IGNORANCE is not the real problem; it’s not knowing we’re ignorant that is.
There have been various comments and arguments put forth regarding certain foreign religious speakers who have lectured in our country but many have not realised exactly where the problem lies.
Islam as per Article 3 of the Federal Constitution is the religion of the Federation and although other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation, Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution prohibits the propagation of these religions to Muslims.
Some foreign religious speakers, as well as local speakers who adopt the methods of the foreigners, indulge in comparing religions in their lectures and encourage the audience, who are mainly young Muslims, to point out the problems in other religions and to propagate Islam to non-Muslims after their programme. The audience are captivated by their presentation but these speakers cite incomplete religious verses or interpret them in the manner that they think is right and thus distort and misinterpret religious text.
Furthermore, the translations and commentaries which these speakers use as their authorities are not from reliable sources. Many have also given perverted interpretations to sacred religious teachings, and herein lies the threat – not to non-Muslims but to young Muslims.
After receiving inaccurate and misleading information, the young Muslim approaches the non-Muslim and begins to inaccurately point out “facts” in the latter’s religion.
The non-Muslim of course will correct him on the inaccuracies.
Now, the position is reversed. The non-Muslim begins to teach his religion to the young Muslim and while this does not breach Article 11(4), as it was the young Muslim who approached the non-Muslim in the first place and the non-Muslim is merely explaining his religion correctly to the young Muslim, it does defeat the spirit of Article 11(4) and, ultimately, this may result in confusion in the young Muslim’s mind. In this situation, inaccurate facts may create dissatisfaction with one another.
However, many find it odd as to why there are objections to the presence of these foreign preachers who, they consider, are only propagating harmony. Some have even commented that those opposing them may have not attended their lecture.
The fact is these speakers speak on religions and if one is not acquainted with the correct facts of other religions, one will remain ignorant of the inaccuracies that are conveyed.
It begs the question that if one is truly learned in all the world religions, why then are inaccurate facts being fed to young Muslims? All this will subtly erode the harmony among the various faiths in our nation.
One may claim to have the entire religious knowledge on the tip of their tongue, that they can recite verses, quote passages, chapters, words, phrases and numbers of any religious text but it will only be a load for the poor tongue to carry if the teachings are not absorbed into daily life.
Islam teaches harmony and tolerance. If one wants to preach Islam to a non-Muslim, it can be done without finding fault in their religion, for the holy Quran states: “Do not insult what they call gods that are other than Allah.”
If we want to portray the beauty of Islam, we must also show it in our conduct. Islam, after all, says “There is no compulsion in religion.”
ARIFF SHAH R. K