Sunday, September 6, 2009

A voice from Moderate Islam - 'Cow Head' Incident

This article was posted on Malaysiafm. More of such people should come forward to voice disagreement when their own religion is being manipulated to sow seeds of conflict and justify acts of violence and disrespect.

malaysiafm - 2 Sep 09
Of cow heads and arrogant Muslims
By Prof Mohd Tajuddin Haji Mohd Rasdi

I wish to comment on the 'cow head' incident in Shah Alam. As a Muslim and as a Malaysian citizen I do not support such a wanton display of disrespect for Islam and for Malaysia .

As a Muslim, my readings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad's traditions or hadiths have taught me to respect animals and other religions. With respect to animals, the Prophet warned Muslims against overburdening animals in carrying objects. The Prophet explained a story of how a prostitute was forgiven her sins by the simple act of giving a thirsty dog a drink.

The cow is one of the animals which Muslims slaughter not just for food but also as a sacrificial offering of our thankfulness to Allah as well as remembering Abraham's 'sacrifice' of his son Ismail. The cow is thus 'holy' to Muslims as well as to Hindus. Muslims sacrifice a cow for the aqiqah ceremony or during the Qurban celebrations.

Thus as a Muslim, we must respect animals that become our food as well as our symbolic act of sacrifice.Standing or putting once's foot on a dead cow is a 'biadab' act that speaks of a person steeped in racial bigotry and of a person low in education of Islam.

With respect to other religions, there were occasions where the Prophet taught me about my attitude towards them. Once, the Prophet stood up as a sign of respect when the body of a Jew was carried to the grave.

When dispatching the army to a campaign, the Prophet warned the soldiers from desecrating houses of worships, those who reside in them, the young and the old and even trees should not be cut down if necessary.

Never had the Prophet taught me to desecrate another person's religion. The great Indonesian scholar Hamka wrote in his magnum opus, Tafsir Al-Azhar that there are hundreds of thousands of 'Nabi' and they might even be the founders of other religions.

It is common to find other religious faiths making fun of Islam and Muslims but as a Muslim I will never be allowed by my religion to make fun of other religions much less to desecrate them.

As a Malaysian citizen, I wish to ask why these people who showed such contempt for the religion of the Hindus not be arrested under the Sedition Act? Were these people given permits by the police? If so why were they granted permits to desecrate another religion? Why were they not stopped and told to disperse? If Hindus can tolerate the Muslim call for prayers five times a day for the rest of their lives, what disruption can a Hindu temple be?

I live next to a Hindu Temple about 150 meters away and I observe a procession thrice or twice a year. It is quiet 362 days of the year.

Lastly, if these residents were proven to be members of any political party or parties, their membership should be revoked in order to ensure that we should not tolerate any political entity that uses racial hatred as their means of achieving political ends.

If not, then the said party or parties should be outlawed and their registration terminated immediately. After more than 50 years of merdeka, I still cannot raise five children without the threat of racial disharmony and hatred. What does that say about our present leadership and future of our country?

By :- Prof Mohd Tajuddin Haji Mohd Rasdi

God unites but religion divides

I had recently lost a dear friend, very suddenly. He had a heart attack while swimming in the sea and drowned as a result.

I'm Christian, he's Muslim. But we got on perfectly fine. We spoke often about our religions. We discussed the concept of God, salvation, heaven, hell. We shared our frustrations with our own religions, dogma, conservatism, and I realised we were not so different after all. We both belonged to a younger generation of Christians and Muslims, educated, middle class, and more exposed to the world beyond our national borders.

Yet, when I went to his funeral, I found myself struggling. How was I to pray for this dear friend of mine if my religion teaches that only believers of Jesus Christ can enter into the kingdom of Heaven? Should I pray that his family would come to know Christ some day? How can I be so presumptuous to think that they are wrong in their faith?

I prayed that God be with his family in the end. And I'm sure he has been. But I've thought long and hard about what all this means.

Can I be a true friend to those of a different faith?

We chose to focus on the similarities of our faith rather than the dogmatic differences. We chose friendship, peace and pluralism over religion, dogma and separatism. Yet, when it came to his last day, I had no peace in my heart. Blame it on my Christian upbringing? Perhaps.

But something another good friend told me is true. I cannot force myself to believe something that my heart doesn't agree to. And for the last decade, since I started thinking seriously about my faith, my heart tells me that going out there to try and convert as many people as I can is absolutely not the way to go.

Jesus didn't approach the gentiles preaching about how they were all going to hell if they didn't believe in him. He first loved them, healed them, fed them and prayed for them. The rest came of itself. They were moved by his life and his words because he lived them, not because he merely spoke them like the pharisees did.

The churches we see today are divided. What does this say about religion? While churches often report how we are in the midst of revival just because XX thousands of people made confessions of faith, but how many have continued in their faith and lived their faith? Do any of these churches keep track of these numbers? I doubt it, and for good reason, because I think they will only be disheartened.

Can we ever divorce God from religion? Can we not just call ourselves followers of God instead of Christian, Muslim or what not. Why are we wasting resources trying to convert people when we should be feeding the poor, protecting the oppressed, standing up against injustice. To say that this body is but temporary, which would be exchanged for a glorious and perfect one in heaven is but an excuse for inaction.

How do you expect someone who lived an entire life of poverty and oppression to die with no bitterness and anger towards God? How do u think such a person can enter into the glorious gates of heaven?