Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jais' Dakwah chief: Let's build religious understanding

When officers of the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) are seen at a temple or church, more often than not, the first thoughts on people's mind would be - no, not another raid.

This perception arose probably due to the raids carried out by Jais in seizing bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia last year.

Last month, however, the presence of the officers at several non-Muslim places of worship were greeted with open arms.

The visits at the Sri Maha Maryaman temple in Shah Alam, the Samadhi Vihara Buddha temple in Shah Alam and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Klang were part of a Jais programme to expose participants pursuing a course on comparative religions to other faiths.

“It is the first time that we organised something like this. We want the participants to know for themselves how devotees of other religions observed their faiths.

“We want to build an understanding so that in future, religious issues don’t become a polemic,” Jais' Dakwah Department assistant director Mohd Basori Omar said.

The programme was attended by 50 participants ranging from dakwah officials, college lecturers, teachers, government servants and committee members of mosques.

Basori said Jais had conducted five series this year of the comparative religions course but the first time it included the visits to temples and churches.

He said for some of the participants, the visit was the first time in their lives that they had stepped into a non-Muslim place of worship.

He noted that Muslims were allowed to walk into a church or temple as long as they did not sway from their faith in Islam.

“Muslims must strengthen their own faith and understanding of their religion before visiting other places.

"But the important thing is not to let differences of religion be a barrier in having relations with others,” he said.

“There is no problem if you want to learn. Organise the visit properly so no misunderstanding will occur,” he added.

Basori said during the time of the prophets in Madinah, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony.

“Why can’t Muslims follow what has been practised by our prophets long ago?,” he said.
He believed that both sides might have misconceptions because of the lack of understanding of one another’s religions.

Basori added that all religions are the same in that they only taught good – they did not teach people to steal, consume alcohol and lie.

“It is not right to put down other faiths,” he said.

He said non-Muslims could visit mosques although they have to observe the rules.
“This would be similar to how other places of worship have their own rules as well,” he said.

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