The dispute between the Sabah-Sarawak churches and the government over the rights of Christians to use the “Allah” word in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Alkitab) has lasted more than 10 years. The Malaysian church leaders continue to reach out to government officials to find an amicable solution even as they await the judgment of the court in two cases where Sarawak and Sabah Christians sued the government for their right to use the word in the Alkitab.
The dispute has lasted so long that it no longer garners attention as front-page news. Not surprisingly, many young Christian leaders today fail to understand the fundamental concerns that compelled the church leaders to bring the dispute to court – the dispute over the “Allah” word would not have arisen if the Malaysian authorities acknowledge the undeniable historical fact that Christians in Malaysia who use the word are merely following the honorable tradition of Arabic Christians who have been using the word for centuries long before the advent of Islam. By prohibiting Christians from addressing their God as “Allah”, the Malaysian authorities are violating common sense and human courtesy.
Recently, some Muslims were seen wearing T-shirts bearing an eye-catching caption, “I am a Muslim and I follow Jesus. Ask me why?” There were engaging street dawah near Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. To make good their claim, they handed out Qurans as well as the book, Jesus: Man, Messenger, Messiah written by Abu Zakariya.
The book is published by IERA (Islamic Education and Research Academy, UK), an Islamic dawah group founded by Abdur Raheem Green. This street dawah is part of their missionary initiative which included an exhibition, “Jesus – Son of Mary Exhibition held on 26 Feb 2018 at the Selangor Golf Club, Petaling Jaya. Continue reading “Muslims Following Jesus? But Which Jesus?”
Image Above: Gospel of John Shellabear Bible Originally Printed 1912 (Image from 1949 reprint)
Recently, Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) argued that the Christian community should work closely with Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP) to correct purported errors in the current translation of the Malay Bible. Suggestions to improve existing translations of the Bible is in line with the ethos of the Christian enterprise of Bible translation which is an ongoing exercise undertaken by Bible societies all over the world.
However, CLJ’s proposal to allow DBP to prepare an authoritative translation of the Malay Bible is unacceptable. The reason is because given the terms and conditions for DBP’s involvement, the proposal amounts to an illegitimate restriction of religious freedom and infringement of the autonomy of the institutions of the Christian community. It is a violation of the integrity of Christian faith as it will lead to an imposition of Islamic religious beliefs on its sacred Bible. Continue reading “DBP Translating the Malay Bible? CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right!”
Prominent leaders in Sabah and Sarawak have refuted claims that amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, or RUU355, will not affect non-Malays and Muslims in the two states.
Writing in an open letter, they urged the people to preserve the country as a secular state and to reject Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s Private Member’s Bill to amend RUU355. The letter, signed by 20 leaders including politicians, former civil servants and the G25 group of eminent Malays, was made available in four languages – English, Malay, Kadazandusun and Iban.
Malaysia, they said, was founded together with Sabah and Sarawak as a secular federation, in which Islam as the “religion of the federation” only played a ceremonial role.
“Lest we forget, religious freedom was stressed and assured in the merger negotiations of Malaysia. Hudud punishments were never placed on the agenda. “Had hudud punishments been on the cards, the Malaysia project would have likely been rejected by the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak,” they added.
Introducing hudud, they warned, would breach both the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Federal Constitution…“Together with the disproportionality of the offences and punishments, the introduction of these three hudud punishments (in Kelantan and Terengganu) will qualitatively alter the secular nature of the legal system,” they said. Sabahan and Sarawakian Muslims working and living in Peninsular Malaysia would also be subjected to hudud, they added…
“For Malaysia’s sake and to preserve our country as a secular federation, we must say no to Bill 355,” they said.
Non-Muslims Decline Invitation to Have Tea in Shariah Parlour
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.” Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
PAS and UMNO politicians are quick to reprimand non-Muslims for refusing to support their proposal to amend Act 355, despite being given assurances that the Act will not affect non-Muslims. These politicians ignore the fact that non-Muslims have good reasons to be wary of enhanced shariah courts since their freedom has been violated many times by Shariah officials. See Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG (HAM-BAK)!
Non-Muslims are eminently reasonable when they argue they should have a genuine say in drafting laws that impact their lives, and that it is the civil court rather than the shariah court that should be enhanced since only the civil court can provide a fair and natural platform to ensure equal protection under the law for citizens from diverse religions seeking to forge a common life in a plural society.
Non-Muslims remain wary of Muslim legislators who have demonstrated that they are prepared to act unilaterally as they press ahead with Shariah-complaint laws with a view of imposing them on non-Muslims. Given below are two further examples of disturbing rhetoric from Muslim legislators who insist that Shariah law should be applied to non-Muslims. This rhetoric can only heighten the anxieties of non-Muslims.
Henceforth, the new Hudud Bill or the “Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016” that is tabled in Parliament should be called UMNO-PAS Hudud Bill. After all, without special assistance from UMNO, the Bill that was tabled by PAS (Hadi) would not get a chance to be debated in Parliament. If passed, the Bill will place the Federal Constitution on a slippery slide leading to a Shariah dominated Constitution. Malaysia will go the way of Pakistan where religious minorities (Christians) are often subject to false accusations and punishment under the Islamic Blasphemy Law. Nearer home, we should be alarmed at the prospect of non-Muslims being caned for ‘violating’ Islamic offences: Re: “Woman, 60, Caned for Selling Alcohol in Aceh” StraitsTimes (14 April 2016); See Also “For First Time in Indonesia, non-Muslim Caned under Islamic law” LosAngelesTimes (16 April 2016).
In the face of this present danger, Non-Muslims (especially East Malaysians) must go beyond a adopting poster of resignation and quiet skepticism toward the hollow assurance from the Prime Minister. They must call upon their Members of Parliament and insist that their MPs vote against the UMNO-PAS Hudud Bill.
Zakir Naik has just challenged Christians to produce a verse in the bible where Jesus unequivocally claims to be God, and as such people should worship him. This would require a direct statement like “I am God” or “worship me” from the lips of Jesus. The challenge is either misguided or insincere.
Zakir Naik gives the impression that he is a very learned man as he effortlessly quotes [selected] verses from the Bible. However, there is much less than meets the eye. Often times he quotes Scripture out of context in order to impose an alien teaching on the Bible, like claiming that the Bible teaches about the coming of Muhammad. I shall leave the easy task of refuting his ludicrous claims to other writers.
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)”