Accused of covert conversions, Muslim group attacks non-Muslim holy texts in hotels

Firdaus Wong Wai Hung

(Malay Mail Online) – A Muslim group targeted for its evangelism towards non-Muslims today fired back at detractors, particularly over the placement of their holy texts in hotels despite complaints of barriers against proselytisation.

Multiracial Reverted Muslims (MRM) president Firdaus Wong Wai Hung also questioned why non-Muslims felt they were being treated unfairly when Muslims wanted to distribute the Quran, claiming that the latter never protested about non-Muslims’ religious materials in hotels.

“Non-Muslim friends who complained that they have no freedom to spread your religion, what is your answer to the discovery of these religious texts in hotels?

“All this while we have never made a fuss over holy books placed in hotel but why when we want to distribute al-Quran without forcing anyone to accept you are worried and cry unfairness?” the Muslim convert said in a statement today, referring to a recent controversy over a bid to distribute one million copies of the Muslims’ holy books for free in the country.

Along with his statement, Wong provided a screencapture of a Facebook post last Saturday by one Bungsu Aziz Jaafar, who also provided a photograph that showed four religious books in two drawers of a purported hotel desk.

In the Facebook post, Bungsu Aziz noted that there were a few non-Muslim holy scriptures in the desk of his hotel room, saying that he wondered about the absence of the al-Quran and asking if there was no way for Muslims to also introduce their holy texts in Malaysian hotels.

Citing the Facebook post, Wong further suggested that non-Muslims who complained over the Quran distribution drive were either lying or ignorant or objecting to all things related to Islam.

“For non-Muslim friends who cry unfairness because you are not allowed to propagate your religion, there are three possibilities, that is you are pretending to gain sympathy and lying that you are prohibited and the second is you are actually not a good believer because (you are) not ‘up-to-date’ on what is done by your religion.. Or the third is anything that is about Islam, you will surely protest?” he said.

He then told non-Muslims not to “run away” from Muslims, inviting them to discuss and share their religious knowledge.

This is not the first time where the issue has cropped up, with the Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) issuing a letter last year to 147 hotels in the state to prohibit the placing of any materials on non-Islamic religions in public reading places, especially hotel rooms.

In the March 6, 2014  letter obtained by Malay Mail Online, MUIP said placing such materials in hotel rooms could amount to the proselytisation other faiths to Muslims “as part of the public” residing in hotels, with such an offence punishable in the civil courts by a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a maximum two-year jail term or both.

The letter cited both Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution and the Pahang’s Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1989.

Last month, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) claimed a project to distribute one million copies of the Quran is a concerted effort to persuade non-Muslims to abandon their faith, and urged non-Muslims not to accept the translations of the Islamic holy text in Tamil, Chinese, English and Malay languages.

The interfaith group also dismissed the project’s purported objective to remove misconceptions of Islam, and labelled it a disguised propagation of Islam and in “bad faith”.

The group further said the Quran should not be distributed so freely as the copies might be disrespected, and some Muslims might find it blasphemous to see non-Muslims owning those translated copies of Quran.

On January 9, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly launched the Islamic Information and Services Foundation’s project called “One Soul, One Quran”, reportedly saying the public distribution of the Muslims’ holy text is meant to combat allegedly misleading interpretations of Islam as a cruel religion.

IIS has since defended its project as an attempt to help non-Muslims understand Islam, and demanded MCCBCHST issue a public apology.

MRM has also denied its involvement in the project, as well as other claims that it has been covertly amending the official religious records of those receiving the free copies of the holy text.

Racial and religious tensions have simmered for the past few years as Muslim groups accuse Christians of trying to convert Muslims with their insistence on referring to God as “Allah”, while Christian groups complain of Bumiputera Christians in Sabah being duped into embracing Islam.

The proselytisation of non-Islamic religions to Muslims is an offence in Malaysia, but not vice-versa.