In the wake of the Selangor government barring programmes involving Muslims at non-Muslim houses of worship.
After watching a video forwarded on the messaging platform WhatsApp, former Sabah chief minister Salleh Said Keruak felt that he should share it with all Malaysians with the hope that it would bring them closer amid attempts to drive them apart.
The 59-second clip depicted a man breaking fast in a church in the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking about his experience, the man said: “What I saw this evening is Muslims stepping into the Christian world and Christians stepping into the Muslim world. All I saw were smiles. All I saw was happiness.”
“When religion is talked about throughout the world, it seems to be divisive. But I was just in a church that was serving Muslims in the community, Iftar (the Arabic term for breaking fast). And what I have seen today are the true marks of someone’s faith, of what humanity stands for.
“And someone’s faith is not lessened just because they were open and tolerant of others. If anything, it is maximised…,” he added.
Although it could not be ascertained when the video was recorded, news reports from the UAE stated that the St Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi hosted an Iftar meal in which both Christians and Muslims participated in 2019.
Meanwhile, Salleh said the video contained a poignant lesson on tolerance which Malaysians can benefit from, especially at this juncture.
“It is heartbreaking that our nation is being torn apart by those hoping to capitalise on divisiveness without caring about the repercussions of their actions.
“I hope that sharing this video would help create a small impact. All of us must do our part to preserve our multiracial and multireligious heritage.
“We must not let those with vested interests create divisions amongst us for their short-term goals because the consequences would be long-term. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall,” he told Malaysiakini.
On the same note, Salleh lauded Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar for stating that there is no reason to bar Muslims from non-Muslim places of worship.
“His Majesty hit the right note when he expressed trust in the faith of Muslims,” he said.
Previously, the former chief minister had urged Sabahans to safeguard their ethnic and religious tolerance against extremism.
Noting how different places of worship were located next to each other in the East Malaysian state, he added that it would not be surprising to see Muslims attending a Christian wedding in church.
Salleh’s remarks came in the wake of the Selangor state government barring programmes involving Muslims at non-Muslim houses of worship.
The ban followed an uproar from the opposition claiming alleged “Christian evangelism” over Impact Malaysia’s “Projek Artikel 11”, which involved youths visiting houses of worship as part of the agency’s efforts to increase awareness of the country’s diverse society. – Malaysiakini