Meet Abdul Rahman Kasim, the man behind the Muslim-Christian ‘cake diplomacy’


Why should the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Hasan Ali and Harussani Zakaria hog the headlines? If you are tired of reading about their preposterous statements, meet bridge-builder Abdul Rahman Kasim, who has been working hard to improve Muslim-Christian ties in the country.

abdul rahman kasim
Building bridges: Abdul Rahman Kasim

You may have read about Tok Guru Nik Aziz handing over a mouth-watering cake to Bishop Sebastian Francis during their recent Penang meeting, which was held at 6.30pm on Thaipusam Day. Nik Aziz was only told by his aides at 4.00pm that day that the meeting had been confirmed. Now what do you give a bishop as a memento at such short notice to help sweeten ties?

Enter Abdul Rahman Kasim, the Mr Fix-it with a booming voice and an equally hearty laugh, who has been instrumental in setting up appointments for talks and dialogues between Pas and churches in the northern region.

Confident that the meeting would materialise, Rahman had ordered the cake (like he did for a previous meeting between Mujahid Yusof Rawa and the bishop) even before Tok Guru had set foot in Penang. Indeed, it was Rahman who had sent out the initial feelers to set up these meetings.

Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake: Where did the cake come from?
Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake: But where did the cake come from?

Like a man on a mission, the Langkawi-born Rahman, the Tasik Gelugor Pas information chief, has been the point-man in sending out similar feelers to Catholic churches in the northern region. He is a familiar face whenever the Pas head of inter-religious dialogue, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, or Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks at dialogue sessions with parishioners of various churches. In fact, on the same day the Penang meeting took place, Mujahid and Rahman had travelled to the Fatima Church in Kangar for another dialogue session in the morning.

Rahman, 56, worked for a decade at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Butterworth. During this time, a training exposure stint in Australia helped broaden his horizons. He later turned to business as a chicken seller in a local market – an honest living if there was one – for the past two decades.

These days, he is also trying to sell the idea of Muslims and Christians talking to one another. “I feel compelled to do so, because during my parents’ generation we had much better ties. I experienced that growing up.

“My idea for interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue stems from the fact that we are drifting apart socially and getting more polarised. Why can’t we behave according to the book and have no ill-feeling towards others?”

Mission accomplished: Abdul Rahman (far left) looking satisfied at the conclusion of the recent Tok Guru-Bishop Sebastian meeting

Why is he focusing on Christianity, though? Rahman is clear about his rationale: “We have so much in common especially a shared Abrahamic tradition; so it is a good place to start.

Providentially, as it turned out, the meeting between Nik Aziz and Sebastian took place on the same day that an unknown group of bigots had scheduled a ‘Bible-burning festival’ in the morning – which thankfully failed to materialise. Rahman felt privileged to witness the encounter between the two leaders: “It was truly amazing to have seen Tok Guru and the Bishop greeting each other. That was part of my mission accomplished.”

Today, because of Rahman’s persistent efforts to reach out to churches, it is no exaggeration to say he knows more Catholic priests and lay leaders in the northern region – and which parishes they are located in – than the average Catholic!

So the next time someone like Ibrahim Ali or Hasan Ali disturbs your peace of mind or gets under your skin, think of the burly Abdul Rahman Kasim as the perfect antidote: an ordinary person doing extraordinary things to forge greater inter-religious understanding.

Please help to support this blog if you can.

Read the commenting guidlelines for this blog.
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 Feb 2013 6.19pm

This guy is truly a muslim & a brotherhood of peace as islam preaches , he has done more than the PM or any other politician who is “wayang(ing) ” to show …..i hope more people in the BN or opposition has the “guts” to do so…muslim & christian are brothers … peace to this man and only God(ALLAH, Almighty father etc…..what your want to call it ) gives is blessing to you & yr family

daniel tan
daniel tan
7 Feb 2013 1.29am

This is a good one. information of this is very hard to find. The local media only talk rubbish / published rubbish, eg IAli or Hasan .
Is best that the local media shld cover stories and built good relationship with understanding and wisdom .

6 Feb 2013 9.52am

Peace be with you Abdul Rahman Kassim. Reminds me of my school days when we visited our friends during the festivals. God bless you.

Khoo Boo Teik
Khoo Boo Teik
6 Feb 2013 9.39am

Great piece, Anil, thanks.

susan loone
5 Feb 2013 9.11pm

Then why do we (the media) see so little of him, Anil? He must make himself known to us as well. He must talk to us to share his views so that others can learn from him. When he is in Penang, we need to meet him!

5 Feb 2013 7.50pm

I can’t recall him but if he grew up in Langkawi, he could have been my classmate. We are of same age.

Dr. Patricia A. Martinez
Dr. Patricia A. Martinez
5 Feb 2013 6.14pm

thank you Anil, for lifting up my spirits (as we Christians deal with so much of misrepresentation and manipulation of a good religion, Islam) and basically making me remember that ordinary Malaysians have far more goodwill and decency and common sense than many (but not all) of their bigoted politicians! Patricia Martinez

5 Feb 2013 5.02pm

Those … who presented black cakes to LGE should learn from this incident that has all the nilai-nilai murni.

6 Feb 2013 5.34pm
Reply to  rajoo

This is the spirit that Najib’s 1Malaysia does not possess.

najib manaukau
5 Feb 2013 3.05pm

But this shenanigan Mahathir … enrich … his cronies … he was allowed to hijack the NEP (Never Enough Policy) to justify the many (wrongdoings) he committed during the tenure of his premiership…. It was never, never the aim nor the purpose of NEP to make millionaires or billionaires out of the Malays.Especially if it was achieved by dubious means but if they do become millionaires or billionaires, best of luck to those who have achieved their wealths the rightful, honest and lucky ways.

5 Feb 2013 2.30pm

Ah Cheap, Mkutty BN UMNO and their sycophants parties have damage and cause over 20 overs years of racism, religious indoctrination and corruptions (under their administrations) through divide and rule.

It now take PKR, PAS & DAP (PR) to undo that. And to be able to do that we must give a strong kick out Ah Cheap UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PBB and all sycophants parties of BN.

7 Feb 2013 7.52am
Reply to  Yang

Building bridges shouldn’t be left to political parties…it’s something you and I should be doing.

Thank you En Rahman Kasim for leading the way!

robertan tan
robertan tan
5 Feb 2013 2.02pm

I am afraid that a few handshakes here and there will not undo twenty over years of racialist cum religious indoctrination of the malays by their supreme leader Mahathir. Even if there is a change in government, it will take another generation to undo the damage to the moral fibre of the melayus and mamaks.

5 Feb 2013 11.29am

Melayu TIDAK MUDAH LUPA after all..

5 Feb 2013 11.22am


This person is someone that should be emulated by all.

We need to build bridges and not find reasons to demolish the ties and links Malaysians have for one another.

5 Feb 2013 10.15pm
Reply to  ServiceB4Self

This is the type of people the National Unity Department (NUD) should enlist to sit in their Inter faith Council.
There aren’t many such sincere people like him around these days. Syabas En. Rahman Kasim