04/28/2016, 16.16
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Thai Muslim leader calls for learning from other religions to build peace

by Weena Kowitwanij

The Department of Religious Affairs organised an inter-faith forum that brought together leaders of major religions. According Abdulau Nhumsuks, a member of the Bangkok Islam Association, the idea that learning the teachings of other faiths is a sin “is old-fashioned and incorrect”.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Some Muslims think "that learning the teachings of other religions is a sin. Such an idea is old-fashioned and incorrect. Exchanging ideas is an important step to bridge the gap [with others] and lead us to honour one another,” said Abdulau Nhumsuk, a Muslim and a member of the Sheikhul Islam Office and the Bangkok Islam Association.

He spoke at a seminar on the Proclamation of Religious Belief in the Society where there are Different Religions organised by the Department of Religious Affairs together with the Ministry of Culture.

Held on Monday in the meeting room of the Department of Cultural Promotion, the event attracted Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian leaders along with government officials and about a hundred members of various organisations in order to promote the peaceful practice of faith, as well as love for the homeland and the king (the guarantor of all religions).

"Thailand is a country full of different creeds, cultures and races who have previously lived together in a happy way,” said Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat.

However, “At present, controversies in Thai society have been caused by misunderstanding in some issues.” Thus, the seminar “is a good opportunity for the leaders of five religions to exchange their knowledge on how the various teachings of many religions can bring the faithful to live in harmony.”

For some time, the Thai Church has been active in promoting interfaith dialogue. In a significant step, Mgr Andrew Thanya Vissanu Anan, deputy general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand (CBCT), attended the opening of a mosque on 2 March.

CBCT secretary general Mgr Joseph Chusak Sirisuthi also addressed the seminar. “Every religion,” he said, “tries its best to build peace, not only for Thailand but also for other countries worldwide.”

As Christians, “We should help solving problems within society” and promote the “dignity of human life and suffering.”

“The Christian inspiration centres on the Word of Jesus who said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9).” This “means that those who bring peace are the children of God,” including non-Christians.

For Phraphombandit, a Buddhist monk and member of the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand, believers have a duty to live the legacy of his or her ancestors by practicing their religious teachings but they must also try to understand those of other faiths.

“In the age of facts and information, we should not proclaim information that leads to division and badly influence society’s thinking,” he said.

In his address, Abdulau Nhumsuk mentioned tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Thailand’s four southern-most provinces, scene of violence that has caused 6,500 deaths since 2004.

“The situation in the southern provinces,” he explained, “is a good example of personal interests masked as religious battles caused by ideological extremism.”

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