Friday sermon calls for tolerance, but firm on Muslims’ rights

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By Zurairi AR

February 01, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Federal religious authorities today urged Muslims nationwide to respect non-Muslims, but warned against compromising their faith in tolerating other beliefs.

Today’s message comes a week after last Friday’s sermon that warned Muslims of attempts by “enemies of Islam” to confuse them into believing that all religions are the same.

In today’s sermon, in conjunction with World Interfaith Harmony Week here, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) urged Muslims to respect and protect the rights of adherents of other faiths. 

“The most important lesson (in Islam) is that we are prohibited from treating others unfairly just because of religious differences,” it said.

The sermon however said Muslims were allowed to “take action” if their religion was disputed or mocked, citing verse 60:9 from Quran:

“Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion.

“He forbids that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”

The sermon also warned against those who manipulated religion for their personal interests, and those who compromised their faith to tolerate other religions.

“The tolerance does not mean that we affirm their doctrines of faith, because in the case of faith, Islam does not compromise with kufur (blasphemy) and syirik (idolatry),” it said.

JAKIM warned that extremism in tolerance could become a catalyst for disarray in society which would then weaken the country’s socio-political stability.

In the sermon, the religious body warned non-Muslims to stop disputing things which were already finalised in the Constitution and Muslims’ exclusive rights.

The sermon ended by urging Muslims to identify with their Prophet Muhammad by preaching to non-Muslims through tolerance and with a noble attitude in order to attract them towards Islam.

In last week’s sermon, Muslims were told that being too open-minded and allowing Islamic rights to be abused by other religions was a “dangerous” act.

“It is very clear that, today, enemies of Islam are seeking to divert and undermine the Muslim community’s faith.

“They are united among themselves and are attempting, with their many tricks and ways, to stake their claim on the usage of ‘Allah’ in their scriptures,” the sermon had said.

JAKIM insisted that “Allah”, a word that millions of Arab Christians and those in non-Arabic-speaking lands use to describe their God, belongs to Muslims and is an exclusive right to those who profess Islam as it was clearly to prevent Muslims from becoming confused over the true identity of their God.

The “Allah” dispute, which first erupted after the watershed Election 2008, remains a hot-button topic in the run-up to this year’s polls.

Debate resurfaced in December after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also Penang chief minister, called on Putrajaya in his Christmas message to lift a ban on Malay-language bibles in Borneo Malaysia.

Hot on the heels of the DAP leader’s remarks, several state Rulers and Islamic religious authorities reminded non-Muslims of state laws banning use of the word, despite conflicting with a 2009 High Court judgment that ruled “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam.