Bibles and Selangor

Many of us would like to express our gratitude to Selangor MB, Azmin Ali for orchestrating the return of the Malay and Iban language bibles which were seized by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) in January 2014

Under the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution (which contains the legislative lists), religion is under the purview of the state

As per Frank Murphy (former US Supreme Court judge), “religious freedom is too sacred a right to be restricted or prohibited in any degree without convincing proof that a legitimate interest of the state is in grave danger”

Although religious issues are under the scope of the state, it is trite law that state enactments cannot contradict the Federal Constitution which is the ultimate law of the land.

Prima facie, the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988 is constitutional as it is made as per Article 11(4) Federal Constitution which allows for laws to be made to control or restrict the propogation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam

Under section 9(1)(a) of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988,

a person commits an offence if he in any published writing uses any of the words listed in Part I of the Schedule, or any of its derivatives or variations, to express or describe any fact, belief, idea, concept, act, activity, matter, or thing of or pertaining to any non-Islamic religion

At first glance it appears as though as the Malay and Iban bibles breached s. 9(1)(a) by virtue of containing “Allah.” However, there shouldn’t be an offence under the enactment for the following reasons

Firstly, there is no proof of propogation because the bibles were taken from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM)’s premises. At most, JAIS can say they acted under suspicion, but whether their suspicion is reasonable is a different story

Then BSM president, Lee Min Choon, pointed out that all its Malay bibles were imprinted with a picture of the cross and the words ‘Penerbitan Kristian’ on the cover and noted that the Home Ministry regularly inspects its bible shipment imports .

This is a huge sacrifice on the part of BSM to abide by the law in order to ensure that its customers may have access to Malay bibles

As to why the bibles are in our national language, “more than 60 per cent of Malaysian Christians only speak Bahasa Malaysia, and the word used for God in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Al-Kitab) since its translation in 1731, is “Allah.”

“The word is used by Bumiputera Christians who only have Bahasa Malaysia as their common language in Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, and by the Baba community in Malacca” (Christian Federation of Malaysia)

Regarding why the Bibles are in Selangor and not in Sabah and Sarawak, it is important to note that BSM is the one that imports, prints and distributes Malay bibles to Sarawak and Sabah (as per Nic Ng, BSM’s executive council member). Perhaps the bibles were in storage awaiting importation?

Even if some of the bibles were not to be imported, it shouldn’t be an issue that the bibles are in Selangor because there are Malay speaking Christians in peninsula Malaysia (e.g. sabahans and sarawakians who come over looking for jobs)

If Malay language bibles aren’t allowed in Selangor, it would most definitely infringe on the right of the Malay speaking Christians to freely practice their religion (enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution)

In June, after much investigation and deliberation, the Attorney-General (AG) accurately concluded that JAIS erred in seizing the bibles and ordered for the case to be closed.

US Politician, Mike Quigley once wisely said that the “protection of religious freedom means considering the faiths and beliefs of everyone involved.”

In future, JAIS and other religious enforcement agencies should not be so overzealous, especially when dealing with holy books of other religions. Perhaps a more thorough investigation (which would have made the raid unnecessary) could have prevented this dark dent in our history

Even if the roles were reversed and Qur’ans were superfluously seized, right thinking Malaysians would stand up and speak out against the blatant infringement of the freedom of religion!

*This awesome article featured in The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini, Malaysia Chronicle, and The Malay Mail Online

The Bible and Its Translations

There is a grave misconception amongst non-christians that the Bible is no longer accurate as its meaning has been lost due to translation

First of all, let us understand why the Bible is translated. The Old Testament (OT) was originally in Aramic and Hebrew while the New Testament (NT) was in Koine (common) Greek.

How many of us are able to read in those languages? That is exactly why the Bible needs to be translated! It is basically so that people all over the world may be able to read the Bible in their native language

For example, in Malaysia, we have the bible in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Tamil, and in the Iban language (a.k.a Bup Kudus). Without a Bible in a language understood by the reader, one may not be able to practice & profess his religion properly

After you have understood that, you may be wondering why then are there so many English translations? Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone used the same first ever English translation?

The explanation is quite simple. Over the years, certain English words like “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen” are no longer used and need to be replaced by words of the same meaning that are understood by the reader

Although there are various versions of the English Bible, the different translations always use the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and texts as their textual basis.

