All throughout my 11 years of school life, whenever I sang the Selangor state song, I never once mentioned the word "Allah". I really thought it meant the Malay God (and non-Muslims weren't supposed to say it). When I entered college, I found out that Bibles in Borneo used the word "Allah" to describe God. Honestly, that didn't make a single difference to me. God didn't change because of my naivety. He has always been good to me; He is ever righteous and holy and forgiving and loving, even before I ever knew Him - even while I was in my mother's womb, He has been good to me.
I wish the home minister!, politicians and fuming protestors (on both sides!) would just stop, and think about it; we're all striving to find out who God is. He is great and powerful; whether it be to the Muslim, or Christian, or Buddhist, or Hindu. He is Multiple to the Buddhist and Hindu, or He is One to the Christian and Muslim.
I don't get are why some people are so angry and fearful - some Muslims are angry because they think the world "Allah" is unique to their religion and this has led to some Christians being angry because now their Bibles need authorization and stamps. Some Muslims fear that the Bible might "mislead" some of their followers, and some Christians fear that this is only the beginning of eventual persecution (then again, the Bible talks a lot about how persecution is inevitable in the Christian walk).
But, why are we fighting? Does fighting help us get to heaven? Does fighting over this issue bring either of us closer to God? Does the act of burning holy places / books in protest make us more righteous? Will a stamp on the first page of the Bible really stop an interested non-Christian from picking up the Bible and reading it? (Also, I don't think there would be a problem with non-Christian Buddhists and Hindus reading the Bible; their religions never mention that they are forbidden from opening the Bible to take a peek, if I am not wrong. So, to be politically-correct, the stamp technically should be renamed from the currently proposed "Untuk Kegunaan Penganut Agama Kristian Sahaja").
I read the Quran out of curiosity, and I find what I learn from my Muslim friends interesting. I find how the Hindus worship the Ganjes river intriguing and I've watched some documentaries on it. I like how Buddhism propagates inner peace and tranquility. I'm interested in the atheist's point of view because they always have the strongest ideas and challenging questions to test my faith.
But all these do not thwart my faith, because I know my principals and I have good experiences to back up my faith. I try to respect all religions (and atheism) and I believe that everyone is entitled to believe in what they think is right. Just because I am a Christian does not in anyway make me more superior, and it doesn't mean I can't learn from other religions, too. I am just like every other religious person, trying to find out more about God. I prefer the idea that God sent Jesus to die for our sins, and that's why I'm a Christian. (In my naive teen years I may have been more silly and tried to force my religious ideas on other people - and I do apologize if I've been insensitive towards any of you - but I've learned better, and I know now that God reveals Himself to those who sincerely seek Him out of free will.)
I believe if someone really believes in God (or really doesn't believe in God), he or she should keep testing his / her faith to make sure that he / she is really strong and not just keep going with the flow just because of inertia and routine and societal pressure. We all know that coal under pressure turn into diamonds. So why not each person be allowed to refine their faith? And besides, when we've put aside all our religious differences, aren't our core values the same? All religions teach us to be humble and kind and honour our parents. All religion guides us to know God more, or at least, to know what God expects of us.
I'm not saying this just because I'm a Christian I'm kicking up a fuss about the stamping of Malay language Christian bibles. Even if the stamping of the Malay language Bibles go on, I don't really mind, especially if it means that the translated Bibles get to the churches easier instead of being held up in ports. I believe that it's possible that "the Muslim God could compel a non-Muslim to pick up the Al-Quran and enlighten him/her" just as much as "the Christian God could compel a non-Christian to pick up the Bible and enlighten him/her" even if either Holy Books were full of stamps from cover to cover.
The fuss I'm kicking up about is why are we arguing about these things, when there are bigger things we can think about. Like how people are starving when some people are so rich they can feed 500 people with the single meal they have. Or like how we can improve our country's economic situation. Or even our country's public transport system. Or even our public toilets. Something that would not create dissent and cause some Malaysians living abroad to smirk and sigh in relief because they "escaped from Malaysia" in time to "save" their children (who speak with some foreign accent), but will make them feel like returning because they are missing out! Something that's much more worthwhile doing rather than sending angry text messages to the local ulama / pastor saying "You better do something about this whole issue otherwise there are some angry people waiting to jump at the chance of taking down a church / mosque".
I am still learning about God (or at least, my perception of God), but this I can say : I'm not sure if God would be angry if a Malay-speaking Christian says "Praise Allah for his goodness" BUT I'm pretty sure God would be prouder of the Muslims and Christians if we work together to build our beloved country instead of picking on each other all the time just because of religion. Let's not be like the Pharisees or "orang Jahiliyah," quick to stir up dissent, blatantly ignoring the speck of sawdust in our very own eye.
Come on, fellow Malaysians. We can do this. We can live in perfect harmony, just like our ancestors did, right after we celebrated Merdeka.
Disclaimer : This whole post in itself is not meant to stir up dissent. Every single sentence I've written is just my own rumination; I admit that I am only human, prone to err. I love all my Facebook friends, no matter what religions they own / don't own. This post is just my plea from my point of view, for us to look at the bigger picture - despite the recent happenings in Malaysia, be it political or religious or whatever issue makes us "pening". We will always have our differences, so why don't we just practice love and acceptance a little bit more?
However, the only person I'm really really REALLY annoyed with is the home minister. Please do away with the "BY ORDER OF THE HOME MINISTER" in the stamp. I wouldn't like it if some politician wanted his title stamped over every single copy of the English-language Al-Quran either.