Sunday, January 17, 2010

Enlightened 'Allah' Debate

And it's coming from PAS. This time it's PAS National Unity Committee chairman and MP for Parit Buntar, Mujahid Yusof Rawa with his comments on his speech within the Hall of the Holy Spirit. You really cannot get more sincere than that for a leader of an Islamic party. Such a bridge across the divide must be applauded, and unfortunately, I don't think we'll see any UMNO leader willing to do the same, clearly showing the inability for them to come to terms with themselves and their faith.

To quote UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin himself, and I must say I couldn't agree more:
Umno no longer commands the middle ground and if it continues on this trajectory, the party’s fortunes can no longer be certain, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said.

Reflecting on the party’s role in the raging ‘Allah’ controversy, he said the party is on a road that is taking it away from being a party for all.

“Nobody wants to be a loser, but we’re definitely not straddling the middle ground any more. It might become what PAS used to be — a party that appeals to just a certain base. It’s scary,” he told The Straits Times in an interview.
Excerpts of Mujahid's column is quoted below, but you should certainly read the full text in The Malaysian Insider.
When I spoke on Jan 13 at the Catholic Church in Island Glades, Penang, I had no difficulty talking about the issue because my understanding of the teaching of Islam provided me with the eloquence and wisdom I needed.

I started off with the simple "Peace Be Upon my Brothers and Sisters of the Christian Faith". I did not feel there was anything wrong greeting them with peace since I came here for peace. I then started to praise the Almighty, Lord of The Universe (Alhamdulillah Rabbil Alamin) and told my Christian friends that the word “Allah” is made for us to recognise His Greatness and Superiority, not to hate one another for using it.

I also wanted the audience to understand that I did not come for purely political reasons although I represented an Islamic political party. I wanted them to know that there are greater reasons why I came that day. So I had to use the words of Allah to express myself.

I quoted the Chapter of Al Hujurat: “O mankind, we have created you from men and women, tribes and people of different kind so that you get acquainted with one another and the best among you in eyes of Allah is the most pious.” I explained that the verses taught me not to judge others but to rely on the judgment of Allah.
If we look at others through ethno- or faith-centric eyes, we are sure to be biased. This will create an artificial relationship and deep down the hatred will remain although it is concealed.

[...]

What this gathering is all about is our commonality, Christians or Muslims are all Allah’s creation. I also told them about the time the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stood up in respect as a Jewish funeral passed by. His companions asked why one should respect a non-believer? The Prophet said clearly: “Is he not HUMAN?”

Kicking off the talk this way gave me the strength I needed to defuse the tension. I moved in into the issue and provided them first of all PAS’s stand on the ruling. I began to clarify that with a verse from the chapter of Zukhruf.

The very basis of this verse shows that the issue of using the word “Allah” has come up before, and the Quran has said clearly that if non-believers accept that it is Allah, not other deities, that created them, the Prophet shall not worry about why they are using the word Allah but should engage in peace and explain to them so ultimately it is hoped that they know who the real Allah is!

I cannot ban what has been permitted because I would be dishonest about the knowledge of God although the blanket approval does not mean one can use it for bad intentions or create confusion. I do not understand the fuss about non-Muslims using the word “Allah” as long as the condition is they do not use it with any bad intentions!

I had to conclude that this is simply not an issue, then why all the rage? I told them unfortunately it was the politicians who had highly politicised everything including the word Allah.

[...]

And that was when the rather sombre and serious atmosphere in the hall changed. There were smiling faces all over, this aura of hope gave both Muslims and Christians yet another new chapter in our society. A chapter called Dialogue in a Civilised Manner, a chapter called Humanity and a new dawn for Malaysia will surely come... that was the day when I spoke at the Hall of Holy Spirit.
Did I fathom the day I would say this? To be honest, no, not before March 2008 anyway. So here's 3 cheers to Mujahid, 3 cheers to PAS for changing the face of Malaysian politics, for championing reason and defeating over-zealous parochialism.

Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray!!
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