For the NT, the New International Version (NIV) relied on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament while for the OT, the NIV looked into the Biblia Hebraica Masoretic Hebrew Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, Juxta Hebraica of Jerome

Meanwhile, the New Living Translation (NLT) used the Greek New Testament (UBS 4th revised edition) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition in translating the NT, as well as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with some Septuagint influence for the OT

If you are still unconvinced as to the accuracy and consistency of the Bible after translation, let us look into the popular verse of John 3:16 in different translations

1. New International Version
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. New Living Translation
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

3. English Standard Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

4. Holman Christian Standard Bible
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

5. NET Bible
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

6. Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.

7. GOD’S WORD® Translation
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life

8. World English Bible
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

So is the Bible inaccurate due to translation? Absolutely not! Although the Bible has been translated into many languages, the translation is done without altering the meaning of the original word used. No one who translates the Bible dares to change anything because of what is said in the Word of God

Proverbs 30:6
6 Do not add to his (God’s) words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar

Deuteronomy 4:2
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you

Revelation 22:18-19
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll
19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll

In actual fact, the Bible is very much like the Al-Quran in the sense that has been translated into various languages. Everyone knows that the Al-Quran is originally in Arabic but did you know that English and Bahasa Malaysia translations exist?

On top of that, the different sources (e.g. Sahih International, Muhsin Khan, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Dr. Ghali) have come up with transliteration of the Al-Quran. What is all this for if not for the convenience of the readers? 

Similar to the Bible, I believe no scholar/organisation in charge of translating would dare to alter the meaning of the original word for fear of divine repercussions

*Featured at The Malay Mail Online

The Bible’s Stance On Homosexuality

Homosexuality by far is one of the most controversial issue that plagues today’s churches. Some denominations have openly declared their support for same sex marriage & relationships while some have maintained their stance that it is a sin in the eyes of God

There is no point debating this issue from a human rights point of view as it is a religious point of contention (for Christians at least). Therefore, it would only be correct to look to what Scriptures have to say about it 

Point 1: God’s plan

It is a fait accompli that in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. Eve was created as a companion/helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18)

The Bible then goes on to say in Genesis 2 that a man will be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. This is reaffirmed in Mark 10

Genesis 2:22-24
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh

Mark 10:6-9
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

If Jesus approved of homosexuality, why would He mention the exact opposite? Jesus (in Mark 10) reiterated God’s stance that homosexuality is NOT a part of His plan. God intended for the unity of flesh to be between a man and a woman  

It is important to note that thousands of years existed between Genesis and Mark yet Jesus articulated heterosexuality, thus reaffirming what was said in the Old Testament

Point 2: The example of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 19:1-7
1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them,
he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old- surrounded the house.
5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him
7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one often used to illustrate that God is against homosexuality. As a result of all the grievous sins committed, God “rained down burning sulfur” (Genesis 19:24) on Sodom and Gomorrah.  

The fact it is stated that “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old” surrounded Lot’s house and wanted to have sex with Lot’s guests shows us that homosexuality was prevalent then

There is an interesting argument I came across recently. Matthew Vines brought up Ezekiel 16:49 in his video to support his claim that God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality

Ezekiel 16:49-50
49 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I
did away with them as you have seen

From Ezekiel 16:49, it looks as if God rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah for reasons other than homosexuality. Verse 50 goes on to say that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah did things that were detestable before God

Just looking at Genesis 19 and Ezekiel 16, it is very subjective as to whether homosexuality amounts to a thing detestable before God. However, Matthew Vines failed to look at Judges 19:22-23 (another biblical example about homosexuality) and Jude 1:7 (which is also about Sodom and Gomorrah)

Judges 19:22-23
22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing”

“Disgraceful thing” is also translated as “outrageous thing,” “godless thing,” “folly,” and “horrible thing” in other versions while “evil” and “wickedly” is used to replace “vile”

It seems now that homosexuality is something God detests. If God was fine with it, why would it be regarded as evil, wicked, or vile?

Jude 1:7
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire

The King James Version uses “going after strange flesh” to replace “perversion” while the International Standard Version and God’s Word Translation replaces “perversion” with “homosexual activities”

Romans 1:26-27 tells us that unnatural relations, indecent acts with those of the same gender = perversion

Matthew Vines’ point about “love,” “commitment,” and “faithfulness” is irrelevant as the Bible regards unnatural relations & indecent acts with those of the same gender as perversion. The motive does not render the detestable act acceptable!

