Recently, deviant teaching has become a religious crime because it has been associated with extremist groups promoting violence and killing people in the name of Islam. This paper discusses the importance of forensic linguistics in detecting religious deviant teaching in Malaysia, having the objectives of (1) identifying a text’s features that can be used as evidence when detecting deviant teaching, and (2) describing the interpretation of meanings given by the leader of the deviant group. The discussion of forensic linguistics is based on a religious discourse analysis approach proposed by Nordin (
Keywords: Forensic linguisticsreligious discourse analysislanguage and religion
Recently, deviant teaching has become a religious crime because it has been associated with extremist groups promoting violence and killing people in the name of Islam. To prevent a religion from being misunderstood and acted upon erroneously by deviant adherents, it is important to have various mechanisms to detect all aspects of the deviant spreading of a religion, including forensic linguistics.
This paper discusses the importance of forensic linguistics in detecting religious deviant teaching in Malaysia, having the objectives of (1) identifying a text’s features that can be used as evidence when detecting deviant teaching, and (2) describing the interpretation of meanings given by the leader of the deviant group.
The discussion of forensic linguistics is based on a religious discourse analysis approach proposed by Nordin (2015). This approach involves analyzing the structure of a written or spoken utterance. The data used in thediscussionrelate to Islamic keywords in the Malay language relating to Muslim beliefs in Malaysia. The words are selected from two religious decisions made by two fatwa committees of the state council for Islamic religious affairs in relation to two issues of the Islamic faith. The issues are
Deviant teaching in Malaysia
In the study of religion, deviant teaching is referred as uncommon religious practice. It departs from usual or accepted standards of system of belief, ritual and religious behaviour. Hence, deviant teaching is associated with wrongly religious understanding and practice. It is a threat for survival of religion. Every single religion from monotheistic religions with holy texts and messengers to polytheistic religions without any solid sources has its own deviant practice. For instance, although Islam is a perfected and bestowed religion as confirmed by Allah (Quran 5: 3), it is also exposed to uncommon religious understanding and practice.
As the study focuses on Islam, this paper emphasizes on deviant teaching of Islam in Malaysia.Islam is a federal religion of Malaysia. According to data of the Department of Statistics of Malaysia (2015), Islam is the religion that has the highest number of adherents in the country: that is, 61.3%, followed by Buddhism (19.8%), Christianity (9.2%), Hinduism (6.3%), Confucianism and Taoism (1.3%), and other religions (2.1%).
Generally, deviant teaching in Islam is not a new phenomenon. It emerged after the death of Prophet Muhammad and after the spreading of Islam outside of the Madinah until nowadays. On one hand, there are various internal factors of the emergence of deviant teaching which can be associated to lack of true understanding of Islam (Mahmud, 1994), fanaticism (Hassan, 2014), seeking for popularity, money and power to control people (Jamil, 1997; Husin & Sa’ari, 2013). On the other hand, the external factors relate to in fluence of syncretism, secularism, pluralism, liberalism and so on (Awang, 2012; Amin, 2009).
In dealing with deviant teaching, various approaches have been applied either by the authorities in connection with the Muslims’ affairs or non-governmental organizations. The approaches involve the exposure of malpractice of deviant teaching (Ibrahim, 2010), religious decision toward deviant teaching (Alwi, 2007), and legal enforcement related to deviant teaching (Yusof, 2011).
The importance of forensic linguistics
Basically, forensic linguistics refers to the interconnections between language and the law in all of its forms. There are activities signal the main duties a forensic linguist can expect to perform (Simpson & Mayr, 2010):
Performing expert analysis and commentary on the language of legal documents, courts and prison;
Improving translation services in the court system;
Helping linguistic disadvantage produced by the legal process;
Providing forensic evidence that is based on professional academic knowledge of language and discourse;
Offering advice in legal drafting and interpreting, often with an emphasis on the use of ‘plain language’.
The importance of forensic linguistics can be seen clearly when many linguists are now recruited for court appearances as expert witnesses. Because of their subject knowledge and their professional standing, linguists are able to offer opinion which can count as evidence. They have been able to make genuine interventions in the outcome of trials (Simpson & Mayr, 2010).
Text as evidence
This part identifies a text’s features that can be used as evidence when detecting deviant teaching. There are the issues of
In this deviant teaching, the main reason of using
The Interpretation of Meanings
This part describes the interpretation of meanings given by the leader of the deviant group, which are
In common use, the word
The knowledge about the essence of God is different with the knowledge about the names and attributes of God. As shown in Table
Forensic linguistics plays an important role in detecting deviant teaching by dealing with the aspect of linguistics in deviant texts in order to identify the type of word used and the interpretation of meaning. In the paper, the aspect of linguistics like semantic, pragmatics and discourse analysis approach has been applied.
The results show that the main features of a text that can be used as evidence in detecting deviant teaching are sacred words; for instance,
The results also show that the interpretation of meaning given by the leader of a deviant group is distorted from its actual meaning as determined by religious authorities, namely the
This study was funded by Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) from the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia.
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22 August 2016
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Nordin, M. Z. F. (2016). Forensic Linguistics and the Detecting of Deviant Teaching in Malaysia. In & B. Mohamad (Ed.), Challenge of Ensuring Research Rigor in Soft Sciences, vol 14. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 275-280). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2016.08.39