Monday, March 5, 2012

Build bridges, not walls by Shad Saleem Faruqi - The STAR

I COMMEND Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for transcending race and religion and reaching out to the Hindus of this country by joining them for Thaipusum.

As the country’s PM, he is the leader of every community and it is his duty to build bridges of friendship rather than walls of hatred.

I am dismayed and disappointed that an online media story condemned Najib’s warm gesture as “idolatrous” and “a sacrifice of

his faith”. This view is narrow-minded, intolerant and reflective of a shallow understanding of Islam.

Islamic theory accepts religious pluralism (Quran 2:113 & 256, 5:2, 10:99). Islam is most respectful of previous monotheistic religions and holds their Prophets in great veneration (42:13, 2:136).

Cooperation with and courtesy towards other religions, including the polytheistic religions, is recommended (5:5, 6:108).

There is no bar to visiting non-Muslim places of worship. It all depends on the purpose of one’s visit.

If the purpose is aesthetic or to seek knowledge or to negotiate goodwill and peace, there is no religious obstacle.

Allah is every where and Muslim texts exquisitely state that “the whole earth is a mosque”.

There is historical record, including the writings of Al-Bukhari, that in the early stages of Islam, Muslim conquerors often performed their solat in Christian churches.

In the treatise Fiqh-us-Sunnah by Sayyid Saabiq (1915-2000) it is stated that there is nothing wrong in visiting churches and synagogues. Even praying in one is allowed if one happens to be in a church at the time of solat.

In the Cathedral of Saint John in Damascus, which later became the Umayad Mosque, Muslims and Christians prayed next to each other – Muslims facing the

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