Friday, February 28, 2014

Interfaith harmony in shambles as government agencies stoke fire

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan
OUTSPOKEN: As Malaysia marches into the unchartered waters of the future, I have good reason to be less optimistic about the country. Day in and day out, groups with neo-fascist agenda keep creating problems to disunite the people. Even government agencies have jumped on the bandwagon to add more fire to this unholy movement.

Jakim, the department entrusted with Islamic development, blames all quarters about the perceived threat to Islam. The latest rumbling accuses the Christians and the Jews of undermining Islam. This is a fantasy which only the illiterate and the confused can create. But then Jakim has not been very constructive in its actions since its inception in 1991. It only gropes around to justify its existence by creating fear among the Malaysian Muslims.

This story about the Christians and the Jews undermining Islam is an archaic one that has been overused and misused.

Jakim’s strategy is to portray all and sundry as being the enemies of Islam. It never tries to strengthen the religious beliefs of the Muslims. Its actions therefore are very negative in nature.

It has not done anything to strengthen interfaith harmony. Instead, it is destroying the goodwill that had been built up in the past. Never in the history of the country had fingers been pointed that Islam was facing threats from other religious groups.

Even during the colonial period when schools were run by Christian missionaries, no attempts were ever made to put doubts into the minds of Muslim school children about their faith.

They learned about Christianity but there was no agenda to convert them. And all of those former students of these mission schools remain ardent Muslims.

But now suddenly, in the imagination of Jakim, Christians are trying to proselytise the Muslims and as such Christianity has become a threat to Islam. Now it has gone further by saying that the Jews are also undermining Islam.

The Arab Muslims have not come out with such accusations.

There are millions of topics that Jakim can delve into to come out with very sensible sermons that will help the people and the country to face a better future.

As long as the Muslims lack the knowledge to move forward, especially in science and technology, the more likely they would be left behind by all the other religious communities. 
The Jews moved on and most inventions today are their creations and the Muslims are happily using them.

Even in the field of medicine, most of the discoveries were made by the Jews. Muslims should try to match their achievements rather than blaming them for everything that the Muslims face.

Just look at the number of Jews winning the Nobel prize. And instead of trying to compete positively, Jakim simply lamented and blamed them for the pathetic condition of the Muslims in relation to knowledge, as well as scientific, technological and academic achievements.

As long as Jakim only spews hatred, the Muslims will forever remain backward.

Let me quote some very important roles that Jakim is supposed to play and they include:
• To build well-established Islamic thinking amongst the people (ummah) based on the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah
• To lead research efforts on current issues in the field of faith (Aqidah), Islamic law, astronomy and finance (muamalat) at the national, regional and international levels

The goals of achieving the above will come to zero if only hatred is emphasised and all other productive fields are neglected.

At a recent gathering, a federal minister emphasised the need to strengthen harmony among the people and yet a government agency is doing the very opposite.

Now Jakim too supports the decision that the word Allah is only meant for Muslims. Be a true Islamic institution! Be honest and be truthful for Allah has never been the exclusive possession of the Muslims.

Stop pushing the Malaysian Muslims especially the Malay/Muslims into the darkness of religious illiteracy. They will just become the victims of manipulations by the evil Umno Baru.

If the government is really sincere in promoting interfaith and ethnic harmony, then the government will have to act realistically and demand that all its agencies act to achieve that goal. Words must be matched by actions.

It was most heartening therefore to witness an event organised by a very responsible individual, Ally Hazran Hashim, who led a group of Muslims in visiting parishioners and Father George Harrison at the Church of Holy Family in Kajang recently. They handed out oranges, goodies and flowers to the parishioners.

He had this to say about his gesture. “I am practising what my religion taught me. Islam is peace. I believe if you do things with good faith, people will see it in good light. We are creating love.” Bravo and well said, Ally!

Jakim should take a leaf from what this honorable Muslim had done.

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, "The Unmaking of Malaysia".

~ The Ant Daily

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