Secular or Islamic? This is in the mind of every Malaysians since the controversial proclamations by our UMNO leaders. People are confused, some would just couldn’t be bothered but for me, I’m a defender of secularism not because I’m anti Islam but it is an agreed format of governing
As such I must give definition what is a secular state, and why Secular was chosen as a form of understanding in this country. A secular state is where a state or country that is neutral in matters of religion, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religious beliefs or practices. It is not anti God or anti religion as claimed by some quarters notably UMNO, in which the state officially opposes all religious beliefs and practices. In some secular states in the world, there can be a huge majority religion in the population e.g.
A secular state also treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and does not give preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion over other religions. In
A secular state is defined as protecting freedom of religion as pursued in state secularism. It is also described to be a state that prevents religion from interfering with state affairs, and prevents religion from controlling government or exercising political power. Laws protect each individual including religious minorities from discrimination on the basis of religion.
Not all legally secular states are completely secular in practice. In
‘... we have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law, where morality not accepted by the law is not enjoying the status of the law … Until the law and the system is changed, we have no choice but to proceed as we are doing today.’
Malik Imitiaz in one of his article “Artcle 11 Setting The Record Straight” states that “We must not confuse the crucial distinction between a country in which the majority are Muslims, and is thus an Islamic country, and a country in which the supreme law is the Syariah, an Islamic state. In Che Omar Che Soh, the Supreme Court stated:
‘If it had been otherwise (an Islamic State), there would have been another provision in the Constitution which would have the effect that any law contrary to the injunction of Islam will be void. Far from making such provision, (the Constitution), on the other hand, purposely preserves the continuity of secular law prior to the Constitution …’
Unless of course the Constitution in itself declared that Malaysia is an Islamic State like what was written in the Pakistan Constitution which had the provision that which declared Syariah law as the supreme law of this land. In