Let’s enjoy living in harmony

It’s not easy upholding peace and harmony in a pluralistic nation like Malaysia. Efforts have been taken by various parties, including the Government, NGOs and civil society entities, to minimise friction due to social differences, be it cultural or religious.

MALAYSIA is a nation that is indeed unique and blessed.

The uniqueness of this beautiful nation, among others, lies not just in its multiracial and multi-ethnicity background but also in its religious diversity.

For Malaysians, their religions do not just shape who they are spiritually, but acts also as a major influence on their culture and social identities.

Belief in God, as the first pillar of the Rukun Negara is an important principle that binds Malaysians together.

From this, it can be understood that religion plays a crucial role in shaping the positive characters of individuals and contributes towards nation building.

It is also a well-known fact that religions shape the world view of individuals. These world views will then be manifested in one’s action towards God, other beings and even towards himself.

Associate Professor Dr Kamar Oniah Kamaruzaman, in her book Religion and Pluralistic Co-Existence, talks very aptly about the connection between religion and the inter-personal dimension.

She explains that: “True persons of religion understand well their social obligations and responsibilities to one and all, and take these responsibilities seriously. This is because their social responsibilities are part of their religious responsibilities and they are thus as much accountable to what goes in society as what goes within their own selves. Thus the social teachings of their religions make them disciplined, responsible and productive members of society.”

As religion becomes the focal point for most individuals, it is therefore essential to look at the sources of our own religion when dealing with differences.

In Islam for example, there is a clear source of guideline on the matter. One of the verses in the Holy Quran that outlines this is in Surah Mumtahanah, verse 8: “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) religion nor expel you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly towards them. Indeed Allah loves those who act justly” (Chapter 60: 8).

Another important verse in the Quran that calls for mankind to learn to know one another and accept diversity is discussed in Surah al-Hujurat, verse 13, which states: “O mankind, indeed we have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Chapter 49: 13)

For a pluralistic nation like Malaysia where the social fabric is made up of various races, ethnicity, cultures and most importantly religions, to be able to uphold peace and harmony is not an easy task.

Today, as can be seen, many countries are still finding the right formulae to address the issues of religious diversities and justice.

Instead of looking at the values in each religion that are able to provide the answer, they prefer to concentrate on differences that exist among religions.

Consequently, this will widen the existing gap among people of different faiths and beliefs instead of actually building a bridge of understanding towards living harmoniously with one another.

by Enizahira Avdul Aziz.

Read more @ http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=ikimviews&file=/2013/1/29/columnists/ikimviews/12630076&sec=IKIM%20Views

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