Interfaith dialogues are built on trust

Interfaith dialogues do not have to begin and end in theological discussions. Rather, it can revolve around friendship and collaboration towards collective participation in the community.

Feb 16, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Interfaith dialogues do not have to begin and end in theological discussions. Rather, it can revolve around friendship and collaboration towards collective participation in the community.

When individuals and groups can put aside their religious differences and work together for the common good of society and for the betterment of the nation as a whole, the barriers of mistrust can easily be dispelled.

This was among the views shared by Archbishop Julian Leow and PAS Youth Chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz during the latter’s visit with the Archbishop on Feb 6.

The PAS Youth Chief led a delegation from the PAS Youth Central Committee to pay a courtesy call on Archbishop Julian at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre.

In thanking the Archbishop for the warm welcome accorded, Nik Mohamad said that he did not have much opportunity to interact with non-Muslims during his growing up years in the predominantly Muslim state of Kelantan. He explained, however, that his father, the late Nik Abdul Aziz (Tok Guru) who was PAS’ spiritual leader, had instilled in him the importance of building relationships with people of other faiths and that he was now doing as his father had advised, and encouraging his members to do their best in working for unity among the races.

Archbishop Leow spoke of his childhood days where people easily formed bonds of friendship, irrespective of race and creed. “As children, we would play together and could just walk into each other’s homes and help ourselves to the food in their kitchen. However, society has since evolved and we have become more guarded with each other, especially with those of a different race and religion,” said the archbishop.

While acknowledging that planned initiatives towards interfaith dialogue was necessary during the initial stages, Archbishop Leow expressed hope that, in time, such initiatives would become a natural course of action and not merely a once-a-year interfaith gathering or ‘Walk of Faith’ etc. The archbishop said that there are many natural settings with a ready audience such as in public parks, sporting events and shopping malls in which people of different faiths and all walks of life could come together for joint initiatives.

The PAS youth also expressed hope that the Catholic Church in Kuala Lumpur would be open towards collaborating with them on some of their upcoming social and community-related activities which are currently in the pipeline.

ASAYO Youth Director Fr Gregory Chan, who was also present at the meeting, said that this could be a feasible initiative and welcomed the youth delegation to contact him to discuss this further. The meeting ended on a positive note with both parties seeing this as a first step towards breaking barriers and building bridges. The PAS delegation then dropped by at St Anthony’s Church to view the interior of the 106-year old church.

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