KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — Non-Muslims are trying to stop the spread of Islam among Malaysians by complaining about the distribution of free copies of the Quran, said a senior editor with Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia’s (Isma) media wing.
Media Isma Sdn Bhd’s Razali Zakaria reminded non-Muslims that the Federal Constitution allows Muslims to convert anybody, whereas non-Muslims may only spread their teachings among themselves and not to Muslims.
“We are baffled, why are they getting braver to interfere in the affairs of Islam? Is it because the current government is weak and unable to defend Islam?” asked Razali in an opinion piece published on Isma’s website.
“Or have the current laws failed to block infidels from interfering in Muslims’ affairs? Or is it because Muslims these days are weak from differing political ideologies?”
Razali alleged that non-Muslim NGOs and the media are trying to fan the flames of controversy until federal and state religious authorities are forced to ask Muslim NGOs to stop or study their programmes to distribute free copies of the Quran.
“If the programme is stopped, then they have succeeded in halting Islam and its preaching from being spread in the country,” Razali added.
A project called “One Soul, One Quran”, organised by the Islamic Information and Services Foundation (IIS), which aims to distribute one million free Qurans, drew protest from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).
In a statement on February 9, the interfaith council dismissed the project’s purported objective to remove misconceptions of Islam, labelling it instead a disguised propagation of Islam that it said was in “bad faith”.
On Tuesday, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department finally responded, explaining that the religious texts would only be given to those who ask for them.
However, civil society group Centre for a Better Tomorrow later suggested that non-Muslims should also be allowed to freely give out their holy books in the same manner as Muslims to help educate and ultimately free Malaysians from religious prejudice.
Article 11 of the country’s highest law guarantees religious freedom for all, but Article 11 (4) allows state laws to impose restrictions on the propagation of religious doctrine or belief among Muslims.
In Malaysia, the proselytisation of non-Islamic religions to Muslims is an offence, but not vice-versa.