Jumaat, April 16, 2010
Mujahid Yusof Rawa is MP for Parit Buntar and PAS National Unity Committee chairman. From Holy Spirit To Saint Anne APRIL 12 — My mission to dialogue with Penang’s Christian communities ended in St Anne — my 4th session in the northern state. The first was at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Island Glade. It was successful in the sense that communities learnt first hand PAS’s stand on the kalimah Allah issue. From the Nativity Church in Butterworth, Immaculate Church in Pulau Tikus and finally in St Anne Bukit Mertajam, the dialogue tour acted as a beacon of hope for the future of multi-faith relations in Malaysia. Last Sunday (28th April) I spoke at a dialogue held at The St Louis Church in Taiping. I look forward to traversing the country to talk and dialogue with Christians in an effort to start a new culture of understanding and dialogue between faiths. I learned a lot from these dialogues. I want to share that experience with The Malaysian Insider readers and hope to get feedback which can eventually contribute to help build bridges between different faiths in this country. I got to know new friends, whom I would not have met otherwise. I met father Xavier, Father Stephen Liaw, Dr Mary, Angie, Martin and many more which I can’t remember their names but I know them to be men and women of good faith. I must acknowledge one guy I first encountered at The Holy Spirit in Island Glade, Penang. You have probably heard of him as a social activist by the name of Anil Netto. Anil helped me a lot to establish contact with the churches. He also attended most of the talks and was one of the main speakers. I appreciate what he did and I’m sure there are a lot more rooms to explore in this new relationship to further enhance the dialogue culture. Otherwise I would not have met with so many people of different faiths sharing similar hopes. Hopes which have been buried underground for the past 50 years just because certain quarters wanted to keep us at bay on the ground and avoid discussing openly about sensitive issues. As the country moves forward to the new millennium “avoid” tactics seems to be out of place and the dialogue initiative emerge to be the best solution to manage the sensitive issues. I was also pleased by the support I received from PAS activists such as Ustaz Roshdi, Abdul Rahman, Pak Andak, Nasir, Yusof and others. They were so excited by the dialogues, they followed me everywhere I went. In Taiping a group of students from one of the Islamic Private School attended the talk. When I asked the Principal who accompanied them, why they came he answered in one word ‘to learn’, I hope they did. One thing great about engaging in dialogue is that you learn many realities in promoting understanding between two or more diverse parties. Differences and dissimilarities were never justified reasons to hate one another. These realities on the contrary should promote understanding by which without dialogues and talks, understanding can never be achieved. The beautiful thing about interfaith dialogue is that you don’t have to agree one another and you don’t have to dilute your faith to please another faith. It is important to learn that interfaith dialogue implies respect other people’s faith and to learn what these faiths hold in high esteem. I have stressed that faith is not a play thing, we can have dialogues but that doesn’t mean we are compromising our faith, if faith can be compromise, then there was no reason to have faith in the first place! When the issue of apostasy (murtad) was raised, I had to tell the truth about what Islam says on this issue, there was no pleasing or going around the bush. I said Islam banned such act and apostasy is considered one of the biggest sins and the punishment is so severe that if the advice process failed, a Muslim can potentially be punished to death. I asked whether Christians have such provisions. If it has such provision then Christians must defend it and tell others! I have learned also that our constitution provides for dialogue, only narrow minded politicians define our constitution in a manner which limits interaction of different faiths. These groups define the relationship through the politics of fear and threat. Threat that hide beneath the mask of religion and race. Everytime when the political situation is not on their side, they would put their mask on and go around telling people to keep them at bay! No one come close for there is danger! In our dialogues the interpretation of our constitution becomes so vibrant, allowing space for interfaith relations. I found out that as Malaysian we are guided by our constitution and the constitution stipulates in article 3(1) that Islam is the Federal Religion of the State and article 11 stated that other faith are free to practice. Islam being the official religion of the state is accepted by every loving citizen in this country. Throughout my dialogue I did not confront any resistance to article 3(1) and I did not have problem explaining the deliberation of article 3(1) and the impact it has in our life as Malaysian citizen. Article 11 was never questioned as long as it did not jeopardise the substance of unity in this country. I was also asked on PAS’s stand on the issue of IFC (Interfaith Commission) and why Pas rejected it. Yes I replied, PAS rejected IFC since it entails in empowering the commission the right to decide on one’s faith. If it was in place then faith become subsidiary of the commission and it will defeat the purpose of faith’s role in the first place. PAS however applauds the IFD (Interfaith Dialogue) and believes it is a way forward. Interfaith Dialogue will solve a lot of problem since faith is based on sincerity and openness. IFD is what we need, so that faith can be left where it should be, faith should not be ruled by a external entity which claims to be the spokesman for all faiths! The future of IFD depend on all parties, not just PAS and the Christians communities. We have to sit down and contemplate and come to an important conclusion that there is room for everyone in this beautiful country called Malaysia. We don’t have to wait until new controversy arises, indeed the ‘Allah’ issue maybe a blessing in disguise and we should be proactive through dialogues and talks. At least I have started the journey of thousand steps and if the mission is a success no one will ever forget the first step of the long journey… from The Holy Spirit to St Anne… * The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.