Bigotry, zealotry giving Islam a bad name


How many Malays living near a church have been converted to Christianity?

P Ramakrishnan, Aliran exco member

Some bigots and zealots acting in the name of Islam have brought disrepute to a religion known for its tolerance and accommodation.

Some 50 Malays had protested against the building of a church in Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya because the site lies within a predominantly Malay/Muslim area.

According to Ishak Maarof, the head of the pro tem committee against the construction of the church, it would be an insult if the four-storey church is built in a Malay/Muslim location. How could a building be insulting? It is mind-boggling!

They even insinuated that the building of the church had an hidden agenda to convert the Malays to Christianity.

This is a slanderous claim without basis. Are they actually insisting that the faith of the Malays is so shallow and fragile that they can be very easily converted to Christianity? How many Malays living near a church have been converted to Christianity?

These simpletons should not assume that the faith of the Malays is so shallow and that they can be so easily influenced to renounce their religion. This is a nonsensical claim!

They took offence that the four-storey church could be seen from the Federal Highway and the new LRT extension line. So what is the problem? Are they seriously saying that when the church is seen from the highway or from the new LRT extension line it would affect the Malays? Are they suggesting that the faith of the Malays will be shaken and threatened?

Their protest and hollow claims do not hold water. In fact they come across as people incapable of rational thinking and reasoning. They may not even have a proper understanding of Islam. They are just mischief-makers out to create disharmony and discord among Malaysians.

It has been recorded that the Holy Prophet had indeed, in his compassion, allowed the Jews to pray in a mosque. That wasn’t considered as desecration. The Jews praying in the mosque did not upset any Muslims. They reflected the tolerance and accommodation that is part of Islam.

We have been told that, according to the Qur’an, Islam allows the right of other religions to exist and their adherents to practise their faith. We have been told that Islam is a tolerant religion.

If that is indeed the case and if it is the true interpretation of the Qur’an, we expect the ulamas and the religious personages to condemn the protest of these 50-odd misguided Muslims who are against the building of a church in Bandar Sunway because the location, according to them, is unsuitable as 70 per cent of the residents in that area are Malays. Why have those guilty of this recalcitrant behaviour not been taken to task and reprimanded for giving Islam a bad name?

The ulamas and muftis must project the true teachings of Islam and expose these imposters as unIslamic in their conduct.

But they have not done so. Their silence is very disappointing because they are in a position to right a wrong, but regrettably they have not done so. In this respect, we are absolutely disappointed that Islamic scholars have failed to stand up for the truth.

As a result, the false claims of these zealots on religious grounds to deny a place of worship for the Christians convey intolerance and bigotry in the name of Islam. Their outrageous conduct and the silence of the ulamas and religious scholars can mislead the public into wondering whether the tolerant aspect of Islam is true. They wonder why is it so difficult for the ulamas and religious scholars to defend the injunctions contained in the Quran?

Keadilan has come out strongly supporting the right of non-Muslims to have a place of worship which is respected in Islam.

What about Pas? What about Umno? Is their interpretation of Islam different from Keadilan’s?

What has the Prime Minister to say? Is this the moderate Malaysia that he has been talking about? When extremism and intolerance lift the ugly head of hatred and threaten our harmony and unity, isn’t it the duty of the PM to speak up and chide these trouble-makers? Why is he maintaining his silence? Doesn’t he realise that his non-action creates the impression that he condones this for political purpose?

What is our citizenship worth when we cannot even have a place of worship at a convenient place? Is this right subject to the tolerance of certain Malays? Isn’t this a right enshrined in the Federal Constitution?

This happens when people are not properly educated. According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian novelist, historian and critic, “It’s an universal law — intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”