Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Azan, the call to prayers for Muslims should not be made into a political issue

The azan volume issue in Kg Kerinchi, Kuala Lumpur is something that we all should learn from, that we live in a multi-racial and multi-religious nation and religious sensitivities must be respected at any cost, religion mixed with politics is a volatile mixture which must be handled with utmost care. 

I observed that since the last General election in March 2008, it is mostly politicians who are in the forefront of most problems involving religious sensitivities, be it the Azan volume, Hindu temple demolition and relocation, the use of the word ALLAH in the Catholic Bible, even ceramahs in suraus and mosques.

In their  need to draw support and score political points, politicians should however stay away from questioning religious sensitivities. Their irresponsible act could open the gates for the uninformed public to get into the action and make matters worse. Don't talk about rationality when it involves the emotional sensitivity of religion, it would not work, just look at Bosnian wars.

I thank God that the Azan volume controversy at Kg Kerinchi was quickly diffused before it got out of hand and one should heed what was said by Gerakan President and Minister Dr. Koh:

Koh warns against turning ‘azan’ dispute into ‘big issue’

I agree, but I must say that MCA President Dr. Chua should put a leash on his vice-president Gan Peng Sieu to button up and not say this sensitive things in public:

MCA VP wants all prayer volumes regulated

If the MI report above is true then please Wake up Peng Sieu,  this country is made up of majority Muslims and there are thousands of suraus and hundreds of mosques all over this country and it would be suicidal of any PM or MB or State Governments in power to enforce such regulations based on a call or two by  non muslims. What then happens if somebody else calls for the volume to be put down during the prayers and festiviies of other religions? What then Peng Sieu?

I think I just have about enough of politicians from both sides of the political divide acting like a dungu not being learned enough about my religion or anybody else's religion for that matter and then making public statements rellying on what their "friends" told them according to their whims and fancies and not thinking the consequences of their insensitivities. 

Having said that I would agree with Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, the former Mufti of Perlis statement here:

Bacaan selain dari azan di pembesar suara patut dihentikan

Perhaps Minister Dato' Seri Jamil Khir Baharom could have a look at the issue overall and find the best way to handle the sensitive matter as one solution for a problem must also be applied to other religions as well. 

Read blogger A Brick in the Wall very good take on the issue:

.....In the case of Theresa, she helped solve the problem of low quality speaker system of the suraus and masjids that had been the cause of irritation to the non Muslims in the neighbourhood.

Shouldn't Ng and others complaining the same approach the responsible people of the masjid instead of showing power and applying his political influence to force the masjid to lower the volume?

Is it a case of a lawyer used to the adversarial ways of practicing laws and authority that they lose sense of community and humanity?

Ng's approach sent the wrong signal and invite animosity. Newton's third law of strong action results in strong opposite reactions.

Ng should understand Muslims sensitivity. If the local authority in Switzerland had banned the building of minarets, one can understand that it is not an Islamic country. Islam is constitutionally the religion of the federation and not just ceremonial official religion. Muslims will expect more leeway.

Politicians being politicians, PAS will only take advantage of the situation and create a perception of animosity between MCA and Muslims and Malays. Tenang by-election is just days away.

Ng should have taken a less adversarial and politically more correct solution. He should show more tolerance and acceptance till an understanding is reached.

It is most unlikely for someone involved in politics but let's assume Ng is naive and ignorant as most Malaysian are in the culture and practices of other Malaysians outside their race and religion.

Government has an important issue to be addressed for the future. Is there such policy on environment that determines the acceptable decibel level for religious houses broadcast?

Is there a procedure and authority to settle inter-religious disputes at the localised level within the neighbourhood? In the urban areas, we do not have that wise and respectable penghulu personality that solve localised disputes.

That should certainly help citizens like Ng and others.

Not every dispute and issue is a calling for the struggle for alif ba ta.

I totally agree with the apolitical suggestion but any application for regulating volumes should apply to ALL religions as well.

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