Kongsi Raya not a religious ritual

SISTERS in Islam wish to urge the ulama in Malaysia to play an active role as bridge-builders among people of different faiths. They should take heed of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s personal commitment that as a Muslim Malaysian leader, he is responsible not just to fellow Muslims, but also to Malaysians who profess other religions as well.

The ulama should also join other leaders in promoting further religious understanding, harmony and tolerance and not sow seeds of suspicions and hate. Kongsi Raya is not a religious ritual, but a harmonious social custom that has become part of Malaysian tradition, and become a model to other countries.

The Kongsi Raya functions have been attended by most Malaysian leaders, be they Kings and Queens, Sultans and Sultanahs, heads of government, ministers, heads of political parties, heads of government departments and even ketua-ketua kampung. We doubt whether any of them feel that their faith has eroded after attending such celebrations, far from leading them to syirik (associating partners to God).

The Qur’an clearly states in Sural al-Hujurat 49:13: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other) ?”

Our ulama should reflect upon the Prime Minister’s speech at the “Dialogue the Key Unity of Multi-religious, Multi-ethnic and Multi-cultural Societies” at the Plenary Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches on Aug 3, 2004.

The Prime Minister reminded us that “we must see beyond the narrow parochialism. For far too long, the various religious communities of the world have lived apart, and these divisions have been sustained because of a narrow outlook that sees religious identity in exclusive terms.

“Yet, what does it mean to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Buddhist today? Does it mean belonging to an exclusive group? Does it mean belonging to a community that is entirely self-dependent and cut off from others?”

It is high time our politicial, religious and community leaders took a strong stand to ensure that our harmonious multicultural heritage is preserved.

Sisters in Islam