Thursday, January 28, 2010

Christians are at fault for provoking muslims in Allah row? What?!!

From the Malaysian Insider ... I certainly cannot understand the logic of these "academics". Can they not see that they are the ones who are the extremists? Is not using open threats of May 13 (no longer even veiled) proof of their extremism?
With such statements being made, how can there be any hope for any kind of peace? God have mercy!


By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

The Metro Tabernacle church was firebombed and partially gutted. — file pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 28 — Islamic academics and administrators have blamed Christians for provoking Muslim anger by challenging the ban on their use of the word “Allah”.

Politicians, particularly those from Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) were also blamed for failing to defend Islam against perceived threats.

Panellists at a forum organised for civil servants here by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) suggested that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government was lax in defending Islam, after the High Court ruling allowing a Catholic weekly to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Zamihan Mat Zin from the Institut Latihan Islam Malaysia blasted politicians for being vocal only on Malay rights but doing little for Islam.

“Some politicians are ever so vocal when it comes to defending Malay rights but when it comes to their religion, they are quiet. What is the use of defending Malay rights if our religion is not protected?” he told about 800 civil servants at a special forum here today.

Zamihan said deliberate attempts were being made to degrade Islam, citing as an example the Catholic Church’s legal challenge against the ban imposed on the Herald weekly for using “Allah” to describe the Christian God.

“Extremism can be found in any religion and this challenge is definitely one of them,” he said and stressed that references in Islam that “Allah” was exclusive to the Muslims are pervasive.

Mohd Aizam Masod, an officer from Jakim’s research department, said the argument that Arab Christians and Jews also used the word “Allah” had no domestic merits given that Malaysia is not an Arabic speaking nation.

“For Christians, this is just a question of translation but for us Muslims, the term Allah is integral to our akidah (faith),” he said, arguing that the usage of “Allah” by non-Muslims can and does confuse Muslims.

“Imagine if Jesus Christ, which under the Unitarian concept is considered as God to the Christians, be called ‘Allah’, wouldn’t it be confusing? Allah is by definition a description of a singular Muslim God, but non-Muslims usage will pluralise it,” he said.

Deputy chief of Syariah Research Department of the Attorney-General’s office, Mahamad Nasir Disa, who spoke on the issue from a legal perspective, agreed with his fellow panellists that the issue was an act of provocation by Christians.

“Often the argument given by them is that to deny the usage is to deny their rights to practise their religion but our argument is that the word ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of their religion as compared to us.

“If that is the case, then we can talk about rights. If not, don’t talk about rights,” he said.

Mahamad, too, agreed that there is “a lack of real leadership” in dealing with the matter, saying that the government had the power to prevent non-Muslims from using “Allah”.

He said that preventing non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” would ease ethnic tensions.

Yesterday, four boar heads were found at two mosques, the latest in a series of attacks and acts of vandalism on places of worship, including arson attempts on churches, following the “Allah” ruling.

In his remarks, Mohd Aizam also used alleged “historical facts” to say that Christians had tried to convert Muslims in the region since the colonial days by translating their bibles into local languages.

But Zamihan went as far as suggesting that a repeat of the May 13 racial riots was possible if the Christians, which to him practised extremism in the matter, did not back down.

“Who knows, there might be a Feb 13?” said Zamihan.

Keep in step (spiritual formation on the run).

It's been a while since I last posted a reflection from Alex's "Spiritual Formation on the Run" ...

For this post I have chosen Chapter 25: Keep in Step.
First, the chapter in blue italics, and followed by my reflections and of course ramblings :-) Please be forewarned about the ramblings! :-)

Look at a herd of sheep. You may be able to get them to move together in one direction, which farmers in Australia use sheep dogs to do. The sheep dogs will herd the sheep, but the sheep will never be able to march in a precise and coordinated manner. They will trip over and run into each other, and make a lot of noise. A herd of sheep does not exhibit teamwork.

An emperor of China decided to see if his people could work together. Were they capable of teamwork? He issued a decree that everybody must eat with four-feet long chopsticks; they were not allowed to eat with their hands. The decree must be obeyed on pain of death. After six months, the emperor wondered how his people were responding to the decree. So he sent out his great captain to see what was happening. In the first village that he visited, the captain saw that the people were starving. They had a lot of food, but were unable to get the food into their mouths with the long chopsticks. The captain visited other villages and encountered the same situation. People were starving and dying, even though there was an abundance of food. One day, he came upon a village that was happy and well fed. He asked the people, "How is it that you are happy and well fed while others in the country are starving?" The villagers smiled and said, "When we first tried to eat with the long chopsticks, we just could not get food into our mouths. One day, we decided to feed each other." That was teamwork.

Teamwork is working together - whether you are feeding each other, or marching together in drill, or doing a project together in school. We need each other. To succeed in any enterprise, we must work as a team.

Even Jesus Christ had a team. His team was made up of 12 men called disciples. He told them, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19).

I remember that I first read the chopsticks story many years ago in Readers Digest (a filler humorous (?) story of a dream). In this version, it was a story about heaven and hell. It was about how the situation in both realms were the same. There was plenty of food but in hell people were selfish, so everyone was miserable and starving. No one was willing to feed the other. In heaven, because people were selfless and caring, everyone was well fed because each would feed the other.

As I reflected afresh on contents of this chapter, and the chopstick story (both versions), a very "unspiritual" thought came to my mind. "What if I were to feed the other person, but when it came to my turn, he refuses to feed me?" It was a hypothetical question of course but the mere fact that I though of that question made me realize how sinful my heart still is. (Although I did try "arguing" with myself that I was just being "realistic" as I have been taken advantage of way too often when I am nice to others.)

It has been an interesting "lectio divina" exercise for me. Upon deeper reflection, I then felt that if I were ever in such a situation, I would do the right thing and not think so selfishly. That was a relief. But then later upon even more further reflection, I thought that I would probably want to come to an agreement first with the "other party" so that it would be clear that "I will first feed you, but I am doing this with the understanding that you will then also feed me." Oops ... my selfishness and insecurity wells up again! :-(

*sigh* Jeremiah 17: 9 comes to mind! "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Yes, I know some of you might be asking, "Isn't this chapter / meditation about teamwork?" I haven't forgotten ... this is just one of my rambling tangents. I will get to the teamwork part later ... or eventually ... :-)

Anyway ... it was back and forth and back and forth as I tried to examine closer my motives and attitudes, and entered into the old debate of whether human beings are born essentially good or essentially evil. Then it got more complicated as I revisited the problem of many Christians not living the way they know they should ... should not a good tree bear good fruit? And even back to 1990 to my B.Th thesis topic that was part of my wrestling with the then "LORDSHIP SALVATION DEBATE".

