God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)

Part 1: God and Humanity in Islam & Christianity

Thesis: Ultimately, the difference between Islam and Christianity is that the former views the relationship between God and man within the field of power. The Divine-human encounter becomes a contest of strength where human submission is a matter of expediency in the face of sheer dominant power. In contrast, Christianity views the relationship as one that is moral: God, despite his sovereignty, treats human beings as persons with inherent dignity (since they are created in His image). God seeks allegiance from man based not on expediency but as a grateful response to a God who passionately cares for his welfare (c.f., pathos in Abraham Heschel’s work).  Man may fail to perceive the depths of divine pathos. Without a personal revelation from God, man can only be dimly aware of divine pathos in pale and fragmented forms, described as divine sorrow, pity, wrath, and compassion because of his psychological limitations, although divine pathos must be perfect and complete within the divine Trinity. However, these partial perceptions of divine pathos are fully revealed and experienced as divine love when manifested at the cross. Hence the glorious declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:19 – in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself. Continue reading “God, Christ & Humanity: Christian & Muslim Perspectives (Part 1)”

Forced Conversion: Sarawak’s Christians Will not Keep Quiet, BUT…

Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been complaining about  surreptitious conversion of Christian natives for twenty over years, but to no avail. Islamic proselytizing and conversion of Christians have become more flagrant than ever. Perhaps, the authorities perceive that many Christian natives, especially those in the rural areas, will not go beyond complaining (or groaning) as poverty renders them vulnerable to inducement that accompanies conversion to Islam. Indeed, some natives may not mind their children converting to Islam when they marry a Muslim as this would open opportunities for social mobility and uplift.

It is a matter of great urgency that pastors and community leaders work together to confront and contain Islamic proselytization. This would require:

1) Systematic and comprehensive Christian education to build up the faith of believers, especially Christian parents whose children are targeted when they attend the tadika-taska (Islamic kindergarten-nursery) set up government agencies.
2) Initiatives in economic empowerment that include assisting economic micro-enterprises, organizing economic cooperatives among the Christian villages, and creating SMEs that would provide jobs for the semi-rural Christians.
3) Mobilizing churches and NGOs to hold their wakil-wakil rakyat  accountable for their failure to prevent conversion to Islam through economic inducement.

The Christian natives are literally overwhelmed by Islamic proselytization programs that are funded by vast government resources. Will Peninsular Malaysian Christians readily share resources with their besieged brethren as they face an unprecedented threat to the existence of the East Malaysian church?

Continue reading “Forced Conversion: Sarawak’s Christians Will not Keep Quiet, BUT…”

Penerangan Ringkas Tentang Kepercayaan Kristian

Al-Quran menegaskan bahawa umat Islam yang awal percaya kepada apa yang diturunkan kepada Ahli Kitab – Al-Ankabut 29:46

[Believers], argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, except with those of them who act unjustly. Say, ‘We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you; our God and your God are one [and the same]; we are devoted to Him.’ M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).” Yusuf Ali

Dan janganlah kamu berbahas dengan Ahli Kitab melainkan dengan cara yang lebih baik, kecuali orang-orang yang berlaku zalim di antara mereka; dan katakanlah (kepada mereka): “Kami beriman kepada (Al-Quran) yang diturunkan kepada kami dan kepada (Taurat dan Injil) yang diturunkan kepada kamu; dan Tuhan kami, juga Tuhan kamu, adalah Satu; dan kepadaNyalah, kami patuh dengan berserah diri.” http://www.iium.edu.my/deed/quran/malay/

 

Walau bagaimanapun, ramai orang Islam hari ini menolak pengajaran Alkitab kerana salah faham. Untuk menyelesaikan salah faham mereka, kami ingin menawarkan penerangan ringkas tentang kepercayaan Kristian seperti yang berikut:

 

SOALAN-SOALAN LAZIM (FAQ)

JAWAPAN KEPADA PERTANYAAN YANG SERING DIAJUKAN OLEH ORANG ISLAM

1. ‘Mengapa orang Kristian percaya kepada Tritunggal? Adakah kamu percaya kepada tiga tuhan?’
Orang Kristian tidak percaya kepada tiga tuhan! Kami percaya kepada Allah yang esa sahaja, sama seperti orang Muslim. Apabila kami berkata tentang Allah Bapa, Allah Anak dan Allah Roh Kudus, ia bukan merujuk kepda tiga tuhan yang berlainan. Seperti Islam, agama Kristian adalah agama tauhid.  Istilah “Tritunggal” tidak terdapat di dalam Alkitab, tetapi idea itu diajar di dalam Alkitab.

