Paradigm Shift must happen in the minds of the people before changes can happen in society. I must say that I clearly respect Raja Petra for his unbias thinking. If only the majority of people can see and evaluate various issues in his manner, this world would be a better place to stay.
Raja Petra: Respect Cannot Be Demanded; it must be earned
Submitted by Raja Petra Kamarudin on Tue, 2005-05-24 06:24.
Respect cannot be demanded; it must be earned Raja Petra KamarudinAli Al-Ahmed, the director of the Saudi Institute in Washington, wrote the following in his piece, Hypocrisy Most Holy, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal on 20 May 2005:
"With the revelation that a copy of the Quran may have been desecrated by U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Muslims and their governments -- including that of Saudi Arabia -- reacted angrily. This anger would have been understandable if the U.S.government's adopted policy was to desecrate our Quran. But even before the Newsweek report was discredited, that was never part of the allegations.
"As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Quran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia -- where I come from we are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books.Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately.
"Soon after Newsweek published an account, later retracted, of an American soldier flushing a copy of the Quran down the toilet, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington expressed "great concern" and urged the U.S. to "conduct a quick investigation.""Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect."The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)
"As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols.Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored."The desecration of religious texts and symbols and intolerance of varying religious viewpoints and beliefs have been issues of some controversy inside Saudi Arabia. Ruled by a Wahhabi theocracy, the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia have made it difficult for Christians, Jews, Hindus and others, as well as dissenting sects of Islam, to visibly coexist inside the kingdom."
Another way in which religious and cultural issues are becoming more divisive is the Saudi treatment of Americans who are living in that country: Around 30,000 live and work in various parts of Saudi Arabia. These people are not allowed to celebrate their religious or even secular holidays. These include Christmas and Easter, but also Thanksgiving. All other Gulf states allow non-Islamic holidays to be celebrated."The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries-- especially the U.S. -- provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses."The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example."
Malaysia, of course, is not as bad as Saudi Arabia, if what Ali Al- Ahmed wrote above is correct and not an exaggeration. However, though Malaysia is not as drastic as Saudi Arabia, the attitudes here and in Saudi Arabia are similar. For example, we Muslims condemn non-Muslims as ‘members of hellâ€™ (ahli neraka). We justify this, no doubt, by saying that this is what Islam says, so to dispute this would be unIslamic and tantamount to blasphemy. If I were to say I do not agree to this, I would be condemned by fellow Muslims who would advice me to go find a guru (teacher) so that I can improve my religious knowledge. Some will even say that I am now no longer a Muslim for daring to argue against the concept that all non-Muslims are automatically destined for hell. Sure, the Hindus too feel their religion is the correct religion and all other religions are wrong or false. The Christians, Jews, Buddhists and all others too feel the same way. But do you hear Malaysian Christians, Hindus or Buddhists label Muslims as Members of Hell?
We allow the Quran to be published in all languages and we encourage those of other religions to read the Quran in the hope they may convert to Islam once they have read it. But the Bible cannot be published in Jawi (Arabic alphabet) and, until quite recently, the Bible was forbidden in Bahasa Malaysia. Today, due to political pressure and to ensure the non-Muslims will not desert the ruling party, the Bible may be published in Bahasa Malaysia but it has to be stamped as ‘non-halalâ€™ (forbidden for Muslims). We want the non-Muslims to understand Islam. We want the non-Muslims to understand Islam by reading the Quran in the language they understand best; whether it is English, Chinese or any language of the world; but we refuse to allow the Muslims to understand the other religions -- and they would certainly not understand the other religions if they do not read the holy books of that religion. In fact, we do not even regard the holy books of the other religions as holy books. But we want the others to treat and respect the Quran as a holy book. Our excuse for not allowing Muslims to read the Bible is to prevent them from being influenced by Christianity whereby they may leave Islam and become Christians. Are we admitting that Islam is so bad, and Christianity better, that if Muslims were to read the bible they may discover how better Christianity is and leave Islam? Is our confidence level in Islam so low that we are scared of allowing Muslims to understand Christianity because we feel once they understand Christianity they may convert? We demand that non-Muslims respect Islam. But we do not want to show other religions this same respect. Respect cannot be demanded. It has to be earned. And have we earned this respect of those from the other religions?
Until Muslims can learn how to respect other religions; never mind if you think those religions are wrong; Islam will never be respected by the non-Muslims. And the more Muslims demand that non- Muslims respect Islam, the more you will gain their disrespect. Copyright Â© 2004 Malaysia Today | www.malaysia-today.net