Sunday 22 May 2011

A matter of faiths by Sim Kwang Yang

COMMENT That Utusan Malaysia has recently stirred up yet another controversy surrounding our religious faith is evidence that opinions on such a sensitive subject always has relevance in Malaysia.

utusan malaysia kritsian agama rasmiI was reminded of what John Rawls wrote in his book entitled 'A Theory of Justice' in 1971.

Rawls invented the theoretical position behind the original 'veil of ignorance'.

In short, to consider the morality of any action, we must assume that we do not know how the position we take is going to further our self-interest or not. Then we can prepare for a moral standpoint.

This is exactly the opposite of how we take a moral stand in our daily lives. In actual practice, we always make our decisions based on how our stand is going to affect our self-interest.

In matters of religious debate, we always assume that the God we believe in is the ultimate, the one true God and nothing else.
Ultimate truth
In religious debate, out of our religious convictions, we always assume that our God is the only saviour, and that he is only ultimate truth, according to the revelations of our prophets and according to the records in our particular Holy Book.

al-Quran edisi MalaysiaTo admit that there are Gods beside our own God is tantamount to sacrilege.

The teaching of the Holy Book is contradictory to our actual experience. For in our daily lives, we have many religions claiming to have exclusive access to the only true God.

That is the experience of our multi-racial world. If we cannot handle this contradiction properly, we can subject ourselves to endless strive and even bloodshed.

In a sense, in a multi-religious society like Malaysia, the highest social virtue that can be practised by the member of any religious faith is endless tolerance, without claiming to be in possession of the only absolute truth there is in the universe.

This is the key toward religious toleration as a cornerstone or interracial harmony in our country.

It will require various peoples living in our varied and multi-racial society to allow various populations to enjoy their freedom and religion, while denying nobody their right to the absolute truth.

NONEThis will mean that, while I must believe in my own God as the only destiny in my life, I do not negate other people's rights to their own belief in what the ultimate reality is.

Although I have no doubt about the truth of my God, I will not deny other people their different pursuit of the same truth.

I have to accept the trans-religious proposition that the road to absolute truth has many turns and is a long and winding one and that the ultimate truth has not been revealed in all its entirety.

We have to develop as a habit of existence, our readiness to accept other religious beliefs and not see the differences in opinion as a personal affront.
National religion
Islam is our national religion which is the official religion of our country. I have no problem with that, and I have learnt to understand the greatness of Islam, although I have problem understanding the difference between Shia, Sunni, Safee and Wahabi.

All I understand is Islam is not a single entity but it is a culmination of many faiths, all bearing the same dogma on the faith to the one true God.

My little understanding of Christianity is even more confusing what with so many Christian sects in existence. But I understand their common belief in Jesus Christ as the one true saviour.

buddha statue 1000 year old luang phor york penang 290907I have problems understanding the teaching of Buddhism, their writing on the eternal cycle of life, and what it means to achieve Nirvana.
Then there are the numerous other minor religious belief systems that exist in Sarawak and Sabah.

I respect all religions, because all thing religious has something to do with the absolute divine, something completely whole and eternal.

Though I do not belong to any organised religion, I accept with the fullness of my heart there is something completely sacred in the world, though I do not know what it is.

I look at all human beings as equal citizens of our human society, whose religious right must be respected by all. We all have a share in the same God, just as we share in the same moon and the same sun.
May God bless us all.

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