14 September 2007

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com Please.
Wednesday September 12, 2007

People coming together as one


When people of all faiths gathered last Sunday for a special prayer session for the successful surgery and speedy recovery of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as for the continued health of the country, for peace and harmony, it was an emotional experience many will never forget.

THERE are occasions when people come together in our country as part and parcel of our custom. We come together for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and of course funerals. We also get together to give our thanks when someone has passed exams, or gotten through a difficult experience or major surgery.

In the past week many people have gathered together to give thanks to God for my father’s successful surgery and to pray for his speedy recovery. Most of these have taken place in places of worship or in private homes where members of each respective faith have given thanks and prayed in their own religious traditions.

On his way to recovery: Dr Mahathir, his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and staff members of the National Heart Institute posing for a picture at the hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Monday. — Bernama
But on Sunday a very different thanksgiving gathering took place. Since my father underwent surgery we have received numerous messages of support and encouragement from Malaysians from all walks of life, race and religion. Everyone has offered prayers for his safe surgery and complete recovery afterwards. We have been enormously touched by this unexpected groundswell of love.

Last Friday, my family organised our own thanksgiving prayers at the Masjid Wilayah. But we were also acutely aware that in doing so, we were leaving out whole swathes of people who had no less sincerely offered their own prayers with much concern for my father. So in appreciation of that, we organised a multi-faith thanksgiving gathering on Sunday evening.

Although it was organised in only two days, it was heartening that people of all faiths responded to our invitation without hesitation. First to confirm his presence was Archbishop Murphy Pakiam representing the Christian community. Then Swami Samyam Ananda was named to represent the Hindu community. The Taoists and the Baha’is confirmed next and finally the Chief Buddhist Monk of Malaysia said he would return all the way from Kuantan just to attend.

I then had to find a Muslim imam who would be able to grace the occasion and respond to the presence of the other faiths in the warmest way possible. A moment of inspiration made me think of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, an imam from New York, who has many ties to Malaysia and who, as luck would have it, happened to be in town. He also agreed without hesitation.

Although friends had spread the word as much as possible, I had no idea who would turn up. But as friends, acquaintances and even strangers arrived I could not help but become emotional. People don’t necessarily express themselves through words, but their actions spoke louder than the thunder above our heads.

The evening began with the maghrib prayers led by Imam Feisal. While we Muslims fulfilled our obligations, the others respectfully listened quietly outside. When we were done, the religious leaders took their places in a semi-circle of seats in front of everyone. Then each in turn, beginning with the Buddhist Chief Monk, began prayers in their own way. Each also said something in English so that everyone would be able to understand that they each gave thanks for the success of my father’s bypass and for his continued good health.

After each one had spoken, Imam Feisal then ended the session by saying a few words about how, even though we each had our own ways, we all prayed to the same God and we were united in praying for the same thing. Not only did everyone pray for the health of someone they held dear but also for the continued health of our country, for peace and harmony.

I don’t think anyone was left unmoved by the whole ceremony. They had come to wish my father well and to lend me support and then experienced something that seems so rare these days, a coming-together of Malaysians for a common cause and unity but with so much respect for the diversity of beliefs.

Everyone prayed in their own way, nobody felt that their beliefs were trampled on. Nine days after Merdeka and a week before Malaysia Day, those present experienced what it felt to be truly Malaysian. If only it wasn’t so rare.

My father’s heart, which has always belonged to all Malaysians, is mending well. I truly believe that it is because all Malaysians, through their prayers, have donated pieces of their own hearts to him that he is making so much progress. I have no doubt that when I tell him what happened on Sunday night, he will be equally moved.

We need more events like these, not just when we need to show concern and sympathy, but also when we want to express joy and celebration. It is when we are able to witness how each of us worship that we are able to respect one another’s beliefs, to know that no religion wishes bad things on those of other faiths.