Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattāb was one of the most historical figures in Islam. The Muslims, under Umar, conquered Jerusalem in the 630s and it is reported that when the Caliph entered Jerusalem the first thing he did was to fulfil his obligatory prayers and the Bishop invited him into the church to pray.
Umar, however, refused and chose instead to pray outside the church. The reason he gave was that he did not want future generations to misinterpret his action and to think that the Muslims had taken over or possessed the church.
Basically, Umar respected the sanctity of the Christian church and he did not want it to appear like the Muslims had displaced the Christians and had taken over their place of worship. And for sure Umar did not command that Christian icons such as the cross be removed from the church.
The Christians, in fact, had banned Jews from entering Jerusalem and it was Umar who lifted this ban so that Jews could now enter what was then the holy land to both Jews and Christians. It was through Umar’s effort that the Muslims, Christians and Jews coexisted side-by-side in peace in what is now considered the holy land to all three faiths.
Muslims tend to forget their history. Or maybe they never studied the Islamic history. But the early examples during the time when Muslims first conquered the Middle East was of tolerance and respect for those of the non-Muslim faiths.
The protest two days ago in Selangor regarding the cross on top of the church is not what Islam is all about. It is certainly not what Umar taught us and was not Umar one of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) most trusted companions?
This is what happens when Islam is abused in the interest of politics. And the protest against the cross is not the first and only incident that is troubling this country.
We in Sabah are very concerned about this matter plus about all those issues involving the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Allah word, and many other controversies. This is taking Malaysia down a very dangerous path that may soon cross the point of no return with only a slippery slope ahead of us.