Thirty thousand Malay Bibles seized by Home Ministry officials from the port here were stamped today with the government’s seal without the importer’s consent despite Putrajaya’s assurance that the holy books for Sarawak Christians would be left untouched.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had defended his ministry’s stamping of 5,100 Malay-language Bibles in Port Klang with its official seal, saying it was standard protocol and not done to “deface” the Alkitab.
“As for the serial numbers on the Bibles, the reason why it was done to the specific Bibles is because they are subject to the particular seizure in Klang,” he added.
Hishammuddin’s Cabinet colleague Nazri Aziz had also said the 5,100 copies in Port Klang remain illegal due to a prohibition in Selangor Islamic laws.
However, the de facto law minister had told The Malaysian Insider that the 30,000 Alkitab in Kuching could be released immediately as there was no enactment in Sarawak against the use of the term “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.
The Sarawak importer, James Redas, said that local Bumiputera Christians are highly upset at what they see as a desecration of their holy book and will make their feelings felt at the ballot box.
Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria has warned the release of the previously impounded 35,100 Malay-language bibles could lead to Malay anger and fearsome consequences.
The Malay Bible controversy should be carefully managed by all parties. Malaysia is already a polarized country. Division between ethnic and religious communities is quite pronounced. We must be prepared to address this issue with a sense and sensibility.
There are two major issues here:
1) Ego. Malaysia's diverse ethno-religious communities should learn to accept and respect the existence of all religions in the country. We should compete for exclusivity of any religion. All religions profess good spiritual and moral values to their followers.
We should address the issue of ego. Harussani sounds egoistic when he claimed that the release of Malay-language bibles could lead to Malay anger and fearsome consequences. Why should and why would the Malay react in such hostility? Personalities such as Harussani should be refrained from making a false representation for the Malay. Let our Malay Muslim brothers and sisters speak for themselves.
I am confident that most Malay Muslims are confident of their Islamic faith. Islam is a major religion in the world. Muslims would not leave the religion just because they can get access to Malay-language bibles. I was a student of Islamic history and had read the Quran but instead of converting to Islam I had gained valuable knowledge about Islam and its virtues.
We should get rid of EGO if we want to achieve a real solution.
2) Second is the issue of confidence. I believe that a lack of communication and mutual understanding had led us to this controversy. Silly as it may sound there is no need for the government to react so negatively towards the Malay-language bibles. I believe the PM is a sensible and moderate leader. But it is not easy for any moderate leader to lead effectively in such a political environment. We should refrain from using the Bibles as a political pawn in the next Sarawak state elections. Unfortunately, the issue is expected to take a centre stage in Sarawak, risking further rifts amongst the Christian and Muslim communities.
The government, religious bodies, council of churches and eminent individuals must come together to put a stop to incessant and unnecessary politicization of the religious book. There are many things which can be politicized but not this BOOK not the BIBLE.
Malaysia must focus on bigger issues.