2. ‘Mengapa kamu berkata bahawa Yesus itu “Anak Allah”?’
Kerana Yesus menyatakan dirinya sebagai ‘Anak’ dan memanggil Allah sebagai ‘Bapa’ dan ‘Bapa-Ku’. Kami tidak percaya Yesus adalah anak Allah hasil dari satu penyatuan fizikal. Idea seperti itu bertentangan dengan kepercayaan kami, sama seperti orang Islam.

Kami percaya bahawa ‘Allah itu Kasih’ di dalam persona-Nya, dan terdapat satu perhubungan kasih antara Allah Bapa, Allah Anak dan Allah Roh Kudus, bahkan sebelum dunia ini dicipta. Yesus adalah lebih daripada seorang nabi, kerana Dia adalah 100% manusia dan 100% Allah pada masa yang sama. Apabila kami merujuk kepada Yesus sebagai Anak Allah, itu adalah satu istilah yang paling mudah untuk menyatakan bahawa Yesus sama seperti Allah, dan ini tidak pernah dan tidak akan berlaku kepada mana-mana manusia lain. Apabila kita menujukan pandangan kepada Yesus, kita mempunyai satu idea tentang Allah.

 3. ‘Mengapa kamu percaya Yesus disalib?’
Kerana itu yang diajar oleh Kitab Suci. Perjanjian Baru menyatakan bukan kerana kelemahan Allah yang menyebabkan Yesus disalib, tetapi itu adalah cara-Nya untuk menunjukkan kejahatan sifat manusia yang sebenar.  Tetapi ia juga adalah cara Allah menunjukkan betapa besar kasih-Nya terhadap manusia kerana ingin mengampuni dosa kita. Orang Kristian melihat penyaliban Yesus sebagai satu ‘korban untuk penebusan dosa’ yang terakhir dan sempurna, sehingga tidak memerlukan korban lain yang selanjutnya. Allah membenarkan Yesus untuk mati kerana semua manusia akan mati apabila tiba waktunya. Tetapi dengan membangkitkan Yesus semula, Allah bukan sahaja menampakkan diri dan identiti sebenar Yesus, tetapi juga memusnahkan kuasa kematian untuk selama-lamanya bagi mereka yang percaya kepada Yesus.

4. ‘Alkitab kamu telah dipalsukan.’
Saya tahu ini adalah yang telah diajarkan kepada anda untuk sekian lama. Tetapi adakah anda pernah membaca Alkitab?  Menurut Al-Quran, mesej yang diturunkan oleh Allah kepada Nabi Muhammad mengesahkan Kitab-Kitab Suci yang terdahulu – Taurat Musa, Zabur Daud, dan Injil Yesus. Jika semua Kitab Suci tersebut yang berada di dalam tangan kaum Yahudi dan Kristian pada zaman Nabi Muhammad telah dipalsukan, bagaimanakah Al-Quran boleh mengesahkan Kitab-Kitab Suci yang dinyatakan? Bolehkah anda memberitahu saya siapa yang memalsukan Kitab-Kitab Suci tersebut, dan bilakah ia berlaku? Mahukah anda membaca riwayat Yesus yang terdapat di dalam Injil kami? Bagaimana anda boleh mendakwa bahawa Alkitab telah dipalsukan kalau anda sendiri tidak pernah membacanya?

5. ‘Alkitab penuh dengan kesilapan dan percanggahan.’
Orang Kristian tahu tentang percanggahan yang anda dapati di dalam Alkitab kerana cendekiawan Kristian telah lama mengetahui hal tersebut.  Tetapi cendekiawan Kristian mempunyai cara sendiri untuk menerangkan perkara tersebut, malah kebanyakannya boleh diterangkan dengan mudah. Yang lain memerlukan tafsiran yang lebih mendalam lagi. Adakah anda sedia untuk mendengar penjelasan kami?

