Education minister cans ‘interfaith understanding’ subject for public schools

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Mahdzir said that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Mahdzir said that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 9 — The Education Ministry does not need to introduce a new subject specifically to promote “interfaith understanding”, its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said today.

He added that students in public schools are already learning about the country’s diverse religions through a variety of subjects, in response to calls from another government that proposed the idea in a bid to improve interfaith ties amid reports of fraying ties in recent years.

“I think we have enough [of it being taught in schools], with the teaching of the Rukun Negara, civics classes, Moral, and Islamic studies for Muslims,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 Annual Report 2015 here.

MORE TO COME

How will a new ‘Interfaith Understanding’ subject fare in schools? — Rehan Ahmad

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY REHAN AHMAD

AUGUST 7 — Recently the chairman of The Committee to Promote Inter Religious Understanding and Harmony (JKMPKA) Datuk Azman Amin Hassan suggested the introduction of a new subject into the Ministry of Education’s syllabus. This subject for the time being is referred to as “Interfaith Understanding.”

Intellectual wisdom applauds any effort to enhance the unity between Malaysian citizens. However a bigger question mark lurks on the execution of such a subject.

Islamic Studies or Pendidikan Islam has been and still is taught in all public schools up to Form 5. Despite 11 years of learning this subject, for most Muslim students, the subject is not available in SPM, PMR, PT3, UPSR.

How would the introduction of a new subject fare? Read more

Moving towards Muslim intra-faith understanding — Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY JAHABERDEEN MOHAMED YUNOOS

JULY 4 — There has been much discussion and many conscious efforts to bring about inter-faith understanding and tolerance so that people from different religious backgrounds may learn to live together in peace and harmony in this country.

The Federal Constitution itself was so drafted to enshrine this principle of religious tolerance while acknowledging Islam as the religion of the Federation.

Since Merdeka, we see there are mosques, gurdwaras, temples, churches and many other holy places belonging to diverse religions co-existing peacefully.

Malaysians celebrate each other’s religious festivities as an occasion to foster togetherness without the respective religious beliefs being threatened.

There is not only tolerance but acceptance of the fact that being from different religious backgrounds is not a deterrent to working and living together.

By and large, most Malaysians accept this diversity of religious beliefs as a rich feature of Malaysia.

Malaysian Muslims, too, accept this reality as a sign from Allah of His creativity, mercy and wisdom.

Hence, God willing, religious differences do not cause disunity or strife among Malaysians.

The situation, however, I am afraid is different when it comes to tolerance within the Muslim community itself.  Read more

Church of Assumption’s cancelled ‘buka puasa’ event — Lyana Khairuddin

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY LYANA KHAIRUDDIN

JULY 3 — Members of The Church of Assumption, Petaling Jaya recently came up with an idea to improve interfaith understanding by organising abuka puasa event. The organisers even consulted popular and influential non-governmental individual (NGI), Syed Azmi Al-Habshi on the event.

Prior to the event, the Church members sourced for halal food, prepared a prayer room by removing all Christian paraphernalia from their Sunday School classroom, provide prayer mats (sejadah), provide plastic sandals to ease ablution by Muslim attendees who wish to pray, maps of nearby mosques in the event that Muslims attendees are uncomfortable with praying in a Church, and even asked whether it would be appropriate to play raya songs for the event. The details and extend of the effort by the members of the Church should be applauded. The concern comes when Muslims ourselves do not want to extend our hands in faithful friendship. A police report was lodged, causing the organisers to cancel the event to prevent any potential violence or “trouble”. Nonetheless, to prevent food wastage, the Church urged those who have registered for the event to come and collect the foods and drinks provided. Some attendees even stayed, and berbuka puasa with the members of the Church anyway. Some may say let bygones be bygones, but this incident serves as an embarrassing lesson to Malaysian Muslims. Here we have the best opportunity to extend friendship and have conversations with fellow Malaysians who are non-Muslims, who are genuinely interested in learning more about our faith. And we, through the action of one or a few persons unknown, basically rejected their “salaam”. It is akin to refusing to shake hands and extending goodwill. Worse, it propagates our need to be cocooned within a shell of protection from evils that we ourselves have created. Read more