Crazy really as earlier this week I watched an episode of FRASIER that I taped. (The sitcom with the psychiatrist brothers, Frasier and Niles Crane) and one of the debates they had (weaved into the storyline) was over their conflicting beliefs. For fans, Frasier held that people are essentially good, while Niles thought otherwise...

Then I had a conversation a couple of days ago during a pastoral visit to a church member in which we discussed (among many other things) a problem she faced where after years of trying to be nice in her approach to getting a solution about a defective service (which has been causing her so much inconvenience and money), she has had to go to court to rectify the problem. Fast disappearing are the days of a person's word being his or her bond. Then it made me think of the few courses I took on Law. Isn't a verbal agreement / contract still considered a binding contract? I think so but then I guess the problem is not the verbal contract but proving that there was such a verbal contract and how one interprets the contract.

So many questions, so many turns. Though in the end all these thoughts gave me a bit of comfort in that I do have a good reputation of being a man of my word. Not sure if I have a final conclusion to my messy thoughts but Romans 7:18-25 sure helps!

18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

25 Thanks be to God-- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


Now back to the teamwork part ...

I think about teamwork very often. Stuff like how the many parts of that make up the body of Christ should function, the spiritual gifts Christians have been etc. And I do agree wholeheartedly that to succeed in any enterprise, we must work as a team.

And I like the chopstick story as it made me think of what I think is an oft neglected aspect of team work - that of "taking turns to feed and be fed".

Anyway ... as I reflected on aspects of team work, I realised that some of the best experiences has been when other team members cheerfully cover for a team member who is temporarily unable to function due to illness, needing a break etc. It means a lot of extra work for the rest but when the unwell team member gets better and returns, he / she is even more energized and the contribution is amazing. I have noticed that this happens often and in the long run it results in greater team work and stronger relationships. Many examples come to mind.

For example, on our last short term mission trip, one of our members was not well for the first two days. We covered for her and made her rest. We were down one key person and we had to do more work but when she recovered, it was almost as if she was doing the work of two.

Last year, a key ministry person asked for time off (one year) from some of the areas he was doing so well in. It was tough to let him take time off especially since we lost a number of key ministry leaders and active people due to migration. His year off meant a key ministry area would suffer. But some of us felt it was the right thing for him to take time off. This year he is back, re-energized and taking on bigger roles and doing such a greater job!

There are so many more stories like those above! It made me realize too that my "policy" of allowing or even asking people to take time off from ministry and taking over for them temporarily has been the right thing to do.

This year a few people have stepped up to spearhead some ministry projects that I helped start and so have normally taken charge of. They are taking these projects to a new level by their own initiative and it is exciting. And so now the "chopsticks" are in their hands and I am getting some much needed food (and rest) in those areas.... and allowing me to spend more time in other needful areas.

Feed others and you will be fed by them! :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some good "ups and downs"

The last few days, I've had some "ups and downs" ... good ups and downs :-)

Some "good ups" ...

And my vegetable plants are steadily growing upwards. Amazed that some of my salad plants are actually getting rather tall!

Also my confidence in my magic had a boost.

I was asked to do a magic show for a community gathering organized by the local council (in March). Nice but this means I need to set aside time to practice. But it is a great opportunity to connect with the wider community and give my church a bit more positive exposure.

I had a small confidence booster on Sunday. I had a nice relaxing BBQ on Sunday afternoon with some of my magic club friends. First time I have been free to attend one of the club's social functions. Great to just sit in the sun (and sometimes shade) and listen to stories.
I performed two simple magic effects and the response as good. Of course performance wise, I need to do a lot more work but the basics are firm which is good. And one of them is an impromptu effect that will now be part of my regular repertoire.

And as a bonus, the person hosting the BBQ gave me a few helpful gardening tips - I think I will be planting some potatoes this year!

Some "good downs"

My cholesterol is down to 4.8!! First time I even dropped below 5. I think my eating a little oats in the morning and more fresh vegetables from my garden must have helped a bit too :-) So strange that I was hungry at 9.30 PM last night and I actually had a bowl of salad instead of a corn beef sandwich!
* Of course this meant that I had to make a corn beef sandwich for today's brunch.

My weight is also down. Of course it needs to go down some more but it is nice to know that while it still fluctuates the average is lower (and the tummy is a bit flatter)
* But boy, it is hard as I get so hungry :-)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Malaysia gets poor marks for human rights (The Star)

I am pleasantly surprised that the STAR had this story....

Published: Thursday January 21, 2010 MYT 8:57:00 PM

Malaysia gets poor marks for human rights


KUALA LUMPUR: To ensure it stays in control and in power, the Malaysian Government has turned its back on promises to protect people’s rights, said Human Rights Watch.

In its report released Thursday, it said that when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over as prime minister in April 2009, he promised to respect the fundamental rights of the people but his government has failed to undertake the systematic reforms needed to fulfil that pledge.

It said the Government harassed the Opposition, improperly restricted the right to peaceful expression, association, and assembly, and mistreated migrants.

When it comes to human rights, Malaysia is more about rhetoric than reality, it said.

“The Malaysian Government appears to be more interested in pursuing short-term political advantage rather than safeguarding rights,” said Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

The 612-page World Report 2010 reviewed human rights practices around the world over the last year.

It said the release of a number of Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees early in Najib’s term was a positive development, but stressed that Parliament should repeal the ISA and other repressive laws including the Police Act 1967, which it said, was used to justify a “violent crackdown” on a citizens’ march against the ISA.

The report also said that following the impact of the Internet on the last general election, the Government has tried to rein in non-traditional media, putting them and bloggers under closer scrutiny.

It also voiced concern over continued government control of the traditional media and called for the Printing Presses and Publications Act to be rescinded.

The report also criticised the Government for failing to distinguish refugees and asylum seekers from undocumented migrants and for its use of an “ill trained, abusive civilian force” (Rela) to crack down on undocumented migrants.

