Saturday, March 1, 2014
PAS maverick continues Christian outreach as Putrajaya stands firm on ‘Allah’ ban
The Putrajaya decision was political, not theological, the Parit Buntar MP put it succinctly to the packed room at the Church of Christ the King for his dialogue "An Afternoon in Harmony, Mercy for All" in his second time at the church. His first was three years ago after he started his interfaith dialogue.
"Islam is the religion of the Federation but non-Muslims have the freedom to profess and practise their religions. Only propagation to Muslims is prohibited. The setting is already there for interfaith relations.
"But it has been derailed and manipulated by politicians for their own interests and to split votes among the races," he said at the dialogue, where the 100-odd people waited patiently which began 30 minutes behind schedule.
The 49-year-old MP said these "political actors" were destroying the foundation Malaysia's founding fathers had built with issues like the use of the Arabic word "Allah" in Malay-language Bibles to refer to God.
Mujahid said there were both exclusiveness and inclusiveness in the faith, with the former referring to an individual's belief in a particular religion.
On inclusion, he said the bridge to inclusiveness in religion in a diverse society was through mutual respect, understanding, dialogues and avoiding any confrontational actions that can cause hatred like cursing another's god and disrespecting the way they pray.
"Also stop telling people of other faiths, like the Christians, what they can and cannot say.
"If a Christian in a country, where Muslims are a minority, say the same thing to a Muslim in retaliation, then world will be in trouble," he said, adding that it was wrong to seize the holy books of another religion in an apparent reference to the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department seizure of some 300 copies of the bibles in Bahasa Malaysia and the Iban-language in January.
"The fact that they are not of your religion does not give you the right to do anything you want."
To date, he told his audience, he has been to about 20 churches nationwide to promote interfaith dialogues. He has even documented his visits in his book "Berdialog dengan Gereja", which has an English version called "Engaging Christianity: A Travelogue of Peace".
This was unlike the past when the party was known for being conservative and only appealed to the Malay ground for votes and issues.
Quoting African-American civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr, who said "In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends", Mujahid said the people will blame PAS later if it had failed to speak up.
The MP also said he continued to engage non-Muslims as interfaith relations in Malaysia suffered from problems like the controversial "Allah" issue, because he wants to "witness the sign of God".
"I know I cannot run from being a politician, as I am an MP but this is not due to politics. I am not asking for votes.
"I want to witness the signs of God, which can be everywhere we go. It is also in us... We are all here now, united despite our different backgrounds, religions and races.
"We are already enjoying it now so why do we want to destroy it?" he said, adding that God himself created different races of men so that they may get acquainted with one another.
Mujahid, who has a doctorate in Islamic political science, also said if differences become the reason for people to make war and enemies, the world would end with people killing each other just because they come from different faiths.
"God does not want that. Only a few people like (those in Malay rights group) Perkasa and Umno ... If they want to fight the will of God, let them fight.
"They are a useless bunch of people trying make us hate each other. Let them. I am talking of the voice of God, not theirs. Who cares about them?"
Mujahid also said nobody can claim his religion to be better than another person's religion.
He said it was a matter for God to decide, not the people, whose business should be living as good servants of God by accepting, recognising and cherishing the existence of diversity.
He also said people should never underestimate other people's God or question the polytheism (the worship of many gods) practices by others.
"God has commanded that nobody is to belittle or say bad things of gods other than Him. God says everything for a reason. Think (about it)."
The other speaker at the dialogue was Penang Diocesan Pastoral Institute director Dr Steven Selvaraju, who said people must question why religious issues that create tension in society have been brought up in recent years.
The former college lecturer, who taught Moral and Malaysian studies, said people are hearing different views and should question who is benefiting from the issues.
"Non-Muslim students have to take compulsory classes on Islam in college. Why can't Muslim students also take classes to learn about other religions," he said, adding that youths of different faiths should also be given more opportunity to mingle in community programmes by churches and mosques.
Louis Philip Mohan, 62, who is a member of the church, said in his view religion has itself become a problem following exploitation by certain parties.
He said such a dialogue was necessary because the situation may become worse if people just kept silent.
"It is admirable of Mujahid to come and see non-Muslims on their own turf. I think maybe Christians should also take a leaf out of his book and go out to engage people of other faiths too," he said.
Another church member, who declined to be named, said he was impressed with Mujahid's knowledge despite his age and also to find that PAS members are very peace-loving people.
He said the two-hour session was very good and suggested that such a dialogue should be held at a much larger scale to allow more people to attend and participate.
Yesterday in its Friday sermons, the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) again reminded Muslims to enforce the ban on the use of “Allah” by “other parties”, a remark that usually refers to non-Muslims using the Arabic word for “God” during worship.
The department also urged all state Muslim enforcement authorities to enforce this ban through their respective state enactments. – March 1, 2014.