GEORGE TOWN — Malay bibles should not be considered a threat to Muslims’ faith but instead regarded as a way for them to understand other religions, a backbencher said at the Penang legislative assembly 4 November.
Norlela Ariffin (PKR — Penanti) said she has conducted sessions for Muslims with the religious department where they were shown the Malay version of the bible and the al-Quran side by side for comparison.
“We don’t want Muslims to have this fear that just by touching a bible, they immediately become a murtad, this is not true,” she said when interjecting state opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor’s (BN -Sungai Dua) debate at the State Legislative Assembly today.
“They can compare and look through both the bible and al-Quran and they will realise the differences between both religious materials,” she said.
Norlela said it is better for Muslims to understand other religions and for them to be aware of other religious scriptures including the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
“We live in a multicultural society, it is important for us to understand each other, to know more about each others’ religions so that there is no unnecessary fear of another religion,” she said.
She said she had organised similar sessions for non-Muslims, even in temples, for them to better understand Islam since 2017.
“We don’t want Malays and Muslims to be seen as fearful of other religions especially when we are in a multicultural society, where our neighbours are made up of other races of other religions,” she said.
Norlela expressed her worry over the possible merging of Umno and PAS that will give rise to more racial incitement by the parties.
“They will continue inciting racial issues, they will frighten the people and create racial divide, please don’t do this,” she said.
Earlier, Yusoff had proposed than a law be enacted to punish those who distributed bibles to Muslims and include Muslims in Christian prayers.
He claimed that Malay language bibles were once distributed to schools in Penang and warned that it can become a big problem.
“There is an enactment against this in all the states but Penang, Perlis and Wilayah Persekutuan so we should consider introducing this bill here,” he said.
Later, outside the House, Norlela said there was so much fear created over the bible issue that she had to organise “secret” sessions for Muslims and non-Muslims to help both groups understand each other.
“There is nothing wrong for a Muslim to touch a bible, it won’t convert them, even if a Christian missionary goes around spreading word about their religion, it will not affect our faith, I want Muslims to be confident in this,” she said.
She said her sessions that she has been organising regularly was meant to reassure Muslims that as a majority, nobody could pose a threat to them.
“We are the majority, it is not right for them to fear other religions, it will only create unnecessary friction,” she said.
She said when Muslims are shown the bibles and made to understand other religions, it will dispel their fear.