PORT MORESBY, Nov 18 — Muslims can only make Islam a way of life if they read the Quran, the authoritative source on their faith, in a language they know instead of just reading Arabic script that they don’t understand, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The prime minister told a small congregation at Hohola Mosque in the Papua New Guinea capital here that although the Quran must be in Arabic, one must read the holy scriptures in a language they know in order to understand the teachings of Islam.
“If you read the Quran, it will teach you what is the way of life for the Muslims. But if you go according to certain interpretations by leaders, then you may not be getting the right message of the Quran that’s found in the Quran,” Dr Mahathir said.
“So it is important that you learn from the Quran, even if it has to be translated into a language that you understand. Then and then only will you be able to live the life of a Muslim. Then and then only will Islam be a way of life.”
Muslims generally regard the Arabic text as the definitive version of the Quran. However, most Muslims in Malaysia do not understand Arabic, despite being able to read the script.
Furthermore, tahfiz schools have also become increasingly popular, where students memorise the Muslim holy scripture through rote recitals, sometimes from a very young age.
The prime minister said the fact remained that the teachings of Islam must be taught in an understandable language.
“It may be your own native language, it may be in English, or it may be any other language, but whether we like it or not, we have to read or understand the Quran in our own language.”
Dr Mahathir blamed conflicts and wars between Muslims on the prioritisation of certain religious teachers, which leads to different sects, over the Quran.
“The Quran should be the final guidance for us. Whenever we fail to understand or whenever we find teachings to be in doubt, go back to the Quran,” he said.
He also disputed claims that Islam requires four witnesses to a crime, highlighting a story in the Quran about a woman named Zulaikha who desired a man named Yusof and tore his shirt as she went after him.
“In the case of the torn shirt of Yusof, it was regarded as sufficient evidence that it was Zulaikha who was chasing after him.”
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