It said detainees were kept under inhumane conditions causing several of them to die last year while dozens were infected with leptospirosis, a disease spread by animal faeces in unclean water.

“How many more migrants have to die in detention before Malaysian policymakers wake up?” said Robert son.

The report also criticised Malaysia for continuing to crimininalise adult consensual sexual behaviour including sodomy and said it is about time the government brought its criminal code into the 21st century.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tun Dr. Mahathir finally fully senile?

Ok, Tun Dr. Mahathir has finally crossed the thin line and become fully senile!

From the Malaysian Insider

Dr M says 9/11 attacks staged to hit Muslim world

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today claimed the 9/11 attacks in the United States, that killed nearly 3,000, was staged as an excuse to “mount attacks on the Muslim world”, saying killing as an excuse for war is not new to the US.

The former prime minister also argued that Israel was created to solve the “Jewish problem” in Europe, saying the Holocaust had failed as a final solution against the community.

“In September 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked allegedly by terrorists. I am not sure now that Muslim terrorists carried out these attacks. There is strong evidence that the attacks were staged. If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,” said Dr Mahathir during his speech at the General Conference for the Support of Al-Quds here. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

“Killing innocent people to provide an excuse for war is not new to the US. But whether the real or staged 9/11 attacks have served the United States and Western countries well. They have an excuse to mount attacks on the Muslim world,” he added.

Dr Mahathir also argued the creation of the Jewish state was decided after Europeans failed to massacre the community.

“The Jews had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom.

“Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world. The Holocaust failed as a final solution,” said the outspoken Malaysian leader who was noted for his anti-Western and anti-Zionist stand while in power for 22 years, until October 2003.

Dr Mahathir added that it was easier for the European powers to set up a Jewish state in Palestine.

“Creating a state for them was thought to be a better solution. It could be if some European territory had been allocated to make a permanent ghetto for the Jews. But of course if this was done then the affected European state would rise in arms and kill all the Jews the way they had been doing before. So the debate was about creating an Israeli state in Uganda, Africa, or somewhere in Latin America or Palestine of course.

“It was so easy to decide on Palestine, a British mandated territory. Restrictions on the disposal of mandated land could be ignored. This is nothing new — reneging on solemnly given undertaking is endemic with Europeans,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also accused democratic countries for being “hypocritical” and pointed out that the world is “partially civilised.”

“We live in a world that is only partially civilised. I say this because we still believe that the way to resolve conflicts between nations is to kill people in what is called war. The winner is the side which succeeds in killing the most number of people. Yet we vehemently declare that killing people is murder, a terrible crime worthy of the most severe punishment.

“We are being openly hypocritical. Mass killing is glorious but killing one man is a heinous crime,” he said in his speech.


Read the rest of the article HERE

The Herald Case is more than the use of the Allah word

From Bob Teoh ... and here is his preamble as well

Dear friends

The Herald Case is more than the use of the Allah word. It concerns our constitutional rights to continued civil liberties, the Syariah and the role of the Malay Rulers in the light of the supremacy of the Constitution, and the duty of the Government to make lawful decisions and the duty of the Judiciary to overturn Government decisions that are bad in law.
--------

The Herald Case:
Court says Church can use Allah word

The Kuala Lumpur High Court on 31 Dec 2009 granted an Order of Certiorari to quash the decision of the Home Minister and the Government to prohibit the Herald - The Catholic Weekly - to use the word Allah pending the Court’s determination of the matter.

The Court also made six declarations:

1 The Government’s decision not to allow the Herald-The Catholic Weekly- to use the word
Allah is illegal and null and void.

2 Under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Herald has the constitutional right to use the word Allah.

3 Article 3(1) states that Islam is the offi cial religion but the Government cannot prohibit the Herald from using the word Allah.

4 The Herald has the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression to use the word Allah under Article 10.

5 In the exercise of its rights to freedom of religion under Article 11, the Herald has the constitutional right to use the word Allah.

6 Under Article 11 and Article 12, the Herald has the constitutional right to use the word Allah for the instruction and education of the Catholic congregation in the Christian religion.

The Case

The Titular Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur who is the publisher of Herald – the Catholic Weekly - was unhappy that its publication permit for 2009 issued by the Home Affairs Minister and the Government prohibited it from using the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Melayu edition.
The Archbishop then applied to the High Court to a judicial review and declaratory reliefs (remedies).

THE JUDGMENT

Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan in her 59-page judgment (31 Dec 2009) said Senior Federal Counsel’s contention that according to S13a of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, the Minister’s decision "shall be final and shall not be called into question in nay court on any ground
whatsoever" is misconceived.

I am of the view that it does not apply to the imposition of conditions, more so where the conditions impinge on matters of the Constitution. In this regard, I agree with Mr (Porres) Royan, (lead counsel for the Herald), any provision that restricts a constitutional right should be strictly construed. There are numerous authorities which indicate that judicial review is not ousted to correct errors of law by an administrative body or tribunal.

Illegality

The Herald submits the Minister has failed to take into account one or more of the relevant considerations (produced by the Archbishop) which I have reproduced below as it is pertinent to the issue at hand:

1. The word "Allah" is the correct Bahasa Malaysia word for "God" and in the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Bible, "God" is translated as "Allah" and "Lord" is translated as "Tuhan"

2. For 15 centuries, Christians and Muslims in Arabic-speaking countries have been using the word "Allah" in reference to the One God. The Catholic Church in Malaysia and Indonesia and the greater majority of other Christian denominations hold that "Allah" is the legitimate word for "God" in Bahasa Malaysia

3. The Malay language has been the lingua franca of many Catholic believers for several centuries especially those living in Melaka and Penang and their descendants in Peninsular Malaysia have practised a culture of speaking and praying in the Malay language

4. The word "God" has been translated as "Allah" in the "Istilah Agama Kristian Bahasa Inggeris ke Bahasa Malaysia" first published by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia in 1989

5. The Malay-Latin dictionary published in 1631 had translated "Deus" (the Latin word for God) as "Alla" as the Malay translation

6. The Christian usage of the word "Allah" predates Islam being the name of God in the old Arabic Bible as well as in the modern Arabic Bible used by Christians in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and other places in Asia, Africa, etc;

