Friday, August 24, 2007

Interfaith Dialogue

In my 28 years of age, finally alhamdulillah I got the chance to attend such an event: Interfaith Dialogue. My closest encounter of Interfaith Dialogue experience is through the reading of Isabella (malay translation by SN Abdullah Hussain), and watching videos of talks and debates by prominent scholars such as Ahmed Deedat and Dr Zakir Naik.

Therefore, when I learned that IIUM SRC will organize such an event, I did not think twice to attend it. The speakers are representatives from three main religions in Malaysia: Bro. Shah Kirit: Islam, Dr Lee (if I am not mistaken): Buddha, and Reverend (I forgot what's his name, sorry): Christianity. Bro Kirit has given numerous talks and speeches in my beloved IIUM, and mostly he would talk about how he converted to Islam till I think that I could memorize his account on that matter. But, thank God, that night he talked about Islam from a comparative religion view. Every speaker took the stage to convey about their religions especially the thelogical aspects.

Bro Shah Kirit did manage to explain about Islam in a wonderful and convincing way, Even while he speaks, he kept glancing at the other speakers, to get their attentions. I suppose, his huge experience in giving talks at various places, including church does help making him an effective dai'e. Dr Lee, the Buddha representative has also made an impact. His soft spoken manner certainly caught the audiences' attention. Not to mention his British accent (ok, that doesn't count, since I have a soft spot for guys with british accents), and my colleague was attracted to the way he pronounced all the sanskrit words. If any of you readers starts thinking that we are attracted to Buddhism, I give you my word, no we are not. As much as he managed to convey his message in a convincing way, but still, being a Muslim, I believe that Islam has a stronger foundation and reasoning.

As for Reverend Tan (now I remember his name, finally), in my humblest honest opinion, each time he tried to answer the questions forwarded to him, his message didn't come across. Maybe, I was slow in understanding him, but I personally think that Idris Tawfiq's (former Roman Catholic priest) reasonings for Christian beliefs are much more believable. And even Idris Tawfiq is already a Muslim when I heard him explaining all the reasons behind Christian principles. I don't know, maybe I am biased or maybe I lack knowledge, correct me if I am wrong, but I have no intention to belittle Reverend Tan.

There are two quotes of that night's dialogue, which I would like to share here since I think they best describe what Interfaith Dialogue is all about:

"By learning and understanding about other religions doesn't mean that you have to convert to other religion. Infact, when you study about other beliefs, you will also study more about your own religion and you will understand your religion better. I always bring all the religious scriptures everywhere, and never once they fight each other." (Shah Kirit)

"Try to understand other people's beliefs, but at the same time, DO NOT surrender your faith." (Dr Lee)

p/s: If any the event's committee is reading this, next time please don't provide snacks while the panels are answering the questions. The sound of snacks unwrapping is sooo annoying... imagine hundreds of people unwrapping their snacks at the same time huhu

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