After analysing Judges 19:22-23, Jude 1:7, Romans 1:26-27 and its various translations, we can conclude that homosexuality was one of the reasons why Sodom and Gomorrah was wiped out.

Point 3: Jesus did not abolish the Law

Matthew Vines used Hebrews 8:13 and Romans 10:4 to show that the Law (including that in Leviticus 18:22 about homosexuality being detestable) has been fulfilled by Jesus, thus making it completely acceptable now

Hebrews 8:13
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear

Jesus in Matthew 5:17 explicitly tells us that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. Does it mean now that the Law has been fulfilled, it is no longer applicable and relevant?

If Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law renders it inapplicable, does it mean we can now misuse the name of the Lord, commit murder, commit adultery, steal, worship idols, curse our parents, and have sexual relations with our close relatives?

Of course not! What Matthew Vines failed to do is read Hebrews 8:13 in its context. Just a few verses before, we see that even in the New Covenant, the law has a role to play

Hebrews 8:10
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people

Romans 10:3-4
3 Since they (the Israelites) did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes

Reading verse 3 as well gives “the end of the law” a completely different meaning. In the Old Testament, the Israelites strictly obeyed the law in order to get right with God and be righteous (Deuteronomy 6:20)

Christ came and brought that specific law to an end in order that God’s righteousness may be available to all who believe (Jews and Gentiles alike) 

However, the Ten Commandments, the law on homosexuality being an abomination (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), etc are still required to be followed although we are now saved by grace!

Romans 3:20
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Obedience of the law does not guarantee our salvation or gain us God’s righteousness. What is does is help us identify what is sinful and what needs to be avoided!

Point 4: Homosexuality = sexual immorality

Oxford Dictionary defines ‘sexual’ as
(1) relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals;
(2) relating to the two sexes or to gender;
(3) (of reproduction) involving the fusion of gametes

“Immorality” is defined as
(1) the state or quality of being immoral;
(2) wickedness

From the definition of the two words, it is very apparent that homosexuality falls within the ambit of sexual immorality. What is intriguing is that the Bible has plenty to say about sexual immorality.

(i) Hebrews 13:4
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral

(ii) 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

* The phrase ‘men who have sex with men’ translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts
* Arsenokoitēs is a portmanteau of arsen, the Greek word for man, and koite, the Greek word for bed (active homosexual act)
* Malakoi literally means “squishy.” Linguists generally understand this word to be a form of showy effeminism (passive homosexual act)

(iii) 1 Timothy 1:9-10
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine


The Bible’s stance on homosexuality is very clear cut. God regards it as a sin/an abomination/something detestable and He definitely did NOT create humans to be homosexuals

However, what is also important is that Christians are called not to judge others(Matthew 7:1). The duty of Christians is to lead the lost (all those who are living a life of sin) back to the right path and Christians have to do so with love!

1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 Corinthians 6:11 adds on that although we were once ‘sexually immoral, isolators, adulterous, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers’, we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God

It’s not too late to turn back to God regardless of what sin(s) we have committed!

Is Hudud In The Bible?

I was in serious shock when I read a few articles saying hudud is in the Bible. One of it is found at DUN N26 Bangi, Selangor’s blog while there is another at My Journey Of Faith’s page

Both articles quoted the same Bible verse which is from Matthew 18:8-9

Matthew 18:8-9
8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell

Let me first clarify that the Bible is not always read literally. Otherwise, according to Matthew 16:24, we would have to deny ourselves, literally take up a cross and follow Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus spoke in parables in the Bible, which should at least indicate to you that not everything is literal in the Bible.

Jesus in Mattthew 18:8-9, spoke metaphorically. When the phrases ‘cut it off’ and ‘gouge it out’ was used, Jesus was NOT referring to self-mutilation. What Jesus meant is that the root cause of the sin must be cut off and gotten rid off. Matthew 15:18-19 tells us that the root of the sin lies in the heart.

Matthew 15:18-19
18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual
immorality, theft, false testimony, slander

Does it now mean that we have to cut the heart out?! Obviously not. In order to cut off the root of the sin, one must change his/her attitude (e.g. the behaviour that causes the person to sin must stop). In conclusion, hudud is NOT in the Bible. The only reason people get such an idea is because they read the Bible out of context. Which is unacceptable!