Burning Bibles is not okay (#NotInMyName)

Ibrahim Ali - Photograph: pribumiperkasa.com

Islam is not under threat and Malaysians will not allow the bigots and their followers to discriminate or impinge on the rights of other Malaysians, asserts Syerleena Abdul Rashid.

Ibrahim Ali - Photograph: pribumiperkasa.com
Ibrahim Ali – Photograph: pribumiperkasa.com

Not long ago, the self-proclaimed champion of Malay Muslim causes, Ibrahim Ali, made some horrible suggestions to burn another religion’s holy book, in this case, the Bible.

Such a call reminds us of a certain sinister time in European history, which saw the lost of millions of innocent lives – and no, I’m not talking about the ‘Black Plague’.

This sort of mindset reminds us of the dark days when fascism and totalitarianism permitted such actions. For the sake of our country, I simply cannot allow such ideologies to seep into our society!

More recently, Nancy Shukri read out a shocking (albeit almost expected) ruling that defended the government’s move not to take action against Ibrahim Ali on the grounds that he was merely defending Islam. It does not take a thoughtful individual to see how hateful those remarks or suggestions were and Nancy Shukri, of all people, knows this.

In an interview with an online media portal a few years ago, Nancy Shukri was quoted as saying, “Even till today our constitution states that Malaysia is a secular state though it unofficially regards Islam as the official religion due to the majority being Muslims. I would want to see the present status maintained. Malaysia is one of the countries that officially allows freedom of religion in the constitution.”

What happened to this belief? Do you no longer have any desire to see this “present status maintained”?
To make things worse, Ibrahim Ali then came out to explain his side of the story. A local Malay language daily quoted him as saying, “I was only referring to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible which has the word Allah in it, which was distributed at the school. I was not referring to all Bibles.”

Is that supposed to purify such a bigoted cause? Are we supposed to simply forgive and forget? If anything, his excuse is lame and mind-numbingly obtuse.

As a peace-loving Malaysian Muslim, I urge Ibrahim Ali to stop all attempts to justify his ridiculous exploits – for the sake of preserving any ounce of self-respect that is left in such a delusional mind that lacks empathy and conscience. All the bigots in our country who hide behind the guise of piety must be made to understand that our faith is stronger. They need to be made to understand that Malaysians will not cower to such vile threats and scaremongering tactics.

There is a saying in Islam, when one does something bad, then you must follow it by doing something good; I believe other religions embrace this concept too. People like Ibrahim Ali and those with similar sentiments should also realise how increasingly irrelevant scaremongering has become. Based on Ibrahim Ali’s behaviour these past several years, it appears as if he is the one confused – not us.

I cannot stress enough the fact that Islam is a religion that upholds peace and equality and, believe it or not, promote values that are in line with secular humanist thought. Unfortunately, beliefs based on intolerance and extremism seem to have hijacked our religion. As a result, the world only sees the ugliness of fanaticism rather than the beautiful foundations upon which Islam was built.

Islam is not under threat – not by the so-called infidels, liberals, moderates, Communists, Socialists, LGBT communities and, by all means, there is no ‘Christian threat’ in Malaysia. Muslims will not be easily confused by mere words – please, give us some credit. If anything, Islam is threatened by those who indulge in religious hypocrisy; instead of preaching love, respect and tolerance, they preach hate, fear and promote a brand of religion that oppresses.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said ,“Son, if you are able, keep your heart..free from malice toward anyone.” (Al-Tirmidhi:59) and this should serve as a reminder to the ultra-right and the ultra-intolerant.

Our religion does not oppress, repress or tyrannise.

Our country protects the rights of each citizen and ensures everyone a certain amount of religious freedom – which is enshrined in our Constitution. Most of all, Malaysians will not allow the bigots and their followers to discriminate or impinge on the rights of other Malaysians.

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