In order to build an impact on the secular forces sure to be articulate in the coming 2013 Periodic Review of human rights situations in Malaysia and the other countries selected for participation in this particular session, we must be clear enough within ourselves what the secular agenda really is, and we must design a suitable strategy for countering and enlightening this agenda to allow an uncorrupted adherence to our values within the community of nations however we find it at this moment in human history. The world as it is, is not unlike the Ummah in Madinah itself at the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), in which many religions and customs were represented and powerfully participant in the life of the Madinah community.
We cannot wait for some hypothetical “Islamization” of the entire world. Let us analyze the secular agenda as best we can, so that we can help the non-Muslims see their own biases a little more clearly and less emotionally in such gatherings as the coming 2013 Periodic Review.
One term that describes the ideology that is actually behind most western countries and their governments which have been separated from Islamic teachings is “situational ethics”. By this phrase, the secularists mean to leave the personal freedom for ethical choices and behavior in the hands of EACH person in EACH separate situation, and not deriving them from prophetic or universal, complete teachings, which Muslims call “Revelation“.
The United Nations is attempting to find a way and a language that disregards what different religious groups may mean by “Revelation”, in which different countries and ideologies in the world today can be brought together in a common struggle to safeguard all of human security. Is it in the interest of Muslim NGOs to join in this effort?
Muslim NGOs must realize that as soon as “Revelation” begins to lack recognition or credence, especially the “Revelation” of the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in the form of Al Qur’an, no consensus can be reached regarding public or legal adjudication of “LGBT” behavior and issues.
When westerners confront the Muslim dress code or the chronic poverty and failure of Muslim political and economic leadership, they may fear that their entire value-system is losing its effectiveness or at least under severe challenge (what is the IMF or World Bank doing to solve the problem of worldwide poverty?), even though the evidence of economic prosperity is still on their “side”, although may be beginning to decline in its own effectiveness and security. This is why miniscule details of Islamic social practice and law have become a major threat to the entire secular world wherever they appear, or are consigned to attentional oblivion, as in Yogyakarta tourist areas.
To be fair, one can observe that the local people’s own financial solvency and that of their families in Yogyakarta is derived almost totally from the funding of the money of the visiting young and mostly blond-haired, unmarried white tourist couples. Yogyans thereupon commonly shrug their shoulders and make no comment. A type of oblivion is also needed for their own survival in the modern world as it is at present!
A second consideration which the secular West holds dear is that nothing they do should be damaging or hurtful to others. Now this principle sounds very civil and humane, and may be agreeable to all in most situations, even though contradicted by American military behavior in some Muslim countries.
Nevertheless, Al Qur’an states clearly that sometimes Allah swt expects us to do something that we loathe to do, although it is for our own good, whether it is to remain married to an unpleasant person, to live in a majority non-Muslim state, or to travel rather than stay home. Or He may pit some people against others so that the Houses of Worship of the followers of other religions may not be destroyed. So even the absence of malice towards others is not a reliable guide to behavior, as the Americans are discovering to their humiliation in the world community.
A third term secularists use and assume as the basis for establishing the legal credibility of their variable value systems is “between consenting adults”. Aside from their phobic rejection of the process of Revelation, the secular western minds cannot comprehend (unless they label it “schizophrenia”) the existence of witnessing angels involved in “consent”. Situations are not always variable in what is right or wrong. “Consenting adults”, for example, are NEVER free of the witness of their personal angels who will know the rightness or wrongness of what they “consent” to do with each other or to others, whether the humans do or not.
If these three secular conditions are met, you have a “human right”. From the beginning, Malaysia’s challenge in the 2013 review will be that whether the secular western minds understand it or not, we must guide them SOMEHOW that we consider these three conditions insufficient to guard Allah’s servants from the danger of going to Hell after they die, quite aside from causing further mischief upon the face of the earth itself, a behavior which Allah swt clearly curses in Al Qur’an. Furthermore, in stating our position thus, we are speaking for well more than a billion other human beings who will testify thus to their belief in the truth of this Islamic creed.
So what is to be done? As to the Yogyakarta Principles which forms much of the basis for discussion of the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review in 2013, we can only marvel, in a way, at the cleverness of the high-IQ secular mind that can make deadly dangerous spiritual positions seem eminently legal, reasonable, persuasive, just, and tenable. But not to us. What the Yogyakarta Principles tries to do, and it must somehow be done, is to speak in a language of reconciliation between the two camps, secular and sacred.
An OIC Letter to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva tries to do this. There may be other attempts. This letter openly states that “freedom of gender identity” is not a matter of human rights. God does not make any mistakes. Our danger is that the Yogyakarta Principles is one which almost succeeds in establishing the secular standpoint, on which the UN Human Rights Periodic Review will be based, and it has been endorsed in many ways by various organizations throughout the world.
It is not, therefore, in the Muslim NGOs’ interests to support it, without denying discussion of collateral issues such as honor killings, death penalty, female genital mutilation, rights to privacy, as well as freedom from all forms of physical or legal harassment that are commonly triggered the world over by accusations of sexual deviation (whether of the “red herring” type or not). For example, does the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights require repeal of Malaysia’s anti-sodomy laws or not? Legal language acceptable to Muslims must be found to respond to this issue, which is bound to have a high priority in the UN Review talks.
Therefore, where we must move, leaving the Yogyakarta Principles behind is toward making the worldview of Islam and its articulation dominant between these two powerful camps struggling in the world today, in which nothing less than our continuing lives after death on this earth may be at stake.
Azril Mohd Amin is vice president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia