What’s so great about Islamic values?

“So what is so great about that? That is your religious value, which I don’t know. How am I to know about the religious values when I’m not practising that religion? I have the right to say that it’s basic manners to shake hands with people. That’s my values. Understand? You also must value my value, which is good manners, which includes shaking hands.”


Raja Petra Kamarudin

For years we have been trying to tell the Malays to be more sensitive and considerate to the non-Muslims. I admit it has been a difficult and uphill task when we have the custodians of the religion such as muftis issuing fatwahs (decrees) that reverse everything we have been trying to do.

In 2008, I was detained under the Internal Security Act for what the government said was my crime of insulting Islam. And what was that crime? I had written an article criticising mosques that spread what I called hate sermons (kutbahs) during Friday prayers.

My bone of contention was that some mosques in their kutbahs say that the non-Muslims, whom they call kafirs or infidels, are enemies of Islam and therefore should not be taken as friends. It is forbidden to take kafirs as friends because their mission is to undermine or destroy Islam.

My opposition to these types of hate sermons got me detained without trial.

Back in 1999 I whacked Umno for criticising Tian Chua and Gobalakrishnan for entering the National Mosque or Masjid Negara. “How can the opposition allow these two kafirs who are considered dirty in entering the National Mosque?” said Umno. This was during a demonstration that was held in the mosque. And Umno’s view was supported by some religious scholars.

I reminded Umno that foreign tourists, who are also not Muslims, are allowed into the National Mosque, which is a tourist destination. If Japanese, Koreans, Europeans, and so on, who are also not Muslims, can enter the National Mosque (as long as they are properly attired) why make an issue about Tian Chua and Gobalakrishnan also entering the mosque, as long as they take off their shoes and are properly attired (not in shorts or mini-skirts)?

During the PKR dinners they served beef. Even the vegetables had beef in it. This was pointed out to me by the late MGG Pillai and I brought this matter to the attention of the party secretariat.

When DAP organises dinner functions they make sure that there is no pork served. In fact, it is not enough there is no pork but they cater for halal food as well where Muslims prepare the food that Muslims are going to eat. And Muslims eat on separate tables from the Chinese food. If DAP can be sensitive to the Muslim diet requirement why can’t PKR also do the same? Beef is as haram to some Malaysians as pork is to Muslims.

As I said, it has been an uphill task in trying to educate the Malays to be sensitive to the requirements of the non-Islamic religions. Muslims demand that non-Muslims be sensitive to the requirements of Islam but Muslims do not also do the same. Sensitivity must be both ways. If Muslims want non-Muslims to be sensitive about Islamic requirements then the Muslims must demonstrate the same sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the recent uproar on the issue of Muslim women shaking hands with men has set us back many years. Many years of work has just been jeopardised. Actually, the shaking hands issue is not really that big an issue. But it is the arrogant response by the MCA and Gerakan leaders that has damaged the work we have been trying to do all these years.

Muslims who have been trying to propagate more inter-religious tolerance and understanding have been whacked by fellow Muslims. They call us bleeding heart liberals and religious deviants. They treat us like sell-outs who compromise our religious principles for political gain.

We are constantly reminded that the non-Muslims can’t be taken as friends as they are enemies of Islam whose purpose is to undermine or destroy Islam. We tell these orthodox Muslims or fundamentalists that they are wrong. The non-Muslims have no intention to undermine or destroy Islam. In fact, they have the utmost respect and tolerance for Islam and would go out of their way to accommodate Muslim sensitivities.

But the statements coming from the MCA and Gerakan leaders are now being used to prove us ‘bleeding heart liberals’ wrong. “There you are,” we are now being told. “We told you and you argued that we are wrong. Now who is wrong?”

I am not being spared my share of hate mail. Those I crossed swords with before are now asking me: so, were we right or were we wrong? The non-Muslims have finally demonstrated their arrogance and hostility towards Islam, my detractors remind me.

I suppose we can’t take what a handful of MCA and Gerakan leaders say as proof that the non-Muslims are bent on undermining or destroying Islam. After all, can we take what PERKASA is saying as proof that all Malays are supportive of Malay Supremacy or Ketuanan Melayu?

PERKASA is a minority group. They do not represent the majority voice. The majority of the Malays do not support PERKASA’s views.

However, in the PERKASA case, many Malays came out to voice their opposition to Ketuanan Melayu. In fact, more Malays demonstrated opposition to PERKASA that those who demonstrated support. But in the MCA-Gerakan matter, the Chinese have not come out to attack what their leaders said. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. For once, MCA and Gerakan, which are rivals at best, appear united. For once MCA and Gerakan speak as one voice and the only time they speak as once voice is on an anti-Islam platform.

This is the impression given.

Those of us who have been advocating inter-religious tolerance and understanding these last many years (even advocating an Inter-Faith Commission or IFC, at the condemnation of fellow Muslims) have now been silenced. For decades we had been arguing that non-Muslims harbour no bad faith towards Islam. Then leaders from MCA and Gerakan give us a tight slap on our face and prove us wrong.

Can you imagine how delighted the fundamentalists now are? Finally, they have been proven right and we liberals have been proven wrong. And they use the arrogant response of the MCA and Gerakan leaders to reinforce their point.

I hope the non-Muslim voters in Tenang will vote against Barisan Nasional this weekend. This will give us ammunition to use in our argument that what a few MCA and Gerakan leaders say is not reflective of the view of the majority of the non-Muslims. If not we would be hard-pressed in countering what the religious people say in that the non-Muslims should not be taken as friends because they harbour bad-faith and ill-will towards Islam.

It is most unfortunate that race and religion are used as weapons in election campaigns but I suppose when politicians are bankrupt of ideas then this is what you get.