Have faith in your faith, Khairy tells Muslims

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin. — Picture by Choo Choy May

(Malay Mail) – Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reminded Malaysian Muslims today that they need not fear being turned apostate if their belief in Islam is strong, as cracks widen among the country’s religious groups.

In a casual Christmas greeting on his Facebook page, the youth and sports minister also urged Muslims to respect their Christian countrymen instead of viewing them as a threat towards Islam.

“If your belief is strong, no one can make you lose your religion”, he said in his latest Facebook post that has since been shared more than 250 times on the social network.

“And if you are sure of your own convictions, you will respect others even more. You won’t view them as a threat, as people secretly working to proselytise you.”

The Umno Youth chief related that he had attended a Catholic school in Japan as a primary schooler where he had learnt about hard work and fair play from a Canadian missionary teacher he called Brother Raymond.

He said the school’s non-Christian students were also free to follow their daily religious routine and were not shaken by the overt displays of Christian prayer, religious singing, and crucifixes hung in every classroom.

Some non-Christians even joined in the non-religious songs, he added.

“None of this affected my own faith. My parents instilled in me a strong foundation in Islam… Nothing I experienced at my Catholic school could undermine or shake my faith,” he said.

Khairy’s remark appear to run counter to claims by some Muslim activist groups who have accused the country’s minority Christians of trying to convert Malays — who are also Muslim by default of a constitutional provision.

The right-wing religious activists have also stepped up their campaign to prevent the courts from hearing a dispute initiated by some churches seeking the right to call their God “Allah”, arguing that the Arabic word is exclusive to Islam, and driving a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

PAS lawmaker Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa had also reached out to Malaysian Christians today, expressing his solidarity in the fight against religious extremism, racism and injustice.

As the “Allah” controversy continues to smoulder and cast a pall over Christmas, the head of the Islamist party’s national unity bureau said his religion has always taught its followers to cherish diversity and respect others.

Relations between Malaysia’s Muslim majority and its Christian minority have been increasingly strained in the past five years following a government ban on the Catholic Church against publishing the Arabic word for God in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, Herald — a decision critics said could further erode non-Muslim rights.

The tenuous ties were made more fragile last October, after three Muslim judges in the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a landmark 2009 High Court ruling that “Allah” was not exclusive to Muslims, and that the Catholic Church had a constitutional right to publish the word in a non-Muslim context in its paper.

This comes as two Malay-Muslim activist groups demanded action against a Christian group for allegedly calling God in a non-Islamic context at a closed-door gathering in Klang last week, claiming such usage violated the Selangor sultan’s decree, Utusan Malaysia reported on Monday.

Pertubuhan Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor (IKDDAS) and Selangor Perkasa pushed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to investigate the Christian gathering as they insisted the organisers had broken the state law even though several lawyers had previously disputed the Selangor Ruler’s decree is legally binding on non-Muslims.