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Malaysia

Yoursay: Asri, will looking at a cross make us Christians?

YOURSAY | ‘No, and writing ABC does not make us Christians, the proof is right in front of you.’

Does writing ABC make us Christians, mufti weighs in on khat debate

Vijay47: Good try, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, but it won’t wash.

Yours is the same disingenuous gambit that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad pulled when he argued that khat should be accepted by non-Muslims since other written languages were never opposed.

In your case, you are attempting to make a tasty soup out of ABC, Jawi, and khat, but the broth comes out bitter.

ABC and Jawi are similar if not identical in a manner, they are scripts which I believe evolved over thousands of years from an amalgamation of differing yet related civilisations. I will even concede that Jawi and khat are the same forms or styles of expression.

But khat is a completely different kettle of fish. Khat is the art of writing Islamic verses, yes, in Jawi.

In any display of khat in Malaysia, do we have even a single one that does not quote an Islamic verse? The framed khat writings in Indian-Muslim restaurants, does a single one refer to the owners’ details, the menu, or that smoking is banned?

Indeed, if non-Muslims view these moves with utter resentment and fear, it is of your own making.

Whenever it comes to matters of religion, it is always to restrict non-Muslim faiths and at the same time seek to impose Islamic supremacy - the refusal to apprehend the child-kidnapper, the cross-lights in the Penang building, the attempted revision of laws pertaining to the conversion of minors. And you want us to trust you?

You piously refer to the universality of Arabic in the Middle East as evidence of the clear divergence between language and religion. Great. What a classic case of karma this has now come to haunt your prohibiting the use of the word “Allah” in Malaysia by non-Muslims.

In keeping with your charitable interpretation of language and ABCs, we should perhaps encourage schoolchildren to sing psalms, which as you and Mahathir would agree, is simply another artistic form of vocal expression.

We could start with that one about a thirsty doe yearning for the comforting presence of its master – I believe it is called “As the Deer Panteth for the Lord”.

Rupert16: Good one, Vijay47. You forgot to add the alleged kidnapping of Pastor Raymond Koh, social activist Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Rose, as well as Amri Che Mat is also related to the ‘ketuanan Islam’ that this bigot mufti and his good pal Zakir Naik are trying to impose.

This mufti should know more about the disappearances of the above-mentioned persons.

PB: Of course, no religion is as intrinsically linked to a language as Islam is to Arabic. English is derived from low German, which has nothing to do with the original gospels.

The origins of the first five books of the Old Testament, which are to be found also in the Judaic Tanakh, are Sumerian and Akkadian. For the most part, the gospels were written in Aramaic.

But Arabic - a latecomer to the corpus of Semitic languages - is intrinsically tied to Islam. While the Bible is written in numerous languages, the Quran can only be recited as ordained text in Arabic.

Siva1967: No, writing ABC does not make us Christians and the proof is right in front of you.

The whole of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei would be Christians since neither of these countries’ language has any script to rely on. So neither does writing in Jawi (khat) will make some Muslims.

The primary argument, which I believe the good mufti is missing, is: What is the value of introducing seni (art) khat in our syllabus? And if it is a seni form, why included it in the language syllabus? Why not in the art classes? And since it is seni, why other forms of seni are not included. Why just khat?

These are the questions which Asri should answer.

Anonymous 5237890145285379: Looking at a cross will make us Christians, right? If not, why the big hoo-ha over crosses? You did not raise any objection when the issue of crosses was raised.

So why get involved in the khat controversy as this is exactly the same thing as looking at crosses.

Mohd Isnin: Can khat be used to glorify other religions? If the 'know-all-mufti' s answer is yes, then I think the non-Muslims have no issue.

The next question is whether the 'know-all mufti' is okay with non-Islamic religious books written in Bahasa Malaysia? If his answer is no, then he should stop preaching his two cents worth to non-Muslims.

FairMalaysian: Let me share a true story with you. When I was the finance head of an agency, there were two signatories to cheques. One was my boss, as the CEO, a Malay and someone I had awful lot of respect. As the finance head, I was the other signatory.

It was during Anwar Ibrahim tenure as finance minister that he had "decreed" that application for government contracts had restrictions.

We applied as we had done previously but our application was turned down and the sole reason was that one of the signatories to the cheque was a non-Malay. This was solely the doing of Anwar.

My boss appealed saying that he is the main signatory but no matter how much he explained, their stand was: get the non-Malay not to sign any more cheques and instead chose a Malay to do that.

My boss didn't have the heart to tell me but I understood the situation and I didn't want us to lose the contract. I then spoke to one of my executives, a Malay, to replace me as the signatory.

Frankly, I hated Anwar for his "racial gimmicks" and the following morning I tendered my resignation. Here I was helping a bumi company to turn it into black from red and without taking even one day of annual leave.

I come from a very humble family, not from the group of elite and rich Malays who still clamoured for discounts on highly-priced bungalows. But my sweat, diligence, hard work meant nothing.

My friend, it is all about race and religion in this country.

Somehow my boss persuaded me to stay back as he had only a few months to retire. The day after he retired, I tendered my resignation and freed my soul from the encumbrance of race that had, and still is, wreaking havoc in this country. Anwar practically set this country on a course that what we are facing now.

Not long afterwards Anwar was arrested. Call it karma if you want, but from day one of his arrest and his incarceration, I was fully supporting him as I believed that he was wronged.

The wrong that Anwar inflicted on me and non-Malays was not on my mind but I felt better that I had that something deep inside me to tell me to believe and support what was/is right.

Maybe he is a different Anwar now. My wife used to tell me that he paid the price for treating a fellow Malaysian with such contempt but I just laughed it off.

If you had read what I had written, even on the tussle between him and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, you would learn that I have been always on his side. Not only he had gone through hell but I believe he is a better person now.

The distrust that emerges is what manifested in the non-Malay khat issue. When there is no tolerance, understanding and appreciation on what International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) is, which covers all human beings, can the non-Malays be faulted to be suspicious of anything that evokes mistrust?

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