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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bongkar Kristien - How FAR is it true?

From Malaysia Today posted by RPK:

I have no problems with my enemies. I can normally handle them myself even when they resort to using the police to get me. It’s my friends whom I have to beware of.

Anyway, before I jump into the topic of the day, allow me to digress a bit, like I am most fond of doing. I would like to refer to today’s The Star report called UM students plan inter-faith event with Indonesia. And this is what The Star said:

Taking a leaf out of an inter-faith sahur event in Jakarta, Universiti Malaya is organising a get-together here on Wednesday, where non-Muslims will join in the pre-dawn meal for Muslims intending to fast. The event will be linked to the Indonesian one, held at Jakarta’s Grand Cathedral, via tele-conferencing. The Malaysian side will hold the event at the Ungku Abdul Aziz Residential College in the UM here.

The local organisers of the sahur serumpun (indicating people with similar regional roots) expect about 1,000 people, mostly from the campus community and invited guests, to attend the function, held from 2am to 6am. In Indonesia, where holding a sahur in a cathedral during Ramadan had been done before, the event is being organised by a group known as the Positive Movement.

Movement member Inayah Wulandari, 23, the youngest daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid, had invited Malaysian youths two weeks ago to hold the event on the same day and to link the two sessions via tele-conferencing. She had contacted student leader Mohammed Nasser Yusof, a final year law student and general manager of the UM Students Business Centre here, who agreed it was a good idea.

Inayah’s story was carried on Sept 18 in mStar, the Malay news portal of The Star, and has since been discussed at public platforms, with dissenting Muslims voicing their concern about the religious significance of the sahur being eroded. Inayah said holding the sahur in a church was nothing new in Indonesia, stating that her Positive Movement had done it for two years. She said the Christians would prepare the food for sahur and the Muslims would join in the meal together with them at the cathedral.

“Inayah is my friend. We met as youth leaders in August, while attending a summer camp,” said Mohammed Nasser. “I agree with Inayah’s intention to promote harmony, mutual understanding and youth relations between the two countries. However, she has her way of doing things, while we (Muslims in Malaysia) have ours.”

“We do not promote the liberalism and pluralism as subscribed by Inayah. Ours is the Islamic way,” he said. While acknowledging the criticisms, he said he would not be cowed into disengaging himself from Inayah. “This can even be an annual event,” said Mohammed Nasser.


Yes, this inter-faith sahur being organised by UM is definitely going to attract much controversy. Many feel this would tantamount to promoting “liberalism and pluralism” (quote-unquote) and that Muslims and non-Muslims should not be holding joint-sahur as “the religious significance of the sahur will be eroded” (quote-unquote). It is okay if they hold joint-buka (break fast) though. And the fact that sahur is optional while buka is compulsory seems to escape them. That’s right, you can see many Muslims joining non-Muslims during the break fast and the non-Muslims even pay the bill on top of that (especially when the Muslims are government officers and the non-Muslims are Chinese contractors). No one will scream that this is promoting “liberalism and pluralism” or that “the religious significance of the buka will be eroded” or that Chinese contractors paying for the buka of government officers is actually bribery.

Funny people these Muslims, don’t you think so?

Recently, Marina Mahathir organised inter-faith prayers for Tun soon after he went under the knife. As expected, I received a few phone calls from extremely upset people who did not approve of inter-faith events such as these and I told Marina about it. Tun’s well-wishers of the other (non-Islam) faiths had wanted to offer their prayers for Tun’s well-being. Marina could of course have given them the ‘normal’ Malay response: your religion is a fake and not the true religion like Islam so keep your prayers to yourself, we do not need them. But she did not. In fact, most of those upset about this ‘joint-prayer’ session had exactly that in mind: how could Marina agree to ‘merge’ Muslim prayers with that of non-Muslims when we believe in different Gods?

Nevertheless, being the true diplomat that Marina is, instead of shooting down their religions and sending them off with insults in tow, she cordially organised an inter-faith prayer session so that those subscribing to the other faiths could offer their prayers in whichever manner they felt was their way of reaching God. It was not a joint-prayer session in the manner that all prayed together. Each faith held separate prayer sessions, one after another, so it was not a ‘merger’ of faiths as such.

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