Let Malaysians accept the challenge to make Malaysia one of the top nations in the world in interfaith dialogue, understanding and tolerance

The primitive view of the PAS Youth leader and son of PAS President, Mohamad Khalil Abdul Hadi that Muslims should not post Christmas greetings on Facebook because the Christian celebration is against the teachings of Islam and that there should not be any acknowledgement of the Christian religion should alert Malaysians to the destructive, vicious and toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religious perpetrated by irresponsible, opportunistic and desperado politicians which will divide and may even destroy Malaysia.

It is a primitive view which is alien to the Malaysian Constitution, the Rukunegara and all the precepts to unite multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia.

How can Malaysia become an Instant Malaysia with such narrow, extremist and primitive thinking?

The Sultan of Johore Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sultan Idris Shah, the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were among the Muslim leaders in Malaysia who have made Christmas greetings on today’s Christmas, calling on Malaysians to celebrate each other’s holiday festivities

Have any of them become less of a Muslim as a result of such Christmas greetings to Christians?

Just as non-Muslims do not become Muslims by their Selamat Hari Raya greetings to Muslims, Muslims are not in any way become less of a Muslim in making Christmas greetings to Christians.

It is clear that the Hadi father-and-son couple have a long way to go to become fully acceptable Malaysian political leaders.

On his website on Sunday, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wished a merry Christmas to the country’s Christians in a message in which he stressed on cultural diversity in Turkey and the historic role of Anatolia in “harboring those who escaped conflict, persecution, war, and oppression.”

He said:

"I wish that the Christmas, celebrated by our Christian citizens from different denominations, traditions and churches in line with their beliefs, will lead to the strengthening of the climate of solidarity in our country. I wish our Christian citizens and the whole Christian world a merry Christmas.”

Last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, together with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, took part in Christmas celebrations with Christians in Amman.

Have Erdogan, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas become less of a Muslim because of such Christmas greetings and celebrations?

Eleven years ago, in December 2007, 129 prominent Muslims from all around the world issued Christmas greetings from Amman to the world’s Christians, following up on an October call earlier that year for greater dialogue between the two faiths.

The Islamic statement thanked the many Christians who have responded to the October call – entitled “A Common Word”– which was issued by many of the same Muslim leaders. The “Common Word” initiative is supported by the Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, headed by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan.

The “Common Word” leaders noted the moral principles shared by the “Abrahamic faiths,” including the determination to uphold the sanctity of human life. The Christmas greeting includes a plea for Christians and Muslims to join to “do their utmost to save, uphold, and treasure every single human life and especially the life of every single child.”

In November, Pope Benedict XVI responded to the Islamic leaders’ message with a letter to Prince Ghazi, inviting him to designate representatives who could participate in further inter-religious talks at the Vatican.

What are Malaysians to make of the primitive view that Muslims cannot give Christmas greetings to Christians?

One reaction by the Islamic Renaissance Front founder Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa is to ask PAS leader to think whether PAS should buy an island and proclaim it as an Islamic State and live exclusively with their own kind with the same mentality.

But I would react differently and ask Malaysians, whether Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus or other faiths to take such a primitive outburst as a challenge to Malaysians to make Malaysia one of the foremkost nations in the world in interfaith dialogue, understanding and tolerance.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri