Scholar moots Mandarin, Islam lessons to foster understanding
Like Greeks bearing gifts, Muslim scholars suggest Islamic studies to
non-Muslims as the path towards national unity generally should not be
We have heard that song before - many times. Remember the
jawi lessons on TV a happy mixed lifetime ago? It was assumed to be
just educational with no intrusion of religion, but before we could say
“My Sweet Lord”, it had mutated into Islamic lessons.
So please, religious scholar Engku Ahmad Fadzil Engku Ali, PAS
president Abdul Hadi Awang, preacher Zakir Naik, that guy from Perlis,
and the rest of the spiritual boys, spare us your brand of proposals
towards healing the world. Your venture into national unity and
peace on earth to men of goodwill comes with a new flavour of
cunningness – Mandarin and Islamic lessons.
Thus your attempt to
present your credentials as an open-minded scholar. ‘Hey! I can’t be a
bad guy since I have also included Mandarin in my prescription!’ Yeah,
sure. If you hold that your proposed lessons on Islam to
non-Muslims are only for the sharing of knowledge without any religious
indoctrination, won’t that goal be better achieved on a four-lane
highway – Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism are also included?
What a wonderful world it would be, with Malaysians freely practising their faiths even as they know and respect other beliefs.
David Dass: I think that it is a good idea for all Malaysians to have some knowledge of the culture and religious beliefs of each other. Knowledge will give all a positive understanding of the culture and beliefs of others.
reality of faith or religious belief is that the adherent sees the
beauty, majesty and truthfulness of his understanding of the creator,
the universe and his place in it through his beliefs.
Article 3 of
the Constitution making Islam the religion of the Federation does not
require non-Muslims to believe in Islam. Nor does it give the government
the authority to compel the learning of Islam. But a subject that
requires all students to acquire a basic knowledge of all religions of
the world would be a good idea and would be acceptable to all.
object of such learning will not be conversion but knowledge and
understanding. All should accept that faith is an intensely personal
matter and nothing should be done to interfere with the guarantee of
freedom of worship that is provided for in the Constitution.
Bobbyo: Studying Mandarin and understanding Islam
are two different issues. If you want to foster a relationship, have
more programmes to bring them together. Sporting, cultural, debating or
even various forms of celebrations can bring people together.
do not include religion as a subject to unite. Then they would want the
Muslims to know Hinduism, Christianity or even the other various
beliefs better. Do not use this aspect to spread your religion as
religion is a very sensitive topic. Let us use other ideas to try and
bring people together.
Coward: We have a good
understanding of each other, thank you very much. There is no need for
Muslims to learn mandarin, nor for non-Muslims to learn more about
Islam. Our understanding of each other is good enough that we went
beyond coexistence to fully integrate long before you and I arrived at
The fact that you think non-Muslims think Islam is a
religion of terrorism is alarming, not because we don't, but because you
think we do. If, after living with my Muslim brothers for more than 60
years since independence, I still throw away all the good deeds of my
Muslim brothers worldwide and in Malaysia and choose to associate them
with the extremely tiny minority of extremists, then I deserve your
This is also not a trade; Mandarin is for Islam. Its
premise is already wrong. Respect for each other can only be earned, not