Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Religious Bigots Should Read This

Lessons from Saladin and King Richard

Maclean Patrick | April 6, 2011

Some people, particularly those unschooled in history, believe that Christians and Muslims will never be able to get along. Unfortunately, recent political developments in Malaysia do nothing to dispel this myth. So we must go back in time.

The year is 1187 and Saladin has conquered Jerusalem, sparking the Third Crusade.

This crusade lasted until 1192 and brought the great Muslim general into contact with a Christian leader of equal stature, King Richard I, also known as Richard the Lion Heart.

When they entered Jerusalem, the Muslim soldiers were under strict orders to avoid harming civilians and destroying the city.

In January 1192, on his March to Jerusalem, Richard fell ill and appealed to Saladin for fresh water and fresh fruits. Saladin dutifully complied.

Richard never reached Jerusalem. Instead, the two generals agreed upon a truce, under which Christian pilgrims could visit the city without harm.

In October 1192, Richard sailed back to Western Europe, never again to return to the holy lands.

Great impact

The meeting of these two generals created a great impact on attitudes between the Christians and Muslims of the era, and even on later historians of either faith. Both men are acknowledged for their wisdom and courage in facing each other and also for their humanity in the canvas of war.

They forged a remarkable relationship of mutual respect and admiration. Saladin was marked by his quiet, courteous, thoughtful, generous and insightful ways. And the Muslim historian Baha observed that Richard was “a very powerful man of great courage, a king of wisdom, courage and energy”.

They each understood what the other was fighting for, and yet they maintained a high measure of human decency towards each other.

It is safe for me, as a Christian, to say that Saladin showed immense compassion and generosity towards Richard during the brief period the two met.

How sorely we need the wisdom and example of these two great leaders of old as Malaysia deals with a battle of its own.

Religious polarisation is often fuelled by political interest, and it is never good for anyone.

The impounding of Malay bibles in Port Klang and Kuching Port seems, to some people, to have created a new rift between Christians and Muslims. But has it?

Considerable clout

For the most part, Christians are angry not with Muslims, but with the government for its decisions. Conflicting statements from Putrajaya do not help in gaining Christian trust in the government’s ability to handle the matter justly and fairly.

It is as if there is division within Putrajaya itself as regards the course of action to take. And this will not go unnoticed in Sarawak.

Nearly half a million Christians reside in Sarawak, wielding considerable clout at the polls. Obviously, neither the Barisan Nasional (BN) nor Pakatan Rakyat will want to ignore their feelings.

Without a doubt, some election campaigners will play on Christian frustrations and fears, which were recently stoked to higher temperatures by Muslim NGOs that seem to fear Christians more than they fear the government’s inability to come to a clear decision.

But is it wise to milk the bible controversy for political gain, especially in times when religious tensions are at an all-time high? Can there ever be real political gain from religious polarisation?

The coming election is an exercise by the people of Sarawak to choose the government they want, and their choice will transcend ethnic and religious considerations. Yes, Christian voters will be influenced by frustrations and fears arising from the bible row, but these will not be the only determinants of how they will vote.

Let us hope that the Christians of Sarawak will exercise the bravery and courage of Richard in making their decision on polling day and that the Muslims will show the compassion and generosity of Saladin in governing a multi-religious populace.

Maclean Patrick is a Kuching-based columnist with FMT.


Freddie Kevin said...

Dear HL,

The Bible issue is interrelated to the Allah issue.

I have been saying it time and again.

Why must the Christian community be so adamant in using Allah. There is an alternative, it is Tuhan.

Where is Richard's wisdom? Where is the the spirit of understanding and compromise?

"Religious polarisation is often fuelled by political interest, and it is never good for anyone."

I wholeheartedly agree.

And I'm convinced that my Catholic Church is being influenced by opposition symphatisers regarding both the Allah and Alkitab matters, directly or indirectly.

I can safely say as a fact the Church allows opposition propaganda within its confines.

It has become more pronounced recently.

To me this is not right.

The Church must be apolitical.

Priests Do Not Have a Political Mission

"Proclaiming peace for his disciples and for all people, Jesus laid the foundation for the precept of fraternal love, solidarity and reciprocal help on a universal scale. For him this clearly was and is the aim and principle of good politics.

"Nevertheless, Jesus never wanted to be involved in a political movement, and fled from every attempt to draw him into earthly questions and affairs.(cf. Jn 6:15)"

I go to Church to pray NOT to see or hear anything political, whether it is pro Govt or opposition.

Thank you

Anonymous said...


Depends on which history books that you read.
The one that I read (and it was recently shown in Astro History channel) that King Richard did slaughter thousands of Muslim conquest at one city (that I cannot recall at this time).

Anyway, the two general never physically met. And, as History channel shos, at the end of his life Saladin was shun by most of his subjects and request him to fight with the Christians because of his soft stand.

As, history shows during the prohnet Muhammds time, the Christians and the Jews are never happy. Ad as stated by his onwn tongue: The christians and the jews will never be happy with you until you follow them. That is in the hadith and a history.
MRSM Kalae Chepo 66/73

SM said...

Bro HL,

Nice article!
However, as you will probably see from the commens you will get (just look at Anonymous 10:50am's comments!), there will always be people from both sides who will try to spew hatred & venom on anyone who's trying to propogate peace & harmony between the various Religions.
And in Malaysia....well...we are not known now as Bolehland for nothing!
Clear heads & impartiallity are needed. And I fear that the Malaysian Politicians on both sides are not matured enough for that! And it does not help that Najib is keeping quiet either.