Sebenarnya ini juga boleh berlaku kepada anda. Ada orang Kristian yang mengatakan bahawa ada banyak  percanggahan di dalam Al-Quran. Bagaimanakah perasaan anda jika saya mengkritik Al-Quran?  Tetapi saya tidak mahu melakukan itu kerana saya tidak berminat untuk mengkritik Al-Quran. Jika orang Islam tidak suka orang Kristian mengkritik Al-Quran, mengapakah orang Islam berbuat demikian terhadap Alkitab?

Anda mempunyai masalah dengan percanggahan di dalam Alkitab kerana anda  membuat perbandingan di antara Alkitab dengan Al-Quran.  Anda percaya bahawa Al-Quran telah diturunkan kepada Nabi Muhammad secara langsung, dan mengandaikan Injil juga sedemikian.  Orang Kristian percaya bahawa Alkitab adalah Firman Allah, dan melalui Roh Kudus Allah telah mengilhami para penulis untuk menulis kitab-kitab di dalam Alkitab. Tetapi Firman Allah di dalam Alkitab ditulis oleh ramai penulis. Jadi bagi orang Kristian, Alkitab adalah Firman Allah dan juga perkataan manusia.  Masalah asas di antara kita berdua adalah kita mempunyai pandangan yang berbeza tentang cara Firman Allah diturunkan kepada manusia. Orang Islam percaya bahawa wahyu teragung daripada Allah diturunkan di dalam bentuk sebuah buku, iaitu Al-Quran. Tetapi bagi orang Kristian, kami percaya bahawa wahyu teragung diturunkan melalui satu peribadi,  iaitu Yesus.

6. ‘Kami percaya bahawa Yesus seorang nabi. Mengapakah kamu tidak percaya bahawa Muhammad juga seorang nabi’
Kalau kami mengiktiraf Muhammad sebagai seorang nabi seperti umat Islam, maka kami semua menjadi Muslim. Kami dengan sukacitanya menerima ajaran daripada Al-Quran bahawa Allah itu Esa, sama seperti yang diajar di dalam Alkitab. Tetapi kami tidak percaya pada seluruh Al-Quran kerana pengajarannya berbeza dan bercanggah dengan ajaran di dalam Kitab Suci kami.

Kami percaya bahawa Yesus adalah nabi yang terakhir, Kalimahtullah yang terunggul dan terakhir untuk seluruh dunia. Yesus adalah wahyu Allah yang sempurna dan lengkap di dalam bentuk manusia, dan kami tidak percaya bahawa terdapat wahyu yang lebih sempurna tentang Allah selepas Yesus.

7. ‘Mengapa kamu tidak percaya bahawa Alkitab bernubuat tentang kedatangan Muhammad?’
Ada dua ayat Alkitab yang sering dipetik untuk menyampaikan idea tersebut. Yang pertama dipetik daripada kitab Ulangan, di mana terdapat nubuatan tentang seorang nabi yang akan datang: ‘Seorang nabi dari tengah-tengahmu, dari antara saudara-saudaramu,  sama seperti aku, akan dibangkitkan bagimu oleh TUHAN, Allahmu; dialah yang harus kamu dengarkan.’ (Ulangan 18:15).  Ini tidak mungkin merujuk kepada Muhammad kerana Musa berkata nabi tersebut akan datang ‘dari antara saudara-saudaramu’, iaitu dari bani Israel.

Ayat kedua adalah pernyataan Yesus tentang kedatangan seorang Paraclete: ‘Aku akan minta kepada Bapa, dan Dia akan memberikan kepadamu seorang Penolong yang lain, supaya Dia menyertai kamu selama-lamanya.’ (Yohanes 14:16; sila rujuk juga kepada 14:26, 15:26, 16:7). Orang Kristian sentiasa mentafsirkan kata-kata Yesus ini tentang kedatangan Roh Kudus. Yesus tidak pernah bercakap tentang seorang nabi yang akan datang selepas Dia.

Sumber: Colin Chapman, The Cross and the Crescent IVP Books 2008.

Artikel Berkaitan – FAQ: JAWAPAN KEPADA SOALAN-SOALAN ORANG ISLAM

Jawapan Kepada Soalan-Soalan Orang Islam

Kesusasteraan polemik yang menyerang kepercayaan Kristian mudah didapati di kebanyakan kedai-kedai buku di Malaysia. Namun daripada merasa takut, umat Kristian mengalu-alukan serangan seperti itu kerana ia memberikan peluang kepada orang Kristian untuk menjelaskan iman mereka.

