From Internet Reference:
Mariner Azhar: I have not renounced Islam (But he never maintained that he IS still a Muslim. He has NOT renounced the rumor he had converted to Christianity either.)KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 17, 2006): Mariner Datuk Azhar Mansor today declared he had not renounced Islam as had been speculated since he achieved his round-the-world solo sailing feat in 1999.
In a press conference held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on the last day of the Umno general assembly, Azhar made the declaration in the company of Religious Advisor to the Prime Minister Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid Othman and Umno executive secretary Brig Gen Datuk Husainay Hashim.
Later, in his winding-up speech, Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the assembly that Azhar had taken the opportunity to be there to say that he is a Muslim and that there should now be an end to the speculation.
Azhar was then in the crowd and he stood up to applause.
At the start of his press conference earlier, Azhar gave the salam before explaining he was there as an observer to the assembly and decided to take the opportunity to meet the press and address a situation that could potentially affect public order.
He was referring to the incident on Nov 5 at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Jalan Silibin, Ipoh where a large group of Muslims gathered outside the church on being informed via SMS that Azhar was to baptise a group of Muslims there.
They dispersed after police investigated and assured them no such thing was happening and that there were about 100 children of Indian descent who were being baptised.
This is the Q&A of the press conference:
Q: The polemic has arisen because of the status of your religion. Can you make it clear whether you are still a Muslim or not?
A: Sometimes, I wonder… I can make this answer a very long, long one, or I can also make it short. But I sometimes wonder, where is the confusion? Of course, from what I understand, the rumours about me no longer being a Muslim have been there since 1999 when I was still sailing. This issue has been doubted and questioned until today. From being circulated in the Internet to now in an SMS. I have not given it much thought because it was an Internet source. But to go specific to the SMS, whereby my name was involved, on the incident in Ipoh which should not have happened, I was surprised myself because I got the SMS after the incident. I was informed through my family members in Ipoh that many people had gathered to protest since I was supposed to be there to baptise people. This was out of my knowledge. Now it is under police investigation. If only in the Internet, it is okay but when there is an SMS which affected public order, I would also like to know the cause and agenda of such an SMS.
Q: After so many days, people are wondering why you have not declared that you are still a Muslim?
A: I cannot control other people’s perception.
Q: Are you a Muslim?
A: My mindset is trained differently. As a sailor, my stand is, I am a person who wants to know what is in front of my eyes and in my hands. What others want to say about me, I cannot control.
Q: But you can use this opportunity to declare that you am still a Muslim! Just say yes or no.
A: Then we can go back? I also want to know what else you want to know from me.
Q: It is just whether you are a Muslim or not.
A: That’s it?
Q: Before this we heard from a third party, so now we want to hear it from you.
A: If I say that, you will all leave this room. I would also like to get to know you all too. Sometimes I wonder, why people want to know which shirt I am wearing, why I am wearing shorts. Why do you want to know this? In fact, I have certain responsibilities which I have to adhere to and that is what I should concentrate on. Meaning, if all of you want to know, I was born in Perlis as a Malay Muslim. My father is a Muslim, my family and siblings are Muslims. My own family members are also Muslims. So, I feel the issue of the status of my religion does not arise at all. That should not be questioned at all. If you want to ask me that just based on the Internet and SMS, that is why I do not want to entertain this kind of things. This is a sensitive matter. But my father, my children, my siblings are Muslims. So there is no need for this question to arise. And I have never, in this country or in any other parts of the world, that I have applied to renounce Islam. And I have never thought about doing that. That was what surprised me. But I don’t want you to leave now that I have answered you.
Q: The perception still persists because in the recent press statement there was nothing from you to say you are still a Muslim. That is what people want to know.
A: If I say that, if I say I am a Muslim from the very beginning, you mean that’s the end of the story?
Q: Yes. That’s it. Another thing, can you say the Kalimah Syahadah now? Everyone will keep quiet after this.
A: Did your mother ever ask you to say it? My father has never asked me to say it until now. Because we have said it many times, we say it everytime in our prayers.
Q: Then only this matter will not arise again later.
A: No. Cannot. I am not going to do that. This is not the Judgment Day for me to be questioned like this. When the day comes, nobody will know where we will end up going. It is not a matter of saying it or trying to please your ears. (Bukan atas ungkapan itu atau bukan atas nak bagi sedap telinga)
Q: Our intention is only to clarify things for the public.
A: I understand. If you see me in Langkawi, we would understand each other even better. My work is related to many people, including those from overseas. Obviously, I would always be hanging out with the white men. So, when I sit with them, people will say I am not a Muslim. It’s tough on me.
Q: Where are you based now?
A: I am based in Langkawi, as in my responsibilities. My home, as in family, is in KL. And those are the two places that I have been, other than going on short trips on business.
Hamid: I would like to explain, for everyone of us, as long as one does not renounce his religion, he remains in his original religion. There is no need for one to repeat whether he is Muslim or not.
Q (to Azhar): On the SMS incident, are you going to take action against anyone?
A: That is already under police investigation. When the SMS first came out I did not lodge any police report. But when the matter was prolonged, I felt it was better for me to make a police report to protect myself. Now we just wait for the police report and any further development. I cannot say anything else as of now.
Q: Are you saying that what is contained in the SMS is a fitnah (accusation/defamation/slander)?
A: I am not used to using that kind of word. I would never say anything if I see someone wearing shorts, or drinking in a coffee shop or in a bar. That is his personal matter. We should take care of our own selves. If we want to question whether one is a Muslim or a Christian, it would be tough. But all I know, my responsibility, my stand, my faith is in Allah. So, don’t question me now and I am only living my daily life in Malaysia according to the Syariah teaching and country’s regulations. I have never committed any offense. If you want to ask whether one is a Muslim or not, it is better for you to ask the rapists. That is better. Don’t ask me that (whether I am still a Muslim). I was only doing my job in langkawi. I have never disturbed anybody. It is the others who always disturbed me.
Husainay: The conclusion is, Azhar is still a Muslim. I think we better make it clear. So, let us end this session.
Q: Do you think the SMS has something to do with your business relations?
Azhar: I don’t know. I will wait and see the outcome of the police investigation. If I can get hold of the finding, perhaps I can think of what to do next. But now I do not want to think about it. Now I just want to stay to follow the assembly and later go back to Langkawi to continue with my work. But I will be wearing my shorts. Is it okay with you guys if I wear shorts?
Hamid: But we must be clear that in Islam, faith is one aspect, while behaviour is another aspect. They are not inter-connected. So if a citizen was caught stealing, he is guilty and considered a criminal, but his citizenship remains. It will not be abolished. Islam is also like that. If a Muslim does not practise the Islamic teaching, that is another story, but his faith in Islam remains. It will not be affected.
Q: After this, would your daily life be affected?
Azhar: No, it will not affect me. It is just that sometimes, I think, is our country this bad to the extent I have to take action to protect my family? Should that happen, I would be very much shocked. But for me, I am too engrossed with my responsibilities. I have never worked but I have a lot of responsibilities. And at this opportunity, I would like to say, being the unofficial ambassador of Langkawi, I would like to invite you all to come to Langkawi if you want to go for a holiday. Then you can see me in shorts.