I was facilitating Group 4, discussing about conflict solutions. A kind of training on embracing the very first step to become the effective agents of change… be Proactive and focus on solution. Enlightening!!!
Alhamdulillah, we had just finished the first workshop. Surprisingly, all, and I do mean ALL the participants were so responsive and knew what they actually believe.
You feel secured with your faith, and you are not afraid to discuss it in the open air. This is what I found from the majority of the participants. They are so keen to share what they understand about the role of religion in public life and amazingly open to understand others.
Some people might have the wrong idea about having an interfaith dialogue. Some of the participants did come to me and ask about this.
â€œAre we saying that all religions are just the same? Be good, then you are okay!â€, one of the participants expressed his concern.
I had the same idea about interfaith-dialogue when I was appointed as the Minister of Religion in Belfast Islamic Centre. At that time, I disagreed with the idea of interfaith, because I believed that interfaith was responsible for the lack of interest among the people to challenge their faith and to learn more about Islam.
The issue here is, how you define the so-called interfaith dialogue?
ROLE OF RELIGION
Religion has two functions that need to be understood.
The first one is on helping you to define yourself and God, and how you connect yourself to Him. The second part of the religion is to help you in defining your connection with other people, in order to promote cooperation. We say them as hablun minaLlah and hablun minannaas.
As a student of History, I always believe that religions was and always there to promote cooperation among the society members. When people cooperate, the civilization will be in the state of Rise. When the civilization is in that condition, we always find that religion has a huge impact in that particular stage of civilization. But when people started to divert themselves from God, they will be worshiping each other in many different forms and lost the equality and justice. Definitely, when equality and justice are not served, people can never work and live together. Cooperation is impossible.
The first part of religion is your definition of Aqidah. At this stage, you might need to examine the authenticity of what you believe and to whom you submit yourselves. Is He the true God? That is something that you need to achieve at your very personal level.
Being a Muslim, it is simply because you believe that the absolute truth about God and you before Him, are authentically defined by this faith. I am happy with it.
But to achieve the second part of religionâ€™s role in enhancing cooperation, people need to focus on something that they can share together, namely the ethics, appreciating justice and all these universal values. This is what interfaith dialogue is all about.
This is where I sincerely appreciate the effort of Karen Armstrong in teaching us how to think and discuss about religion on this basis, free from prejudice and insecurity of one faith.
I managed to get her autograph and had a brief chat with her regarding my study in History. I donâ€™t take personal photo with her because I want to continuously connected to her through her writing and passion in educating the world to feel good and positive about religion.
More to come. And sorry for the short and brief entry. Talk to you guys later. It’s almost 2am!