Tetapi dengan tulus hormatilah Kristus sebagai Tuhan dalam hidup kamu. Hendaklah kamu sentiasa bersedia memberikan jawapan kepada sesiapa sahaja yang meminta kamu menjelaskan harapan yang kamu miliki. Tetapi lakukanlah hal itu dengan lemah lembut dan hormat. Hendaklah hati nurani kamu murni, supaya apabila kamu difitnah kerana hidup dengan baik sebagai pengikut Kristus, orang yang memfitnah kamu itu akan menjadi malu (1Petrus 3:15-16).

Lebih penting lagi, ada orang Islam yang secara ikhlas bertanya soalan mengenai kepercayaan Kristian dalam mencari persefahaman antara agama. Untuk orang-orang Muslim yang ikhlas seperti inilah kami tawarkan, “Jawapan Kepada Soalan-Soalan Orang Islam”. Semoga Allah memberkati umat Kristian dan umat Islam di Malaysia dengan persefahaman dan saling menghormati.

 

FAQ: JAWAPAN KEPADA SOALAN-SOALAN ORANG ISLAM Continue reading “Jawapan Kepada Soalan-Soalan Orang Islam”

Censorship, Interfaith Dialogue and Democratic Virtues

The recent amendments to the Sedition Act effectively curtail freedom of speech as the prospect of being hauled up by the authorities for alleged sedition will discourage public debates on social-political issues. There is little assurance that the government will not abuse the wide ranging power given by the Act to suppress democratic dissent, given it pattern of selective enforcement of the law against opposition leaders, lawyers, journalists and civil rights activists.

It should be noted that some Muslim extremists have found it convenient to accuse leaders of the non-Islamic communities of sedition, when these leaders are only defending religious liberty that is enshrined in the Constitution. The amendments to the Sedition Act will embolden these extremists to continue making unfounded and irresponsible accusations.

It would be regrettable if the government uses the Sedition Act to restrict religious freedom, and apply censorship laws to control religious dialogue and debate, as it ends up depriving its citizens of the very tool that could help overcome ignorance and prejudice between religious communities. Indeed, it is the duty of the government to counter religious extremism by promoting open and honest interfaith dialogue.

It is timely that we analyze the problem of censorship of religious freedom and the imperative for genuine interfaith dialogue so that we may cultivate mutual respect and acceptance between various religious communities. Continue reading “Censorship, Interfaith Dialogue and Democratic Virtues”

Mourn for Maligned Alkitab

 

Friends and Countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to share Alkitab’s goodness, not to use it to spread confusion.
This evil from the government will be remembered even after its downfall;
For the good Alkitab is suppressed by injustice of the Court.
The honorable judges declared Alkitab is dangerous to Muslims.
This is a serious slander and Alkitab paid dearly for it.
Do Christians threaten violence like Perkasa when Alkitab is banned?
And the Court insists Alkitab is dangerous!
Dangerous books make men spiteful and vindictive;
But Christians offer a message of God’s love and forgiveness.
Yet the court insists Alkitab is dangerous;
And the Court judges are honorable men.
I am not here to refute the Court judgment,
But I am here to speak what I know;
You all who love justice and peace, and not without reason:
What holds you from mourning for maligned Alkitab?
O Sound Judgment! You have fled from brutish beasts,
And honorable men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is with Alkitab interred in dark storerooms of the authorities,
And I must grieve till it is returned to the Christians.

—————

NEWS LINKS:

MalaysianInsider – Christian paper loses battle to use ‘Allah’

MalayMailOnline – ‘Allah’ ruling vindicates Mais, Jais in bible tussle, says Perkasa

Answers to Questions Muslims Ask Part 2

Related Post: Answers to Questions Muslims Ask. Part 1

In response to questions raised at the controversial “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”) held on 6 May 2014 at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam, I would like to invite sincere Muslim inquirers to read the FAQ document given below.

QUESTIONS MUSLIMS ASK – Also available in PDF format Questions Muslims Ask

ABOUT WORSHIP

QUESTION 1: It seems that you Christians have no “Religion”. You do just as you like, when you go to pray, some of you beat drums, some clap, some dance, some sit, some stand. Have you forgotten the way of worship which God laid down for you through the teaching of Moses and Jesus?

