Wednesday, January 30, 2008

11 More Books on Islam Banned

11 more books on Islam have been banned by the Internal Security Ministry (KDN) the Star reports today. The ban order was gazetted on Jan 17 under Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

The titles are listed below. And so you can make up your own mind about whether these books should have been taken out of circulation or not, and look for patterns, I've put in links and footnotes wherever I could find information. (I found nothing at all on the Bahasa Malaysia books.)
Secrets Of The Koran: Revealing Insights Into Islam’s Holy Book by Don Richardson (1)

Qur’an and Women Rereading the Secrets Text From Woman’s Perspective by Amina Wadud (2)

The Two Faces Of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism by Stephen Schwartz (3)

Woman In Islam by Margaret Speaker-Yuan

Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About The World’s Fastest Growing Faith by Robert Spencer (4)

What Makes Me A Muslim by Catherine M. Petrina

The Importance Of Muhammad by Marilyn Tower Oliver

Faiths - Islam : Worship, Festival and Ceremonies From Around The World by Trevor Barnes

Amalan Kemurahan Rezeki by Lifa Karimah (I can find no information on this one.)

Rahsia Jalan Yang Lurus and

Islam & Pluralisme by Al-Mustaqeem Mahmood Radhi
(1) Don Richardson is a Christian missionary who accuses writers like Karen Armstrong (some books by whom are also banned) of "whitewashing" the reality about Islam.

(2) Amina Wadud is an African- American professor of Islamic studies and has won awards for her work.

In 2005, (according to Ali Eteraz on the Guardian website) :
Wadud led the first publicly-held, mixed gender, Friday sermon and prayer in history. Wadud's book and leadership opened the door to the first feminist translation of the Quran, by a woman named Laleh Bakhtiar, which removed the permission for wife-beating from the translation by choosing one of the alternative meanings of an Arabic verb. It would appear that Wadud had quite an impact.
(3) Stephen Swartz is interviewed here about his book on Saudi fundamentalism, and a review appears on the website.

(4) More about Robert Spencer here and on Youtube.

If there's no space for intelligent public debate on these bannings, at least let me give it a little room in the comments to this post. (Please let me stress that word again - intelligent - no slagging off allowed!)


Fathi Aris Omar has put up a very useful list of links about this (and other incidents of) book banning.

And I thought this comment from Zaharan Razak particularly apt:
How are we going to grow up wise and worldly if we are prevented from knowing what the "other side" is saying? How are we going to grow up big and strong and take our place on the world stage if we don't know our weaknesses?


Amir Muhammad said...

I own the last book! It's not very thick. Will get the writer's permission to upload it as a PDF.

Anonymous said...

the pattern is...all books are most likely critical in some ways toward islam, so kdn thinks..oh no! these will make muslims kaffir! how stupid of them.'s the thing! KDN has NO right to ban these books. it'll not make any thinking muslim turning apostate but perhaps may even get the rest thinking a bit and make them more tolerant towards others with different points of view...

look ...personal experience;

i've read quite a few 'orientalists' books critical of islam , i've attended pope's mass in st peter's square, i've attended christian service once, i've visited the church of holy sepulche in jerusalem, pay my respect to the wailing wall, visited countless buddhist temples in thailand, myanma vietnam, china , tibet etc.. , i've 'prayed' in bali hindu temples, i've been potooed in birla mandir in delhi, i've attended thaipusams a couple of times, i've prayed in the bahai 'lotus' temple...

perhaps the only 'holy' place that i've never pay my homage yet is bodh gaya ( on my to do list) ...and of course have gone to mecca a couple of times too...and i have quite a few books on bahaism, christianity, hindus and buddhism and have stolen a few bibles, hindu holy book and buddhist books from hotels short i'm exposed to a lot of non muslim views...

but the point of this rant is, it doesn't make me the slightest bit less of a muslim...
in fact truth be told...i think i'm a bloody muslim extremist now...(thanks to george w)..

ah pong

Bookwormz said...

I wonder how the authors of the banned book feel when their books are banned. And what makes them want ot write a controversial book at the first place, since they need to pour in so much of time, sweat, energy and most of the time, blood, and not to mention criticism?

Anonymous said...

Phew, I can sleep so much better now...

Ted Mahsun said...

Muslims are easily startled, but they'll soon be back... and in greater numbers!

(sorry, I couldn't resist a star wars-themed non sequitur)

Anonymous said...

