Sunday, August 15, 2010

UNITY IN RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY - A MYTH?

Unity in diversity. It's not easy to apply this slogan when it comes to religion in Malaysia. For non-Muslims here there are simply too many restrictions placed on them even when they truly want to understand the religious practices of their Muslim fellow citizens.

For example, in some states, non-Muslims are not welcomed in mosques. They can't use "Allah" to refer to God because it will confuse the Muslims here. There are 35 words that non-Muslims can't use. Schools have to get approval before they can set up a Christian or Buddhist society.

It's difficult to get land or funds from the government to build a church or temple. Even when the funds have been raised through community efforts, and the land purchased, it is a long long bureaucratic wait to get a permit to build a church or temple. Non-Muslims can't marry a Muslim unless they convert to Islam. They also can't inherit from a Muslim. The list goes on.

Restrictions like these drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims in the country. It stifles bonding and understanding. It leads to suspicion and fear. The end result is forced religious tolerance rather than voluntary religious acceptance.

But then, Malaysian Muslims themselves are subjected to 1001 restrictions. There's a whole lot they are not alowed to do according to their religious leaders. Or else they will have to answer for it in the Syariah court.

Perhaps our Muslim leaders can learn a thing or two from Obama's speech to mark the beginning of Ramadan.



1 comment:

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Lily, being a Canadian, past 20 years, I have lost touch with politics where you are.
But to me, hands that help are Holier than lips that pray.
And its men who make laws, or break them, or do not practice what they preach.
And love listening to their own voices.

Again, there are people who cannot see beyond their noses. Or living in or under a coconut shell as the saying goes.
Its a pity that Obama's speech will fall on deaf ears, on people who think otherwise.

And so, life goes on....
You stay easy, and keep well. Best regards, Lee.