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alkitab-jais The Bibles in Malay and Iban print, seized by rogue elements of Jais (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in Selangor on Thursday 2 Jan 2014, cannot be about propagation of Christianity to Muslims even assuming that such propagation is wrong and which isn’t the case at all. Are 300-odd Bibles enough to convert all Muslims in Selangor? What about the Christians? Don't they need the Bibles for their own reading?

Where's the proof and evidence, assuming that the alleged propagation did take place and, furthermore, was wrong in law at the Federal level and the Constitution?

Is BSM propagating Christianity in Iban as well to Muslims in Selangor?

So far, as the media reports it, the concern of the fanatics, the lunatic fringe and racist politicians have been about Christian material in the Malay language.

Inferior law inconsistent with superior law, null and void

The Bible raid by Jais was not authorized by the Selangor state government and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais).

There's no evidence that the Sultan of Selangor was behind the Jais raid. If so, it may still not be a matter for the Special Court to try errant Rulers.

Jais has made much of state law governing non-Muslims. Any inferior law, state law for example, is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with a superior law, Federal law. The Sabah anti-hop law refers.

Allah in Bible not about propagation and conversion

The word ‘Allah’ – from Arabic and Aramaic, among others – in the Malay and Iban prints of the Bible is a reference to the Christian faith. It is not about propagation of the faith to anyone except Christians themselves.

The heart of the Christian faith is the New Testament in the Bible, not so much the Old Testament.

Allah not the name of God but an attribute

As Jesus lay dying on the cross, he cried out in his mother tongue Aramaic: "Eloi Eloi (al lah or more accurately el lah), lama sabachtani." (Eloi, Eloi, why has thou forsaken me?"). Eloi in Aramaic, Elah in Hebrew, Allah (il-lah) in Arabic – the one and only – is not the name of God but one of the many known attributes of God.

Islam itself speaks of 99 known attributes, not just Allah.

Christianity speaks among others of the unity in the trinity of three main attributes ... Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. Not three Gods but one God. Christian prayers recite all the attributes of God ... Almighty, all powerful, merciful, loving, kind, forgiving etc etc. Attributes take on a life of their own, becomes reality, and hence God exists, has always existed, will always exist. Only God exists as the only reality, the rest are illusions, not reality. The Bible tells us that we are made in the image and likeness of the living God. God is not something separate from us. That's the spiritual nature of man.

How can God being the one and only – Allah – one of the many attributes of God, be considered by Umno as exclusive to Islam and Muslims?

That's like Umno making a deity out of Allah, seeing the attribute Allah in the same light as the deity Lord Muruga in Hinduism at the ordinary level for example. Next, Umno will build an Allah statue based on Lord Muruga and incorporate the mandi safar to rival the carrying of the kavadi during Thaipusam. Mandi safar, by the way, is also Hindu.

Bibles in Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia?

This brings us to Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.

Article 152 of the Federal Constitution states that Malay is the national language.

Bahasa Malaysia is not the national language.

The basis of Bahasa Malaysia is Bahasa Melayu and superimposed on this are words from local dialects and languages, topped off by words from English which itself is 60 percent Latin, 30 percent French, 10 percent Greek, the old Germanic dialects of Angles and Saxon and others.

Were the Malay Bibles seized by Jais in the Malay language, Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia?

Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia are not one and the same.

The basis of Bahasa Indonesia is Bahasa Melayu. Superimposed on this are words from local dialects and languages, Dutch and to top it all, English.

Malay is a dead language.

The main language in use in our schools and in the street is Bahasa Malaysia.

It would be a misnomer and Umno politics to refer to Bahasa Malaysia as Bahasa Melayu.

For many years, the language textbooks from Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka stated Bahasa Malaysia on the cover. Then, suddenly, DBP one day printed the same textbooks with the word Bahasa Melayu on the cover. However, the contents are in Bahasa Malaysia, not Bahasa Melayu.

The Malay – it means “hill” in Tamil and other Indian tongues – language is not a monopoly of anyone including those who use it as a medium of communication.

Malay was developed from a Cambodian dialect by Hindus and Buddhists from India as the lingua franca for the Archipelago. There was heavy borrowing from Sanskrit and Pali (a Sanskrit dialect) – the language of Hindu temples and dialect of Buddhist pagodas – to develop Malay. “Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa” is pure Sanskrit. The Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese, and other Muslims in Malaya using Malay to communicate among them does not make them Malay notwithstanding Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.

The Federation, Malaya or Malaysia, is a secular state

It must be stated that the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Articles 3(1), 3(4), 4, 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution, read together, states that the Federation is a secular one. Freedom of worship is a basic human right under the Constitution and international law.

The Malaysia Agreement 1963 and its Annexures, which have a Basic Features Doctrine implied, state that Sabah and Sarawak have no religion. The Malaysia Agreement 1963 and its Annexures, constitutional documents on the 1963 Federation, are the basis on which the British and Malayan Governments dragged Sabah and Sarawak into the Federation of 1963.

The Batu Sumpah Keningau 1963, a constitutional document on the 1963 Federation, clearly states that Sabah would have no religion.

Article 160 of the Federal Constitution defines Federation as that set up by the 1957 Federation of Malaya Agreement. This can only be a reference to the States of Malaya and cannot be used to include Sabah and Sarawak as the 12th and 13th states.

The 1963 Federation does not have 13 states but three nations viz. Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya (with Singapore merged with Malaya from 1963 to 1965 as per a Yes/No Vote) in equal partnership.

 

Joe Fernandez is a graduate mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person.