Need interfaith dialogues
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that we need interfaith dialogues to promote understanding and respect for all religions.
For example, all great religions have universal values. Religious holy books say that every matter or issue has many faces or aspects. The issue of the use of the word Allah has many aspects.
Dr Tan spoke briefly at the Interfaith Dialogue at The Club, Bukit Utama Golf Course, on 10 Feruary, 2010. There were representatives from Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism at the dialogue. It was historic.
(On 31 January, 2010, YB Lim Kit Siang brought up again the need to have Interfaith dialogues. YB Anwar Ibrahim (Chairperson) and YB Hadi Awang and all present at the Pakatan Rakyat meeting at the PKR Headquarters at Tropicana City, Petaling Jaya, agreed that a dialogue be held on 10 Fruary, 2010.)
I have copies of the Al Quran, interpreted in Bahasa Malaysia and Jawi, the Bible, the Al Kitab, Prejanjian Baru (the New Terstament), the Dhammapada and the Bhagavad Gita. I have yet to get a copy of the Grand Sahib.
In 1981, Tun Mahathir's Government banned Al Kitab, the Bible in Bahasa Indonesia, in which God is translated as Allah. In 1982, I brought Al Kitab into the House and quoted the Quran such as Surah Al Bakarah. Some members were pleased and some were angry. Because of protests, the then Deputy Prime Minister (now Tun Musa Hitam) stood up to advise me to stop.
In 1987, a few were invited to the University of Kamunting. During the first 60 days of solitary confinement, I asked for the Bible, the Dhammapada and the Quran. The Bible came first, then the Dhammapada, but not the Quran.
Have things changed? We hope.
All are great religions: Islam is great. Buddhism is great. Christianity is great. Hinduism is great and Sikhism is great. All have universal values. All the holy books say that things have more than two faces, facets or aspects.
If there are interfaith dialogues, people of different faiths have opportunities to exchange views and to reduce misunderstandings. These are more likely to help in preventing such controversies as the use of Allah in Bahasa Malaysia writings. (The Catholic weekly, Herald, was banned from using Allah. The High Court judged that it could, followed by a series of firebomb attacks on churches, mosques and a Sikh temple.)
(Apparently, in 1631, the Malay-Latin dictionary in the Peninsula denoted God as Allah or Tuan. In 1670 dictionary, the translator mistook Tuan as Tuhan.)
Dr Tan Seng Giaw