Oh no! not another one?
This time I choose to write in a loose and light manner although the subject matter is heavy as it relates to the interfaith relationship that is deteriorating in our beloved country. I say ‘loose and light’ because my articles that writes on interfaith issues are full with heavy theories and concept that sumps up to the need of respect and in dire need of intellectual discourse. Adding to the seriousness are ongoing efforts to initiate the positive relationship between different faiths. As a chairman of Inter-Religious Networking Council of South East Asia, I have the ambition to show SEA as an example of interfaith respect, but unfortunately on the ground and in my home country the reality depict a different picture and story altogether. Fed up with heavy ideas, I decided to take the light and loose approach in my writing this time, doing away theories and concepts but focusing more on practical day to day responsibilities to make Malaysia a better world to all different faiths to live in.
I had a rude shocked just 4 days after fasting month of Ramadan when a friend of mine asked about the raid by JAIS over a Methodist Church in Damansara Utama. I said, I got no idea but promised to check the news in details. While I was searching the news in the internet my mind was wandering wild to figure out “what now?” The other day the issue of Kalimah Allah and Al Kitab had sent the Malaysian the wrong message and now this one? How many messages can Malaysian afford to accept as wrong? I knew this was going to be another one of that episode where Malaysian will be busy again in choosing on what side should they be in, the line of exclusiveness or the line of inclusiveness?
Let’s ask the man himself who is responsible for the Islamic religious affair, what happened? How come JAIS and Islamic Affair Enforcement Agency busted in the church premise? He said something like this: “we heard from our source of information, there is an attempt of murtad activities on the Muslims, so we had to make the raid” Now let us hear from the church itself who claimed that it was a gathering to honor NGO’s who worked with the church in community programs for Aid/HIV victims and some of them happened to be Muslims. Malaysians again are confused, what it takes for someone to be a murtad and why the Christians are inviting Muslims to their chuches?
Behold and confuse not my fellow Malaysians! Mere going to the church does not make you a ‘murtad’, and what’s wrong for a church to invite others as much as we want others to come to the mosque for a good reason and just cause. But you might be asking, what about Najib going to the Vatican and meeting the Pope does that make him a ‘murtad’ guy? The answer is no! because he has a reason to bridge the interfaith relationship. Then, what about the information, is it false alarm? I would say there are a lot of false alarms these days in the interfaith relationship. Remember the Mufi of Perak gave information that there are groups ready to murtad somewhere in the Ipoh church recently? It turned out to be false alarm. Alleging such activities as murtad activities is heavy, one has to be extra cautious as it entails sensitive feelings among fellow Malaysians. But some people have taken it too easy such as blaming it on the murtad issue to justify their action, they know some Malays would love it and buy it!
Unfortunately religious sentiments has become an easy target to garner some cheap skate political manifesto. To group like Perkasa, this is good penalty kick to score, and Umno? please don’t ask. To ordinary Malays, resourceful information like TV3 (suku) and Utusan (Meloya) provides them” a good insights on the future of interfaith relationship in this country” and thus they will applause the government of the day for providing them the ideas by voting BN again. As they feel proud doing it, they would talk among them and say: “ this is the One Malaysia Spirit!” The Chinese would loathe what happened and will talk among themselves and would say something like this: “habislah ini kali wa tatak mau kasi lagi sama ini kati, hau siaw saja” What would a Muslim say to all these episodes?
A Muslim first of all will observe with full of wisdom, first they would feel the incident of the raid may jeopardize the good name of Islam. Second, one should verify information before one resort to enforcement in the name of Islam. Third, the raid gave the impression that a mere going to the church for a noble cause or for a charity can make you a murtad? Don’t we share noble values across all faiths? Does this mean we reject our faith and embrace other? Is JAIS implying that the meaning of Benevolences and Charity are only for Muslims and cannot be shared? A Muslim would feel heartbroken to know that an Islamic Enforcement Institution have tarnished the image of Islam as a ruthless trigger happy guy who just bust in anytime they like on the sacred premise of worship. As a Muslim we were taught to respect premise of worship, as much as we want other faith to respect our premise of worship the Mesjid. Even the rights of private properties are respected in Islam, what more if was the right of religious property. As a Muslim we are told to engage others in the love of humanity where we share the same feeling and hope. We can still be a Muslim, nay a good Muslim by respecting each other faiths because Islam urges us to do so.
Now Malaysians have to go through the sour relationship all over again just because a ‘murtad session’ is taking place. Muslim should tell others that Islam is benevolence for all. I walked in many churches to give talk about the need to interfaith relationship and I never became a Christian by walking in these premises. I do believe too, other faith doesn’t become a Muslim buy merely walking in the Mesjids. Faith is not accumulated by walking in places of worships, faith is your choice of spiritual convincement through deep contemplation and that moment of light which God bestowed upon you. We should be focusing on educating and nurturing the notion of respect to other faiths and the love to work on the value of humanity. Murtad is not an issue at the moment, the issue is whether we Muslims have been able to communicate with other faiths to work together on united universal values. If only the JAIS guys and their leadership would understand this and stop being the victims of false alarm at the cost of tarnishing the image of Islam. Truly I felt disheartened and sad to know that JAIS did this in the name of Islam. Bless us oh Allah in this month of holiness, Your month of sacredness and benevolence.