KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Islamic scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin sniped at Selangor PAS leader Datuk Dr Hasan Ali today for “insulting Muslims” by claiming they would be influenced by Christians using high-tech devices to proselytise to them.
“It is an insult to Muslims and the Islamic faith. As if Muslims who listen to Bible readings would eventually be swayed.
“This is as if the Bible’s influence surpasses that of the al-Quran,” Asri (picture) said in a statement to The Malaysian Insider.
The former Perlis mufti added Hasan’s remarks were unsuitable as they had come from a person living in the age of technology.
“These days all readings, whether the al-Quran or the Bible, can be sourced from the Internet.
“All sorts of gadgets, whether the computer or others, can be used to download these readings,” he pointed out.
Asri said by publicising the matter, Hasan was indirectly promoting the reading of the Bible to those of other faiths.
“But even then, it is not an offence. The world is not a closed one. Those who hear and evaluate for themselves can find the truth they seek.
“The role of religion in this era is not as a blockade but to help explain and educate in a mature manner,” he said.
Hasan, the Selangor executive councillor in charge of religion, said yesterday that evangelical Christians were using high-tech devices such as solar-powered talking bibles to proselytise to Malay Muslims in the state.
He said the state’s religious authority (Jais) had discovered that Christian missionaries were now spreading their gospel through technologically-advanced means apart from setting up welfare groups providing cash and other financial aid to single mothers and the destitute.
He added that Jais’s research showed Christian evangelists were spreading their faith to young Muslim students in free tuition classes and counselling sessions, besides distributing Christian pamphlets in public places, homes, universities and places that were ostensibly called “community centres”.
According to a website called Book of Joe, the palm-sized radio-like device contains all the books in the New and Old Testaments and is fitted with batteries that will run for almost 10 hours before needing to be recharged, whether by the sun, a light bulb or a nine-volt AC adapter. It costs only US$99.95 (RM310).
This latest disclosure, after the controversial August 3 raid by Selangor Islamic authorities on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya, could trigger another Christian-Muslim conflict.
Christian leaders have consistently denied claims that they are attempting to convert Muslims, but relations between the two creeds with roots in the Middle East continue to smoulder in multi-religious, multi-cultural Malaysia where the religion of the federation is Islam as stated in the Federal Constitution.