Un-Islamic to torch bibles, minister’s logic baseless, ex-mufti says

(MM) – Islam does not prescribe the burning of bibles to correct a misprint, renowned Muslim scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said today, disputing an Umno minister’s claim that the act was more ‘dignified’ than throwing the holy book.

The former Perlis mufti told The Malay Mail Online that Islam has never taught its faithful to commit such an act, pointing out that Muslims do not even own bibles.

“What is he talking about? Islam forbids the act of insulting any other religion as it would invite enmity and thus retaliation of insult towards Islam and Allah.

“We cannot do anything to cause the same reaction,” the influential progressive Islamic scholar (picture) said when contacted.

Yesterday, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan claimed binning holy books was akin to desecrating the holy scriptures unlike a private burning, which he described as more “respectful”.

His remarks were made to clarify his earlier defence of Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who had earlier this year suggested that Malay-language bibles be burnt for using the word “Allah”.

The Kota Belud MP had allegedly defended Ibrahim’s call on Thursday when he was asked to comment on criticisms against the swift prosecution of sex blogger duo Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee and the authorities’ alleged refusal to charge other prominent leaders like Ibrahim for similarly racist actions.

In his response, Abdul Rahman had said both cases were like comparing apples and oranges, despite their racial nature.

He explained that Perkasa chief Ibrahim had only suggested burning the holy books as they were misprinted to include “Allah”, the word in the centre of a protracted legal dispute between Muslims and Christians here.

“Our religion never teaches us to ignite hatred. Islam recognises the right of others to practice their religion. Islam recognises their right to observe their respective holy scriptures,” commented Asri on the matter.

The religious scholar added that a Muslim should only fight against any act that prevents them from practicing Islam and not declare anyone non-Muslims as enemies.

But Abdul Rahman insisted that Ibrahim had only wanted to burn the bibles just as how Islam encourages one to dispose of misprinted Qurans by burning.

This act, however, should be done in a personal capacity and Ibrahim’s open call to torch bibles suggested that the intention was to provoke, Asri argued.

“You can burn all of them like how we dispose our old books and so on by burning in our backyard but you don’t announce it to the world,” he said.

On Twitter, Abdul Rahman came under heavy attack from critics of his statement, particularly DAP lawmaker Tony Pua who insisted that the former’s remarks meant that he was defending the act of burning bibles.

“@mpkotabelud are all the bibles in KotaBelud misprinted sir? Are u calling your voters to burn all of them?,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP asked Abdul Rahman.

“@tonypua Your twisted mind implies that I ask Muslims go look for bibles and burn them indiscriminately. Wow, can you go any lower?” the minister tweeted to Pua.

Abdul Rahman told Pua to read his statement on the matter again, insisting that he had never condoned the arbitrary burning of bibles but had only explained Ibrahim’s reason for saying so and the context of the situation at the time.

“@mpkotabelud I read many times. You were being an apologist and making excuses on behalf of Ibrahim Ali,” Pua replied.

In a statement here, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng even labelled Abdul Rahman a “closet racist” for defending Ibrahim.

Bloggers Tan and Lee courted trouble for themselves again recently when they posted a mock “Selamat Berbuka Puasa” (breaking of fast) greeting on their Facebook page that showed them eating “bak kut teh”, and describing the soupy pork dish as “wangi, enak, menyelerakan” (fragrant, delicious, appetising).

The picture also included a “Halal” logo, although the consumption of pork is forbidden to Muslims.

They were charged with sedition in court on Thursday for the offensive act and were sent to jail pending the start of their trial after bail was denied.

Despite agreeing that the duo should be punished for their actions, opposition lawmakers have been using the case as proof of bias by Putrajaya in failing to admonish other leaders for similarly racist actions.

Earlier this year, Ibrahim reportedly suggested that Muslims burn the Malay-language Bibles containing the word “Allah” following reports that the holy books were being distributed to Muslims students at a school in Penang.