PETALING JAYA: Vested-interest groups in the country have hijacked Islam for political gains, often going to the extreme against the moderate stance preached by the government of the day.
PAS national unity bureau chairman Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said the gathering organised by Malay-rights groups in Putrajaya on Sept 10 was an example of unscrupulous people exploiting religion for their own selfish motives.
He said this in response to calls for Muslims to "rise and defend" the word “Allah” against use by Christians to refer to their God, as the hearing of the government's appeal in the Allah case began.
"Islamically speaking, they are wrong, so we have to come out with a strong voice to say they're wrong.
"Who are you to protect Allah? He's the Saviour, He's the Giver, He's the Protector. Who are you? Are you saying that Allah needs protection?" said the Parit Buntar MP.
Hundreds of Muslims from right-wing Malay NGOs had gathered to "defend" their stake on the word Allah outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya that day.
The government is appealing a High Court ruling in 2009 which declared as unconstitutional the Home Minister's ban on the use of “Allah” by Catholic weekly Herald in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
On Aug 23, the Court of Appeal dismissed Archbishop Murphy Pakiam's application to strike out the government's appeal.
Mujahid described the actions of these NGOs as an "unnecessary provocation" which painted Islam in a bad light.
"But ultimately they are not protecting the word Allah. They are the victims of political animals who want their motive to be achieved at the cost of Islam," said Mujahid.
Mujahid, a strong advocate on the need for inter-faith dialogue, said a healthy debate is crucial towards fostering a better understanding between Muslims and Christians in Malaysia.
"Call them [non-believers] through wisdom, call them through debate, and they will witness the peace that is Allah," said Mujahid, who cited an answer to a question posed to the Prophet Muhammad SAW on engagement with the non-believers.
"I don't become a Christian just by going to the church, and they don't become Muslim just by hearing what I say.
"I always stress that if you want to see the sign of God, you don't have to see the mountain and the skies. You can just see the plurality that we have, cultural differences, all the colours, that is the sign of God," he said.
Mujahid also said he does not agree with the call to practise religious "tolerance" as it implies a forced acceptance of differing viewpoints.
This interview was jointly conducted by Alyaa Alhadjri and Cindi Loo.