March 11, 2008
A response to an email (more to come)
This was my response to an email that was forwarded, essentially saying:
Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that’s the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?” There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation, he replied, “Non-believers!”
Thank you for forwarding this message on. However, I take exception to the way in which verses are quoted out of context, especially in a multireligious society such as ours. The Bible is often quoted out of context as well, resulting in passages requiring people to kill the non-believers to be cited in Christians’ faces as well.
As Malaysians come to terms with the new political realities, i.e. with PAS gaining power in one additional state and holding more state seats in other states, I think we must caution against any sort of spin. True that they are an Islamic party, but some quarters would have us believe that they are out to protest Muslims’ interests and no other. The truth is, my humble opinion is that PAS sees its need to cater to non-Muslims and has openly stated its desire to stand up for marginalised groups. So along the political front, I would caution that we take things out of context. PAS for example was quoted out of context in saying it would have hudud law – in fact they said so, inasmuch as it does not affect the interests of other communities.
Now on the Quran and infidels. Again, look at context in which the commandment was given to the followers. If my Muslim friend has educated me correctly, it was because they were at war at the time, and non-believers were precisely the group that formed the enemy at the time. This is not necessarily the case that “all non Muslims” are “enemies”. It happened to be that way at the time. Further theological studies are necessary and I do not claim to be an expert, but please please Malaysians, understand context before we spew falsehoods against each other and once again disintegrate the very core of multiracial/multireligious/multiculturalism that we have for so long striven to achieve. This elections, we see a shift against racial and religious polarity and my plea to all of us is to guard against making statements that are not properly thought through. Lest the new fabric being woven is torn apart even before it takes proper shape.
If we believe in a new Malaysia, we must be willing to give the “other” the benefit of the doubt. Don’t allow ANY sort of sectarian political statement to divide us.
Finally, the nominee for Perak MB from PAS is apparently a very open minded Muslim who is willing to work with non-Muslims. I am very excited!