KUALA LUMPUR: No religion in the world preaches hatred or violence and Islam is no exception.
However, one cannot deny that a recent spate of violence that has permeated most domains of the world press of late has been related to the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) which aims to form a global caliphate.
One will also remember the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2011 that was attributed to Al-Qaeda terrorists which was also carried out in the name of Islam and their Muslim brothers.
Though Malaysia is spared such extreme acts of violence perpetrated in the name of religion, we too have not been spared some acts (not just Muslim ones) that have caused cracks in the nation’s wall of religious and racial harmony.
One of the main factors towards this violence in the name of Islam is the influence of the extremists’ interpretation of the Quran, says Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chairman and director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.
One such widely distributed translation, said Ahmad Farouk, is the one by Dr Muhammad Taqiyuddin al-Hilali and Dr Muhsin Khan which is also informally known as the Hilali-Khan translation.
“This translation creates a mindset that is hostile to people of other faiths. The whole translation is based on the “Theory of Abrogation” or “an-nasikh wal-mansukh” in Arabic.
“This English translation has misled Muslims and people of the other faiths with a translation that is out of context and has pitted Muslims against the rest of the world,” Ahmad Farouk said at a roundtable discussion on the topic “Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" organised by IRF on Dec 7.
This English translation, he said, was distributed to English-speaking Muslims who perform the Haj in Saudi Arabia as well as most mosques in the United States.
Fears abound that it might also be distributed in Malaysia.
Ahmad Farouk, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon, said the number of comments in parenthesis in the Hilali-Khan Quran is excessive and instead of clarifying the text or explaining a word or phrase that cannot be easily translated into English, the comments instead make the text difficult to follow and often distort the meaning.
“The appendices contain discussions of Christian versus Muslim beliefs that read more like a polemical debate and really do not belong as part of a translation,” said Ahmad Farouk.
He illustrates his point by providing a few examples.
The Hilali-Khan translation of the Surah al-Fatihah (The Opening) (which is read 17 times a day) is as follows:
“Guide us to the straight way. The way of those whom you have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor those who went astray (such as the Christians).”
“This basically gives the impression that the Quran denounces all Jews and Christians. Obviously this is a great untruth.
“This translation is then followed by extremely long footnotes which justify this hateful message based on the traditions from the texts that go back to the Middle Ages (Ibnu Kathir, Qurtubi, at-Tabari) as if these are the only interpretations, and without any discussion on the history of these commentaries and the traditions on which they are based,” said Ahmad Farouk.
Another example Ahmad Farouk provides is the Surah Ali-Imran, which the Hilali-Khan translated version reads as:
“You (true believers in Islamic monotheism and the real followers of Prophet Muhammad and the Sunnah) are the best people ever raised up for mankind.”
A footnote to this verse explains the “best people” are those who “you bring with them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from eternal punishment in hell-fire and make them enter paradise in the hereafter).”
“I believe that propaganda such as the Hilali-Khan Quran and other materials coming primarily out of Saudi Arabia are one of the major root causes feeding extremist ideas among Muslims and violence against churches and against minorities,” said Ahmad Farouk.
Closer to home, he said the problem with Malaysia is the Wahhabi (radical literalists) doctrine creeping into the government administration.
“This is especially so with the formation of Ulama Muda Umno (ILMU) which is comprised of 100 per cent Wahhabis and Salafis (literalists). Some of this Wahhabis are also in the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).
“The government should really understand the threat of such doctrines that basically encourages a monolithic type of Islam that does not tolerate any differences in opinion, what more pluralism. The government should do something about this,” he told Theantdaily.
Ahmad Farouk’s fears cannot be discounted with the growing number of Malaysians seeming to join the IS cause.
It was reported that the police are watching the Malaysian Armed Forces as several personnel have been detected to be IS sympathisers with two members apparently arrested in Kuala Lumpur late last month on suspicion of channelling funds to Malaysians joining IS militants in Syria.
A Royal Malaysian Navy officer was among three men arrested in Sabah in June for being part of a militant group planning to undertake suicide bombings in Syria and Iraq.
As of Nov 13, 39 Malaysians had been identified as fighting alongside IS in Iraq and Syria with five reportedly killed.
On Dec 9, The Star reported that Malaysia's second IS suicide bomber was identified as Ahmad Affendi Abdull Manaff from Tumpat , Kelantan who is believed to have driven a bomb-laden truck into a military installation in Homs, killing about 50 of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's soldiers.
Since Reuters reported that IS also announced intentions to bring Afghanistan, Pakistan and India under its control, Malaysia may not be too far away from its aspirations.
In view of all this, the government should start heeding Ahmad Farouk’s words as well as those penned by 25 prominent Malays who penned an open letter calling for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in a constitutional democracy.
These prominent Malays include the former Home Affairs secretary-general Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Din, former Foreign Affairs secretary-general Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar, former Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, former Malaysian Bar president Hendon Mohamad and National Heart Institute (IJN) cardiothoracic surgeon and core-founder Tan Sri Dr Yahya Awang, who also happens to be Ahmad Farouk’s former boss.
“…But we believe there is a real need for a consultative process that will bring together experts in various fields, including Islamic and Constitutional laws, and those affected by the application of Islamic laws in adverse ways.
“We also believe the Prime Minister is best placed with the resources and authority to lead this consultative process. It is urgent that all Malaysians are invested with finding solutions to these longstanding areas of conflict that have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law, and undermined stability,” said the 25 prominent Malays in their letter.
Before extremism becomes the order of the day and race relations deteriorate further, the government of the day must not only do something, but must also be seen to be doing something – before it is too late.
- See more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/Race....XA2bdf6s.dpuf