Inter-Religious Council: Have sincere intentions

I welcome Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin’s view that there is no need to set up an Interfaith Commission, (DPM: Solution may be found through dialogue, New Sunday Times, 31 Jan)

Although the majority of Muslims objected to the earlier proposal to form an Interfaith Commission, we continue to see simplistic arguments that sensitive inter-religious issues will be resolved with the formation of such a council. This view implies that the IFC is the only means to promote inter-faith dialogue and that the Muslims objection to its formation lacks valid justification.

Muslim Organizations’ objection to the formation of the commission are well documented. However, continued calls by non-Muslim politicians and religious leaders to set up the commission on the ground that it will promote inter-religious harmony through dialogue and protect the constitutional rights of the non-Muslims only serve to cast Muslim organizations opposing to such a move in bad light. In 2007, the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia gave its grounds for rejecting the IFC. Among the reasons was that the IFC was meant to be an institution that promotes a one sided view about religious freedom, which its proponents claimed to be based on ‘prescribed international norms’, without rooms for disagreements;

Another reason was that in in 2001, when the formation of IFC was discussed, the were calls for a review of the constitutional provisions which restrain a Muslim from converting to other religions. The IFC also appeared to be interfering in matters internal to one’s religion.

Let’s stop making assertion that the IFC is the only mechanism for interfaith dialogue and hold others at ransom to accept such assertion. Please to take into consideration the views of the majority of the Muslims who are against such a proposal when making statements on the IFC and other related issues.

The first principle of successful dialogue is a willing agreement from all parties to suspend blame, incipient ‘lust for power’, and any hidden agenda to convert parties from one religion to another. We also must willingly cease and desist propagating our personal ‘conspiracy theories’ for the sake of a more harmonious outcome in service to national unity. This is not a ‘battle for souls’, except as a battle for the ‘soul of a peaceful and secure Malaysia’

Meaningful interfaith dialogue could only be held when all parties to the dialogue have sincere intention to promote understanding and harmony among different religious communities. It should not be an avenue for imposition of one’s view over the others or an opportunity to demonize other religions.

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