Where is Malaysia’s imam Mazhar Shaheen?
A standing ovation and thunderous applause greeted the preacher of Egypt’s Tahrir Square, Dr. Mazhar Shaheen, when he joined Coptic Christians in celebrating Christmas last Monday at the nearby Qasr al-Dobara Church, and delivered a stirring message of brotherhood and unity in the face of Islamist pressures threatening Christian-Muslim relations. [VIDEO]
(Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan 7, following the calendar of the Eastern churches.)
Addressing the congregation at the invitation of Samih Morees, his friend and confidante and pastor of the church, imam Mazhar Shaheen spoke of how all Egyptians carried out the Tahrir Square revolution of 2011, and the 18 days from Jan 25 to Feb 11 when millions of Egyptians rose in a people’s revolution to overthrow the dictatorship of Hosni Mobarak.
But the revolution led to the rise of an Islamist president (who did not attend Christmas celebrations) and of the hardline Muslim Brotherhood movement, and to declarations that wishing Christians a Merry Christmas was haram and forbidden, and Christians were condemned for protests against the president.
Post-revolution politics and Islamist pressures have placed the centuries-old tolerance and understanding between Muslims and Christians under great strain and imam Mazhar’s message of love comes in sharp contrast to the rising voices of hate. (» Christmas Confusion as Copts Experience “Other” Egypt — commentary by the Brookings Insitution.
Mazhar Shaheen’s message is bound to resonate with Malaysian Christians and other non-Muslim communities feeling marginalised by the campaign for racial and Islamic superiority and domination.
In Malaysia, official Christmas festivities have become a political gimmick, celebrating Santa Claus, reindeer and snow and not the Nativity, with a political leadership afraid to be seen next to crosses and other signs of Christian worship — and also accompanied by devout declarations that it is haram to wish Christians a Merry Christmas.
And then there is the racist campaign for superiority and domination by claiming exclusive ownership of the word for God.
Jan 13: » Tunku Aziz: Don’t politicize “Allah” — a comment by a DAP renegade now part of the Najib Razak-Barisan Nasional fan club
Jan 10: Christians Banned From Using Word ‘Allah’ in Arabic by New Fatwa in Malaysia — the Christian Post on the edict by the Selangor Sultan
Jan 10: » “Allah” Royal Decree Inflames Malaysia — The Cairo web site On Islam, quoting Free Malaysia Today
Jan 9: » CFM: Christians have constitutional right to use ‘Allah’ — the Christian community asserting its rights
Jan 8: » Can Christians Say ‘Allah’? In Malaysia, Muslims Say No — Time magazine interviews a Malaysian who believes “Allah is the Muslim God and belongs to Muslims”
Jan 3: » Convert to Islam for using word “Allah”: Malaysian Mufti to Christians — The UK-based Islam Online quoting Barisan Nasional’s favourite mufti
Three years ago…
• Jan 3, 2010: » PAS backs use of Allah by Christians — Malaysia Today quoting the Malaysian Insider
• Jan 30, 2010: » The Christians who call God ‘Allah’ — commentary in the Daily Telegraph. Quote:
“The implicit thinking (among Malaysian Muslims) seems to be that Allah is the name of God used in the Koran, and that the God worshipped by Christians is a false god. …The clinching argument against such an assumption is that Christians explicitly worship the God of Abraham. They worship the same God that Jews worship. … The problem in Malaysia has erupted among people who do not use Arabic as their first language. No such misunderstanding would be possible between Arabic-speaking Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians, for whom the only word for God is Allah.”
Is there anywhere in Malaysia an imam like Mazhar Shaheen?
As-salāmu ʿalaykum السلام عليكم, Gloria in excelsis Deo