| The Sun | Malaysia | 4 July 2016 | Asia Samachar |
By R. Nadeswaran
IT is the holy month. Our Muslim brothers and sisters have fasted over the past 27 days, among others to increase their patience, closeness to God, and generosity towards those less fortunate in the month of Ramadan.
From across the globe, there have been heart-rending and touching stories about people of different faiths getting together to break their fast. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, broke fast with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and over 100 young people from different communities. They attended the event hosted at Lambeth Palace by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He had previously done the same at the Finchley Reform Synagogue.
In Dubai, a 10-member delegation from the Al Manar Islamic Centre broke their fast at a Sikh temple. The temple hall was filled with azan (call for prayers), instead of the usual kirtan (holy verses), in honour and regard of the visitors from the Al Manar Islamic Centre.
The Asia Samachar reported that on one side, scores of people sat cross-legged in rows waiting to be served dinner, while the other side was cordoned off for Muslim prayers.
The delegation visited the holy place of worship for Sikhs to promote inter-religious understanding. The two sides exchanged messages of peace in the main hall of worship and the evening was followed by a lavish spread of sumptuous vegetarian dishes.
In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau broke fast with Muslim members of the parliament caucus. The video of him breaking the fast was posted on his Facebook page with the caption: “It was a pleasure to celebrate Iftar and break the first Ramazan fast with Muslim members of our caucus last night.”
In his statement on the holy month, Trudeau said that Muslims in Canada and around the world embark upon a month-long spiritual journey of fasting, prayer, and reflection to commemorate the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Mohammad.
In war-torn Kashmir, the mosque was over-flowing with the faithful coming forward to answer the call to prayer. As they prepared to kneel on the streets in the sizzling, hot weather, there were not enough mats to go around.
A Sikh cloth dealer extended to them cloth to be spread as mats. He has been doing this for years now, according to social media posts. The gesture by Swaran Singh, who sells textiles on the pavement in Srinagar, was captured by Kashmir newspapers when a radio deejay shared the moments on his Facebook.
Back home, a film crew from Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) were busy filming activities at a gurdwara (temple) in Penang. It was getting close to time for berbuka puasa, and some volunteers at the Wadda Gurdwara Sahib in Penang invited them to have a meal at the temple, instead of having to find a spot outside.
According to the Asia Samachar, one volunteer, while showing the RTM crew around, assured them: “The food is all vegetarian.” Not long after, the RTM crew experienced their first ever berbuka puasa in a Sikh place of worship.
These are great anecdotes which reflect humanity, friendship, attachment and acceptance. Religion has no barriers – seen or unseen; no suspicion; no misgivings and no obstacles. It’s the people who create them.
And when ill-informed and self-proclaimed leaders of religions issue diktats and oppose for the sake of opposing, any attempt to forge unity and understanding will fail. The mere ignorance of their own religion and being oblivious to what’s happening in local surroundings and globally adds to the woes.
That’s why a church in Petaling Jaya was forced to cancel a buka puasa event last week after a police report was lodged.
On his Facebook page, activist Syed Azmi Alhabashi explained that police officers had visited the church to warn it of potential trouble over the planned event on Friday.
“Someone made a police report and two policemen (one Muslim and one Christian) went to the church and explained that there might be an individual or group who would cause trouble.
“Having weighed all options, the church decided to cancel the event. All in good faith,” wrote activist Syed Azmi who was consulted by the church.
Shouldn’t the individual or the group be reprimanded and told off? Why offer support by conveying the message to the church? Shouldn’t the police have supported such a gracious move by affording all the support and co-operation to the church?
Another opportunity lost all because of two pea-brained individuals who successfully used the police force for their own selfish reasons. Didn’t someone say: Ignorance, thy meaning is universal?
R. Nadeswaran had been following the trends internationally and was disgusted to learn what was happening in his own backyard. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
The article, a column by veteran Malaysian journalist R. Nadeswaran, appeared in The Sun on 3 July 2016. View here for original article.