KUALA LUMPUR: Religious leaders have reminded people to keep a level head when it comes to religious and cultural sensitivities, especially in a multicultural society like Malaysia.
All religions promoted peace, they said, and taught their followers to do good deeds, speak well of others and do good to people.
Selangor mufti Datuk Tamyes Abd Wahid said in light of the polemics on Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, people should steer clear of anger and hold their tongue if they had nothing good to say.
Quoting a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (taken from a Sahih Muslim collection of hadith), he said: “Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his neighbour.”
Tamyes said: “The hadith is clear. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then be quiet or you will be sinning.
“The Quran tells us to distance ourselves from assumptions and suspicions because they do not necessarily lead to good things,” he told the New Straits Times.
Tamyes said this when asked on the Islamic perspective on people making hate speech, disseminating unconfirmed information and failing to control anger.
This was in regard to how the media and social media were being used by people to incite hatred and cause disunity.
“Information is easily accessible these days, but not all report the truth. So (this means) we exercise restraint and self-control. Why viral unverified news that can lead to something bad?”
He cautioned people against resorting to anger.
“Why all the anger? Don’t we know that anger comes from the devil, who wants to see the people in chaos?
“In Zakir’s case, I suggest that we let the investigation be conducted because without clear evidence, everything we say may lead to fitnah (slander).”
He said Allah would be with those who were truthful.
He called on Zakir to cleanse himself (from the accusations).
Federation of Taoist Associations Malaysia president Tan Hoe Chieow said the precepts of Taoist stressed morality, performing good deeds, refraining from making unfounded accusations and upholding patience.
“Patience is a virtue. There’s a need for the people to lead a proper life and that’s what Taoism teaches.”
In Christianity, Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri said the religion taught its followers that any speech without love, kindness, generosity and compassion was unwelcome as it was considered unspiritual.
The Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary said Christianity, like other religions, discouraged people from making remarks that could lead to hate and violence.
“To live harmoniously, we must have mutual respect for each other. Nobody should say anything disparaging or denigrating other religions in a bigoted point of view.
“Unfortunately, in the age of connectivity, this is bound to happen. But just as much as people who use social media to spread hate, there are many more using it to promote peace and harmony.”
Echoing this view was Sukhindarpal Singh, a Sikh lay preacher and lawyer, who said compassion was the key in ensuring respect and harmony among people.
He said those who put others down by making slanderous or derogatory remarks should reflect on the mistake as it was akin to “carrying rubbish on one’s head”.
“Simply put, if I don’t have compassion then I don’t have a religion.”
He said the religion taught people that listening to slander was the same as making one.
“I urge people to be more compassionate because it means you care about others,” said the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism committee member.
On Thursday, Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed said an investigation paper had been opened to probe Zakir over his alleged remarks about Indian Malaysians and Chinese Malaysians.
Zakir was called in by police to have his statement recorded on Friday. Huzir said the probe was opened after 115 reports were lodged against him.
He said the case would be investigated under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.
Police have also opened investigation papers (IP) into Dong Zong chairman Tan Tai Kim and tycoon Khoo Yew Yin for allegedly causing disharmony through intentional insults and making statements to incite people from a community to act against those from another community.