Friday, January 10, 2014

Is Pakistan Islamic? But they CELEBRATE the Bible & here in M'sia, we CONFISCATE IT!

Islam is the official religion of Pakistan and Malaysia but both have contrasting attitudes toward the Bible.

Just three days after Christmas, Pakistan celebrated 150 years of the Bible Society there by issuing a commemorative postage stamp while in Malaysia, JAIS, the Selangor Islamic agency, stormed into the Bible Society two days into the new year. They confiscated over 300 local language Bibles, while police arrested two of its officials and later released them on bail.

The raid was condemned by both Christians and non-Christians including Muslims except for the extreme right wing within Umno and their sympathisers.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy while Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. Islam is the official religion in both countries.

Originally, when the constitution of the then Malaya was drafted by a five-man commission - with members from Britain, Australia, India, Pakistan and chaired by Lord William Reid - before independence was granted by Britain in 1957, it did not specify any official religion for the state.

This move was supported by the rulers of the nine Malay states, who felt that it was sufficient that Islam was the official religion of each of their individual states. However, Justice Hakim Abdul Hamid of Pakistan came out strongly in favour of making Islam the official religion, and as a result the Reid Commission in its final draft specified Islam as the official religion of Malaya.

Secular state with Islam as the official religion

With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the provision for Islam as religion of the new federation was retained although Sabah and Sarawak objected strenuously to it. They were persuaded to sign the Malaysia Agreement only on the assurance that Islam would not be the official religion in the two states. But this was not to be for long.

Unhappiness remained and Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first PM of Malaysia, on the occasion of his 80th birthday on 9 Feb 1983, had to reiterate that Malaysia must continue as a secular state with Islam as the official religion. He was supported by Hussein Onn, (the third PM), who believed that the country can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.

Then Dr M stirred up the Islamic state notion

All was well until on 29th September 2001, when during his opening address to the Gerakan Party’s 30th national delegates conference, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed announced:
"Umno wishes to state loudly that Malaysia is an Islamic country. This is based on the opinion of ulamaks who had clarified what constituted as Islamic country."

Through it all, the various attempted infusion of Islamic values since then began to take its toll, the latest being JAIS’ raid on the Bible Society.

Times also changing in Pakistan

All is not well either in Pakistan as Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC found out when he returned after half a century to his old college, Forman Christian College (now a university) to receive an honorary doctorate. Forman is Pakistan’s leading Christian educational institution. Like the Bible Society of Pakistan, it is now celebrating its 150th anniversary. Only 600 of its 6,000 students are Christian.

"Like many non-Christian Pakistanis, I owed my education to Christian teachers, both at Forman and at my previous school, Burn Hall in Abbottabad, which was run by Roman Catholic priests. Once there, I found myself transported back to one of the happiest periods of my life. It was a different Pakistan and it was a time of hope. Christians were very much part of the fabric of the nation," recalled Akbar, former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, in an opinion piece he wrote in the New York Times over Christmas.

"Times have changed. With increasing frequency, Christians have been attacked and their churches vandalized."

He said, "Many Pakistanis are unaware of the role Christians have played in the nation’s history. Although the Christian population is barely three million, or 1.6 percent of the population--as compared with 180 million Muslims (more than 95 percent)--Christians have had a considerable impact, especially in education."

He added that many of Pakistan’s most prominent leaders--including the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, the assassinated prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and former President Pervez Musharraf--went to Christian schools. Christians also educated Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who founded Pakistan in 1947. Under Pakistan’s Constitution, Christians were guaranteed equal rights.

"The targeting of Christians comes amid a widespread breakdown of public order," he noted.

Contribution of the Christians

The contribution of Christians to education in Malaysia stretches back as far as Christian efforts in Pakistan if not longer. Prime Minister Najib Razak is but one such beneficiary of Christian schools. Times have changed indeed.

Malaysia is fast sliding down the incendiary path of self-destruction. The JAIS raid has stoked the flames further. All is not well; not only for Christians but for every Malaysian. Our redemption lies in going back to what the framers of our constitution had originally intended. - mysinchew

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