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Holy books and politicians: The great disconnect in Malaysia

What is all this drama about here in Malaysia?


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Once again, we are debating and getting all knotted up with a case of whether politicians should be barred from quoting verses in the holy books, like the Quran.

Perhaps the following thoughts might help light up our tunnelled views.

All holy books are not the sole property of humankind, let alone nations, governments and politicians.

Barring or banning followers of one religion from quoting verses of another religion’s holy book is akin to walking the plank with blinkers.

If we take this path of stopping politicians from quoting from a holy book that is not of the religion they profess, then why are we printing and distributing copies of the holy books the world over?

Why are the holy books of the various religions translated and published the world over for centuries and distributed free in the public domain?

Even Malaysia printed and distributed thousands of the Holy Quran for free to various parts of the world so that non-Muslims could read it and be familiar with its contents.

In many hotel rooms worldwide, you are bound to find a copy of a holy book, such as the Bible or the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita, in the drawer.

So what is all this drama about here in Malaysia – arguing, debating, demanding and raising a ruckus over one non-Muslim politician who quoted a verse from the Holy Quran?

We do not need a philosopher to tell us that if someone has wrongly cited a verse from a holy book, point out the error to him or her. This will also give everyone the chance to be rightly informed.

After all, even the followers of a particular religion might wrongly quote verses from the holy book of their own religion. So are we also going to ban them for that? And punish them too?

Furthermore, wouldn’t we want to appreciate that even religious leaders or those schooled in their own religion of birth or conversion may – in fact, do –  wrongly quote verses from their holy books. So, what are we going to do with such cases then? Punish them with a ban too?

When will we come around to realise that all the holy books embrace all things that weave the four paradigms of human civilisation – the political, social, economic and environmental aspects of society.

Hence, no one, including politicians, should be stopped from quoting from any of the holy books.

Of course, one who quotes wrongly must owe up and make amends upon being corrected.  

If there was ill will or a dubious intention in wrongly quoting from a holy book, then public opinion is enough to permanently scar that erroneous person.

In fact, if a non-Muslim quotes from the Holy Quran or if a Muslim quotes a verse from a holy book other than the Holy Quran, we should be inspired by the thought that here is a living soul taking the trouble to appreciate the value of truth.

Ego requiem meam causa (I rest my case).

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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