Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Lessons from “Allah crisis”

Who needs whose protection, God man’s or man God’s?

The recent escalation of tensions between Christians and Muslims in the country is indeed a sad development for inter religious and interracial harmony. A multiracial and multi-religious nation that once  took great pride of the peaceful coexistence of the diverse races is now poised to be torn apart by inter religious conflict by something which is really a non-issue, the name of God.

The insistence of the Christians to continue using the word Allah against the wishes of the Muslims and the subsequent high handed way the Jais officers raided the BSM premises and confiscating copies of bibles followed by the threats to rally in front churches last Sunday created so much tension that is  really the last thing we Malaysians want in our peaceful country. Fortunately the demonstrations did not materialize and the tensions have since cooled with the intervention of many moderate thinking Malaysians.

Despite the tensions raised some positive things came out from this crisis whish be lessons for all parties. The most significant among these was the unexpected presence of moderate Muslims led by Marina Mahathir with flowers in the premises of the Church in Klang to protect the Christians gathering there for their Sunday worship. There were also many moderate Muslims who condemned Jais for their raid on BSM and called for their fellow Muslims to stop the protest rallies in front of the churches in selangor. It was these wise and timely actions of moderate Muslims that forced Umno to recall their support for the church rallies, thereby cooling down the tensions.


                                                        ll smiles: Father Lawrence shaking hands with  Sallehen                                                                                                                                      

The crisis also resulted in the friendly meeting between Fr.Andrew Lawrence, the editor of Herald and the Selangor state executive councilor for Islamic Affairs Sallehen Mukhyi .In that meeting was significant that Lawrence called for goodwill saying, “Let’s be brothers and sisters. Let’s build bridges. Our country is about muhibbah, friendship and goodwill,” At the same time Sallehen called for the setting up of inter-religious dialogue which Umno was always not supportive. These were signs of reconciliation but will it have any far reaching effects waits to be seen.    

One thing was proven by this crisis – the various parties can solve their problems amicably if only the politicians keep away like what the PM did. He was away when he was needed most and has yet to make a definitive stand on this issue. All he said was asking the people to be calm and not be emotional. He may not say or do anything positive to overcome the impasse but his silence and inaction may in fact be really blessings.

The Allah controversy has now become more complex and spilled over into a confrontation between Muslims and Christians. The situation has come to dangerous level and the leaders at the highest level, especially the Prime Minister and his cabinet must act fast to stop deterioration of the situation. Silence on their part only emboldens the abusers of the law and the righteous denied justice.

All parties must first stop open confrontation on the issue of “Allah” and return to peaceful and civil dialogue. The dispute on the use of Allah cannot be solved in the courts, confrontation or with show of force. It is not about winning or losing nor is it about proving who is stronger. It is about God, by whatever name we choose to call Him, and thus it is about love, humility and goodwill of not any particular group but for the sake of overall peace and harmony, something far greater than the interests of any individual or group. 

Christians and Muslims alike must put God above all and for His sake embrace the virtues of humility and tolerance to compromise a little for the sake of all Malaysians and the country we love. We may be Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus and worship the God in accordance with the religion in which we grew up. It is mere stupidity to fight with one another to defend our God because it is not God who needs our protection but we who need His.

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