SIS: No Mention of Liberalism or Pluralism during Dialogue with the Selangor Fatwa Council

Sisters in Islam (SIS) stresses that religious liberalism and pluralism were not issues discussed during the dialogue between SIS and the Selangor Fatwa Council on 12 January 2012.

SIS is disappointed and puzzled by the Selangor Mufti’s statement as reported by the media on 7 November 2014, which cites our meeting with the Selangor Fatwa Council on 12 January 2012 as ‘evidence’ that they met with SIS on the issue of religious liberalism and pluralism.

On 14 December 2011, we received an invitation letter to a ‘Majlis Dialog’ (dialogue session). The invitation letter and the agenda made no mention of matters of faith. Moreover, the terms ‘religious liberalism and pluralism’ were not raised by any members of the Selangor Fatwa Council during the dialogue.

We briefed the Selangor Fatwa Council about SIS activities, including some of the cases that we handle through our Legal Clinic TeleNisa and the necessity for law reform. We also presented the findings from our latest study titled “The Impact of Polygamy on the Muslim Family in Malaysia”.

If the Selangor Fatwa Council and the Selangor Mufti’s Department wanted to discuss issues of religious liberalism and pluralism, it is incumbent upon them to explain to us their concerns on their understandings of religious liberalism and pluralism. Additionally, they should point out which specific aspects of SIS activities they believe reflect religious liberalism and pluralism.

If the Selangor Fatwa Council suspected that SIS subscribed to religious liberalism and pluralism, why did they not raise their concerns and make attempts to advise us at the time? Why is it that the fatwa declaring SIS as “sesat dan menyeleweng daripada ajaran Islam” was only issued two and a half (2 ½) years later?

If the outcomes from the “Majlis Dialog” led the Selangor Fatwa Council to issue a fatwa, did they not feel that SIS had a right to know about the serious allegations made against us, especially because of the severe implications? More importantly, what opportunities was SIS afforded as the accused to defend ourselves?

Curiously, after the fatwa was gazetted, it was not announced to the public. Shouldn’t the public be informed if SIS was considered deviating from the teachings of Islam?

We hope that this statement clarifies any misperceptions and helps the public understand the content of the dialogue between SIS and the Selangor Fatwa Council held on 12 January 2012.

Sisters in Islam
10 November 2014