Bismillahirrahmanirrahim (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful).
Assalamualaikum wbt (May peace be upon you).
"Call people to the Way of your Rabb with wisdom and best advice, and reason with them, if you have to, in the most courteous manner: for your Rabb knows best who strays from His way and He knows best who is rightly guided."
Surah An-Nahl (16:125)
1. Let me begin by saying alhamdulillah, all praise be upon Allah alone, for only by His will, I can now start writing this article.
2. Before I proceed, I would also like to extend my sincerest gratitude to my parents and family for their support and prayers since the day I was formed and born (about 9 months later). Also, to mention the following names for their participation, assistance and smiles I would always love to see again in the future.
a) Prof Madya Dr Khadijah Mohd Khambali@Hambali (Universiti Malaya)
b) Hosts and participants; Dr Amir, Viknes, Rem, Ishilda, Puji, Chin Yin, Sam An, Ratna, Ahmed, Rachel, Sally, Jessica, Sharon, Matthew, Aunty Jess, George Armstrong, Jocelyn Armstrong, Shakun, Jamel, Rashmeen, Lansky, K-Rine, Vivian, Nivy, Orlan, Jerrison, Vincent and Durai.
c) Malaysian Muslim friends: Asif, Nisa, Hann (Rohaniza) and Sally (Salasiah).
3. I will precede this article with a brief report on the program I attended recently called Youth Leadership Program (YLP) which was held in KL and Pearl International Hotel (accomodation).
4. It was a 3-day program, held from 4th-6th of October this year in 2011. It involved 25 young people from 6 different countries and 8 different religious, spiritual and indigenous backgrounds. Their names are already mentioned above and yes, we do still stay in touch.
5. As the name suggests, this program aimed to nurture leadership values amongst the participants who would do so through a series of workshops, team building activities and also community service. As Matthew (who was our 'captain' for the program) put it in his report here, it was mostly fun activities that required things to be done together in groups or pairs, so that we can mix with each other well enough and thus create better understanding and relationship.
6. From the way I see it, (and I know 3 days were indeed short), such emphasis on team building was a good strategy to begin with, so that what follows after that is what that will lead to the desired results in the future. I sure hope so, as in creating more harmony and happiness in this world. There's one wonderful saying that says, 'All it needs for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!'
7. So let's do something! Yes, something! As we shared about our faiths during the program, it struck my mind again that we Muslims should start pondering about this, that Islam does not only teach us to talk and speak enthusiastically, but then end up taking no action at all. That's not Islam, that's NATO! For your information, NATO here means No Action Talk Only. Please do not register yourselves into it.
8. I already elaborated on this subject of walking the talk in my previous article on Senah Ribut (Malay Language). Do spend some time to read it.
9. To cut this short, we also discussed on event hosting and management which is important to know as leaders, because planning and executing a task is something we should be good at, if we were to lead others. And sure, there were many other things too. On the final day, we did some painting at school and yeah, not to forget, we had a wonderful amazing race!
10. All I hope, if I were to get the chance to be in such a program again is to make more friends and expand my friendship network so that I can learn more about others. Learning about others undoubtedly makes me learn my religion (deen) more and truly, it's inspiring and eye-opening. I think I have met many great people out there! Alhamdulillah (all praise be upon Allah).
"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other)...."
Surah Al-Hujurat (49:13)
11. Right. Actually I wanted to write about Pluralism from the perspective of Islam. You see, having attended the program, we (me and 4 other Muslim friends, actually 5 if we include Ahmad from Australia) have somehow 'experienced' this environment of pluralism. It took us aback and I personally took some time to start coping too.
12. I mean, anything can happen in this world. Without knowledge and courage, we can easily slipped away from what we should hold firmly to, and for that it is important for us (as Muslims) to be Muslims because we understand and learn Islam, a Muslim by CHOICE, not by chance. In such a program, the atmosphere is so open, that we were exposed to many other practices of other faiths, and although we are not taught (in Islam) to despise other people of different faiths, it is imperative that we understand our limits ie. not to compromise our own faiths.
13. I totally don't agree if we need to leave our religion in order to unite and live in harmony with others. Instead, the ones who follow religion correctly will indeed prosper and live in a peaceful community. Like in Islam, the name itself is another form of the word 'Salam' in Arabic which means peace and therefore, we are basically not a true Muslim unless we promote peace and unity.
14. The most important thing to bear in mind for us Muslims is always to willingly accept and bear witness that there is no God worthy of being worshipped except Allah SWT (He has no associate or partner) and Muhammad (may peace be upon Him) was his servant and messenger, that he is also the final messenger, yet he is not another God!
15. Due to some constraints though, I will only elaborate more on the topic of 'Pluralism From the Perspective of Islam in my next article. It is a daunting task to write on this subject and I do not want to do so unprepared. In addition, I am waiting for Dr Khadijah (from University of Malaya) who is willing to share her wonderful paperwork after she finalised it soon and I am glad to inform you here that insya Allah I will share the paperwork with you too.
16. To end, I thank you for your time and please stay tuned. Pluralism is indeed a very interesting topic, yet very relevant these days, and I shall present it to you some time later insya Allah. Just so that I can keep an archive and so that hopefully you can enjoy looking at photos, I have included some photos of mine and others I grabbed from Facebook, taken during the program last time.
17. Thank you again. May Allah pour His infinite blessings upon us all and that He makes us closer to Him in every step we take, every breath we breathe.
Wassalamualaikum (peace be unto you).
"To you your religion, and to me mine."
Surah Al-Kafirun (109:6)