A lot of things, Rani. Some people like to hear themselves speak. Some of them seek credibility. You see, if you have an opinion published, it gains credibility (at least in their eyes.) That's the way some people build their worldviews, by constantly repeating themselves. They think if you say something to yourself often enough, it becomes true. A book just saves them the effort, plus it's seen as an endorsement of one's opinion. Like Terry Pratchett wrote in "Interesting Times", fate rolls strange dice on the green baize table of life.

bibliobibuli said...

ah pong - KDN has NO right to ban these books. legal right, it has, yes

but moral right ... ah there lies the debate.

ideas don't corrupt the person who has the education and intelligence to refute them.

rani - maybe we should ask them?

but i have to say some of these books i don't think i'd personally want to pick up esp the ones hyperventilating about islam. but i am really curious about amina wadud after reading this and want to get hold of her books.

Anonymous said...

Well if you can get in touch with her, somehow, you can get it put on the Net. If they're really serious about the message they won't care that it doesn't make money right ?

Amir Muhammad said...

Most of those writers in the list write for an international audience and, Malaysians being the unvoracious readers that we are, our nation would have constituted maybe only 1% of their sales. So I doubt they would lose any sleep over lost revenue; in fact, once the word leaks out, more people would actually try to get their mitts on the books now.

Amina is certainly interesting! She used to teach at UIA. But something halal then may not be halal forever.

Al-Mustaqeem doesn't mind putting his book online, but to expect all writers to be so 'sporting' actually is to encourage a climate of economic censorship, no? If censors make their living by censoring (and banning), this doesn't mean that writers have to then cease making a living by writing.

Anonymous said...

i'd like to suggest one more catergory of books to be banned by KDN.

any book with the word HADARI in it's title should definitely be banned.
this hadari thing is confusing a lot of muslims here...

Anonymous said...

I personally wouldn't mind reading, buying, endorsing all the book in the list. I mean all of the book, has its own separate target audience that will appreciate the book from many different levels. If some of the written words stung you, then well, that happens. But banning the book doesn't help at all in encouraging Muslims to face the reality of the information age.

I don't know. I tend to blame the 'culture' of 'all-thinga-are-sensitive' more than anything.

I know there are many more intelligent mature Muslims out there who would objct to all these bannings too. They just tend to be more..quiet. Hence, that's why they are non-controversial.

Glenda Larke said...

I have just bought (in M'sia) and read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel" -which would definitely be banned if anyone from KDN ever read it, as it is about one Muslim woman's journey to apostasy. Basically she changes from a sincere Hijab-clad teenager to an atheist trying to close Muslim schools in Holland, because almost the only brand of Islam she has met with on her journey through life is one which is brutal, cruel, violent and intolerant.

Even though Malaysian "Islamic" practice is nowhere near as awful, These things need to be read and discussed MY MUSLIMS in order to change things for the better. Being critical of Islam as it is practised is not criticism of Allah or faith. And until Muslims learn to look at criticism as a means to improve, instead of something aimed necessarily at bringing them down, I think there will be a lot more women like Ayaan - who will opt out - in their hearts, if not publically.

bibliobibuli said...

this is what mystifies, isn't it? why some books get seized and not others. there's no discussion, no debate, no accountability as far as i can see.

all good books contain ideas and ideas are dangerous. ban 'em all, why not. let's go live in caves and draw animals on the walls.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Ms Clarke brought up Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Of course any sane person will not take her version of things as you put it "almost the only brand of Islam she has met with on her journey through life is one which is brutal, cruel, violent and intolerant" and conclude that this is what Islam and muslims is all about.

She is just on the other extreme. She worked with the late Theo Van Gogh, she even lied to get citizenship in Holland.

'Westerners' just love people like theese - these kind of ex-muslims. Tasleema Nasrin is another one.

I once watched this woman's interview on TV in NYC last year. and she spouted the most stupid things about Islam.
It's rather sad.

Ah Pong

bibliobibuli said...

ah pong - there's an article that should be written here i think if i can get my lazy head round it

Glenda Larke said...

Sigh. That should read "BY MUSLIMS" in my last post.

Yes, exactly, Ah Pong. We should be reading things, not banning them. Only then can we counteract the inaccurate. Only then can Muslims look seriously at what is being done in the name of Islam, and question it. Is such-and-such Islamic or cultural or just plain hate and intolerance? If so, what can we do to change things? (Of course, we can say exactly the same thing about every other faith too!)

Do we really want the things that Ayaan or Tasleema talk about to be part of Islamic life and culture? You may not like either of those women, but the horrible things they write about do occur - and are done in the name of Islam. We need to know, so we can question who is teaching this rubbish and calling it Islam. We need to be informed to make a better world.

Banning books doesn't solve anything. It just keeps us in the dark, and treats us like idiots.

(And it's Larke, not Clarke)

Anonymous said...

My apology Ms Larke for the wrong spelling of your name.

One little thing;

My concern here is that we are giving undue WEIGHT to what women like hirsi ali and tasleema are saying . It is almost like the westerners are positively gloating and rubbing their hands in glee whenever books of the kind these wretched women wrote are published.

