Tuesday 25 December 2012

When Faiths Intersect

Christmas is about celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated in many parts of the world. Jesus is also one of the prophets in Islam who propagated the faith to Allah amongst the people at his time. Thus, Jesus is believed by both Muslims and Christians although there are differences as to who Jesus is/was. 

In a country like Malaysia (actually many other countries share the same situation) where the people are from different races and religions, the ability to accept differences is very important. As the foundation of faith is belief, there will be situations where people from different faiths would have to agree to disagree as the Quran reveals "For you is your religion, and for me is my religion" -  Surah 109; Verse 6.

What makes things more complex in the Malaysian context is the constitutionalisation of Islam. As a Malay is defined to be a person who practices the Malay custom and is a Muslim, Islam is normally viewed not from its original form but from the context of a Malay society. Therefore, some of the beliefs which are considered Islamic could very well be more of Malay values instead. Since a person cannot change his or her race, the issue of Islam, Malay and as what we fondly refer to in Malaysia, "Others", become more challenging to address.

While I could accept that many other societies in the world have similar challenges, we somehow fortify the differences through many policies and institutions instead of trying to accommodate the many differences that we have. It is quite funny that while Muslims in particular believe that Allah created people in many races and colours, they can't accept that everybody should be entitled to similar rights and respect. On one hand they want to be religious, on the other hand their actions do not reflect the faith they believe in.

While today should be a cheerful one to many of us, I hope we should also try reflect on the challenges that we face as a society. Hopefully, the new year will bring more cohesiveness amongst ourselves, irrespective of our races, religions and beliefs.

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