Friday, January 15, 2010

What is still left for us

Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia cum Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia.

I was asked to write about the polemics name of Allah which had been decided by the court in favor of the Catholic Christians recently. The ultra kiasu website which is anti-Malay and anti-Islamic was celebrating the victory. Writings supporting the court's decision filled up every space without taking into consideration on the sensitivities of the Muslims at all. That is their true colors when they can accused the other media as not correct and which media is actually correct? This group is never grateful; instead they are even more daring and rude.

I do not deny the rights of other religions to use the name Allah, at least the name will be spoken by them, and who knows a day will come they might also circumcise. However, I am doubtful because why now it had become a big issue? What is the purpose behind the issue? Who are they targeting? As Muslims we need to understand this issue.

For those who are not in the NGOs, they may not see the true intentions. But for us who are in the NGOs, we are well versed with their techniques and tactics. They will continue to demand until they achieve their goal. They will maximize their demands even though it may sound extreme. They know that if the government is unable to accommodate all their demands, at least a little part will be given. That little part is what they actually aim for. That is why they are constantly demanding and requesting especially when the Muslims themselves are facing a weakening unity. I do not think they would be that brave if the Muslims are united. History had shown that when a nation is strong, it will usually be feared.

My friends in the Facebook complained that there are among the Muslims had apostated from Islam and embraced other religions. This group is very active in their preaching even though they know it is contrary to the federal constitution. The same thing had happened to Siti Hasnah Vengarama or Banggarma Subramaniam recently. We were very surprised on why the non Muslim had the courage to marry Banggarma with a non Muslim man which is already contrary to the federal constitution and is wrong legally.

Although Banggarma admitted that she is no longer a Muslim, but she is still subject to the sharia law even though she may not be practicing Islam. Those responsible in marrying her should refer to the religious authority as a sign of respect to the Islamic religion. Ironically, there is no action taken by the Islamic religious authorities. Isn't this called tolerance?

I still recalled that when this issue came up, and before anything else we saw the reaction from the Malaysia Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Tao (MCCBCHST) urging the Sharia Court to allow Banggarma to profess Hinduism and to leave Islam immediately, without going through the normal court process. The Christian priest being the president of MCCBCHST viewed that apostasy as legitimate because she embraced Islam at the time she was small and she did not practice the teachings of Islam. The priest requested that she be given the freedom in choosing her religion as she is above the age of 21 years old. The Sharia Court is considered not qualified because it does not have the jurisdiction over 'those who do not practice the religion of Islam'.

My question is how this priest could say whether the Syariah Court is qualified to justify on this case. Don't be the judge. We must be professional and not emotional and have sentiments. Respect Islam as the federal religion. Instead, before this matter can be brought to the court, they had already become the judge. I am so worried if these kind of judges exist in the court.

Back to the issue on the name of Allah, all the non Muslim NGOs wanted us to respect the decision made by the court. Ironically, if the decisions favored the non Muslims, we were asked to respect the court and that the decision made was considered to be fair but if the decision favored the Muslims, the court was biased and was influenced by certain people. Were these considered proper? Why can't we act more professionally?

Whatever are the reasons we have on the issue of the usage on the name of Allah among the non-Muslims, the damage and pain are being felt more by the Muslims. Throughout my observations, in the western countries, the majority of the Christians do not use the name Allah at all, either in the churches or in their daily conversation. Even in their films, I did not see nor hear the name Allah is being used at all.

It is without any doubts, the name Allah has been used in Indonesia and several other Arab countries. Similarly goes for Sabah and Sarawak. The question is does it mean that other countries should follow the same?

I just wonder why we should attend to the requests by the Christians in the peninsula which only amounted to less than 9 percent, compared with the other religions which has more than that. As I had spoken earlier, even though they are little in numbers, their publicity drowns the other religions. Whereas we are aware in terms of rights, those with the religion of Buddha, Confucius and Taoism are having more rights, because they consist of 22 percent.

To me, any arguments to allow the Christians to use the name of Allah, should also consider the harm and sensitivity on the Muslims and in compliance with the constitution of our country. It is not that we are afraid with the Christians' movements; however think about the restrictions with the position of only 9 percent. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Council of Islamic states must act firmly without any compromise on those publishing their brochures that are misleading the Muslims. This is of great importance to avoid any further damages that may befall the Muslims which are relatively weak and to avoid conflicts.

