Malaysia’s Church Bombings A Disappointment

“I think Singaporeans must have a care not to bring problems like this to themselves,” said DPM Wong at a community event in Singapore on Sunday.

“We live in an inter—connected world, we cannot be divorced from what happens in other countries. But at the same time we must be rational, and examine: when we bring such problems to our shores, what are we trying to do? Are we trying to express sympathy only, or will doing so result in more problems for our own community?”

Race and religion have always been seen as a potential minefield in Singapore.

via Yahoo! News

I’ve been following the news about the church bombings in Malaysia off and on and I think this guy’s message is pretty important.  It’s good to understand what’s going on in the world around us, as long as we don’t let it affect us so deeply that we begin to act on other people’s problems.  For all its ethnic and religious diversity, Singapore is probably the most peaceful country in the world.  It should stay that way.

This issue in Malaysia is one that boggles my mind.  Who knew that some people could be so deeply offended by such a small thing?  The universe is large, and God, or Allah, created all of it.  Do we really think that he would be so concerned over such a petty thing as non-believers using the name typically reserved for himself (in Malaysia)?  And even if Allah’s anger was piqued by non-believers using his name to refer to another idealization of God, isn’t it up to him to mete out Justice?

From my limited understanding of the use of Allah, it is typically used by Muslims when they reference God.  However, “Allah” is not a Muslim word.  It is an Arabic word, and as such is not subject to a monopoly by any certain group of people just as “God” isn’t subject to monopoly by Christians.

“The Allah ban is unusual in the Muslim world. The Arabic word is commonly used by Christians to describe God in such countries as Egypt, Syria and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.”

via cnews WorldWatch

I also read that one argument against allowing the Catholic publication to use the word Allah is that it may confuse Muslims and lead to unwitting conversions.  That seems really weak to me though.  Do they have so little faith in people’s intelligence?  Or in their convictions?

The most disappointing part of this incident is that it has led to violent reactions allegedly on the part of Muslims.  Violence isn’t an answer.  It’s not going to make anyone change their mind.  Not in this day and age and especially not with petty acts of arson.  If anything, these actions have galvanized public opinion against extremist Muslims and painted Christians as the victims, lending public and international  favor to the court’s ruling to allow them the use of the word Allah.

On the other hand, this does is cast Malay Muslims in a poor light, even to other Muslims, since Islam as a religion is struggling to overcome international bias as a religion of war, terror and extremism.  There have been statements from the Malaysian government stressing that these actions are not condoned by the majority of Muslims in Malaysia.  There are also many Malay Muslims who have made contributions to have fire-bombed churches repaired, in a show of national solidarity against extremist attacks.

The controversy has pushed locals to turn to the Web in a bid to rally support for the affected buildings. A blogger who started an Internet fundraising campaign for the Metro Tabernacle Church, which was attacked by arsonists, raised 8,467 ringgit (US$2,493) in four days.

Mohamed Rafick Khan Abdul Rahman, 45, started the donation drive on his blog after learning about the attack in Kuala Lumpur. He said donations poured in nationwide, and from the U.K. and Europe.

via ZDNet Asia

I don’t pretend to understand Islam, since I’m not Muslim myself, but what I do know is that we as human beings should be able to settle our differences peacefully.  Any religion that purports itself to be a religion of peace can not, by definition, support violence as a mean’s to an end so committing violent acts in the name of Islam or Allah is contradictory.  People shouldn’t be so offended on religious grounds by a practice that’s already widely accepted by Muslims around the world.

In closing, it’s nice to see that while Singaporeans have taken in the news of religious strife in Malaysia, they’ve simply consumed the information for what it is and not let it affect the peaceful prosperity that Singapore is currently enjoying.

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