PETALING JAYA: Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah’s astuteness in bypassing politicians played a big part in working out a solution to the controversial seizure of Bibles in Selangor.
“Yes, I did not want to involve politicians. We need common sense for religion. Former MB (Mentri Besar) Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, it must be pointed out, also requested me to make a decision.
“The issue dragged on for too long. In finding a solution, we wanted to look for a full stop, not a comma.
“It was important that state Mufti Datuk Mohamad Tamyes Abdul Wahid was on board and he was fully for the return of the Bibles,” said Sultan Sharafuddin.
The Ruler said he consulted the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais), while a few of his aides made discreet calls to leaders of the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS). Discussions were also held with the Selangor Religious Department (Jais).
The Sultan said it was pointed out to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) that state religious laws had been violated as the Bibles were printed in Selangor.
“My emissaries approached Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok from the Association of Churches in Sarawak on his willingness to be involved and to end the impasse.
“The method of consultation worked well, better than calling for the burning of Bibles,” he said.
Although the palace played a crucial role in the return of the Bibles, some politicians have tried to claim credit.
“I do not care about getting the credit. My duty is to get the job done,” said the Ruler, adding that all those who had played a major role did not want to take credit.
“Only the politicians want to get the credit.”
Sultan Sharafuddin said that he expected people of other faiths to also respect and protect the religious sensitivities of Muslims in Malaysia, especially in Selangor.
“I hope that the distribution as well as the printing of Bibles that contain the word ‘Allah’ will no longer be done in Selangor.
“The law is specific and clear – it is an offence under the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
“At the same time, we must remember that the seized Bibles belong to the Christians. They had to be returned to the rightful owners,” said Sultan Sharafuddin.
Last month, the 321 copies of the Bible containing the word “Allah” that were seized from BSM were handed over to Archbishop Bolly in a simple ceremony at Istana Alam Shah in Klang.
The return of the Bibles ended the controversy that began in January when Jais raided BSM’s premises in Damansara Kim and seized the Bibles containing the world “Allah” on the grounds that they contravened a 1988 Selangor enactment, which prohibits non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” in the Bible.
As for the recent furore over the conditions that had been stamped inside the Bibles, Sultan Sharafuddin said the 1988 enactment had been breached and this was to ensure that the Bibles containing the word “Allah” did not return to Selangor.
He believed ACS, which received all the Bibles, was aware of the stamped conditions.
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