Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
- Jul 4, 2004
Islamic authority imposing restrictions on non-Muslims in ‘Allah’ row, says interfaith group
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — A non-Muslim interfaith group chided today the Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS) and a former top judge for trying to control the rights of Malaysia’s religious minorities in the tussle over “Allah”, which they said was against the country’s highest law.
The Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) was weighing in on recent statements issued by MAIS and ex-Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheik Abdul Halim, barring non-Muslims from calling their gods “Allah”.
“This is tantamount to imposition of restrictions by an lslamic Council or body against non-Muslims. It could also be seen as an attempt to control the religious practice of a non-Muslim religion by an lslamic body or organisation,” it said in a statement today.
The council warned against the “unhealthy practice” of pushing the idea that non-Muslims were bound by a fatwa or ruling from Islamic bodies like MAIS, saying it could spark religious tension.
“Any attempt to govern non-Muslims or interfere with non-Muslims’ practise of their religion by any Muslim body must be stopped immediately. It would be against the Federal Constitution. This unhealthy practice could also lead to unwanted social repercussions and raising of tensions between communities,” it added.
The statement was signed by Tan Hoe Chieow who is MCCBCHST president and head of Taoism here; deputy president Jagir Singh for the Malaysian Gurdwara Council; and Sing Kan and Prematilaka KD Serisena for Buddhism; and Rev Thomas Philips for Christianity; Datuk RS Mohan Shan for Hinduism.
The non-Muslim interfaith group said there are no laws, whether at federal or state level, to impose rulings or fatwa on non-Muslims.
It stressed that the only law applicable to non-Muslims was laid in Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, which restricted them from preaching their religious doctrine or belief to Muslims.
MCCBCHST said no non-Muslim was disputing Islam’s position as the religion of the federation.
It urged Muslims who disagreed that non-Muslims had a right to call their gods “Allah” to read the Constitution carefully and holistically, pointing to Articles 3(4) and 11(4).
Referring to Ahmad Fairuz, the group said it failed to understand “how the former Chief Justice could overlook the fact that all the enactments of the 10 states are made under Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution, and that Article 11(4) only provides for the control or propagation of any religious doctrine or belief amongst persons professing the religion of lslam.”
“This article does not forbid other religions from propagating to their adherents.
“In other words, if you do not profess or practise lslam, then no restrictions may be placed on you as to how you practise your religion,” MCCBCHST said, adding every religious group has the right to manage its own religious affairs.
The interfaith group also said the High Court had in 2009 ruled that provisions in state enactments forbidding the use of certain words by non-Muslims is unconstitutional.
It added that it supported the decision of non-Muslims to continue to use “Allah” for their gods as found in the holy books.
The “Allah” row, which first erupted shortly after Election 2008, is again in the spotlight in the run-up to Election 2013 and is threatening to drive a wedge between non-Muslims and the Malay-Muslim community who form 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million population.