7. In Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, the word "Allah" has been used continuously in the printed edition of the Matthew’s Gospel in Malaysia in 1629, in the first complete Malay Bible in 1733 and in the second complete Malay Bible in 1879 until today in the Perjanjian Baru and the Alkitab

8. Munshi Abdullah who is considered the father of modern Malay literature had translated the Gospels into Malay in 1852 and he translated the word "God" as "Allah"

9. There was already a Bible translated into Bahasa Melayu in existence before 1957 which translation was carried out by the British and Foreign Bible Society where the word "Allah" was used

10. There was also already in existence a Prayer Book published in Singapore on 3.1.1905 where the word "Allah" was used

11. There was also a publication entitled "An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine" published in 1895 where the word "Allah" was used

12. Another publication entitled "Hikajat Elkaniset" published in 1874 also contains the word "Allah"

13. The Bahasa Indonesia and the Bahasa Malaysia translations of the Holy Bible, which is the Holy Scriptures of Christians, have been used by the Christian natives of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak for generations

14. The Bahasa Malaysia speaking Christian natives of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah had always and have continuously the word "Allah" for generations and the word "Allah" is used in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesian translations of the Bible used throughout Malaysia

15. At least for the last three decades the Bahasa Malaysia congregation of the Catholic Church have been freely using the Alkitab, the Bahasa Indonesia translation of the Holy Bible wherein the word "Allah appears

16. The Herald is a Catholic weekly as stated on the cover of the weekly and is intended for the dissemination of news and information on the Catholic Church in Malaysia and elsewhere and is not for sale or distribution outside the Church

17. The Herald is not made available to members of the public and in particular to persons professing the religion of Islam

18. The Herald contains nothing which is likely to cause public alarm and/or which touches on the sensitivities of the religion of Islam and in the fourteen years of the publication there has never been any untoward incident arising from the Applicant’s use of the word "Allah" in the Herald

19. In any event the word "Allah" has been used by Christians in all countries where the Arabic language is used as well as in Indonesian/Malay language without any problems and/or breach of public order/ and/or sensitivity to persons professing the religion of Islam in these countries

20. Islam and the control and restriction of religious doctrine or belief among Muslims professing
the religion of Islam is a state matter and the Federal Government has no jurisdiction
over such matters of Islam save in the federal territories

21. The subsequent exemption vide P.U.(A) 134/82 which permits the Alkitab to be used by Christians in churches ipso facto( by virtue of this fact) permits the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald

22. The Bahasa Malaysia speaking congregation of the Catholic Church uses the word "Allah" for worship and instruction and that the same is permitted in the Al-Kitab

The Herald further submits that none of the factual considerations were ever disputed or challenged by the Minister as factually incorrect. I am inclined to agree with the Herald as the response of the Minister is a feeble denial.

Therefore, I find the Minister in the exercise of his discretion to impose further conditions in the
publication permit has not taken into account the relevant matters, hence committing an error of law warranting this Court to interfere and I am of the view the Minister and Government’s decision ought to be quashed.

Unconstitutionality

The Herald’s grounds for the legal right to use the word "Allah" in the Herald are based on its constitutional rights to freedom of speech and to practice its religion in peace and harmony, to manage its religious affairs, to instruct and educate the Catholic congregation in the Christian religion as enshrined in Articles 2, 3, 10 11, and 12 of the Federal Constitution.

Any prohibition of the use of this word is a serious violation of its constitutional rights.

Unreasonableness and irrationality

The Herald also said the Minister and Government’s action are unreasonable:

"A decision which is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it."

"It is utterly irrational and unreasonable on the part of the Minister and Government on the one hand not to prohibit the congregation of the Catholic Church to use the word ‘Allah’ for worship and instruction in their faith and in the Al-Kitab and on the other hand to state that the same word cannot be used in the Herald which serves to assist these persons in their worship and provide a medium of instruction and to disseminate news and information."

"It is also utterly irrational and unreasonable to require the Bahasa speaking congregation of the Catholic Church to use another word the Bahasa word for ‘God’.

The Government responded that it was acting within its jurisdiction considering the status of at Islam under the Constitution, the various enactments on control and restrictions is on the propagation of religious doctrine or belief among Muslims, government policy, public security
and safety and religious sensitivity.

One would have thought that having permitted, although with the usual restrictions (to) the Catholic Church to use the word "Allah" for worship and in the Al-kitab, it would only be logical and reasonable for the Government to allow the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald. Indeed,
I am inclined to agree with the Herald that the Minister and the Government are acting illogically, irrationally and inconsistently and no person similarly circumstanced would have acted in a like manner.

I find there is merit in the Herald’s contention that when viewed on its merits, the reasons given by the Home Ministry in the various directives defies all logic and is so unreasonable.

The Constitutionality of the State Enactments

The government said it has to consider the laws to control and restrict the propagation of religious doctrine or belief among Muslims in various states (as) these laws are valid under Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.

If the Home Minister allows the use of the word "Allah", when there are such laws in existence, the decision will be illegal because it is going against them. One of the reasons for its decision is to avoid confusion and misunderstanding among Muslims (as) there is no guarantee that the Herald
will be circulated only among Christians and will not fall into the hands of Muslims and it has gone online and is accessible to all.

We are living in a world of technology; information can be easily accessible. Are guaranteed rights to be sacrificed at the altar just because the Herald has gone online and is accessible to all? On must not forget there is the restriction in the publication permit which serves as an additional
safeguard which is the word "Terhad" (which) is to be endorsed on the front page and the Herald is restricted to churches and to followers of Christianity only.

Public security and order

Senior Federal Counsel submits that the grounds of public security, public order and religious sensitivity are legal, rational and reasonable of the Court is in no position to question the issue and must accept these reasons.

A mere statement by the Home Minister that the exercise of power was necessary on the ground of national security without adequate supporting evidence is not sufficient in law. The Herald claims that there has never been any untoward incident arising out of the use of the word Allah in the Herald in the past 14 years is to be accepted as it was not rebutted by the Government.

Issue of justiciability
(whether the Court has jurisdiction to hear the case)

I had dismissed the applications of the Majlis Agama Islam Federal Territory, Johore, Selangor, Kedah, Malacca, Terengganu, and the Chinese Muslim Association. Therefore their contention that whether non-Muslims can use the word Allah is at the absolute discretion of the Rulers is
non-justiciable and irrelevant at the hearing of the judicial review application and need not be considered by this Court.

