Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Posts Tagged ‘Christianity

Arsonists Blacken the Name of Islam

I was shocked to wake up yesterday and read the news about the church bombings. Though I think the media could have used a better word – arson seems more appropriate because when people see ‘bomb’ they start thinking C4 and dynamite. It makes me sad to think that in all likelihood Muslims performed this crime. I cannot think of a group more motivated to do it other than the group that want Allah to be exclusive to Muslims in our country. That’s a large group with many suspects.

Reactions were swift and there were so many, I’ll only list some:

  1. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak issued a statement condemning the attacks (link)
  2. Selangor Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim visited one of the churches attacked, condemned the attacks and called for calm (link)
  3. BN Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin also visited a church, condemned the attacks and urged for caution by the public in making statements or taking action following these incidents (link)
  4. The King urged people to remain calm (link)
  5. Cabinet Minister Bernard Dompok stated that actions by irresponsible parties had clouded relations between the races in the country, and called for reflection and prayer (link)
  6. Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and Information Minister Rais Yatim condemned the attacks (link1 and link2)
  7. The government warned that ISA will be used if necessary (link)
  8. Pakatan Rakyat condemned the church attacks (link)
  9. PKR President Wan Azizah issued a statement calling for tolerance and peace (link)
  10. DAPSY and Selangor DAP issued statements condemning the attacks (link1 and link2)
  11. PAS issued a statement condemning the attack (link)
  12. Pakatan Rakyat asked UMNO to take responsibility for the attacks (link)
  13. 121 NGO groups released a joint statement condemning the attacks (link)
  14. Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan gave frequent updates on the investigation, too many links so I’ll only list one (link)
  15. PM Najib allocates RM500,000 to Metro Tabernacle Church to be rebuilt elsewhere (link)

For the record, the four churches attacked by arsonists were:

  1. Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, KL
  2. Assumption Church in Jalan Templer, PJ
  3. Life Chapel in Section 17, PJ
  4. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in PJ

After reading the reports I can’t help but feel that these attacks were coordinated. The hacking of the Judiciary and Herald websites; the use of motorcycle helmets as bombs; the close timing of the attacks – all of these indicate an organised group at work to intimidate our people and keep our country divided.

What message do these attacks send to non-Muslims in this country? The SMS messages being forwarded around sounded extreme – if you wear a cross you will be beaten; if your car has a church sticker it will be smashed; a church in Kg.Subang torched; cars in Bangsar KL smashed. All lies yet people still forwarded it around.

Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance yet too often we see Muslims practicing bigotry, inciting hatred and curtailing personal freedom. Small wonder then that people are so gullible and paranoid.

It makes my heart weep to know these criminals have created fear of Islam and reinforced fear of Islam in this country. I am glad that leaders from both sides have condemned the attacks and the PM gave the allocation (despite losses of est. RM1+ million by that church).

Hopefully everyone will remain calm and there is no escalation to the conflict. I sincerely hope that Christians understand these acts do not reflect the feelings of most Muslims in this country.

I made the poster above, feel free to forward it around.

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Written by ak57

January 10, 2010 at 5:15 am

The Ban on Christians Reading Allah

When I was growing up I had a number of bad experiences with Christian friends trying to convert me. I’ll leave the details for another article but most of the time they would use deception by tricking me into joining their social outings that included prayers, chanting, singing hymns etc. Once the religious nature of the activity was revealed there would be an awkward situation as I excused myself. They did not respect my right to refuse, insisting that my faith was ‘wrong’ and I ‘needed to be saved’. Sometimes we would be friends for years and suddenly they would pressure me to join their faith. I have even seen Christians enter relationships with non-believers for the purpose of converting the other. I’m not making this up.

I don’t care what religion you come from but if the person you are trying to convert is not interested in listening to your preaching then you should just leave him be. Don’t force them to listen or use deception. You can’t expect people to respect your faith if you don’t respect theirs.

I initially found myself conflicted when the Roman Catholic Archbishop as publisher of The Herald went to court to get the right to use Allah to refer to God in the publication. I haven’t met a religious Christian in this country who accepts that we both worship the same God but in different ways. I have also met religious Christians who find the idea of using Allah in that context to be insulting. Obviously Christians themselves are divided on this issue.

What is the issue really? What problems could it cause? I think back to my own bad experiences. If I did not have a strong grounding in my faith, and a group of friends came up to me asking for me to join them in prayer to Allah – I would say yes. If everyone spoke in Malay and someone preached teachings from God I would listen and take it to heart. I would be happily learning about Christianity, all the while thinking it was Islam. At some point my friends would lift the veil and reveal that all that the activities that had been giving me comfort and joy were Christian activities, and Islam isn’t providing me with any of this so I should become a Christian.

So I will admit that I felt a bit uneasy because I wasn’t sure why The Herald publisher wanted to use Allah instead of Tuhan (a generic Malay word for God, used in a monotheistic context).

I soon learned that this use of Allah issue is mainly for the benefit of Sabah and Sarawak where Malaysians have been practicing Christianity in Malay for a long time, where they do use Allah instead of Tuhan. It should be a non-issue then as there is a pre-existing use of the word Allah by the church.

So why is the BN-led Federal Government playing up this issue? Why file a stay of execution on the court ruling? The Home Ministry banned the use of the word by the publisher; the publisher went to court; court ruled in favour of the publisher – it should have ended there. Dragging it out further just continues to reinforce the message that the current government suppresses the rights of Christians, Sabahans and Sarawakians.

I know that Allah is merely Arabic for God. I do support the right of Christians to print Malay bibles and related publications for their followers. Religion should not be constrained by language because it’s easier to understand if it is written in your native language. I myself have an English Al-Quran because I understand English better than any other language, and a trusted fellow Muslim recommended the translation that I have. It should be alright to use Allah in a Malay-medium Christian publication whether in Peninsular or East Malaysia.

But I can’t completely shake off the fear that young Muslims will undergo more subversive conversion tactics such as the one I described. I don’t know if you, the reader, have experienced what I have but I’m glad I did because it helps me understand why many Malay Muslims are riled up about the court ruling and plan to protest today. Without my bad experiences I too would join the many bloggers out there condemning these protestors.

If I had not been exposed to foreign culture, not learned about other religions, and stayed in one town for most of my life then I would be quite narrow minded. It is easy to criticise the mentality of the poorly educated. What I feel the government should do is accept the ruling and allow The Herald to use Allah, and focus on improving religious education at school. Better yet have a Proposition for people to vote on so each state can have its own ruling on this issue. If that is not possible then let the State Assemblies vote on it for their respective states.

Remember, there are many Muslims in this country that don’t use Internet and have a poor command of English which limits their access to television shows and newspapers. Mention of Christians using Allah in their publications is very offensive to them – even PAS is internally divided on this issue.

I have more to say, but I have not been watching this issue very closely and I’m still playing catch-up. I’ll write further on this issue soon.

Written by ak57

January 8, 2010 at 8:06 am