KUCHING: Interfaith gathering in Sarawak is not an issue says Assistant Minister in Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi.
He said his department has never issued any circular on prohibition of prayers at such functions.
Dr Abdul Rahman added the recitation of a Muslim prayer at state government functions will continue, even with the presence of non-Muslims.
He said that the prayers were usually for universal wellbeing, peace and harmony.
“We in Sarawak will always prioritise on maintaining the harmony and unity among the races and religions in a multi-cultural society,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post on his department’s response to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim)’s view that Muslims in Malaysia are not allowed to participate in interfaith prayers, either in the form of mass silent prayer or through separate rituals at an event.
According to a news portal, this was explained in Jakim’s letter on Aug 7 which responded to a query from the Department of National Unity and Integration (Perpaduan) stating that Muslims should not recite their prayers simultaneously with non-Muslims or say their prayers separately from non-Muslims at a function.
However, there is no restriction on non-Muslims organsing inter-faith gathering.
Abdul Rahman clarified that there is a confusion over ‘praying together’ as ‘sembahyang bersama’ and ‘berdoa bersama’.
He explained that ‘sembahyang’ (praying) is a form of a physical routine and ‘doa’ is a supplication which is asking for something through prayers.
“This means that we can do the supplication together (berdoa bersama), but not praying together (sembahyang bersama),” he added.