KUCHING – An epoch-making event initiated by Islamic Information Centre (IIC), Sarawak, held at the Archdiocesan Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre (ACCPC), St Joseph’s Cathedral here, on 17 June 2016, saw believers of the Islamic faith and Christians coming together to “break the fast” together.
The idea of coming together for “Buka Puasa” was mooted by the CEO of the Islamic Information Centre Kuching Puan Zabaria bt Haji Matali during her sharing of the Islamic faith and practices with Catholic priests in Kuching in February this year. The spontaneous suggestion was well received by the local Church representatives. In solidarity with the Muslim brothers and sisters, some Catholics observed the fast for the day.
“This evening we are here as believers in God and adherents of two different faiths – Islam and Christianity. In all honesty, we admit that there are differences between us. But we also admit that there are commonalities as well. This evening, we choose to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us so as to embrace mutual respect and acceptance and live together in harmony and peace in our beloved and beautiful State of Sarawak and Country of Malaysia,” said Archbishop John Ha of Kuching Archdiocese in his address at the event.
He explained, “In this month of Ramadan, and in our Christian season of Lent, the highlighted common practices we have are of course prayer, fasting and almsgiving/doing good deeds. Both Islam and Christianity pay great attention to these important practices as God-given ways to build a relationship with Him and in doing so with one another.”
“This evening we come together to “buka puasa” – to break the fast that we have observed today,” added Archbishop Ha, “and also to pray together, to worship God and ask for His blessings.”
In doing so, he said, we are expressing together our desire to do God’s will and grow in our relationship with Him as well as with one another
Continuing to share his thoughts, the archbishop said “An inevitable end-product of such an exercise can only be mutual respect and acceptance – and even mutual love. This surely is an important pillar of harmony and peace for our state and country.”
He cautioned the danger of allowing ourselves to be paralysed by the darkness created in our society by suspicion, dislike, desire for domination and even hate actions.
Instead, we are to be like a candle that has been lit by God’s light to brighten our state and country.
He concluded, “The least of our modest gesture is to lessen the darkness; with God’s help, darkness will give way to brightness. Together with like-minded efforts from others, total brightness will come our way. Then the beauty of our plurality will be seen and appreciated. Then peace and harmony will prevail.”
Archbishop Ha ended with hope that all adherents of the Islamic faith would experience closeness with God and have a fruitful celebration of aidilfitri. – today’s catholic