The Federal Constitution and the State Constitutions clearly provide that the Rulers and the Yang di Pertuan Agung as the head of Islam in their states and the Federal Territories have exclusive authority only on Islamic affairs and Malay customs.

The control of publications are governed by federal law. Under this Act, only the Minister can decide what is permitted to be published and in this regard the Rulers and the Agung have no role whatsoever under the scheme of this Act.

The present judicial review is not a judicial review of a decision of the Rulers or the Agung as Head of Islam. It is only a review of the Minister’s decision to impose a prohibition on the use of the word Allah by the Herald. Since the Rulers and the Agung cannot make any decision
in respect of any publications, the issue of whether the Court has jurisdiction to hear the case, does not arise.

Since the Minister has taken the position that only he has the exclusive power to impose a condition on the Herald’ s publication permit to prohibit the use of the word Allah, the argument that only the Rulers and the Agung have such powers makes a complete mockery of the Minister’s power under the Act.

(This is an unofficial summary with some paraphrasing and emphasis added. The Government has given notice to appeal to the Court of Appeal).


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Six Percent Solution (William Willimon)

I think this is quite accurate.... and encouraging!!

The Six Percent Solution

When I was at my first church, I was complaining to a wise, experienced pastor that I had “too few talented lay persons” in my little church to change the downward course of the congregation. (Even forty years ago I was trying to change the church!) “I have no more than five or six folks who show any ability to move forward,” I whined.

“Well consider yourself fortunate,” replied the wise pastor. “My congregation is twice the size of yours and I can count no more than five or six Spirit-filled, innovative leaders. Fortunately, God rarely needs more than that to get the ball rolling.”

What? Jesus changed the whole world with twelve (only eleven of whom panned out) disciples. Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Tipping Point is a study of how human organizations change. How does a system reach the “tipping point” whereby an organizational culture is transformed? Gladwell documents that it takes no more than six children in a school to begin wearing a certain brand of sport shoe to reach the tipping point whereby in just a few days a hundred children will begin wearing that same brand of shoe.

I believe Gladwell is right. In all of the churches I have served as a pastor only six percent of the members gave nearly two-thirds of all the financial gifts to the church. I’ve served some wonderful churches but I’ve never served a church that wasn’t being led by six percent of the members. Only six percent of the congregation are people to whom God has given the passion and the position to lead the whole church.

There is a word of grace here for church leaders. If you want to give the church a brighter future, you only have to convince six percent of the people in the church. As a bishop, if I want to reverse the decline of my Conference, I only have to identify a mere six percent who know how to make that turnaround happen.

When Gil Rendel was advising us on the transformation of our Conference, as we were thinking about how to convince the Conference to move toward eight rather than twelve districts, Rendle put before us the proverbial Bell Curve. He noted that in any significant change 15% of the people are against the change and will remain against the change no matter how that change is presented to them. On the other end of the curve, 15% will say “let’s go for it” no matter how risky the change may be.

“That leaves a full 70% of your people who show a good possibility of conversion into support for this change,” said Gil. “Too many pastors wait in the vain hope that they were good enough to get everybody on board, don’t move until they are sure that they can take everyone along with them. As a result, they never go anywhere.”

Christianity tends to be a minority movement. Jesus occasionally attracted multitudes, but his transformative work tended to be through a small group of disciples. Thanks be to God we don’t have to wait to follow the Spirit until 99% of everyone thinks this direction is a good idea. God can work through something as seemingly small and insignificant as a mustard seed to grow the Kingdom.

Thanks be to God, on our way to “make disciples of all nations,” we only need six percent to get the job done.

Will Willimon

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2010 is going to be an interesting year for my eldest son


I think 2010 is going to be an interesting year for my eldest son Andrew ... and in relation to my son for me too.

He turned 17 in mid December 2009 and a couple of weeks ago passed his NZ restricted driver's license. This means he can legally drive (but no passengers) between 5 AM to 10 PM. However he is allowed him to take passengers as long as he is with a full license holder (with 2 years experience) with him, or if it he is driving a family member.

On Saturday after an afternoon of "washing" our house (cleaning the dirt and grime on the outside walls) he took his brother out for ice cream (without any of us in the car). On Sunday, I got a lift from a friend for a meeting and after the meeting I called my son to come and pick me up! Rather strange role reversal but nice :-) Then yesterday, being both Jennifer and my day off, we even allowed him to take Jennifer's car to work. And even as I type this post, he has taken my car to run some errands related to his student loan.

Which relates to another major change. Andrew got accepted into Auckland university and is applying for his government student loan. While I still have to sign the forms as he is under 18, I am making him do all the paper work and "leg work", and he is doing a good job. He is growing up fast.

Being a NZ resident is a real blessing as he qualifies for an interest free loan that will take care of his university fees. This takes is a big burden off my shoulders. He only needs to repay his loan once he starts work, and even then the government is kind with policies that require minimal weekly re-payments that are very manageable. If he can balance his studies and manage a couple of days of part time work, he will be very comfortable, since he has free board and lodging at them LONG motel :-)

Balancing university life, a part time job, his church ministries, (namely being a Youth Ministry leader, a regular in the church music / worship team and a key person running the church AV ministry) and his social life is going to be an interesting challenge. His initial response to this challenge has been positive and pragmatic ..."Spend a lot less time on the PS3!" A very good answer in my opinion :-)

Anyway I am a proud dad and very thankful to God!!



Finding Solitude (Henri Nouwen)

Finding Solitude

All human beings are alone. No other person will completely feel like we do, think like we do, act like we do. Each of us is unique, and our aloneness is the other side of our uniqueness. The question is whether we let our aloneness become loneliness or whether we allow it to lead us into solitude. Loneliness is painful; solitude is peaceful. Loneliness makes us cling to others in desperation; solitude allows us to respect others in their uniqueness and create community.

Letting our aloneness grow into solitude and not into loneliness is a lifelong struggle. It requires conscious choices about whom to be with, what to study, how to pray, and when to ask for counsel. But wise choices will help us to find the solitude where our hearts can grow in love.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Impact of migration (the Nut Graph)

From the Nut Graph ...

