In the “moderate” Muslim nation of Malaysia, the owner of a resort who allowed Buddhists to use a Muslim prayer room has now been arrested for this act of generosity and kindness. The charge: defiling a place of worship. The surau (Muslim prayer space) at the resort is probably going to be demolished after police complete their investigation.
Here is how interfaith dialogue really works. You convert to Islam. If you choose not to convert, then you subdue yourself in submission to the supremacism of Islam. Not OK with that? Well, then you are a racist, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim bigot.
We see Muslims take over churches on a daily basis in Muslim countries, or forbid Christians to build new ones. The centuries-old Hagia Sophia in the Turkish city of Trabzon was recently converted back into a mosque, and the renowned Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is expected to be made into a mosque soon as well. Here in New York, synagogues generously turn over space for Muslims to pray.
That is submission to the supremacism of Islam. There is no reciprocity. There is no mutual respect.
The Muslim community was up in arms over the Buddhists’ use of the Muslim prayer space. A Malaysian news site reported: “Police have received six reports from various groups concerning the management of a resort in Sedili Besar, Kota Tinggi who had allowed the surau at the resort to be used by Buddhists to perform a religious ceremony.” The local police chief, Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff, said: “The police now want the people to refrain from making any speculation on the matter while bloggers are urged not to aggravate the situation through the blogs which could anger the people.” In other words, please, Muslims, don‘t riot and kill innocent people over this.
Of course the owner apologized. So did the Buddhist chief high priest, according to Free Malaysia Today: “We would like to apologise to our Muslim brothers and sisters for the actions of a certain Buddhist group from Singapore in having their meditation session at the surau of a resort in Kota Tinggi.”
But it is actually set to be demolished because enraged Muslims are demanding that it be demolished since the Buddhists used it. Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, a local Muslim cleric, declared: “The most sacred places on Earth are mosques and surau. Accordingly, they are not allowed to be used to carry out religious activities other than for Islam and if a surau is found to have hosted other religious activities, it can be demolished based on surah At-Taubah verse 107 (in the Quran).”
That verse says: “And there are those who took for themselves a mosque for causing harm and disbelief and division among the believers and as a station for whoever had warred against Allah and His Messenger before. And they will surely swear, ‘We intended only the best.’ And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars.” (9:107)
One Malaysian writer commented: “I remember as an undergraduate student in the Midwest of the United States, our fellow Muslims and I used to congregate and do our weekly Friday prayers in the basement of a local church. When I moved to another state for my graduate studies, the same thing happened. Now, if those Christians were gracious enough to allow us Muslims to use their church to practice our religion, I am perplexed as to the reasons why Muslims in Malaysia quoted in this article demonstrated a sheer lack such compassion and graciousness to allow the followers of other religion to practice their religion? What is there to lose? Why are Muslim Malaysians so utterly extra-sensitive? I wish they grow up a little and get out of their coconut shells.”