KUALA LUMPUR: After accusing Christians and Jews of trickery in last week’s sermon, Malaysia’s federal Islamic authorities today called for harmony among religions but laced its message with warnings against any encroachment of Muslim rights.
In order to achieve harmony, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) insisted that Islam’s special privileges and rights, especially over the use of the word “Allah”, must not be disputed by anyone.
“The tolerance meant by Islam is for us to not overstep boundaries in things which have already been agreed upon,” Jakim’s sermon titled “Harmony between faiths” said.
“The pulpit also urges every party to not dispute things that are enshrined in the (Federal) Constitution and mutually agreed, in addition to not disputing Muslims’ exclusive rights,” it added.
The sermon talked of attempts by unnamed parties intending to upset harmony and tolerance among the country’s various faiths.
These attempts included so-called attacks against Muslims, with Jakim listing down cases where individuals called themselves messengers and gods.
While framed as a call for harmony and respect, the sermon simultaneously cautioned Muslims from being “too open”, especially in allowing non-Muslims to use “Allah” — the Arabic word for God.
Repeating its allegations from previous sermons, the department continued to accuse non-Muslims of wanting to use “Allah” for the purpose of misleading Muslims.
“The attitude of overstepping boundaries will be the catalyst towards confusion of the mind, schism in the society, and eventually will weaken the country’s socio-political stability.” it said.
Malaysia is currently grappling with an intractable religious conflict between Muslims and Christians over the word ”Allah”, the Arabic word for God, which culminated in a church in Penang being firebombed in January.
Other places of worship were attacked in 2010 over the same issue.
Tensions were heightened after Selangor Islamic authorities said it would begin enforcing a state enactment that bars non-Muslims from using “Allah”.
Jakim’s sermon today coincides with the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week, celebrated in the first week of February annually.
Last week, Jakim said that Christians and Jews are responsible for turning Muslims against each other and tricking them into losing their rights.
The sermon claimed that some Muslims were working together with the Christians and the Jews, and that this would speed up the downfall of Islam in Malaysia.
This led to criticism by federal lawmakers from opposition parties DAP and PKR that the department was exacerbating Malaysia’s religious tension amid the continued “Allah” row.
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