I found this paragraph particularly interesting ...

"In 2000, we had about 80,000 expatriates [in Malaysia]. By 2008, there were only about 38,000. Coupled with that, our professionals are also moving overseas," he says. Shamsuddin tells The Nut Graph in an e-mail interview that there are currently about 785,000 Malaysians working overseas.

Huge number! ... one of them being me ... though people like me are not considered professionals and important to the economy of Malaysia. Anyway, here's the article ...


The impact of migration

15 Jan 10 : 8.00AM

By Ding Jo-Ann
dingjoann@thenutgraph.com

Image of birds in migration
(Pic by mirofoto / sxc.hu)

WITH the recent attack on churches, a Catholic school and a Sikh gurdwara,migration is likely to be on the minds of some Malaysians. Despite government assurances that "everything is under control", diminishing respect for rights as demonstrated by the "Allah" issue has naturally caused consternation among educated Malaysians.

At the same time, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says Malaysia must become a "high-income" economy so that it can stave off decreasing prosperity and standards of living. Indeed, a government-commissioned 2007 World Bankreport on Malaysia's education system and economy says Malaysia has "no choice" but to change its economic model.

Malaysia, the report said, can no longer compete with the lower wages in developing countries like China and Vietnam.

But with mass migration and the loss of skilled Malaysians, is it realistic to expect Malaysia to compete with developed economies? Will enough skilled Malaysians stay on so that Malaysia can escape the middle-income trap?

Skilled workers crucial

Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director Datuk Dr Mohamed Ariff Abdul Kareem says skilled workers are crucial to move the economy up the value chain.

"When foreigners come looking to invest, they look for people with skills ... If skilled people are leaving to go elsewhere, this will be a spoke in the wheel for us," says Ariff in a phone interview.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan adds that while the number of unskilled foreign workers has increased, the number of skilled expatriates has dwindled.

For the rest of the article, go HERE.


Insightful response to "How could God let such a tragedy occur?"

A nice extract I found insightful from a devotion by Rabbi Kalman Packouz ...

Tragedies, particularly of this magnitude, often lead people to ask - at least for a fleeting moment - "Where's God in all of this?" "How could God let such a tragedy occur?"

What is fascinating, is that we only ask these questions because we intuitively believe three axioms about the nature of God. God must be: (1) all good, (2) all knowing, and (3) all powerful. If you remove any one of these attributes, the question disappears.

If God isn't all good, He can do evil and even enjoy inflicting pain. Is there any wonder why bad things happen to good people?

If God isn't omniscient, bad things occur because He doesn't know everything that's going on in the world. If He knew about it; He would certainly put a stop to it.

If God isn't omnipotent, bad things happen because there are forces beyond God's control. Diseases and natural disasters are too mighty for God. We can only call God to task for events that are in His hands.

If one believes in an omnipotent Being who is all good and all knowing, then the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" poses a real challenge.

New experiences in the year so far and other ramblings

2010 came pretty fast for me. Busier than expected. I suppose it had a lot to do with my mother being around with us in NZ for the first two Sundays of the year. And the fact that I am preaching 4 out of the 5 Sundays in January to add to the mix so there wasn't time to do as much reflection as I would have liked until this morning (courtesy of waking up at 5 AM sneezing?!)

So far I have learned to "water blast my decks". Good friends from church, Greg and Su came over a few days ago to teach me. They ended up doing most of the work as well :-) Then I learned to oil stain my decks and had quite a bit of fun doing it with my son Steven. A bit messy as we were learning as we worked. Still have to do a 2nd coat and touch up - hopefully in the next couple of days (i.e. this time getting my son to do it himself! LOL) Later today, Su will be coming over to teach me and my boys how to wash the outside of our house ...

I've also reorganized my vegetable plants. Have transplanted most of my veg from pots into my sand pit. Also learned how to dig up parts of my garden (getting rid of my flax plants).

I have also started to use my itouch to read my Bible. I bought the itouch version of the ESV Study Bible and want to be comfortable using it. I am trying to do this often so I get used to this. I am thinking in particular of my mission trip to Cambodia. Want to be able to travel light and still have emergency resource tools in case it is needed. I am not comfortable yet reading the Bible part with my itouch. Guess I am still old fashioned and like the feel of a paper based book.
What I wish is the itouch would be the size of a B4 pad ... the kind they use in Star Trek! :-) Now that would be easier to read! But I am quite comfortable using it to check news updates. And it is nice to view some fun videos and store a few files for handy checking.

Yesterday I started my first mentoring triad in NZ. New but exciting experience. Soo Inn, if you read this, I hope this encourages you. Meeting went well and the discussion guide is a real help. I am thinking of ordering more one day soon. But trying to figure out first if I can handle another group as interestingly, there are quite a few people seeking out mentoring relationships. The other problem is ... I do not think I am the best person to help some of these people, especially in the light of the kind of mentoring they need.

What is nice is to discover this morning ... the return of the Breakfast Show on TV1. But that means no more Charles in charge on TV3 :-( (since TV3's morning show also returns)

2010 looks to be another busy and challenging year. First quarter is already packed. Yesterday's church picnic went well. Great weather and good fellowship. In February, the Chinese New Year meeting is coming up soon, followed by the International connections meeting. Then in March a Food and Craft fair to raise funds for continued rebuilding of Samoa (last year's tsunami) and an opportunity to further connect with our community by getting involved in a Government Local Council organized family day picnic cum BBQ. The organizer asked me to help by doing a major show! :-) All this of course means I need a lot of discipline and focus as it is a big thing and I have not had the time last year to work on my magic. :-(

Okay, it almost 8 AM ... time to get ready to go to the lab for my blood test - then I can have breakfast! :-)





Friday, January 15, 2010

How do you spell success? (Fred Smith)

I like this Breakfast with Fred (the late Fred Smith Sr) devotion. Practical ...


Years ago, a television commercial asked the question, “How do you spell relief?” The answer was a well-known antacid…Rolaids.

Success can’t be spelled in 7 letters, nor bought at the local drugstore, but it can be put into a formula: Success is the ratio of talents used to talents received.

It isn’t measured by money, accumulations, prestige, or position. “Old Joe is worth ten million dollars,” served my golfing partner. “Really?” I asked. “He may be filthy rich, but he may not be worth a plug nickel!”