No sane person will consider the writings of these stupid women as the ultimate truth of the state of Islamic community.

It's true as you say ..."We need to know, so we can question who is teaching this rubbish and calling it Islam. We need to be informed to make a better world..."

And the first place to get objective knowledge is definitely not from these kind of women (and men).

ah pong

Anonymous said...

you may want to read this...

Anonymous said...

'Women in Islam' and 'Qur'an and Woman' look interesting - thanks to the Malaysian government, I'm aware of these books ;)

fathi aris omar said...

We are planning to protest & trying to start the debate.

But the awareness?

See my blog Patah Balek

bibliobibuli said...

i am really glad. and i have put the link to your list to your blog in this post.

Anonymous said...

Oh i meant to say ...with my 1.04 pm feb 1 comment...

Here's an excerpt from lil ms D Independent news...

"The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed."

Like most of you I'm disturbed by this kind of news. Another recent example is of that saudi woman who reported she was raped but in the end was sentenced to some whipping for her effort. And there are a few others.

And all these news that we heard from the normal 'western' media gets everybody worked up and exclaimed how evil and intolerant these Islamic countries are and by extension how bad Islam is.

oh, another plum one. Those stupid korean do gooders (and Christian evangalists) that were abducted and in the end one of them was beheaded by the Taliban. That's another interesting one.

What virtually all of us do not do is to go a bit deeper and really understand what the real issue is. Try to read the other side's version of things.

And in this recent Afghan blasphemy news I'm sure there are certainly stronger reasons that is more than meets the eye here. Just like that story about the raped saudi woman.

It's too involved to discuss this here but I think for those who are quick to find faults with 'Islam' please also try and be more objective and try to search and read the other point of view.

One last example to illustrate my point.

In Ahmad Rashid's "Taliban" he described a scene where thousands of afghans came to the the recently completed stadium to watch an execution. The man was convicted for stealing a bottle of medicine and in the ensuing squable with the owner of the shop he shot him dead.

I can see the 'Independent newspaper' article on this...Taliban marks the opening of a new stadium by executing a medicine thief watched by ten thousand cheering spectators...

but actual situation is this, the man was tried by high court, the appeal court and only then sentenced. Not only that, The Taliban representative spent 1 hour giving a speech in the stadium and made an appeal to the relatives of the convicted man to forgive and release him and get the 'blood money' instead but in the end all the 20 relatives present said NO and one of them carried out the execution with a kalashnikov . three bullets to the chest.

ah pong

bibliobibuli said...

agree with you about the way the western media seizes these examples and uses them to make generalisations to bash all muslims over the head with.

but face it. these things are happening (they aren't fairy stories or invented) and are carried out in the name of islam (no matter how misguidedly), and i feel that even a single isolated incident should be condemned.

i was very upset to hear that women were used as suicide bombers to kill innocent people in markets in iraq. you can bet your bottom-dollar that that was an action carried out in the name of islam. (though of course it is sectarian and political too).

this is a whole big issue as i said before. greenbottle wrote a nice piece on his blog some time back which i should try to find and link to. and i was asked to write and article but haven't actually done it yet. maybe you will push my lazy self into it!

Anonymous said...

What upsets me is that the government decides what kind of Islam its citizens should have. Islam in this country has become very political with 2 parties slogging it out as to who is more Islamic in order to win the Muslim vote. If they really were Islamic, the Bumi policy and ISA would go for a start.
The government continues to treat us like children deciding what we can and cannot read.
To me it does not matter whether the books are nonsensical or contraversial. What matters is that I have been denied my right to decide.

Paul Moloney said...

And what makes them want ot write a controversial book at the first place, since they need to pour in so much of time, sweat, energy and most of the time, blood, and not to mention criticism?.

As already mentioned, I doubt most writers sit down in front of their PC or typewriter and say to themselves "Today, I'm going to write something controversial". Especially the writers of Spongebob Squarepants.

Ah Pong, your plea to be objective about Islam is a good thing; however, it seems to be something you find hard to yourself, what with condemning that Saudi woman with innuendo such as "something more than meets the eye here".


Walski69 said...

Ah yes... the Infernal Ministry of Insecure Internals... more specifically, one division within it, which is the Quranic Texts Division (or something to that effect).

Really, we have, on the one hand, political rhetoric calling upon Malaysians to think more critically, and on the other - actually, same hand - ban whatever books that ONE damn department within ONE infernal ministry deems unsuitable for the population.

We truly are living in a communistic-wannabe regime...

