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Islam is not about turban and beard

By RAPHAEL WONG
newsdesk@thestar.com.my
 

PUTRAJAYA: Islam is not about turban and beard, said the Federal Court in dismissing an appeal by three pupils who were expelled from school nine years ago for refusing to take off their serban. 

PUTRAJAYA: Islam is not about turban and beard, said the Federal Court in dismissing an appeal by three pupils who were expelled from school nine years ago for refusing to take off their serban. 
– Justice Abdul Hamid Mohammad
The panel of three judges led by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Abdul Malek Ahmad was unanimous in their decision that not everything that Prophet Muhammad did – or the way he did it – is legally or religiously binding on Muslims, or even preferable and should be followed. 

In the panel were also Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Steve Shim and Federal Court judge Justice Abdul Hamid Mohammad. 

In his written judgment, Justice Abdul Hamid said he accepted that Prophet Muhammad wore a turban but added that the Prophet also rode a camel, built his house and mosque with clay walls and roof of date palm leaves and brushed his teeth with the twig of a plant. 

“Does that make riding a camel a more pious deed than travelling in an aeroplane?” he asked in the judgment read out by Federal Court deputy registrar Kamaruddin Kamsun  

“Is it preferable to build houses and mosques using the same materials used by the Prophet and the same architecture adopted by him during his time?”  

In 1997, SK Serting Felda headmistress Fatimah Sihi expelled Meor Atiqulrahman Ishak, then 13, and two other students – brothers Syed Abdullah Khaliq Aslamy Syed Ahmad Johari, then 11, and Syed Ahmad Syakur Dihya Syed Ahmad Johari, then 10 – for wearing the turban to school. 

On Aug 6, 1999, the High Court revoked the expulsion order, ruling that the headmistress had no power to expel the students for wearing the headgear. 

On Nov 22, 2004, the Court of Appeal set aside the High Court ruling.  

Justice Abdul Hamid said: “The question is whether the wearing of turbans by boys of the age of the appellants is a practice of the religion of Islam.  

“The pagan Arabs wore turbans and kept beards. It was quite natural for the Prophet, born into the community and growing up in it, to do the same.” 

He added that other people living in desert or semi-desert areas, such as the Afghans and Persians, also wear turbans. 

TO COURT: (From left) Meor Atiqulrahman, Syed Abdullah Khaliq Aslamy and Syed Ahmad Syakur Dihya heading to the Federal Court in Putrajaya hear the decision on their case.
“It is interesting to note that very few of our muftis and hardly any Syariah court judge wear the turban,” he said. 

Justice Abdul Hamid said the court could not ignore the education system that had helped boys and girls to grow up as Malaysians, and educationists should be given respect and credit when they formulate regulations for the general good of students and society. 

Describing the father of the two brothers as angkuh (arrogant), Justice Abdul Hamid said Syed Ahmad Johari Syed Mohamed wanted the three appellants to wear the turban to school because the serban was the “family’s emblem.” 

He said he could not accept the submission of the students’ counsel Mohamed Hanipa Maidin that the school regulation violated the provisions of the Constitution. 

Mohamed Hanipa had submitted that the appeal was related to the right to practise one’s religion and that includes every religious practice that has some basis or has become part of that religion, whether mandatory or otherwise. 

“To accept the learned counsel’s argument would mean that anybody has a right to do anything, at any time and anywhere he considers to be a practice of his religion, no matter how trivial,” said Justice Abdul Hamid. 

Outside the courtroom, Syed Ahmad Johari said he was upset because the school regulations emerged only after his sons started wearing the serban.  

“However, I respect the decision of this court,” he said. 

Syed Ahmad Johari, a public school teacher, who wears a serban and also dons a jubah (robe), said he would discuss with his lawyers the probability of taking the matter to the Syariah Court. 

“Although it is a defeat for me, it is a victory for Islam because this issue has been brought to the highest court of the land. At least, the public would be aware of it,” said the 48-year-old father of six sons aged nine to 18, who all came to court together with turbans.  

 

 


 

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