Success is about figuring out if what you are doing with what you have, plus who you are becoming is in the right proportion. The greater the percentage of your talents you use – the greater your success quotient.

“I could have been a success, but I didn’t have the opportunities, the right family, the proper education, or the connections.” As he said these things, I realized his failure wasn’t in what he didn’t have, but in not using what he did have. When I worked for GENESCO, I promoted a young man from machine operator to entry-level management because we saw his potential. Shortly afterwards, he was killed in an automobile accident. Maxey Jarman, the corporate chairman, and I drove nearly 100 miles to his funeral. On the way home, Maxey said, “I believe Bill was one of the most successful men we have had in the company.” “Maxey, he was an hourly employee who was just promoted to a small managerial job. Why would you say that?” “Because he used what he had,” was Maxey’s reply.

Success must be defined by the current reality. In the 80s when the bottom fell out of the Dallas real estate business, one of the top realtors came to see me. He was seriously discouraged – almost depressed. “Fred, business is off 40% and I don’t know what to do to hit my numbers.” After talking a little, I suggested he change his goals for the year. “What do you mean?” “Well, why don’t you measure success by survival for this year?”

I saw him two or three months later and he greeted me with a smile. “Fred, I am going to survive and for me right now, that’s success. I can’t beat last year, but I can beat failure.”

Years ago, a circuit-riding evangelist challenged me to “take the gift that God has given you and use it and you will stand before great men.” His paraphrase of Proverbs 18:16 became my life verse and the definition of true success: using what God gives and giving it back for His use.

This week carefully consider: 1) How do I spell success? 2) When do I really feel successful? 3) What is the gift God has given me to use?

Words of Wisdom: “ Success if the ratio of talents used to talents received.”

Wisdom from the Word: “A person’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before important people.” (Proverbs 18:16 NET Bible)

To read more writings of Fred Smith go to www.breakfastwithfred.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Charles in charge" ramblings


Over the last few days I have been getting up extra early. Sleep patterns a little off. Tired at night and so I sleep earlier but I end up getting up every early.

A few days ago I found out that an old sitcom Charles in Charge is on at 6.30 AM. It was really fun watching it as it was one of my favourite shows (mid 80s) even though I thought the acting was terrible and many scenes really "corny". :-) After watching two episodes over the last few days, I can confirm that I still think the acting is generally terrible and many scenes still corny! LOL

I think the episodes I watched were from the First Season. I stopped watching when they changed the supporting cast (Pembroke family) ... I think it was cancelled on Malaysian TV?

However I still like the show as I miss the old style silly sitcoms that had within its storyline a moral or story to teach. And I have always liked Willie Aames crazy character Buddy Lembeck. Girl crazy etc but so lovable. Best of all, never anything "graphic" beyond lots of soppy scenes of Charles kissing Gwendolyn Pearce. What amazed me though was that when I watched the episodes I found I could recall many of the scenes! Hmmm... TV certainly does have an impact! I also think that I subconsciously like the show because it was in a couple of episodes that I first saw Meg Ryan! LOL. I think she was the first actress I thought was "hot" :-) No, wait, the first was Diane Lane in "A Little romance" :-)

But getting back to the show ... I miss these kinds of shows ... where having a lesson to teach in each episode was an important part of script writing, and where even as Charles teaches and looks after the children, he also learns lessons from them.

In the first of two episodes I watched, Charles learns from Lila and her 14 year old friends about the importance of being truthful with his feelings (letting Gwendolyn know how he feels about her) because the older one gets, the harder it is to admit ones' feelings. He learns that in a large group of friends it is easy to be bold but it is very hard when alone. ...

And I saw this classic funny scene (I remember now that I actually used it in a sermon back in the 1980s!!) ... Charles is rambling on and on abut how he doesn't understand women (i.e. how Gwendolyn can go to an ice cream shop and order salad ... which ends up with them arguing and her later storming out). Along comes Mr. Pembroke (with the wise look) who agrees that it is hard to understand women but it will all make sense one day when he gets older. So Charles asks him when that happened for him. And his answer is something along the lines of: "I don't know. When I get to that age, I'll let you know." :-)

Then in this morning's episode, Charles learns that he can be Gwendolyn's friend without having to be her boy-friend ... a good "break up" as they are still too young to be exclusive and going too fast (They are 19 and in College). He learns from Jason (the youngest) that best friends will fight but they will still remain best friends (after a scene where Jason's and his best friend yell at each and declare they want nothing to do with each other - and his friend storms out with the final words of "And you had better be on time tomorrow to walk to school!" Really corny scene as Jason (really bad acting but so cute) says with a grin, "Don't worry Charles, we're still best friends for life" (or something like that).

Hmmm... maybe I should tape some of the shows to watch when I am free ...


Christmas and New Year violence against Christian minorities in Asia, Africa and the Arab world (Barnabas Fund)

it is sad that Malaysia makes this list ....

Copyright © Barnabas Fund - 13th January 2010



Christmas and New Year violence against Christian minorities in Asia, Africa and the Arab world:

Christmas is meant to be season of peace and goodwill. However for Christians in many parts of the world this did not occur. A spate of threats and violence against Christian minorities has marked the Christmas and New Year season just passed.

Anti-Christian persecution is often focused on Christian festivals, and the last few weeks have seen attacks in at least six countries, both around the Western Christmas Day on 25 December and the Eastern Christmas Day on 7 January. Tension was particularly high this season in Shia contexts (e.g. Iran and parts of Iraq) because the main Shia festival of Ashura, which moves with the Islamic calendar each year, almost coincided with Christmas, falling around 27 December.

The Western New Year on 1 January is also a frequent focus of anti-Christian violence, as it is believed by many in other parts of the world to be a Christian festival.

The following overview includes only reported incidents that were apparently timed deliberately to coincide with Christmas or New Year events. At least six Christians were killed in Egypt and three in Iraq.

December 16 – Iraq: Two car bombs were detonated near churches in Mosul causing extensive damage, wounding nearby schoolchildren and killing at least three Christians. The minister of one of churches said “Words cannot describe what has happened ... but we will pray in the streets, in homes, in shops. God is everywhere, not just in churches.”

December 17- Iran: A meeting of 70 converts form Islam to celebrate Christmas and New Year was raided by 15 police officers, and two leaders were arrested.

