said.

He said the political arena should not be the place where theological discussion takes place as its rightful place would be in the institutions of higher learning.

Politicians who regularly speak about religious issues are only doing so for their own political benefit, he added.

“The political arena is not the right place to discuss these things. The universities and institutions of higher learning are the right places,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

“That’s where you study theology. You want to argue about that, go argue at the universities, it’s not part of the political arena.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

“They (politicians) should realise that they are not qualified to discuss this. The executive should administer the country, not talk about theology.”

Syed Ali said politicians using religion as leverage to further their career is the reason why not just Islam, but other religions, have been misrepresented.

“Religion is not the problem, it’s the adherents of any particular religion who are the problem. They have misrepresented things. It’s not just a Malay or Muslim problem. All are to blame.

“They corrupt this knowledge for their own political benefit.”

Islamist party PAS most recently pushed for Malaysian whiskey Timah to be renamed as it was considered a nickname for Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

‘Syed Ali in a viral video described those arguing for it to be renamed, as rude, for concluding it was a shortened version of the Prophet’s daughter’s name.

PAS also called for the label bearing the image of Captain Speedy, who wears an Ethiopian skullcap and sports a long beard, apparently bearing resemblance to a Muslim man, to be changed.

Most recently, the PAS-led Kedah government banned the operations on four-digit (4D) outlets to curb gambling in the state.

PAS governments in Kelantan and Terengganu have also put in place similar decisions.

The ban on the operations on 4D outlets has drawn criticisms from members of the ruling coalition as well as the opposition.

Both the MIC and MCA criticised Kedah’s move as “illogical” while DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng labelled the move as an “extremist” policy by PAS.

“Why should one care what they say if their words contradict their actions?” Syed Ali questioned.

“All these political parties now have succumbed to racial ideology. This is against Islam.”

He also cautioned Malaysians from commenting on each other’s religion if they don’t understand them.

“How many of the Muslims understand the non-Muslims and vice versa?

“If the answer is not many, then how can the multitude think that they have the right to discuss something about which they know not? It’s illogical.

“And yet today those very people are talking about a religion many of them don’t truly understand.”

Commenting on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s “Keluarga Malaysia” motto, Syed Ali suspected it was nothing but a mere slogan.

“If you really want to have Keluarga Malaysia, then let’s see it from your actions.

“You just need to get down to work. You have to work for the benefit of everyone, not just a particular segment. It doesn’t matter what race or religion they are,” he said. – TMI