Okay, cynicism aside... there is indeed a move to allow one, and only one rigid interpetation of Islam, and that's the interpretation that the Government allows (whatever the heck that is). The track record has been to ban:
1) Books that touch on feminist issues within Islam, particularly those that promote ideas contrary to conventional thinking
2) Books that try to discuss Islam from different (albeit authocratically unacceptable) perspectives
3) Books that suggest any reintepretation of Islamic scripture, in line with the times

Example, "Hadith: A Reintepretation" by Kassim Ahmad, banned because it throws negative light on the ulama's disregard for the Quran, rather relying on the Hadith and opinions of classical scholars (opinions which were modern 10 centuries ago) as sources of Islamic jurisprudence.

Juxtapose this against the age-old battle between UMNO and PAS for the Malay/Muslim mindshare... a stupid ummah (people) is a more easily controlled ummah. In order to keep the ummah in line, they need to be kept stupid (or at the very least not be allowed to exercise their intellect).

Angry words these are, I know, but nothing peeves me more than being told what I can, or cannot, read. And managing to translate this anger into writing, without the use of profanity is, to me, an achievement.

After all, God's command to Muhammad was READ. It wasn't 'READ only what the KDN allows you to read'.

Anonymous said...

Book ban: the two faces of Islam Hadhari
Ismail Che Yahaya (, Feb 11, 2008)

On Jan 29, the Malaysian government banned 11 books, one of them The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism authored by Stephen Schwartz, a Muslim convert.

Schwartz suggested that ‘Saudi-Wahhabi agents’ in Malaysia had become alarmed by the publication of the book in Bahasa Indonesia, Dua Wajah Islam.

In a protest statement against the Malaysian ban, Schwartz commented: ‘It’s contemptible and, frankly, reveals the backward-looking attitudes of authorities in Malaysia, a country which prides itself on its alleged modernisation as an economic tiger.

‘In reality, books cannot be banned today. They are smuggled, pirated – especially in Southeast Asia – downloaded, and, in the case of my book, can easily be imported from Indonesia and read by Malaysians who do not know English’.

Regardless of Schwartz’s wild guess, book banning in Malaysia of late has gone beyond ‘Saudi- Wahhabi agents’.

Before The Two Faces of Islam, the Internal Security Ministry banned four titles on religious fundamentalism over two years. They are: Islamic Fundamentalism since 1945 (banned on 7 June 2007), Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The Limits of Postmodern Analysis (26 April 2007), The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (8 June 2006) and, A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and The Emergence of Islamism (8 June 2006).

See the ministry's full list of banned books here.

Islamic fundamentalism is a broad phenomenon, not solely engineered or funded by the Saudi regime. In fact, fundamentalism is no longer a Christian or Muslim political landscape. It has gained currency and inflicted other religions too.

Karen Armstrong, in her banned book, describes religious fundamentalism of the 20th century as a response to modern, liberal, materialist globalised civilization. She writes: ‘The West has developed an entirely unprecedented and wholly different type of civilisation, so the religious response to it has been unique’.

Religious fundamentalists, she elaborates, ‘have absorbed the pragmatic rationalism of modernity, and, under the guidance of their charismatic leaders, they refine these ‘fundamentals’ so as to create an ideology that provides the faithful with a plan of action’.

Therefore, it is of no surprise that even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions.

That is why I find the banning is so overwhelming in that it shows the ‘two faces’ of Islam Hadhari as formulated by our present prime minister. On one hand, he tries to promote more tolerant, progressive and moderate Islam but on the other hand, his government has time and again banned such scholarly books on fundamentalism.

Does it mean our government is protecting and nurturing a fundamentalist mindset among Muslims? Has his Islam Hadhari project been infiltrated by fundamentalist elements in his bureaucracy?


bibliobibuli said...

walski - God's command to Muhammad was READ. It wasn't 'READ only what the KDN allows you to read'. very nicely said, and thanks

thanks a lot anon - grateful for you posting this

Anonymous said...


The rumor that Qur'an and Woman (first published IN Malaysia in 1992) is banned there started in 2004 after the controversy of the HIV/AIDS conference. I think you should check your sources before continuing to perpetuate this myth.

The book IS not and NEVER was banned in Malaysia.

amina wadud

bibliobibuli said...

sorry the link to bernama (official news agency) was broken, do check it.

the govt. did indeed make the announcement that your book is banned and i sincerely hope that you will strongly protest the decision. no books should be banned and we are fighting that corner.

in reality, malaysians can usually find ways to obtain banned books and demand for them is often driven up by banning.

i looked just now for the link to banned book lists on the ministry website but all the lists which were online have been taken down now it seems - maybe they don't want to be so transparent anymore?

you could contact them but they don't seem to ever reply to communications about banned books in my experience

bibliobibuli said...

oh have discovered you know have to log in to access the lists which means that ordinary folks no longer have access ...

bibliobibuli said...

btw amina, the fact that your book was available here from 1992 and is only now banned. other titles have been banned after being available for much longer including one that had been around for 30 years