Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When charity becomes a crime

When charity becomes a crime

The ongoing controversy over the alleged raid of the Damansara Utama Methodist Church(DUMN) by Jais brings highlights a very strange phenomenon where doing charity becomes a crime that must be investigated and punished.

We all know that charrity is the act of giving money, food or help free to those who are in need because they are ill, poor or have no home. All religions encourage this virtue of charity and in fact it is a basic tenet of every faith. Most of us regardless of the religion we belong too are at one time or another involved with some acts of charity which is considered a noble. Ironically today the virtue that was exalted all these years is at times seen as something terribly wrong.It is distressing that chariry is increasing seen as a crime that must be punished.

Many years ago when I and my friends were actively involved in the Society for the poor in our church we used to visit the estates, squatter areas and new villages to provide all sorts of help to the poor in those areas.

Although we were not rich to provide much funds, the poor families benefitted from our little aid which was in the form of food rations, clothes, school books, educational vocational guidance and free healthcare, and other forms of assistance. There were also those who were given monthly allowance and special allowance to cope with tragedies in the family. Apart from this material assistance those who needed motivation were given moral support and counseling.

We were very careful not to talk about religion to these unfortunate people who will be vulnerable to conversion at times of desperation. Proselytizing was never our intention but helping poor humans regardless of race or religion was our only aim. We were strongly advised by our pastors against using material aid to the poor to entice them into our faith.

In the many years of working with them I have yet to come across one who converted to Christianity because of our assistance to them. We never went to Malay kampongs but must admit that there were some of them who were desperate and did approach us for aid which we could not deny just because of their faith. Visit to their homes revealed deplorable conditions under which they lived and denying any aid for them would be doing great injustice to fellow humans.

However the numbers of Muslims in our aid list dwindled with time as they were able to get assistance from government agencies in due course. It has to be stressed we did not talk about religion at any time during our acquaintance with these poor people. In fact I for one strongly believe that it is wrong to convert anyone from one religion to another as all faiths are the same in leading to the one same God.

When we were young we were taught that helping the poor is a noble act that should transcend race and creed. Today the basic teaching on charity has changed drastically. We are encouraged to help those from our own community as helping others would be seen with suspicion and intruding into their affairs. It is as though it is alright to neglect our own people but wrong for others to help them.It appears as though there is a right time and place to do good as doing doing at the wrong time may lead us into trouble.

Charity with ulterior motives is not true charity. Charity to coax people to convert their religion especially, the poor and desperate, is one that must be condemned by all.Real charity is one that is done with a open heart without any ulterior motives or benefits and is one that transcends race and religion.There should never be a wrong time or place to do good just like there should never be a right time to do bad.

The alleged raid of the DUMC by Jais brings forth the issue of Christians proselytizing to Muslims in the country in the pretext of helping the latter.This is something hard to believe as it is a common knowledge that such a thing is impossible in this country where there are laws that prohibit spreading non-Islamic faiths to Muslims. Christians are all too familiar with those rulings and one must be insane to do so. However as in any religion there are overzealous people who could resort to such things which is really regrettable.

This allegation of proselytizing is a serious one that needs proper investigation. It is either true of false. The onus of proof is on Jais.If it is true action against those involved in the prosetylising should be initiated in accordance with the laws. Whereas if there is no evidence of proselytizing then Jains owes Malaysians, in particular the Christians an apology and undertake a pledge to reprimand those overzealous officers responsible for the raid.

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