15 January 2010

Finding middle earth path in this trying times

Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi in his STAR weekly column (Wed 13 Jan 2010) put a very bold perspective on the recent dispute between Catholic Christians and their Malay Muslim brothers. A law scholar he is, excerpt from his quote should be published and established by all relevant parties as a truce to refrain more mindless action by irresponsible culprits.

With due respect to the Emeritus Professor and all credit to him, I wish to share some of his quote which I thought spot on and timely and should be understood by affected parties who needed Law reflections in the eyes of a Law Scholar.

The Visiting Professor word are in orange

"We have to put this national shame behind us and to move on to resolve "Allah issue" in a spirit of compassion, moderation and accomodation.

Looking through glass as Christians, although the word Allah has obvious reverence for Muslims, no one can deny that Allah is also a term of language. Article 11(1) - Freedom of Religion and Article 10(1)(a)- Right to free speech permit anyone to invoke whatever language or sentiment he wishes to invoke in order to open his heart and soul to God.

Looking through Muslim lenses, many issues tug at my conscience. FIRST, it is not always right to use our rights. Freedom per se has no VALUE. It is what freedom is for. It is the use to which it is put. Take hundred million Muslims in India for instance. Despite their rights in secular India's Constitution, they refrain from butchering the cow because cow is regarded as sacred by the majority Hindus.

The constitutional right to freedom of religion is subjected to Article 11(4) to restrictions on proselytisation (try to convert somebody).  While Article 11(5) subordinates religion to public order, public health or morality. A relevant law on public order is section 298 Penal Code which punishes the offence of wounding religious feelings. The feelings are likely to be wounded if there is a claim that Allah was born in the manger; that Allah was born of Mary; that Allah was crucified on the cross

To argue that word Allah is central to the Christian faith and that any restriction on its usage would hinder freedom of conscience of the Christians requires a willing suspension of disbelief. Other than the Arab Peninsula and in Sabah and Sarawak, the word Allah has never been part of Christian discourse or sermons. 

The plaintiffs in the Herald case must also take note that there is suspicion, unjustified though it may be, that the use of the word Allah is an indirect attempt to proselytize Muslims contrary to Article 11(4). The argument  that the Church will be using the word Allah only privately is credible but we all know that it does not take much to put a private publication in the public domain.

The Herald arguments rely on cold logic, history and rationality but there is total DISREGARD of local context and of religious sensitivities. It is submitted that in matters of religion; history, logic and reason must not apply exclusively. Emotions must be regarded. 

Sometimes rights must give way to the need for social harmony. Hence, we need to find middle path.

To further read his thought on the issue which i am recommending all my viewers to pursue please follow this link

I hope there will be a compromising effort from all relevant parties to rest this case and there shall be greater religious understanding amongst the believers beyond one self interest, reluctance and sheer ignorance.

Peace be upon us

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