Revive the “doa” (prayer) sessions observed in the 1950s and 1970s, an interfaith group urged today.
Under the practice, people of other faiths would pray in silence while the “doa” was recited for Muslims in schools and during official functions.
Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Prematilaka Serisena said this was the normal practice when Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, Razak Hussein and Hussein Onn were prime ministers.
“This is not being practised in schools or during official functions now.
“It stopped after Razak’s premiership.”
He said the interfaith group was calling for the practice to be revived as “it was the most fair and common sense thing to do in a multiracial society.”
At present, during an official function, other than the “doa”, the national anthem, Negaraku, is sung.
A professor from UCSI, Tajuddin Rasdi, said the “doa” came in two forms – it could either be recited silently or read aloud, as was the case at functions.
“It is a personal thing and it is a choice people have.
“I have read that in Indonesia, before the ‘doa’, the emcee asks those of other faiths to say their prayers in silence. It is very impressive. That is the way to go.”
In Malaysia, he said he had not heard of such a practice being adopted.
“If I am going to recite the ‘doa’ at a function, the emcee should ask people of other faiths to do the same. That is proper decorum.”
However, he said it could cause some Muslims to feel uncomfortable about acknowledging other faiths.
“But I feel, if the ‘doa’ is included during official functions, there should be an acknowledgement of those from other faiths.”
He said Islam could be divided into three main parts – the old Islam, the one practised in the 1970s and 1980s and the present practice.
“Many older people in their 70s and 80s tell me that it was a lot easier to mix around with the Muslims in those days.
“But now, they say it is difficult, because Islam was practised as a culture in those days.
“Then, Islamic revitalisation took over.”
Tajuddin said after the setting-up of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) in 1971, there was an Islamic resurgence in the country.
Tajuddin said for this group, rather than embarking on a spiritual search, it morphed into a social identity.
“We find segregation becoming more prevalent.”
Minderjeet Kaur@FMT Reporters Online