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NST : THE SUNDAY COLUMN: Keeping Malaysia as Malaysia is

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  • Uncle Yap
    From The New Straits Times 8 January 2006 THE SUNDAY COLUMN: Keeping Malaysia as Malaysia is Kalimullah Hassan THE wife of a dear friend of mine had been ill
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7 5:34 PM
      From The New Straits Times
      8 January 2006

      THE SUNDAY COLUMN: Keeping Malaysia as Malaysia is
      Kalimullah Hassan

      THE wife of a dear friend of mine had been ill the last few years, and
      she was just skin and bones.

      The doctors could not find out what was wrong with her, and they tried
      everything, conventional, traditional and non-traditional medicine,
      and they have also been praying fervently at their church.

      There was no change in her condition, in fact she kept wasting away.

      At their wits’ end, they saw sinsehs and bomohs, and changed the
      entrance to their house on the advice of a feng shui master. Then they
      went to see a Muslim scholar reputed to have healing powers.

      Finally, she started recovering. Today, there is colour in her cheeks
      and she has begun to put on some weight.

      Many years ago, in the early 1980s, another devout Christian friend of
      mine related the story of a young Malay-looking couple with an infant
      sitting in the back pew of his church in Petaling Jaya.

      After the service, he inquired whether they were new to the

      It emerged that they were devout Muslims and their child had been
      sickly from birth, progressively worsening and the doctors had all but
      given up hope.

      They, too, had tried everything and nothing worked. They went to the
      church in desperation.

      Eventually, the child got well and is now a healthy grown-up. They
      remain devout Muslims to this day.

      What ailed them and what made them well?

      Who knows? God, it is frequently said, works in mysterious ways.

      God is known by so many different names to humankind.

      To Muslims, to me, God is Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet. And we
      believe that nothing happens that is not willed by Allah.

      My Roman Catholic friends believe in the Holy Trinity, Vishnu, Shiva
      and Brahma make up the Hindu trinity, and our Sikh friends refer to
      their God as Waheguru, the wonderful Lord.

      Our Malaysia is rich in many ways, richest perhaps in its cultural and
      religious diversity and in our tolerance, harmony and peace-loving

      Our Malaysia is a Malaysia of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus,
      Taoists, Sikhs and those of many other faiths and denominations.

      In many ways, it is our collective belief in God that has given us the
      strength, patience and wisdom to live with each other as friends and
      neighbours, in unity and in peace.

      We respect each other’s right to freely practise our faith.

      By and large, we know the sensitivity of racial and religious issues
      and we refrain from public ranting to preserve our peace. It has
      worked for us.

      History has shown us how religion and race can become the root of
      violence, break up societies and nations. God forbid, none of us want
      that to happen to us, to Malaysia.

      We know our diversity; our composition of different races and
      religions is here to stay.

      We want our generation and our children’s generation and their
      children’s generation to live their lives in harmony as we do.

      Yet there are times when things do not work as we want them to. There
      are times when inadvertently race and religion become an issue, like
      in the case of former army commando M. Moorthy.

      Moorthy had converted to Islam on his sick bed but, by all accounts,
      did not adhere to the tenets of Islam and continued to live life as a

      It was when he died that religion became the cause of a tussle. Should
      he be cremated as a Hindu as his wife and family insisted, or buried
      as a Muslim as Syariah required because of his conversion?

      Although he was physically incapacitated, he was, again, by all
      accounts, in a sane frame of mind when he decided to become a Muslim.

      Certainly, no one could force Moorthy to take that most important of
      steps to convert. He did it of his own free will.

      The question is, although he was sane, what was his state of mind when
      he took that decision?

      Was he, like my Christian friend, at his wit’s end because his wife
      could not be cured and went to see a Muslim scholar for help?

      Was he like the young Muslim couple who did not know what to do about
      their child’s fading health and went to a church, hoping against hope?

      There are many people whose faith is so strong that they would have
      never wavered, no matter what.

      Yet, all we mere mortals have weaknesses, all of us have succumbed to
      weaknesses and we have done things which we are not proud of.

      But Moorthy died and a decision he made led to repercussions on us as
      a country, as a Malaysian people.

      This is not the first time it has happened; but hopefully, the
      Cabinet, which has shown the concern this issue deserves, can deliver
      on its pledge to ensure that it does not recur.

      I have a sweet little sister, the youngest in the family who,
      unfortunately, has been afflicted with a severe case of rheumatoid
      arthritis since she was 10.

      Much as I always picture her as the full-of-life youngest sister in
      the early years of her life, when I see her, I realise how much that
      ailment has taken a toll on her.

      She has spent as much time in pain and in hospitals as she has out of

      No normal life, stunted growth, suffering the effects of being pumped
      up with steroids in her younger years, and undergoing numerous
      surgeries for knee and hip replacement.

      Life has been tough for her. It was true grit and determination which
      saw her excel in her studies and become a lawyer.

      After one of those major surgeries she underwent at the University
      Hospital, she was laid out on her back when a group of Samaritans, who
      do their rounds at hospitals, visited her to give her solace and hope.

      One of them asked her to seek release from her pain and become a
      Christian. Politely, she asked the person never to raise the subject
      with her again.

      My late mother and our family were upset because we felt that what
      this person did was wrong, trying to take advantage of an ailing
      person in a less than normal state of mind to take a step that would
      have had major repercussions for our family.

      Are such sick-bed or death bed attempts at conversion right?

      Was Moorthy’s conversion a decision made by a mind that had run into a
      dead end? Only those who were there with him at that time would know.

      But it is incidents like Moorthy’s which put normal Malaysians in a

      We feel a need to speak up and say something; yet we are afraid we
      will be mis understood and labelled as ignoramus and unschooled in our

      We are hampered and restricted by our strong belief that issues of
      race and religion should not be brought into the public domain because
      of the sensitivities they will raise.

      It does not take a majority to start a riot which can break up a

      We have seen how the death of a president in a helicopter crash in
      Rwanda started blood-letting which led to full scale genocide.

      We have seen how a racist minority started the Balkan massacre of

      We have seen how a small group of fanatics tore down the Babri mosque
      in India which led to the deaths of thousands in months of violence.

      And just recently, we saw how a bunch of rednecks caused violent
      clashes against Arabs in Australia.

      Almost always, the voice of moderation is drowned out because the
      extreme minority has the lunatic zeal and vehemence to speak loudest.

      But we are fortunate because our people, our religious leaders and our
      lawmakers are generally level headed and rational and it is to their
      credit they headed off any untoward incident in Moorthy’s case.

      We are fortunate that we have ministers like Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and
      Kota Baru MP Datuk Zaid Ibrahim who, aware of the consequences of
      being labelled by the more extreme elements among them, spoke openly,
      rationally and in the interests of fairness and justice.

      The Cabinet, too, has made the right decision to look again at the
      laws which would allow both Muslims and non-Muslims to receive
      justice. There is no other way.

      As a Muslim, I believe my God, Allah, is compassionate, just, fair and

      He is al-rahim (the merciful), al-alim, al-basir, as-sami (all-
      knowing, all-seeing and all-hearing), al-adil (the just) and
      al-ghaffur (all-forgiving).

      Who then, among us mere mortals, could say that we are wrong if we
      speak up, with a clean heart and a clear conscience, for the sake of
      justice and fairness, for our fellow beings, Muslims and non-Muslim


      *************From Uncle Yap**************
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