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Prayers for Non-Muslims: Harussani Shows His Great Ignorance

Publlished in Malaysia Today, 22/8/10
Harussani Zakaria, the infamous mufti of Perak, seems to be on a roll these days. It’s not been a month since he gave out the now retracted opinion on football jerseys, claiming that crosses and devils on them were haram. The response to that showed that the Malays are not so easy to control after all. I guess the Malays do have a threshold of how much of Harussani they can take. Today, Harussani displayed not only his mean spiritedness but an utter ignorance for the spirit of Islam. It is almost like he completely undermines what Islam stands for.

It all began with the accusations in Penang about how during a Friday prayer sermon, Lim Guan Eng’s name was mentioned instead of the King. Of course the emotions of those with nothing better to do ran high. Oh my God, how can we possibly mention the name of this non-Muslim who is certainly condemned to hell while we the chosen people get a first class ticket to heaven, right?!

Of course, political opportunist extraordinaire Harussani had to step in. It was a perfect opportunity for him to cement some Malay unity (or perhaps Muslim unity, depending on the hour I suppose).  He then said that it is haram or forbidden for a Muslim to pray for the well-being of a non-Muslim. He should instead pray that a non-Muslim converts to Islam instead.

Of course this statement is dripping with bigotry and laced with mean-spiritedness so unbecoming of one trusted with the high office of muftiship. What is however more saddening is the sheer ignorance of the Quran displayed by Harussani in making this statement. I have compiled a few points from the Quran to show how much Harussani contradicts it.

Let us begin by asking what is the purpose of a prayer? When we pray for something, we are petitioning Allah that this wish comes true. This prayer, coming from our hearts, must therefore reflect in our words and deeds. That shows sincerity. This would also mean that our actions show our intent and we must pray for that very intent to be realised. A believer (or ‘mu’min’ in Quranic terms) is one who is sincere in his actions. Otherwise he becomes a hypocrite (a ‘munafiq’ in Quranic terms).

So what does the Quran tell us to do for people, Muslim or non-Muslim? For a start, when the Quran enjoins on us ‘ihsan’ (exactly like the Malay word ‘ihsan’ which is to do good in all shape and forms), it tells to do good for those who are close (the word is ‘dhil qurba’ mentioned in 2/83, 4/36). It never discriminates who the beneficiary of our acts are in any form. We are to do good for those who are close to us whether by proximity, geography or whatever.

Next, the Quran tells us to treat people in a better way than they treat us or at least a similar way (4/86). Once again the religious affiliation of these people is never mentioned. Therefore, if a person wishes you ‘good health’, you must wish him ‘good health and happiness’. If he treats you well, you must try to treat him even better than that. What if he prays for you? Of course you must pray for him. Perhaps with a greater sincerity if that’s possible.

Lastly, the Quran talks about treating one’s parents well. We are told to address them in terms of honour and to pray for them for God to care for them as they cared for us (17/23-24). Once again their religion or faith is utterly irrelevant. They are human beings and we pray for them.

As we can see, the Quran simply doesn’t discriminate between the people in terms of beliefs and religion. We are to do good for people and to treat them better than they treat us. Lim Guan Eng according to what we can see and as many have extolled, is doing a good job running Penang.  He has therefore wished us good in his actions and so what is the problem with us doing the same for him. It is what the Quran asks of us, to bring peace into the world and to bond with those who do, not to worry about converting them to our cultural mode of religion. Muslims must wake up and simply reject these idiocies coming from Harussani. We cannot afford to obey him and still keep our faith intact.

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