Kuala Lumpur Arcbishop Julian Leow hugs Federal Territories mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri after discussing various issues, including tolerance and interfaith relations, in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 8, 2016.
By Jennofer Gomez
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Julian Leow met with Federal Territories mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri yesterday and spoke about various issues including tolerance and mutual respect among religions.
The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between the two communities following the latest controversy over an anti-Christian seminar held at the Universiti Teknologi Mara last month.
In a Facebook post, Zulkifli himself described the visit by Leow to his office in Kuala Lumpur as historic.
“We discussed various issues, especially on the concept of a diverse society, tolerance and mutual respect among all religions. “I am thankful to the reverend’s side for this visit,” the mufti said in his post.
He also thanked the president of Global Unity Network, Shah Kirit, for his efforts in making the meeting possible.
Shah told The Malaysian Insider that both sides were equally pleased with the meeting and that Zulkifli is expected to return Leow’s courtesy call at the soonest possible date.
He added that both leaders had a “heart to heart” chat and agreed prejudice and suspicion between religions was not beneficial to anyone.
“They enjoyed speaking to one another and the mufti said that a person who professes to follow any religion will naturally not want any conflict.
“The archbishop related how Malaysians of different backgrounds got along well forty years ago and said that we must work to bring back the good old times,” Shah said.
Catholic priest Clarence Devadass, who was part of the Archbishop’s delegation, said the meeting was probably the first official visit between high-level Muslim and Christian leaders.
He described it as a “meeting of hope”, saying it gave a strong message that religious leaders could work together and support each other in the work they do.
“The meeting sends out a positive message that we can live together and that there is no need to be suspicious of each other.
“In fact, when they spoke, both the mufti and the archbishop mentioned this.
“They also said that there were many similarities between our faiths and so many points of convergence that we can work together for a better Malaysia,” said Devadass, who is the Catholic church’s spiritual assistant for inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue.
Shah, meanwhile, said the meeting came about after being in the pipeline for two months.
He said it started with Leow requesting to meet the mosque imams, to which Shah suggested that the archbishop meet with the mufti directly, and Leow agreed.
“When I approached the mufti, he was very happy to hear that the archbishop wanted to meet him and that is how it all came about,” Shah said.
Shah said his group had been at the forefront in organising various programmes promoting inter-religious meetings and activities.
“We organised a buka puasa event between 25 mosque imams and 25 Christian priests before and we also had a group of ustaz and ustazah visiting churches and temples in past years,” he said.
Global Unity was officially registered as an non-governmental organisation last March. – January 8, 2016.
-The Malaysian Insider