KUALA LUMPUR: PKR-linked preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin today called for more interfaith dialogues to overcome religious prejudice in the country and allow Muslims to learn more about other religions.
He said there exists some dissatisfaction in the country as Islam can be promoted to all.
“But other (religions), cannot. There will be some dissatisfaction and our relationships will be affected,” he said in a forum at Universiti Malaya.
“We should get to know about Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and learn to respect and love our differences.”
He also said youths should question statements by religious leaders if they are unhappy about them, adding that they often rely on clerics to provide correct interpretations.
He said some clerics were becoming like celebrities, with their social media posts attracting thousands of “likes”.
“They may not have a deep understanding of Islam, but they are gaining popularity because they are great at convincing people,” he added.
At the forum, which was themed around religion and the internet, Wan Ji also spoke of a rising tension due to different interpretations, especially between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
“We are blessed with critical thinking, but some people believe their clerics to the point that if they ask questions, they think they may not go to heaven,” he said.
Urging people to be wary about the various interpretations of Islam, he said such things depended on religious leaders.
“If the cleric is good, you get a good interpretation. If the cleric is more towards politics, you will get a more political Islam,” he said.
On those who are labelled as liberals due to their questions, he said these are “just names”.
“What is important is the content, not the labels given to people who ask questions.”
Sharan Raj of Parti Sosialis Malaysia, who also spoke at the forum, said within the Hindu community, youths had been questioning the caste system practised for centuries in India.
“The youths say they do not want this anymore. They want their elders to take notice of this,” he added.
He, too, urged the youth to think for themselves and to speak up in order to effect change.
Melanie Yong, who spoke about Christianity, said Christians too should be wary of different interpretations.
She said when she was young, a pastor had told her that Christians should fight for Jerusalem.
“But when I went to Jordan, I realised there were a lot of Palestinians who were Christians, too.
“Sometimes, pastors may take things literally,” she said, adding that the Bible was not originally written in English but translated.