Tuesday 3 April 2012

Four questions on Hasan Ali’s ‘proof’ of proselytisation — Joshua Woo

APRIL 3 — It was reported yesterday that Datuk Hasan Ali revealed videos of three Malays who were allegedly converted to Christianity. The faces of the three individuals were not seen. However, their given aliases were Ramli Abdullah, Zakiah Musa and Ahmad Syafiq Ridzuan.

The report stated that two of them have embraced Islam after being counselled by Hasan’s Unit Selamatkan Akidah (USA), while the other one is seen praying with Hasan “to return him to Islam.”

Hasan did not allow a recording of the videos to protect the three, to assure their safety. “They asked me, how can the safety of their lives be guaranteed.”

Hasan applauded the trio for testifying in the videos despite the fact that apostates from Islam are usually disowned by their Muslim family and friends.

Reading this news raises four questions.

First, how trustworthy are these videos? The identity of the three individuals cannot be verified in any way. Does Hasan Ali expect the public to believe whatever he said because he showed some videos with three unknown individuals talking about whatever they did? Does Hasan really think that his fellow Muslims and the public are so gullible?

Let us assume (for argument’s sake) from this point onwards that Hasan’s proofs are authentic. The second question is about Hasan’s understanding and portrayal of Islam and the Muslim family. He said that Muslim families disown their own family member when that member converts to another religion.

It is curious whether is it true that Islam does not teach about the importance of family bond, and how such bond should not be simply broken even in the cases of differing religions? Does Islam really teach that different religions must not be accommodated in the family? What happens if one member in a non-Muslim family becomes Muslim? Does that one member similarly have to disown the rest of his or her family?

The same goes to the Islamic view on friendship: Muslim and non-Muslim cannot be friends? If these are true (as Hasan alleged) then it is worrying to know that the familial love and friendship taught in Islam and practised among Muslim families are so fragile and intolerant. Or, are all these Hasan’s own misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam and Muslim families?

Third, Hasan said that the identity of the three individuals needs to be protected in order to guarantee the “safety of their lives.” It is curious who might threaten to end their lives? Their Muslim families and friends? If yes, then is this how Muslim families and friends behave, that is they will threaten the life of their own family member and friend because they change religion?

Or, was the threat coming from Christians because the trio has converted back to Islam after they have become Christians? If this is true, then it is foreseeable that the Christian leaders and the Christian community in the country will rise to condemn such unacceptable behaviour.

If the threat is neither from Muslims nor Christians, could it be from Hasan himself?

The fourth question concerns the proselytisation that Hasan claimed to expose. He said that those videos are proofs that Malay-Muslims are being converted to Christianity. However, Hasan also said that the individuals have converted to Islam through his USA. So the videos are not proofs of one type of proselytisation (Muslims convert to Christianity), but proofs of two types (the other being Christians convert to Islam).
Maybe Hasan was referring to the trio when he confessed, “I have already brought back a few Muslims through USA.”

So if those videos are authentic, then they are proofs of two types of proselytisation: from Islam to Christianity, and from Christianity to Islam. Therefore by presenting those videos as proofs of only one type of proselytisation, Hasan has framed his presentation to give us only half-truths.

So the fourth question is why did Hasan frame his whole presentation as half-truths? As the proverb goes, “Half-truth is more dangerous than falsehood,” it is curious why did he give to the Malaysian public something that is more dangerous than falsehood?

Perhaps, no one other than Hasan Ali himself knows what he is doing. Nevertheless, the Malaysian public should be concerned or at least aware over such uncharacteristic antic displayed by an assemblyman.

* Joshua Woo Sze Zeng is currently reading theology at Trinity Theological College, Singapore. He is the co-editor (with Tan Soo Inn) of “The Bible and the Ballot: Reflections on Christian Political Engagement in Malaysia today” (Singapore: Graceworks, 2011).

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