Is the Malaysian Syariah Index perceived as credible?


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Is the Malaysian Syariah Index perceived as credible?
By Zan Azlee

I find the Malaysian Syariah Index that has been implemented by the government to scientifically measure how syariah compliant the country is to be very interesting.

In the history of Islam, there is the concept of Maqasid Al-Syarah, which is known as the objectives of Syariah, and it can be broken down into five:

– Religion or faith
– Life
– Lineage
– Intellect
– Property and wealth

In the Malaysian context, it measures the index from these several areas (in order to cover the five broader areas above):

– Islamic law: 87.19%
– Education: 82.5%
– Politic: 79.19%
– Health: 73.92%
– Social: 68.52%
– Culture: 66.47%
– Economy: 65.27%
– Infrastructure and environment: 62.31%

The Syariah Index was announced last month in February and the intention was to see if the country is achieving the objectives of the Syariah.

I have no objections of wanting to be Syariah compliant. The important thing is that it shouldn’t infringe on the basic rights of the Malaysian people, both non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

The widespread ‘Islamisation’ that has been going on in Malaysia seems to be very restrictive and close-minded that it isn’t just considered fundamentalism, it’s just backwards.

Interpretations of different practices become so strict that it doesn’t even make sense for anyone living in this day and age. And to think that Islam is suppose to be a religion of all time.

But, I’ve been warned that I shouldn’t talk about Islam if I don’t have a deep understanding of it. How these people actually know about the level of my understanding of Islam beats me!

And hence, that is just an example of the strict ‘Islamisation’ that is happening in the country. But it’s okay. I don’t want to discuss the religion per say in this particular article.

What I do want to discuss is the legitimacy of the Syariah Index that is being implemented because it seems that Malaysia, scoring 75.42 percent, is quite there at the top.

It would be very impressive if the index study was conducted by an independent third party. Unfortunately, this one is initiated by the Malaysian government themselves.

Yes, the team consists of about 130 experts from local universities, but it is led by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department or JAKIM, which is a government agency.

The issue here really is perception. Everyone with common sense knows that perception plays a key role in persuading a public that is already so sceptical.

In my opinion, with all the negative perception that is surrounding the current administration, something like the Malaysian Syariah Index is just going to invite ridicule and condemnation.

[This article originally appeared at English.AstroAwani.Com]

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