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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is it Islamic to vilify other religions?



Irene Handono is an Indonesian religious speaker who claims to be a former Catholic nun. She has, on numerous occasions, been invited to speak in Malaysia.
However, her credentials as a Catholic nun had been revealed as false by the Bishops Conference of Indonesia several years ago. They claim Handono did not complete her education, and is thus unqualified to call herself a nun.
Handono was scheduled to speak at the Selangor International Islamic University College (Kuis) on Dec 9 and 10 on the topic “Understanding Christology.” The event has since been cancelled.
Following the incident, a Majlis Dakwah Negara shariah expert, Nurul Haq Shahrir, urged organisers to always conduct background checks on the authenticity of invited speakers.
Nurul told Free Malaysia Today that this was necessary to “prevent Islamic authorities and Muslims in Malaysia from being conned by a person who may be in it for nothing more than a paycheque.”
But Irene was not the first fake religious authority invited to take part in a Christian-bashing seminar.
Last year, another Muslim preacher, Ayub Abdul Rahman, who claimed to be a former priest of the Church of St Augustine of Canterbury in “Frankfurter,” Germany, was also scheduled to speak at a convention in Sabah.
However, Ayub’s name was removed from the list of speakers, following a testimony by the St Augustine of Canterbury Church, who claimed he was an impostor.
Besides these two cases which were highlighted by the media, there are actually many talks and seminars taking place in our country where Muslim speakers who used to be followers of different religions are invited to give talks in institutes, centres, halls, madrasahs, suraus and mosques.
While many of us are made to believe that these talks take place to strengthen the aqidah (faith) of Muslims, the truth is, instead of preaching, what takes place is a lot of bashing, mocking and belittling.
My parents have been to many of these so-called “ceramah agama” (religious lectures) before calling it quits a few years ago. They did not see a point in having to disrespect the faiths of others in order to strengthen one’s own belief.
But sadly, many still do.
Even the representative of Majlis Dakwah Negara who spoke up regarding the fake nun, only did so in order to prevent Muslim Malaysians from being conned.
So far, nothing has been said by our religious authorities about having the sanctity of Islam tarnished by allowing such events to take place.
Intolerance enemy of religion
I suppose it has been customary for Muslim Malaysians to validate their particular brand of Islam by distinguishing their beliefs and practices from even the slightest variance in the beliefs and practices of others.
In other words, making a mockery and speaking ill of other religions makes us love Islam more.
But if this is how we strengthen our faith, I think our love for Islam is distorted, narrow, immature and fragile.
The truth is, Islam has never been the religion of oppression. In fact, no religion teaches us to insult or condemn the religion of another. Intolerance is an enemy of any religion.
Like the Buddha once said, “A wicked man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks up and spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back and defiles his own person.”
I believe by mocking and belittling the beliefs of others, Muslims in Malaysia are doing just that.
A preacher on an Islamic talk show telecast on the religious TV channel Al-Hijrah which I was fortunate enough to watch recently said, “Whenever you are in doubt, ask yourself – ‘Would Allah like me to do this or would Allah be pleased with my actions? If your answer is no, then refrain from doing it.”
So allow me to ask you – do you think Allah would be pleased to have us bash the beliefs of others?
It is often said that the phrase “bismillahir-rahmanir-rahim,” which means “in the name of God, most gracious, most compassionate,” contains the true essence of the entire Quran, as well as the true essence of Islam.
If there are Muslims who think Allah, the most gracious and compassionate, would be pleased with any act of disrespecting the religion of others, I think they should get their head checked.
Muslims who trumpet their faith from the domes of their mosques and hurl down judgments on others below, often give Islam a bad name – they assume to know precisely what God's will is.
Fortunately, there is no litmus test for admission to Jannah (paradise). In fact, I suspect that a lot of people who call themselves “Muslims” and profess to be “Muslims” will be very surprised one day. InsyaAllah.

FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a growing media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a regular director, a struggling producer, a self-acclaimed photographer, an expert Facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot.- Mkini

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