Islam is a religion of tolerance, but one of the biggest threats to Islam, in Malaysia comes from a most unlikely source – the Muslim authorities who are supposed to uphold the tenets of the religion.
At a time when they should be promoting all that is good about Islam, much of what they do, exposes the worst in the religion. By doing this, they besmirch the name of Islam, insult non-Muslims, demonise other Muslims and ultimately encourage Islamophobia.
Just as two people were about to be married, a Hindu celebration was halted and the bride taken away for questioning. A few days later, the reverence of a Buddhist funeral was shattered, when the coffin was whisked away, to the horror of family members and friends.
In both these incidents, Muslim officials, from authorised government bodies, were behind these acts. Had they been prompted by a malicious phone-call or an individual seeking revenge? Why did no official think to check the facts, to prevent the invasion of private ceremonies and cause added grief, humiliation and a waste of time and money?
In the former, the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) was responsible. In the latter raid, it was the turn of the Penang Islamic Religious Department (Jaipp).
When will the bull-in-the-china-shop attitude of the religious authorities, throughout Malaysia, end?
The same stupidity occurred a fortnight ago, when Jakim announced that pig DNA had been found in two types of Cadbury chocolates. What happened to double-checking the test results and confirming the analyses before publicising this serious allegation? It has also been alleged that the whole fiasco was based upon rumours.
Perhaps, the new modus operandi, of the religious authorities is to listen to the wildest of rumours.
It is any wonder that many people, including Muslims, view Islam as a violent, misogynistic, oppressive and intolerable religion. Malaysian Muslims are allowed to get away with hate-speech. Muslims goad other faiths into reacting, so that Muslims can launch a violent counter attack.
Muslim religious authorities are giving Islam a bad name and should head the list of groups of people who pose the most serious threat to the religion.
Second. Power-hungry Malay Muslim leaders acting as chief rabble rousers, are mostly found in the political party which tends to use the 4Rs to rule; race, religion, royalty and control over rural Malays.
Muslim leaders hide away because they are afraid to denounce these violent acts. To do so would mean the loss of their support base. Losing support means loss of political power. Political power is accompanied by position, money and the passport to do as they please.
Undoubtedly, their main weapons are used to spread fear and insecurity within the Muslim community.
Third. These are the Muslim clerics who fail to denounce the extremists. Like the first group of rabble rousers, their aim is to divide the nation, using fear. The clerics hope people will flock to their congregation to seek a false sense of salvation and security.
Fourth. These are the ignorant Muslims who alternate between a rosy world of make believe and a world possessed by demons.
Apart from his warped thinking, the ignorant Muslim is too lazy to act, or to critically analyse the information presented to him. The prophet Muhammad said, “Seeking of knowledge is a duty of every Muslim”; but some Malaysian Muslims cannot be bothered to do that.
If an ulama told ignorant Muslims, that eating pork would turn their tongues black, they would probably believe him. If the ulama told them the world was flat, they would have no reason to doubt him.
If this ignoramus was cheated or treated unjustly, he would look towards the sky, and say, “God will punish the wrongdoer in the afterlife”. He cannot even be bothered to seek justice for himself, but prefers to absolve himself of all responsibility, and leave it to God.
Fifth. The silent Muslims are the ones who could make a difference but who prefer to remain quiet. This group is disturbed by the hate messages, the violence, the demolition of a Surau which had been used for meditation, the condemnation of Shia Muslims, the cow-head incident, the sacrilegious act against the Catholic Holy Communion, the bible seizures, the child conversion cases. Sadly, they fail to criticise their fellow Muslims, whose actions mock Islam.
Although they know these acts are wrong, the silent Muslims are not sufficiently confident of their faith to denounce them.
Contrary to popular indoctrination, the biggest threat to Islam in Malaysia does not come from the Christians, the DAP, the Singaporeans, the foreigners, the Hindus, the Buddhists, non-Muslims, Israel or the CIA.
The biggest threat to Islam, comes from the Muslims. Sadly, we see many Muslims bent on disturbing the peace to create chaos. We do not see much Islam being practised.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist
~ Free Malaysia Today