When I stood up in Dewan Rakyat on the 26th of August, my main intention was to give my full support to my fellow YB Ayer Hitam Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, the MCA President who is also the Transport Minister, to his campaign against drunk-driving, which has taken so many lives and destroyed so many families and lists endless victims.
It is with this noble intention that I brought up the issue of all religions forbidding the drinking of arack, or consumption of alcohol which can lead to drunkenness.
It is not a question of “to taste or not to taste”. It is a question of forbidding the drinking of strong drinks in all great religions of the world which explicitly forbids consumption of alcohol.
Drunk-driving has cost us lives and taken many of our loved ones, and it costs the country economically and socially and creates chaos in the community.
YB Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong had stated that we can learn from other countries like Japan.
“What is important is that everyone must be responsible. Anyone who consumes alcohol, even at home, would cause a problem if they drive afterwards. When you drink, even a little, just don’t drive (and) that’s the main signal,” YB Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong had informed the Dewan Rakyat on the 3rd of August.
It is due to this that I have supported my argument against drunk-driving by stating that all great religions of this world, be it Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, have indeed forbidden their followers to consume alcohol, in this case “arack”.
Unfortunately, YB Beruas Ngeh Koo Ham of the opposition DAP has insisted that the Christians are allowed by their scriptures to consume alcohol, as he said red wine, which he justified stating that Prophet Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) himself had consumed red wine at the last supper.
He also took offence when I asked if the Bible he was referring to was the version that was different from the original version.
We Muslims, as well as Christians, believe that there is an Old Testament, which came to Prophet Isa (Jesus)(peace be upon him) and a New Testament which was written after his passing.
These Old and New Testaments are terms which the Christians themselves named the scriptures.
In the Old Testament, it is explicitly stated that alcohol is forbidden, even wine, again and again.
For those not in the know, there are 75 scripture warnings in the Bible against drinking of alcohol.
“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1, NIV).
“Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31, NIV).
Also, I would not deny the fact that there are occurences in the Bible when alcohol was seen as medicinal.
But it would be a sin unto Christianity for those who say that Christians are allowed by their religion to consume arack, for it will lead to drunkenness.
As YB Ngeh himself pointed out, even his own Methodist Church does not use red wine, but Ribena juice in its place.
However, to me, the whole issue has been distorted by the opposition for their own gain, to veer us away from the real issue, which is drunk-driving, which always begins with “tasting of the strong drink”.
In Dewan Rakyat itself, I persistently stated that I do not intend to insult anyone or any religion and I have invited time and again those who refute what I said to meet and have a proper dialogue, where we can provide our supporting facts for our arguments.
My respect for my Christian brethren is deep and I would never go to the extent of insulting anyone, for I studied comparative religion to understand Christianity in its most holy sense, both during my bachelor degrees in Usuluddin and Tafseer (Al-Azhar University, Egypt) and Aqeedah and Philosophy from Al-Bayt University in Jordan.
During my PhD in Preaching and Leadership in University Kebangsaan Malaysia, I studied Christianity from the great writers and thinkers who are the very experts of Christianity, who are staunch Christians. I have also read the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments.
We as Muslims too believe in Prophet Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon him). We are also required to believe in the original scripture which was revealed to him. Even though I questioned if the Bible was changed from the original scripture that was revealed to him, I say it as a Muslim who believes in Prophet Isa (Jesus)(peace be upon him). Thus, I humbly state I see no need for me to apologise to Christians as some quarters have asked me to.
We as Muslims are very clear that we should believe in all the divine scriptures revealed to the Prophets before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). May the Christians too take it upon themselves to believe in these divine scriptures as well as the Holy Qur’an.
I stand by what I said that all religions forbid the consumption of alcohol and thus, I beseech those who distorted my explanation in Dewan Rakyat, to return to the right path and give their support to YB Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong in his fervent campaign against drunk driving.
To those who insist on an apology, let us meet and have a cup of tea as we sit down and discuss amiably and come to understand each other better.
Let us save our loved ones from the drunk-drivers.
Dr Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh
P028 (PAS-Perikatan Nasional)
Pasir Puteh Member of Parliament
3rd September, 2020