Roundtable Discussion On: “Is A Civil State Islamic? Reflecting on Politics and Society”
July 5, 2017


Date: Saturday, 5 August 2017
Time:  2 PM – 530 PM
Venue: Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Off Jalan Tun Razak, KL


Dr Heba Raof Ezzat

Dr Dzulkefky Ahmad, Dr Maszlee Malik, Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

Ehsan Shahwahid


Jointly organized by:
Islamic Renaissance Front and Penang Institute


If we are required to sincerely and truthfully evaluate the state of Islam and Politics in the Muslim societies, of whether we have progressed or regressed over the past few years, a straight-forward respond may sound rather too simplistic. Within this time period there have been fresh calls and movements for Muslim leadership for Sharia laws and an Islamic political system to be implemented. While at the same time there have been very minimal traces of any advancement of democratic rules, human rights and social justice in the Muslim world.

An ‘Islamic State’ is usually associated with exclusive leadership only by Muslims, implementation of punitive Sharia laws and re-establishment of an ‘Islamic’ political entity under the authority of a Khalifa. Such calls and movements have been growing even in moderate Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, even more so with the growing influence of ISIS in several spots in the Muslim countries. These situations serve as signs to how much have the ideals of an Islamic State are progressing in recent times.

However, it is also important for us to assess of how far are these popular ideals of an ‘Islamic State’ can be said to be civil? From another perspective, if we examine the ideals of a civil state which usually associated with the principles of democracy, human rights, individual liberties and equality, all of which are values being seen as propagated by the West, how far are these values can be said as to be Islamic, and should be the foundation principles of Muslim societies?

Reflecting on these questions, and the actual condition of Muslim societies related to Islam and Politics, this roundtable discussion intends to explore further on the topic, and shall lead towards an understanding on how should we face the political challenges towards a Civil State for the near future. In a global age where there are diasporic networks, neo-tribal identities and mercenaries’ wars, how can we re-visit our understanding of the modern state as well as the corrosion of its civil nature.



200-230:          Registration
230-240:          Opening speech by the Chairperson, Ehsan Shahwahid
240-250:          Welcoming speech by YB Ong Kian Ming, General Manager, Penang Institute, Kuala Lumpur
250-300:          Speech by moderator Ehsan Shahwahid
300-345:          Presentation by Dr Heba Raof Ezzat
345-400:          Intervener I:  Dr Dzulkefky Ahmad
400-415:          Intervener II: Dr Maszlee Malik
415-430:          Intervener III: Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
430-530:          Discussion
530:                 Tea


Biographies of Presenter and Interveners

Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat graduated from Cairo University and taught at the political science department three courses of political theory and history of political thought for almost thirty years. She also was an affiliate professor at the American University in Cairo 2006-2013 where she taught courses on political Islam, contemporary Arab thought and political thought and theory. She was a visiting researcher then a visiting fellow at many distinguished academic institutions including University of Westminster , Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, University of Maastricht, and University of California – Berkeley, and London School of Economics. She published widely on classic and contemporary Islamic thought, issues of Globalization, women and Islam, and urban politics. She has also been active in the public sphere in Egypt, was a coordinator of many youth initiatives and is a public speaker and commentator. She is also a translator and a poet. Her latest publications include two books in Arabic: Towards a New Civility and The Political Imagination of Islamists. Her translation of Ziauddin Sardar’s book on Mecca into Arabic is due to appear in bookstores September 2017.


Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is the Strategy Director of Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH), an Islamist Democrat and former MP for Kuala Selangor. He was a trained Toxicologist from the Imperial College, UK. He has also authored Striving For Change (The Blindspot Series) and Najibnomics: Rahmat Atau Malapetaka?. Dr Dzulkefly was a former Director for PAS Research Center and an executive member for PAS. He is a prominent Islamist leader that promotes Islamist Democrat agenda even while in PAS before.


Dr Maszlee Malik is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. He obtained his Ph.D. in the UK in Political Science. Dr. Maszlee also taught at Durham University from 2008 – 2009. He was invited to be a guest speaker for SOAS summer school on ‘Political Islam’ for two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, Dr. Malik is also frequently invited as a guest speaker by many Malaysian media outlets to talk on the issues relating to Political Islam, Middle Eastern Politics, and Arab Spring. His research area is in Islamic jurisprudence, Contemporary Islamic Political Thoughts and Movements and Good Governance. He has also authored Good Governance Civil Society & Islam (2015), Foundations of Islamic Governance: A Southeast Asian Perspective (2016), and Generasi Kedua Politikal Islam: Wacana Baru Gerakan Islam (2016).


Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa is a Chairman and Director of the Islamic Renaissance Front, an intellectual movement and think-tank promoting reform and renewal in Islam, democracy, good governance and human rights. He is actively involved in civil society and the emerging discourse on post-Islamism. He is also involved in interfaith dialogues especially with regard to Christian-Muslim relations and intra-faith dialogues especially the Shi’i-Sunni discourse. He has presented papers at numerous international meetings including the latest at the Symposium on Islam and Contemporary Issues in Tehran, Iran, in March 2017.  Professionally, he is an academic at the School of Medicine, Monash University Malaysia and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. He is currently a Commissioner at the Commonwealth Initiative for the Freedom of Religion or Belief (CIFoRB) based in Westminster, London and also a Director at the Centre for Combating Corruption and Cronyism (C4). He was a former Deputy-Chairperson of BERSIH 2.0, a strong civil movement working for a free and fair election.

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