Martin Luther King Jr. Day offers us a time for reflection, a time to remember hope. One of his quotes read, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Or rather, “The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die”
It has been a long while since I have shared any reflection here and in all honesty, I feel there is simply no heart to share with anyone anything that is not genuine from my heart. Work must have got the better of me in the last two and half years or so; distracting me from this course. As I visit my own blog in many a times, I am truly amazed, by the merciful grace of God, of the many reflections from the past, which have in turn strengthened me yet again in many ways in the present.
Currently, I am slowly reading a great translated book, entitled “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, a truly inspired work of fiction by Jose Saramago, a 1998 winner of the Noble Prize for literature. I bought this back in August 2013 when I was in Bangkok, Thailand.
This passage struck me as I pause to reflect how often, throughout my simple life, have I complicated God, put Him aside, gave glory instead to my own supposedly human superiority. Yes, my fellow pilgrims, worldly ranks and especially our slavery to money, more often than not, pushes religion aside; pushes God away – worst of all elevate our human self above God, our Creator. We complicate the simple life gifted to us and we bring worldly noise to the quiet of Eden, preventing us from hearing God.
Such circumstance is most evident in Malaysia, a self-proclaimed propagator of the religion of Islam. Obviously, such a corrupted nation, “governed” by self-proclaimed “kangkung leaders” who simply lacks dignity and integrity, “picks and choose” what it requires, in order to serve its own selfish political obesity at the expense of its people; bringing great shame to the beautiful religion of Islam.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
There is a meaningful quote from the Surat Al-Mā'idah in the Holy Quran, Surah 5:82 – 83, that reads:
“You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant. And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.””
In Malaysia, many feel that those corrupt propagators of Islam do not seem to understand that the key attraction of Islam is in its simplicity. Generally, Muslims are considered simple people. To become a Muslim, it is only necessary to make a simple declaration of acceptance of the oneness of “Allah” together with the proposition that Muhammad was his final messenger/conduit, as well as undertake to perform the rites associated with the 5 pillars of Islam. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran as the pre-existent words of God delivered by the angel Gabriel. Muslims nevertheless, refuse to accept the Bible as inspired.
Reuters over in London recently reported on October 31, 2013, that Malaysia's Prime Minister blatantly defended a court ruling banning a Malaysian Christian newspaper, “The Catholic Herald”, from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, saying that it would help ensure stability. It is important to know that the Word Allah did not spring up with Islam, nor have Muslims created it. However, the corrupt Government had, as expected, failed to demonstrate how the Herald's use of the universal word “Allah” could threaten national security in Malaysia.
Somehow, for the lack of intellectual brilliance, for that matter, plain common sense, many have conveniently forgotten that the word “Allah” has probably been around, just like the Creator God has been around…forever. The Holy Quran states that “God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being, He begets not, and neither is He begotten.”
Christians in Malaysia too have actually used the word for centuries, but the three government appointed Muslim judges of Muslim-majority Malaysia unanimously ruled, on October 14, 2013, that The Herald's usage of “Allah” in its Malay edition would “cause confusion in the community”; overturning a lower court’s 2009 decision that allowed “others” in Malaysia to use the word. In 2009, the High Court ruled that the Roman Catholic Church's use of the word was constitutional; a ruling that sparked mob vandalism and arson directed at both Christian and Muslim properties.
“The usage of the word ‘Allah’ is NOT an integral part of the faith in Christianity,” the Muslim Chief Judge comically proclaimed in the ruling, supporting the Government’s case. Given the benefit of the doubt, he may have consulted some knowledgeable parties to arrive at this conclusion.
Many Malaysians viewed and have had the courage to state that “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam or Malaysia, adding that all Malaysians had the right to use the word under the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and religion. In fact, the term “Allah” continues to be widely used among indigenous Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak.
Very simply, as one Muslim pointed out, it is equivalent to someone telling you that you cannot call your mother “Mom” because he calls his mother “Mom”. Just try explaining this to Malaysia’s government leaders and the three judges!!!
In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.” “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right....”
The Catholic Answers clarified that the word “Allah” is actually the Arabic equivalent to the English word God. The word “Allah” is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews as well as Muslims. Although they have an incomplete understanding of the nature and revelation of God, Muslims worship the same one God whom Christians and Jews worship; hence the monotheistic roots.
With these political subtle influences in the judiciary, worries over the religious freedoms of minorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia continue to escalate.
On January 2, 2014, a Malaysian Islamic Religious Department conducted a raid on the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia and forcibly seize over 300 copies of the Holy Bible in Malay and Iban language. Such a blatant barbaric act which is surely is not condone in the religion of Islam nor congruent to the love preached by his messenger, Muhammad.
Muslims are seekers after that simplicity of faith enjoyed by Abraham almost three millennia ago. As such, the religion of Islam can be broadly characterised as Abrahamic. Per Wikipedia, the largest Abrahamic religions in the chronological order of founding are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia said that about 60% of the approximately 2.6 million Christians in the country of 28 million use the word “Allah” to refer to God.
The word “Allah” certainly predates Islam. As Arthur Jeffrey states, “The name “Allah”, as the Holy Quran itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia.” The word “Allah” was used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Arab Jews before the lifetime of Muhammad as the word for God.
Instead, should Christians ban Muslims from using the word “Allah” because Jesus, and in turn Christians used it before Muslims did?
According to The Wall Street Journal, this court decision is fanning concern about the way Islam is growing as a political force in Malaysia, where Muslims historically have practiced a more moderate form of the faith than that found in parts of the Middle East but where some ethnic-Malay politicians are now using Islam as a way to exert their dominance in a complex, multiracial society; “domestic terrorism” if one were to termed it. Whilst perceptions of Islam in the West have been coloured by the activities of extremist, in Malaysia, Islam have been stained by the activities of politically selfish extremist and their cronies.
At the end of the day, as pilgrims in this world, making our journey back home, we must remember that Islam will always remain a religion that encourages peaceful co-existence of humanity. It is the politically obese fanatics that continue to terrorize, oppress and murder the innocence of humanity and the world today with their lower-than-low IQ and twisted illiterate understanding of Islam! These are the political terrorist that is leading the world astray.
“Allah” surely wants all of us, people of all faiths, to live in love, peace and harmony with His creation; life and matter. Humanity cannot allow anyone to destroy the character of Islam and its inclusiveness.
Let it be known that no mortal human being or self-proclaimed head of any State can stake a private claim to own the word “Allah”" nor does anyone claim ownership to the many other names of God be it Yahweh or any other name above-all-names whom others may choose to call the one Creator. Ultimately and very simply, God belongs to all of humanity, all of mankind, rich or poor, weak or strong.
The Catholic Herald will rightfully appeal against the court’s decision to Malaysia’s highest court, The Jerusalem Post reported. But then, for most of us, there will be no prizes for guessing what that expected verdict outcome would be from the perceived government influenced court.
We pray that the great “Allah” will shower His grace and mercy to the people of Malaysia and grant the people wisdom to know and do what is right.
In concluding this reflection, a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep on loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
Insya-allah, “We shall overcome.”
Pray for Christians in Malaysia, fellow pilgrims of the world...spread the word.