Bibles for Marawi evacuees? Imam protests
ILIGAN CITY — A Muslim preacher urged Christian groups on Friday to refrain from proselytizing among Maranao evacuees because this could result in more harm than good.
Islamic teacher Abdulharim Ambor of the Mahad Al Nor in Ceanuri Village here made the appeal after a group of Christian evangelists distributed Bibles to about 300 evacuee families.
“Of course, the people want help and they need help, but what they don’t need today is an insult to their sensibilities,” Ambor said, referring to the refugees staying at his school.
“The aim really is to convince Maranao Muslims to embrace the Christian faith,” Ambor said, adding that the Bibles, entitled “Su Sindaw” or The Light, were in the Maranao language.
The hardbound copies of the Bible were inserted in hygiene kits – consisting of soap, toothpaste and shampoos – and school supplies that were distributed at the mahad on Thursday, Ambor said.
The pious Muslims who received the kits were offended when they discovered the Bibles and wanted to throw them in the garbage or burn them.
“But I told them not do it. [Instead, I] gathered all the Bibles and I will turn them over to a Balik Islam group here in Iligan for proper disposition,” he said.
Ambor said he could not return the Bibles to the group because they did not provide contact information in the kits they distributed.
“There is no address or contact number of the group,” said Hadji Amir Ali, a Marawi evacuee staying at the mahad.
Ali said members of the group urged the Maranaos to read the Bibles given them. “Others were told it was a history book,” he said.
Ali said the group took turns speaking about Christianity and presented a man who was purportedly a Maranao convert to Christianity.
Ali said he was incensed but “I held my cool and let them do their thing. I know my faith will not change just because they gave us something we really need, such as hygiene kits.”
“I also believe in Moses and Jesus but as prophets of Allah, and that the Tawrat [Torah] and Injil [Gospel] was superseded by the Koran,” he said.
Fred Dimamay, a member of the group that distributed the Bibles, admitted they included Bibles in the kits they gave away but they did not mean any harm or offense.
“When we were distributing the kits and the Bible, no one spoke against us,” Dimamay said, adding they did not force anyone to convert. “We just asked them to read it if they want.”
But Ambor said it is part of Maranao courtesy not to offend people of other faiths.
“They just received the Bible, but deep in their minds, they were also asking why the group gave it to them,” he said.
Ambor said that while evangelists may not think it offensive to distribute Bibles, the act of proselytization may be used by some groups, like the Maute, to persuade people to fight the government.
“We cannot tell what will happen. So I am appealing to our brothers in the Christian faith, please don’t mix evangelization with your attempts to help the needy Maranao,” he added.
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