Monday, August 30, 2010

Good to visit places of worship and have dialogues with people of other faiths

Can a non-Muslim visit a Mosque and/or Surau in Malaysia? Can a non-Christian visit a Church/Chapel in Malaysia? Can a non-Hindu visit a temple in Malaysia? Can a non-Buddhist visit a temple in Malaysia? More so, if the said person who makes the visit does so on the invitation of the local community of worshipers...

It would have been a non-issue, save for Malaysia, it seems....or should I say, save for UMNO-led Barisan Nasional. Most Malaysians do not have any problems with such visits, talks, etc...and it has never been an issue...

Malaysian major BN parties are race-based parties, and they certainly would want to 'protect' their turf.... and would not be happy with any other party/person visiting...and/or talking to persons of a particular ethnicity/religion from a different party entering their 'turf' - it really is nothing but a narrow form of 'politicking'...

For, me it is absurd for duly elected 'wakil rakyat' (people's representatives) to not visit persons of other faiths, and be concerned about places of worship/burial grounds of persons of other faiths. She/he is duty bound to be concerned for all persons in her/his constituency - and this includes visitation and even having dialogue sessions. Of course, one must be respectful (not just tolerant) of the faith and culture of persons of other faiths...and that is all. 

We are Malaysians, and we do not want a divided Malaysia - where people are divided (and kept separate) according to religion and race....and, I do hope that all other MPs and ADUNs also start to visit places of worship and have dialogue sessions with these different communities of faith to better understand the people they serve...and to better represent them. 

Places of worship are natural gathering places of people - and, others too must use these places to have discussions, education programs, etc... In my church, we invited all those who were running for elections to address the people and they all came, save for the UMNO's parliamentary candidate... and it was good session. 

Likewise,   the Health Department, Consumer Affairs Departments, etc should also look at having sessions at places of worship - maybe just after regular religious service. We already have the hospitals coming in to places of worship for Blood Donation drives...the police coming to have dialogues after that church vandalism episodes...

The Kelantan menteri besar said it did not contravene Islamic law and was the best way to get to know Muslims better.

“There is nothing wrong for a non-Muslim woman to speak in a surau as long as she is decently dressed," he told reporters after presenting Aidifitri aid to orphans at Rumah Puteri Harapan Taman Sabariah in Kota Bahru today.

Nik Aziz was commenting action by Serdang Member of Parliament Teo Nie Ching who delivered a speech from the prayer area of Surau Al-Huda in Kajang Sentral. - Malaysiakini, 28/8/2010,
Nik Aziz defends female DAP MP over speech in surau

Despite condemnation of Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching's visit to a surau (Muslim prayer hall) in her constituency last week to attend a breaking of fast ceremony, she repeated the act yesterday.

teo nie qing attending buka puasa at bangi surauTeo was invited to the Al-Muhajirin surau, Bukit Mahkota where she also handed RM500 to People Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel.

This time however, she stayed clear of the prayer hall and sported a selendang headscarf. The entire ceremony took place under a tent within the surau compound.

“(The visit) is based on the principle of serving the people regardless of their race and religion,” she said in a statement today.

Teo said that she was received with the same warmth shown during her visit to the Al Huda surau in Kajang, which sparked the controversy.

She said the congregation seemed unperturbed with the criticism against her and the series of articles condemning her, primarily by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia.

“Some even shook my hand and expressed their support,” said Teo.
Acting on principles
Teo said that as long as she acts based on principles, the people will not believe politically motivated attacks against her.

She added that, other than the donation from the state government, she also distributed dates and duit raya to children of single parents.

NONEThe first-term MP drew a firestorm of criticism from Umno politicians, pro-Umno blogs and Malay dailies over her visit to the Al Huda surau on Aug 22.

Her critics claimed that she had committed a grave insult to Muslims for speaking in front of the prayer hall, which is considered sacred and off-limits to non-Muslims.

The Selangor Religious Council has vowed to issue a written reprimand to Teo, while she plans to write to the Selangor Sultan to explain her action. - Malaysiakini, 30/8/2010, Teo attends another surau function

Many suraus and places of worship are small, and there may be no 'outside space' to pitch a tent and have the function. So, does this mean one will only visit places of worship which have a separate meting space?

Another thing that disturbed me was why was she handing over money to the RELA? Does that mean that the DAP (and Pakatan Rakyat) actually are not calling for the abolition of RELA?

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