ANSWER: The “Religion” which Jesus Christ ordained for us is that we should worship God “in spirit and in truth”. Jesus emphasized that it is the pure in heart who will see God (John 4:24; Matthew 5:8).

Certainly every Christian must worship God; such worship helps us to cleanse our hearts and our lives. The essential part of Christian worship is the same in all Churches. In all services of worship we read the Bible, praise God, give thanks to Him, confess our sins and pray for others as well as for ourselves. But Jesus did not give us detailed rules about the form of our worship. He didn’t prescribe one form of service which every Christian must follow. So we are free to use our own language, and to worship in accordance with our own customs, so far as these do not conflict with our faith in Christ.

Of course Muslims as well have some small differences among themselves in the way that they perform their Ritual Prayer. At a certain point in the prayer there are some who put their hands to the sides, while others fold their arms across the breast. Continue reading “Answers to Questions Muslims Ask Part 2”

Answers to Questions Muslims Ask. Part 1

A Response to “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara”  – Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18)

The “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”) held on 6 May 2014 at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam, has sparked strong protests from the public.

The NECF protests that higher institution of learning should not cause confusion and promote prejudice. The CFM adds that it would amount to abuse of trust and stewardship, “If there is to be sincere and genuine academic freedom, then let us have an intellectual exchange with integrity instead of a one-sided presentation with arguably inaccurate information being disseminated as fact…Otherwise, the seminar yesterday would be nothing more than hate speech and sectarian religious propaganda thinly disguised as academic freedom.”

The protests were in response to several seminar speakers who had mockingly posed questions that suggest the grounds for Christian beliefs are fundamentally flawed. For example, in a forum “Christianisation vs Islamization, the speakers answered pre-prepared questions that included “Did Jesus really die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?”, “What is the Trinity?”, “Why did Jesus cry ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ (Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”) while on the cross?”. Themalaysianinsider

Another speaker argued that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”. The books in the Bible were written by Christ’s disciples such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered hearsay and similarly should not be considered the Word of God. The so-called gospel is only Jesus’ words, speech, hence should not be called gospel. He asserted, “The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” The malaymailonline Continue reading “Answers to Questions Muslims Ask. Part 1”

Why Allâh is Not Exclusive to Islam: 3 Short Arguments

The Allah dispute is the focus of 3 court hearings this week. Taking the risk of committing the sin of boring repetition – here are 3 short arguments why Allah is not exclusive to Islam.

First, ﷲ Allâh (al-ilah) is historically derived from a common noun (ilah), which is not a proper noun/personal name (Nama Khas). It is just a common reference to a divine being in general or to the Most High God in monotheist culture, along with other related references in the Semitic languages – Hebrew el, eloah, Syriac alaha etc.  Sibawayh (the father of Arabic grammar), noted the etymology of the word was disputed but suggested a Syriac connection as al-Ilaah, Allah results when one attaches ‘al’ with aliha and alaha. More importantly, the word ﷲ Allâh was used by Christians and other Semites long before the emergence of Islam. Continue reading “Why Allâh is Not Exclusive to Islam: 3 Short Arguments”

Christians as Convenient Collateral Damage in Political Contest between Putra Jaya and Selangor Government

BSM officials complied with an order to report to JAIS. After the meeting, BSM put the blame of the raid onto the Selangor government. BSM further suggested since Putra Jaya kept its word, therefore, Selangor must formally accept the 10-point solution to assure BSM of its concerns. Understandably, the Selangor government wants to wait for Putra Jaya first to publicly affirm its ongoing commitment to the 10-point before responding to BSM’s suggestion.

Instead of (re)taking public ownership of the 10-point, the Prime Minister who personally signed the 10-point in 2011 has chosen to remain silent. Furthermore, the de facto Law Minister’ Nancy Shukri put the problem squarely on Selangor state. In effect, Putra Jaya has abandoned the 10-point and abdicated from its original commitment.

It would be laudable if Putra Jaya first renewed its commitment to the 10-point, reprimanded JAIS for the raid, and then approached the Selangor government for assistance to ensure compliance of the 10-point. Continue reading “Christians as Convenient Collateral Damage in Political Contest between Putra Jaya and Selangor Government”