August 7, 2016
Najib’s Dysfunctional Regime–Against Christians and others.
by Farouk A. Peru
The booklet Pendedahan Agenda Kristian (henceforth, PAK) was published in 2014 but has recently resurfaced in the form of a PDF copy in social media. It reflects the lowest form of thinking within the Malay-Muslim community. To say it portrays siege mentality would be an understatement.
I would put it in this way: if a Christian scholar wrote a tract called Pendedahan Agenda Islam with just one tenth of PAK’s venom, that scholar would probably be the first victim of the NSC!
The fundamental premise of PAK is that Christianity has an agenda against Islam. Although there is a perfunctory caveat at the beginning of the tract declaring that it does not foster any kind of hatred towards Christianity, the content tells us otherwise.
PAK also hides behind the constitutional protection of Islam by claiming that it is against the Constitution for Malays to be converted to Christianity while conveniently ignoring Islamic propagation towards Christians.
PAK opens with a seemingly detailed set of verses from the Quran which depict the Christians as enemies of Islam. Christians (and Jews) are those who apparently would never be pleased with “believers” until they follow their ways.
What is interesting here is that the author fails to follow even the exegetical methods of his own denomination, the Sunnis. Sunni Quranic scholarship claims that the Quran came about gradually as a response to various situations in the Prophet’s life.
These are called “occasions of revelation” (asbaab an-nuzool). As the readers can see from this tract, not a single”‘occasion” was quoted for these verses. Reason being, if they were, then the author of PAK would find it difficult to say that it is aimed at all Christians.
However, it does not take the “occasions of revelation” in order to see that these verses are contextual to the situation. If we analyse the words “Jew” (yahood) and “Christian” (nasaara) there is the proper noun modifier “the” (ism ma’rifa or al in Arabic) attached to them. Therefore, this reference is to a particular set of people, to be precise, those who conform to particular behaviours.
It is also ironic that the author quotes verses which explicate the failures of past communities yet utterly fails to see how Muslims themselves fell into the same trap.
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He quotes a verse about the Christians forgetting a part of the covenant given to them (5/14). Ironically, the Sunni scholarship regarding the Quran is based on the idea that some verses cancel out others, thus effectively forgetting a set of divine commands!
He also quotes a verse about Christians claiming they are the beloved of God (5/18) yet fails to see his entire thesis is based on the fact he considers Muslims to be in the very same position. He quotes verses criticising priesthoods (9/34) but ignores the fact that the people currently following priests in the most uncritical way are Muslims themselves!
Finally, the author utterly ignores verses which extol the virtues of Jews and Christians. In no less than three places, the Quran acknowledges that Jews, Christians and various other religious groups have nothing to fear nor grieve and that it is God himself who will judge between them (2/62. 5/69 and 22/17).
Why did the author not quote these verses, I wonder? Even more telling is the specific mention of Christians who are closest to believers (5/82) on which the author of PAK is deafeningly silent.
They are said to be devoted and humble. If the author wanted to use the Quran, then it is only fair that he gives the whole picture.
In truth, the Quran does not criticise groups simply for not being followers of Muhammad. It uses past communities as benchmarks of behaviour. By providing a balanced account of group behaviour, it is intended that present communities may avoid such pitfalls. This is why the aforementioned specific language is used.
The author of PAK on the other hand, simply quotes the criticisms, claims that his is the true religion and turns a blind eye to the failures of his own ummah. What an utter misuse of the holy text!
We next move on to the hadith literature (a collection of information allegedly depicting that used in Pendedahan Agama Kristian. The first thing one should note is that hadith literature is a matter of opinion.
The authenticity of any hadith is dependent on a collector’s opinion on its chain of narrators. We must remember that the formation of hadith literature came at a time when there was considerable competitiveness among religious groups. Prophet Muhammad’s name helped legitimise the Muslims against these groups.
Ironically, the very first hadith in PAK states that Muslims will follow in the footsteps of Jews and Christians which they did. PAK’s author however manipulated the hadith and stated that Jews and Christians would mislead the Muslims, something which that hadith did not actually state.
Another irony is the hadith which attacks the practise of enshrining the graves of pious people. Muslims do the exact thing for their saints and for the Prophet’s grave itself! Here again, the author of PAK, in his bias and judgement, fails to see the obvious.
In short, PAK is a tract filled with a biased reading of the Quran and a very selective and manipulative use of hadith. Although it claims otherwise, it will foster ill-will towards the Christian community.
While there is no proof of any evangelical campaign against Muslims, we need to come to terms with the fact that Malay-Muslims are not invulnerable to the market forces of ideas. We are not zombies. We read and think for ourselves.
In Sarawak, we have already allowed a Muslim to revert to Christianity. It is time the entire nation allows freedom of religion. Freedom of religion is not an affront to Islam, it is a testament to the fact that Islam is a religion of justice and mercy.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.