Malaysia's Home Ministry has warned that it is against the law to publish or read the Quran in other languages unless it was accompanied by Arabic text. The Ministry said that the Quran was first written in Arabic and as such must be kept in that form.
Harussani Zakaria, the chairman of the Al-Quran Printing, Control and Licensing Board in the Ministry, said that anyone who read the original scriptures in Arabic, would "reap spiritual rewards even without understanding them." The statement is seen as a warning to the organisers of a Quran reading campaign led by author Anas Zubedy to promote reading the scripture in non-Arabic languages like Malay, Malaysia's national language, and English.
"The board stresses that writing and reading the Quran in languages other than Arabic is prohibited," Harussani said in a statement uploaded on the Home Ministry's Facebook page. He continued: "The writing of the Quran in other languages without being accompanied by Arabic text cannot be considered the Quran."
He warned that action can be taken under the Printing of Al-Quran Text Act 1986 and the Printing Machine and Publishing Act 1984. Harussani said that the Home Ministry warned the "Let's Read the Quran' campaign seriously.
The former Terengganu state Mufti or a Muslim legal expert, Ismail Yahya said the Quran must be read in Arabic, which is the "revealed language" from God. "You can read a translation but that's not the actual reading of the Quran," he told the Malay Mail Online.
Anas is appealing to the Home Ministry to lift the ban on a compilation of Quranic verses that were published in English and Malay as part of the Let's Read The Quran campaign that was launched recently. "We believe the campaign is a noble initiative that seeks to raise awareness about the universal message of the Quran," he said.
He explained that the books were merely translations of verses from the Quran for the convenience of those who do not understand Arabic. "Our objective is to encourage more people to understand the Quran in their own language, so that its message can spread more widely and effectively," he said.