The Friday sermon of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) yesterday saying that the division among Muslims is not only caused by a weak faith but also because of the instigation of Christians and Jews is a triple regret as it goes against:
• The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Cabinet’s positive response at its Cabinet meeting on 29th January 2014 to the Pakatan Rakyat’s olive branch reiterated by PR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday for a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Leaders’ Summit on national reconciliation to check worsening national situation in the country, in particular the worst racial and religious polarization in the nation’s history as a result of incessant incitement of racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension by a small group of reckless and irresponsible persons bent on destabilizing the country through lies and falsehoods, even to create another May 13;
• Najib’s advocacy of Wasatiyyah (moderation in Arabic) as important policy in ASEAN and world conduct of nations – affecting not only Islam but also in respect of all other faiths; and
• The World Interfaith Harmony Week (3 – 9 February 2014) proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 20th October 2010 as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith as “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace”.
The question that needs to be asked is whether Jakim officials who prepare the Jakim Friday sermons are aware and support the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on inter-religious harmony and dialogue, and in particular to Najib’s promotion of the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) and the “Wasatiyyah” concept as well as Najib’s support for the World Interfaith Harmony Week every February?
In April 2012, Malaysia succeeded in getting the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh to unanimously adopt Najib’s GMM concept for “the voices of moderation to drown the voices of extremism”.
This is what Najib said at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh: “The voices of moderation should be from all religious beliefs and faiths, committed to working together to combat and hence marginalise extremists.”
Najib advocated that the “Wasatiyyah” concept should address all forms of political extremism, including religious extremism, ultranationalism and radicalism.
He also proposed that ASEAN utilise the idea of GMM as part of its current agenda to raise the ASEAN value – the practice of moderation – at the international level.
He said: “If embracing and practising moderation has worked for ASEAN, it is not impossible for it to work in the global village.
“The movement of moderates is an important approach so that ASEAN can contribute to the world in achieving global peace.”
In February last year, Najib gave full support to the World Interfaith Harmony Week, a brainchild of King Abdullah II of Jordan, not only visiting the places of worship of the nation’s five main religions centred in Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, but also addressing a gathering of religious leaders at his official residence Seri Perdana.
As Najib said last February, the “World Interfaith Harmony Week” sought to raise awareness and understanding between religions, for universal peace and drive the world to be a more progressive and prosperous.
Najib stressed that all faiths in principle promote moderation, through conduct and words.
Last February, Najib could boast that “if there is a country which wants to showcase itself as a model of multi-racial unity, I don’t think there is a country better than Malaysia”.
But Malaysia has lost its innocence, to the extent that we are chided by a Pakistani website which headlined a blog: “Malaysia no longer land of peace and tolerance”.
What has happened to the “Wasatiyyah” and three important principles which Najib said last February would be practiced and adhered by the people to ensure Malaysia continues to be a peaceful, stable and harmonious country and remain a model of world harmony – i.e. the principles of moderation, fairness and mutual respect.
The scenario of inter-racial and religious relations today is completely different from that a year ago.
For instance, the three Wasatiyyah principles of moderation, fairness and mutual respect are not reflected in the Jakim’s Friday sermon yesterday.
Was yesterday’s Jakim sermon drafted well before the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to support a national reconciliation initiative to end the politics of dissension, acrimony, hate and incitement and there was an administrative lapse or breakdown of communication to ensure that Jakim’s sermon yesterday fully endorse and not challenge or question the authority and decision of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on national reconciliation?
Is the Prime Minister and the Cabinet prepared to draw a clear line that Jakim’s sermon yesterday is not reflective of their decision on national reconciliation to end the racial and religious incitement of hatred, conflict and tension in the country?
Will Jakim’s Friday sermon next week be any different?
The Malaysian Insider reported today that Catholic Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam wants priests to go to the ground and meet other religious leaders to foster peace and tolerance.
“They should find out who are the Muslim leaders, the Hindu leaders, the Buddhist leaders and so forth, in their parishes,” said Pakiam, urging his Catholic priests to go to the grassroots level to seek out other religious leaders to work with them.
This is most commendable and exemplary attitude, for we cannot afford any “An Eye for an Eye” response or Malaysia will go blind.
What is the best way for Malaysia to celebrate “World Interfaith Harmony Week” this year beginning on Monday?
There can be no better way than for a joint Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat declaration fully committing both coalitions to ending the incessant incitement of racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension and the kicking off of a genuine inter-religious understanding, harmony and tolerance Malaysia so that Malaysia can be the envy of the world as “the land of racial and religious peace and harmony” in the world.
I reiterate, for example, my belief that if the two coalitions of BN and PR are committed in their resolve that there will not be another May 13 in the country, and are prepared to do everything within their capability towards this end, there is no force in the country which can cause May 13.
Similarly, if the two coalition of BN and PR are prepared to be similarly resolved in their commitment to ensure inter-racial and inter-religious peace, harmony and understanding, it is not possible for the small group of irresponsible and reckless few to carry their nefarious and treacherous activities to cause inter-racial and inter-religious strife and conflict in the country.