Muslims in appearance, Christians at heart? They exist, says Umno paper

A new conspiracy theory has emerged regarding Malays who have been allegedly converted to Christianity but continue living as Muslims, a process called contextualisation, reported Umno mouthpiece Mingguan Malaysia.

The newspaper quoted Islamic non-government organisation Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Malaysia (Muafakat) as saying the theory had been explained clearly in a doctoral thesis written by an American priest who had interviewed 20 Malay Christians.

Muafakat secretary-general A. Karim Omar claimed that some of the apostates admitted they still followed their fathers to the mosque, fasted during Ramadhan and continued praying at homes, just like any other Muslim.

Karim reportedly presented a working paper on the subject at a forum to discuss the Christian agenda. The event had been organised by NGOs Pertubuhan-Pertubuhan Pembela Islam and Majlis Amal Islam Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Mingguan Malaysia quoted Karim as saying the contextualisation strategy helped the Malay Christians to acclimatise to their new position as apostates and to avoid being persecuted and ostracised by their own community.

Karim claimed contextualisation was akin to Indonesia where he alleged that some churches held services on Friday in order to be closer to Islamic practice. He claimed that there were some 400,000 people worldwide practising contextualisation but admitted he did not have the numbers for Malaysia.

The newspaper did not name the priest, the church he belonged to nor the title of his thesis, but Malaysiakini did a search on a database for doctoral dissertations for Christian missions. Since the year 1900, several dissertations were found dealing with Malays or Muslims in Malaysia and Christianity.

This includes a 2001 thesis on how the development of Malay ethnicity in Malaysia affects the church. Others include a 1993 thesis explaining the crucifix to Muslims in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as a 1928 thesis on the assimilation of Christians by Malays. - August 18, 2013.