When sermons become hate speeches

Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
2 October 2015

During the recent Aidil Adha celebrations, it was reported that the Pahang Mufti Department allowed some very detestable things to be broadcasted.

The sermon aimed at the opposition, in particularly; Malay Muslims who joined DAP by insinuating that they had gone against Islam by joining the political party.

The script stated, “The separation is because they priorities political parties, such as Umno, PAS, PKR and even the new Gerakan Harapan Baru more than Islam.”

“Furthermore, there are Muslims who joined DAP, which is clearly against Islam.”

Therein lays a problem most Malaysians are too afraid to admit: the contentious issue where sermons are being misused as political propaganda and have seemingly swayed from the authenticity of religious teachings.

Hate speeches are creations of the majority; those who are a part of a majority population and this happen when they begin to buy into the “minority fear”.

Their messages are often directed towards the minority and the contents are designed to degrade and impair.

In general, sermons or khutbah are regarded as oration or speech given by a member of a religious institution or clergy; topics and issue frequently emphasise on religious ethics or even moral standards that are in line with the religious teaching.

For Muslim, the khutbah originated from the practices of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who had used this style or speech to instruct or command his followers at gatherings.

The objectives of sermons are still the same today as they were centuries ago; it exists to instruct religious values, inform public of laws and acceptable code of behaviour or ethnics within both past and present contexts.

The acceptance of fundamentalist teaching has become somewhat widespread only because such ideologies are sanctioned through their heavily backed structural organisations.

Elements that hinges on bigotry, intolerance, fear and suspicion have become increasingly common and too real.

Universally, religious bigotry is considered unethical and iniquitous because it strips others of their rights through persecution and discrimination

Here in the Malaysia, whenever we think of bigotry, we find ourselves thinking in terms of race or ethnicity and how can we not?

Decades of institutionalised racism and fear mongering have made us irresolute and suspicious; candid questions or bold remarks can brand us as infidels or as traitors.

Character assassination, harassment and false accusations have already begun to dominate the socio-political religious sphere of our nation.

Religion should be able to generate great personal devotion and passion while expressing respect others and accepting what makes us different.

These messages should motivate believers to devote their lives to easing out suffering and hardship, while treating other – even those who embrace different religious beliefs, with esteem.

Religion must never be about driving the spear of destruction and hatred into the very heart of humanity.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The pursuit of truth does not permit violence being inflicted on one’s opponent.”

Sermons filled with hate and other sorts of negative elements promote violence, encourage oppression and are demeaning in nature.

For a multi-religious nation like Malaysia, the practice of the religion is protected by the Constitution and because of this, there are simply no reasons for any kind of religious bigotry.

Inciting hatred at this level and encouraging members of public to disregard humility or common courtesy involves more than simply demonstrating that you dislike someone or something.

What we have on our hands, is the slow unraveling of dark sinister elements that out only outline the unabashed hypocrisy that has permeated into our society. – October 2, 2015.

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