The justifications provided by some Islamic scholars and organizations that do not forbid other faiths from using the name Allah for God, are intricately unacceptable. They reasoned that the Muslims should not fight for the name of Allah with the Catholics. They have their rights to name their God as Allah because in the Qur'an the polytheists also used the name of Allah. Is it true? They seemed to claim that Allah 'allowed' HIS name to be used by the non Muslims to refer to God the Father, Jesus and all worships which are incorrect and polytheistic beliefs.

As a former Christian together with the others, we are familiar on how they work. It is only that I want to remind the Muslims to be more vigilant and careful. The name of Allah is one of the claims made by the Inter Faith Councils (IFC). Although IFC has not been successfully established, they reside under MCCBCHST. It can be said that almost all of the 14 claims that were submitted had been successfully fulfilled. These claims had in fact jeopardized the position of the Islam as the federal religion.

Among the claims made by them were, first: that a child born to Muslim parents should not directly be Muslims. Second, the non-Muslims who have converted to Islam should be given the freedom to return to their original religion (apostasy) and is free from any legal action. Third, any conversion by the Muslims to non-Muslims should not be handled by the sharia courts, but instead by the civil court. Fourth, the identity card of a Muslim need not be recorded that they are Muslims. Fifth, non-Muslims need not embrace Islam if they want to marry the Muslims. The Muslims should be allowed to exit from Islam (apostates) if they want to marry the non-Muslims and no legal action will be imposed. Sixth, a person or married couple who changed their religion to Islam should not be granted custody of the children.

Seventh, the non-Muslims who are family related with a converted Muslim should be given the rights to claim on the person's estates after demise. Eighth, the government must provide sufficient funds to build and maintain houses of worship for the non-Muslims similarly to what they provided for the mosques. Ninth, the non-Muslims should be allowed and cannot be prevented from using the holy words of Islam when speaking with others. Tenth, the bible in Malay and Indonesian languages are to be distributed to the public openly.

Eleventh, non-Islamic subjects professed by the non-Muslims should be taught in all schools. Twelfth, Islamic programs based in the native language must be curbed. The propagation of other religions other than Islam should be spread in their native language, and thirteenth: the Muslims who pay the zakat should not be exempted from paying income tax and the zakat money should be used for the non-Muslims also, and finally, Islam should not be mentioned as the first choice in the Malaysian society such as the clothing attributes covering the aurat for the students.

My question is that almost all the claims had been addressed and haven’t the leadership of the Muslims today lay down enough tolerance? To me, we have over provided on the basis of democracy and of fear with their intimidations. These are our weaknesses that causes others to take advantage without due respect on us.

The tolerance provided by the Muslims has actually reached a very high level. In my opinion, the Muslims have never or very rarely interfere with the non-Muslims religious affairs. Let alone to interfere in their religious term such as Pope, Paderi (priest), Sami (Monk) and others. This is because of our principle of respecting the other religions.

Therefore, is it wrong for us to defend the remaining few that are still left? If the remaining few is continued to be taken away and shared, what will be left for the Muslims in this earth? Hence, the government prohibition on the usage of the name of Allah in the Herald newspaper was accurate and positively meaningful for the Muslims. It should receive undivided supports from all Muslims. At the same time do not act outside the limits of religion such as burning the churches, which is already extreme. Even if there is war, Islam forbids us from demolishing or destroys their houses of worship. That's the beauty of Islam. Even so, we do not know who actually burn the churches! It could be the Muslims? It might not be them also? Or perhaps it could be the non-Muslims taking the opportunity to profit themselves during a disturbance or conflict? Essentially, do not simply accuse the Muslims.

What happened today is that we are only defending the name of Allah from being used indiscriminately. Stringent conditions should be applied if the name is to be used. Power in the constitution should be fully applied to defend and save the honor of this beloved religion. I hereby hail to the Duli Tuanku and the Council of Malay Rulers to intervene to save the sanctity of Islam from those who tried to contaminate the purity of this ad-din. Take this as an inspiration for us to to rise up and to be more proactive rather than action-oriented. When it happened, it started to chaos. Shouldn't we always be on the alert and consistently pious to defend the dignity of this noble religion rather than only act when it is required? Hopefully Islam will continue to shine and radiate.


  1. Its ok for Dr.Ridhuan to further the muslim and malay cause. However, furthering it by alleging bad faith on the non muslims and non malays and even on some modern malays should not be the way as it will break up our country. I am a hindu who was brought up by a muslim family in a malay village. My parents were the only Indian family there nd I can tell you that the feelings between malay muslim nd non muslim or non malay in this country is very much better now. Dr. Ridhuan, my humble opinion is that we should not encourage suspicion and bad faith between races and religion in Malaysia. Thank you.

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