Friday, October 25, 2013

Overseas Muslims defend M’sian Christians

Mariam Mokhtar

October 25, 2013
The Allah ruling is a mark of Mahathir’s legacy and is just a cheap political ploy to win Malay votes; but it has backfired.
It is ironic that Muslims from overseas are the ones who have come to the defence of Malaysian Christians, while the majority of the Muslims in Malaysia have chosen to say nothing.
The politically biased ruling by the Court of Appeal judges is shameful, but worse is the silence of the moderate Muslims who have given Islam a bad name.
For centuries, Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia, lived together in relative harmony. It has been historically established that Allah has been incorporated in the prayers of Christians and other faiths in the middle-east, long before Islam was brought to Malaysia. The indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak pray in Malay using the Malay-language Bible.
Instead of moving on and building a nation which can prosper from the combined efforts of its people, many Malays are being led astray by Umno Baru politicians.
Umno Baru Malays have the tiresome habit of looking backwards and searching for issues with which they can meddle. Today, it is the word Allah, but it won’t be long, before the list of prohibitions is lengthened.
One day, the average Muslim may be shocked to find that the way he practises his religion may not be to the satisfaction of Umno Baru leaders. Having kept silent for so long, he may have great difficulty disarming the Umno Baru politician he entrusted with excessive power.
Look at the difficulty that citizens of Libya and Egypt encountered when removing their corrupt Muslim leaders.
The defiance shown by Umno Baru politicians and the extremist NGOs, with whom they share close ties, is intentional. To other Muslims, they want to be seen as holier-than-thou, but non-Muslims see their attitude only as sabre rattling.
Umno Baru bigots are desperate to defend nothing more than the name, Allah, but their hypocrisy is exposed in the way they conduct their lives. Their defence of the name, is shallow.
Allah did not sanction the banning of bibles if Muslims are displeased. He did not claim that leaders should abuse the power entrusted in them, so the rich can get richer and the poor can only survive on handouts.
Allah did not tell Muslims they could snoop on their neighbour and alert the religious police to break down their neighbour’s door and humiliate him in public. He did not give the Malay man permission to commit polygamy without following a strict set of rules.
He did not allow child marriages so that teenagers will be officially “married” to spare the families the shame of illegitimate offspring.
A mark of Mahathir’s legacy
Allah did not instruct Muslims to snatch the bodies of non-Muslims and give them a Muslim burial. He did not say that non-Muslim children could be converted to Muslims without the permission of both parents.
He did not authorise the indiscriminate destruction of idols, statues or temples.
Allah told Muslims to seek knowledge and to scrutinise everything they are told, but these edicts are largely ignored by Malay extremists and Umno Baru politicians.
The roots of the Allah debacle can be traced to 1986, when the former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet issued a directive banning non-Muslims from using the terms ‘Allah’, ‘Solat’, ‘Kiblat’ and ‘Kaabah’; some of which are written in the Malay-language Bible.
The Allah ruling is a mark of Mahathir’s legacy and is just a cheap political ploy to win Malay votes; but it has backfired.
After international condemnation and criticism by Malaysians, the government back-tracked and will now revert to the original 10-point plan. Why waste precious time and resources on the Court of Appeal, in the first place?
Anyone who doubts that this ruling is political need only see how the Allah issue becomes big news, just before an Umno Baru internal election or a Sarawak (or Sabah) state election.
This year, as has happened in previous Umno Baru internal elections, candidates vying for top positions relish displaying their most extreme nationalistic and Muslim credentials. The verdict on the Allah ruling was announced a few days before the 2013 Umno-Baru election. This cannot have been a coincidence.
From 2009 to 2011, 35,000 Malay-language bibles which had been confiscated by the government lay forgotten as the importers the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) struggled to have them released. Whilst the bibles were in storage, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud showed no interest in the bibles until a few days before the Sarawak state elections when he made sure every Sarawakian was fully informed that he had been instrumental in the return of the bibles.
The joy of the Sarawak Christians was temporary. The Home Ministry reneged on the original agreement which it made with the representatives of the BSM and defaced some of the Bibles.
Perhaps moderate Muslims in Malaysia will not speak out for two reasons. They are afraid of being accused of questioning the religion especially as pressure has been piled on them by muftis who will call them infidels and the Attorney-General who will say that they are in contempt of court.
The second reason for not wanting to speak out is even more disgusting. Many Muslims know that Allah has been used for centuries by other religions and the majority know that they will not be confused by Christians using the name Allah but the reason they keep quiet is because they cannot be bothered and their comfort zones are not threatened. They are just selfish.
So, for as long as the interests of the moderate Muslims are not compromised, Malaysian Christians can only look to overseas Muslims, from the middle-east, Europe and America, to give them moral and spiritual support.
The only threat to Islam is not from Christians, but from Umno Baru and Malaysian moderate Muslims who keep quiet, while their religion is debased, for political profit.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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