In case you are having the Perkasa blues, this should brighten things up: Muslims and Christians have been holding dialogue sessions in church halls across the northern region ever since the Allah controversy led to a spate of arson attempts on places of worship.
You could say it has opened up an avenue for a rapprochement of sorts among the ‘People of the Book’, heirs to the Abrahamic spiritual traditions.
The latest church to play host to such a dialogue was St Louis Catholic Church in Taiping. Now, St Louis, along with the Convent School next door, was the target of an arson attempt on 10 January.
Yesterday, the Human Development Committee of the church threw open the doors of its church hall to a group of visiting Muslims, led by Parit Buntar MP, Mujahid Yusuf Rawa. The Muslim visitors to the dialogue with parishoners included an imam, an ustaz and his students.
It was more of a ‘breaking the ice’ session to get to know one another and learn about their respective faiths over coffee and cakes. But difficult issues were also raised in an attempt to understand each side’s position.
“This is the future of Malaysia,” Mujahid told the audience of 150, who broke out in applause. “For over 50 years, we have been kept apart.” About a third of those present were Muslims, who seemed pleased at this opportunity to meet the Christian community. The Christians, for their part, felt honoured to welcome their Muslim guests for the occasion.
It was the latest in a series of Muslim-Christian dialogues which Mujahid, who has a doctrate in Islamic political science, has participated in. Similar dialogue sessions have been held in church halls in Penang Island (two), Butterworth, Bukit Mertajam and Parit Buntar.
These sessions, which were first organised to defuse any tension in the aftermath of the arson attempts, have been held in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual respect for one another. Speakers often referred to Muslims and Christians in the audience as their “brothers and sisters”.
History has been created in virtually all the churches that have played host. In St Louis, for instance, it was the first time since the church was established about a century ago that it was holding such a dialogue with Muslims.
God certainly works in mysterious ways!