By Jeswan Kaur
January 12, 2014
It is brutal how Malaysians who once took such pride being children of a nation whose unity in diversity was her biggest asset are now openly tearing apart the very fabric that has kept Malaysia alive.
That religion has after 50 years of independence become an ‘issue’ is heartbreaking. However, what is more devastating is that it is the ruling Barisan Nasional government and the learned Muslim scholars who have embarked on a ‘cold war’ – all for the sake of proving a point to the non-Malays whom they continue to regard as ‘immigrants’ to this land.
How else does one make sense of the uncalled for outbursts by Muslim extremists and Ulema who are determined to deny the non-Malays their right to use ‘Allah’ in worshiping God, as the latter has been doing for many years.
When the Herald, a weekly publication of the Catholic church, was denied the right to refer to God as ‘Allah’, the subsequent chain of events were to reveal just how racist the federal government would turn out to be.
The Barisan Nasional administration was not willing to watch while the Herald continued to use ‘Allah’ in its writings after it was allowed to do so by the court in 2009.
The Najib Razak-government challenged the court verdict and won, not because Putrajaya was deserving of the victory but because it was a biased judgement with all three judges being Muslims.
That unfair court judgement was a letdown to not only the Herald and the Christian community but also to the non-Malays who all throughout their lives have known ‘Allah’ to be their God.
The battle to stake claim on ‘Allah’ has turned very ugly with the police recommending that the Herald editor Reverend Lawrence Andrew be charged with sedition because the latter had in a statement dated December 27 said that churches in Selangor would continue to use the word Allah in their Bahasa Malaysia masses.
To Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, the Catholic priest is ‘guilty’ for standing his ground. However, the scandalous Perak mufti, Harussani Zakaria is seen as a ‘beacon of righteousness’ never mind that Harussani had a week ago issued a fatwa or religious decree declaring it Halal (permissible) to spill the blood of the participants of an anti-price hike rally held on New Year’s Eve.
The Perak mufti had issued the edict based on the “bughah” concept which refers to an armed revolt by Muslims against a just ruler or government in accordance with Islamic law.
But unlike Rev Andrew who is being persecuted for being true to his faith, the Perak mufti seems to enjoy impunity to say as he pleases.
And no matter how much and how hard Rev Andrew tries telling the Muslims that the Christians too have the right to call their God ’Allah’, his plea for empathy continues to fall on deaf ears.
A shame that while one man of God is struggling to defend his religious rights, the other continues to misuse and manipulate religion for reasons best known to him.
Non-Malays and Religion
The January 2 incursion and confiscation of Bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) has been condemned by ‘conscientious’ Malaysians. Still, the Najib Razak-government continues to disregard public sentiments.
Now it is the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) that wants to defend the BSM bust by Jais. However, if Mais thinks its half-page, bordered press statement in an English daily yesterday would put matters to rest, it is very wrong.
Mais president Mohamad Adzib Mohd Isa justified the Jais foray citing complaints lodged by the public regarding the publication of the Al-Kitab, “wherein the name ‘Allah’ is in the Bible which if (it) is proven is an offence under Section 9 of the 1988 Enactment”.
Mais’ defence of the raid by Jais is unacceptable because the truth is no law has been breached by the Christian community. The excuse given by Mohamad Adzib to lend credulence to Jais’ storming of the BSM premises is bullocks – that the raid was to prevent the propagation of other religious doctrine or belief amongst the Muslims.
Interestingly, Mohamad Adzib also said that Jais had no intention of interfering in the rights and freedom of other religions to perform their practices.
But the raid on BSM was exactly that – denying the other religions their right to practice their faiths as was being done from generations to generations.
Even PAS Parit Buntar MP Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa is puzzled as to why Muslims were being depicted as being under threat
In a forum entitled “Allah issue and seizure of Bibles: Between the law and religious sensitivities”, organised by PAS on Friday night, Mujahid said:
“There are only 1.7 million Christians in Malaysia while 55% of the 28 million population are Muslims.
“If Christians are so capable of turning Malaysia into a Christian country, then I must learn this secret from them.”
Is Islam really under some form of threat or challenge, so much so that the police has refused to close its investigation papers on Rev Andrew?
Also, the liberty with which Jais raided and seized 300 copies of the Bible in BSM raid has poured scorn over the entire ‘Allah’ episode.
The non-Malays have every right to address their God as ‘Allah’ and it is not something they decided to do overnight. Why then is the BN government, the bigot politicians, Ulema and Muftis all refusing to listen to the truth that ‘Allah’ is not privy to them?
Why does the truth that the non-Malays too utter ‘Allah’ scare the Muslims? Why, just why, does the truth not set these real troublemakers free?
Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.