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The problem with the controversial preacher

Zakir Naik - Photograph: Maapu - Creative Commons, commons.wikimedia.org

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Amazingly, this non-citizen appears to have no less than our prime minister wrapped around his little finger, observes Dominic Damian.

Islam is being maligned and manipulated by certain quarters. So many constrictions are choking common sense.

The noble religion is being used by certain quarters to undermine unity.

Questioning the loyalty of Indian Malaysian citizens and saying Chinese Malaysian citizens should go back first is as low as it gets.

The controversial preacher must be asked:

  • why are Muslims in India not emigrating in droves and fleeing to other countries?
  • why is he fleeing from his home country?

The problem with this preacher is that he has manipulated our leaders’ goodwill or foolishness or their willingness to compromise.

His bravado in mocking others is not a fault we should attribute to him. It is either plain stupidity, blind belief or the confidence that he has the backing of our spineless leaders.

Their collaboration appears aimed at winning votes. The preacher flashed his religious credentials and our leaders swooned as they welcomed him – bypassing all rational thinking and logic.

This controversial preacher, as we already know, has limitations: he does not know what “shut up and get out” means.

Another limitation apparently is his inability to process information impartially. He would rather support a dishonest Muslim leader in preference over one who is willing to collaborate with everyone.

Instead of isolating him and insulating Malaysians from him, we were subjected to his incessant preaching.

This preacher would have been dealt with easily if not for our laws that ironically protect him. With the ominous threat of prosecution, many tend to tread cautiously.

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Generally, our Muslim brothers and sisters have been considerate and sensitive. They acknowledge that non-Muslims are not in a position to exercise honest discernment publicly. As a consequence of this recognised vulnerability, the demeanour and understanding of our Muslims has been one of grace. They don’t flaunt or show any kind of superiority. Their harmony and peace reveal their goodness and greatness as a people of faith.

But the presence of this controversial preacher is an unnecessary agitation putting adherents of a good faith in a bad light.

This preacher knows very well that non-Muslims here are bound by legal constraints. Freely dissecting, dissenting or discussing religious differences could be punishable offences.

Otherwise, there would be many people, Muslims or non-Muslims alike, who could demolish the preacher’s assertions. We are simply too polite a nation to respond in such a manner.

Amazingly, this non-citizen is perhaps the most influential man in the country. He appears to have no less than our prime minister wrapped around his little finger. Leaders from both sides of the political divide seem to be eating out of his hand.

How do we explain the adulation shown towards such a controversial preacher?

  • The authorities in charge of religion do not appear interested in getting qualified credible intellectual individuals who have the potential to inspire and offer the best of their faith. Why not get a person who has a central theme and motivation of unifying the celebrated diversity of differences among us. We have excellent internationally renowned Islamic speakers that I occasionally listen to, and their message is for all.
  • What does the acceptance of this preacher say about our very own preachers and segments of the population?
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This controversial preacher staying on in Malaysia is not the issue. Leave him be to face our collective unity. But allow us and some of our eminent Muslim brothers and sisters to challenge and dismantle his warped representation of Islam.

The ones who should bear responsibility for this mess are our leaders and those in authority.

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