Rock Ronald Rozario
Updated: September 10, 2021 02:58 PM GMT
Malaysian Muslims take part in evening prayers at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Putrajaya on April 12. (Photo: AFP)
A US-based Christian group has extended a helping hand to a couple in Malaysia who have faced ostracism from conservative Muslims for converting to Christianity from Islam.
International Christian Concern (ICC) said it has reached out to ethnic Malay couple Aadam* and Kasih* by providing them with a house rental, two months of groceries and the repair costs of a family-owned lorry.
The couple have faced pressure from conservative Muslims including family members since they became Christians four years ago, the ICC says. They were ostracized and thrown out of their house with their toddler son and newborn baby when their conversion was discovered.
“Aadam and his wife Kasih are among the many Muslim-background believers who face hardships due to their decision to follow Christ four years ago. A young couple with a passion to serve people, they have been persecuted by family members and the community as they lead a few house churches with dozens of believers,” the ICC said.
Islam is the official religion of multiracial Malaysia, although people are generally allowed to practice other religions. Ethnic Malays, however, are banned from leaving Islam and face consequences when they do, it added.
The family have been living with Aadam’s parents since the Covid-19 lockdown in Malaysia began in March 2020.
Observers say religious minorities such as Christians face increasing intolerance in Muslim-majority Malaysia amid creeping radicalism
Aadam had been supporting the family by working as a lorry driver. While the pandemic lockdown restricted Aadam from working, the Road Transport Department pronounced the lorry unfit for road at the end of last year.
Aadam tried to borrow money from various sources including money lenders and dozens of friends but was rejected.
The ICC, which documents the persecution of Christians, stepped in to support the couple as they needed a house and a roadworthy lorry.
The assistance made Kasih, a young mother of two, so emotional that she could not stop crying while thanking the team for helping her family, the ICC said.
She mentioned that they had approached close to 25 friends and other family members for help, yet no one was able to support them since they are in a similar predicament.
Observers say religious minorities such as Christians face increasing intolerance in Muslim-majority Malaysia amid creeping radicalism within powerful segments of the Malay Muslim community that assert Malaysia as an Islamic state.
Christians account for about 10 percent of the population, making them the third-largest religious group in Malaysia. Two-thirds of Christians live in two of the country’s 13 states, Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, where they make up one third of the population.
Despite the relative religious freedom for all faiths, Christians in Malaysia face routine discrimination and several restrictions, while they are often targeted with hate speech from radical clerics and Islamist politicians
“In Malaysia, the government and religious groups monitor churches and it is illegal to share the Gospel with Malay Muslims,” according to Open Doors, a US-based group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide.
* Names have been changed to protect identities