December 18 – Indonesia: A new church building in Bekasi Regency, near the capital Jakarta, which was almost finished and scheduled to be ready by Christmas, was attacked by a mob of motorcyclists (men, women and children) who came armed with kerosene. Despite the damage, police and government authorities urged the church minister not to cancel the planned Christmas service.

December 23(?) - Iraq: On or before this date Christians in Basra were warned by Shia Muslims that they were not to celebrate Christmas in any way apart from attending church. This was owing to the main Shia celebration during the Islamic month of Muharram, which in 2009 began on 18 December, with the climax celebration around 27 December.

December 23 – Iraq: Two churches were damaged in separate bomb attacks in Mosul, killing at least three people. Iraqi Christians saw the December bombings as timed to coincide with the Christmas season. A senior church leader later said in his Christmas service, “My dear people, your attendance to the church is the best gift you provide to our new born Child at Christmas regarding the dangerous situation of our city Mosul.”

December 24-25 – Pakistan: A massive government security operation protected Christians attending Christmas services. In some areas, other Christmas celebrations were scaled down or cancelled on police advice because of security concerns. Intimidating text messages had been circulating threatening Christians with “a special gift at Christmas”, which led to the increased security precautions.

December 25 – Iraq: A mob of armed Shabaks (a Kurdish minority group) attacked the Christian-majority town of Bartilla, near Mosul in northern Iraq. They took over the entry check-point for more than five hours and tore down Christmas decorations in the shops. They also tried to enter a church in the middle of the market to perform the Ashura self-flagellation ritual inside the building. The church was successfully defended by its security guards, but four Christians including a policeman received gunshot wounds.

December 25 – Zimbabwe: A cathedral in Harare and three churches were raided by police. Police burst into a communion service in the cathedral, beat up worshippers and forced them out of the building.

December 25 – China: Police arrested several elderly Christians in Korla City, Xinjiang province, as they gathered to celebrate Christmas. A 71-year-old woman was thrown roughly against a police car. In another incident, police raided the home of an ailing Christian woman who is confined to her bed. They seized Bibles and other Christian literature and publicly burned them in a bonfire outside her home.

December 26 – Algeria: Christians arrived for a Christmas service in the city of Tizi-Ouzou to find the entrance to their church blocked by a group of approximately 20 Muslims. The group had congregated to protest against the new church building in their neighbourhood and shouted “This land is the land of Islam! Go pray somewhere else".

January 7 – Iran: Christian leader Keyvan Rajabi was arrested because he had led Christmas and New Year services at his church in Iran.

January 2 – Algeria: A group of Muslims stormed a service at the same Tizi-Ouzou church that was the focus of protests on 26 December. They punched the pastor and knocked to the ground a church member who was trying to capture the events on camera. Later that evening the church was broken into. Contents were vandalised and set on fire.

January 6 – Egypt: Six Christian worshippers and a security guard were killed by three gunmen during a Christmas Eve service in the town of Nag Hamadi. This attack followed threats to the bishop who was leading the service, apparently because of his protests about the large-scale anti-Christian violence in the neighbouring town of Farshoot in November. The violence was triggered by a report that a Christian man had sexually abused a Muslim girl.

January 8 - Egypt: Further anti-Christian violence broke out in the town of Bahgoura, near to Nag Hamadi and Farshoot, where a Muslim mob armed with swords and gas cylinders and looted and torched Christian-owned homes, shops and cars. One woman died after being overcome by fumes when her home was set alight. Residents from the village also report that water and electricity were disconnected during the fires, and when the fire brigade arrived, 90 minutes after being called, the vehicles that came had empty tanks.

In addition at least eight Christian churches and a Christian school in Malaysia have been attacked by firebombs during the period January 8 to January 11. One church was partly gutted, but thankfully the remaining buildings suffered little damage. The anti-Christian violence was apparently a response to a controversial ruling on 31 December by a Malaysian judge, which determined that a Malaysian Christian newspaper had the right to use the word “Allah” when referring to God. “Allah” is the word for God in the Malaysian national language. The government will appeal against the ruling.

Although this list is not exhaustive, the sheer scale of anti-Christian incidents over the Christmas period is shocking. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, says

“Times of Christian celebration often bring intensified anti-Christian violence, and in the last few weeks we have seen a surge of attacks in a wide range of countries over the Christmas period. Please would you uphold our fellow believers in your prayers, asking that our Lord will protect and keep them. Pray also that those who seek to bring terror and destruction to Christians at these special times will see the peaceful, loving and forgiving attitude of their victims and that their own hearts will be changed.”



Copyright © Barnabas Fund - 13th January 2010


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

PMs assured Christians of use of "Allah" (ie former PMs)


I agree wholeheartedly with Sivin. "Peace and reconciliation is needed, but not in the absence of truth and transparency."

Well done to CCM's Herman Shastri for boldy speaking out!

----
From the Nut Graph ...

PMs assured Christians of use of "Allah"

13 Jan 10 : 8.00AM

By Ding Jo-Ann
dingjoann@thenutgraph.com

PETALING JAYA, 13 Jan 2010: Even though the government banned the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims in 1986, the churches refrained from court action for more than 20 years because of assurances from two prime ministers.

Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri told The Nut Graph that Christian leaders were assured that "Allah" could be used, as long as it was limited to within the Christian community. This was in spite of a 1986 government gazette and 1988 state enactments that declared the words "Allah", "solat", "ka'abah" and "Baitullah" as exclusive to Islam.

"(Former Prime Minister Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad's) position was if Christians use the word 'Allah' among ourselves, sell our bibles in Christian bookshops, and indicate it's a Christian publication, then that was fine," said Shastri.

"Mahathir and [Tun Abdullah Ahmad] Badawi both assured the Christian community that it would not be an issue [using 'Allah'] within our community."

Shastri said although they did not agree with the government gazette and state enactments, the church refrained from legal action in the interest of national harmony because Mahathir had said the issue was sensitive.

Shastri stressed that Christians did not use "Allah" to slight Muslims. Rather, "it's part and parcel of our spiritual and devotional life," he said.

Issue not new

Shastri also said it was unfair to describe the issue of Christians using "Allah" as new, as some have claimed.

Read the rest of the article HERE