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Friday, January 15, 2010

Kudos for Nik Aziz for initiating inter-faith meet

SHAH ALAM, Jan 15: Even as praises poured in for PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat for his leadership in initiating dialogue with more than 20 leaders of different faiths religion, Friday sermons at mosques in Selangor urged Mulsims to unite against the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

The text of the sermons was prepared by the Selangor Islamic Department or Jais, which is still largely controlled by religious officers loyal to Umno. Although the state is now run by the Pakatan Rakyat, Umno had governed Selangor since independence from British rule in 1957 to 2008.

“The decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Thursday, December 31, allowing the Herald, the Catholic Weekly, to use the word Allah was shocking to Muslims nationwide,” the text of sermon read.

“The use of the word Allah by the Christians, especially in writings, must be stopped by the government. According to Islamic principles, the government has the right to take pre-emptive measures to stop the expected damage.”

Contrasting stances

In sharp contrast to Umno's inflammatory stance, PAS leaders have sought to defuse simmering religious tensions.

On Thursday, Nik Aziz, who is also Kelantan Mentri Besar, told reporters that he had invited leaders of various religions to a late lunch meeting.

The meeting - slated to take place at the Kelantan state government complex on January 28 - is aimed at building rapport.

“The state government is meeting them to raise an environment of peace and harmony between religions in this country. Although there is harmony in Kelantan for so long, it is hoped that the meeting will improve this,” Nik Aziz said.

PAS, which is led by a core committee of Muslim experts or ulamak, has stood above the racial politicking fanned by Umno. It is standing by Islamic teachings, which do not prohibit the use of Allah – the Arabic word for God – by non-Muslims.

"The initative by Nik Aziz should be welcomed by everyone and is all the more commendable when it comes at a time when leadership is perceived to be lacking from the government of the day," Ramon Navartnam, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, told Harakahdaily.

"This is the time when the vacuum of leadership needs to be filled, when the people are crying out for their leaders to reach rational solutions that are satisfactory to all."


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