I am incredibly blessed to be a part of Muslim Leadership Program 2012 that this program has open the door to various inter-cultural, interracial and inter-religious dialogues which I have never experienced previously in my own country Malaysia. The memories of last Friday’s trip to the Shira Hadasha, an inclusive Orthodox Jewish community in Melbourne was a really an eye-opener to the better understanding and accepting the differences and similarities that both Muslims and Jews posses in worshipping the one and only God. When I was told to be prepared for the meeting with them, I gave myself a deep thought to re-arrange my mind and my heart that this will be another series of serious discussions and building networks.
It was a very warm welcome and an inspiring discussion that we had during the dinner. We changed our views, discussed many things about life and faith that sometimes we did find some similarities which connect the different views that we have between one another. I pursued the first meeting discussing our personal attachment that led to commonalities in general that we have such as topics of special interest in life and the position of Muslim women in Islam. But of course, I could hear the beats of my heart urging to advance questions regarding the series of continuing tension between Muslims and Jews. Yet, I could not do so and I could feel that my new Jewish friends were not comfortable to discuss and dwell into a serious issue at this very first meeting. On the other hand, I was actually throwing my chance away to create a real dialogue and engage to a more serious discussion about Muslims and Jews.The escalation violence of Israel towards Muslims and Palestine is something that I can never take blind eyes. In Malaysia, my affiliation in HALUAN (NGO) and LangitIlahi.com is my constant reminder and direct participation on issues regarding Palestine. With Muslims as the majority population in the country, our perceptions and attitudes toward Israel and Jews are being positioned to only one direction. We have very little contact with the Jews community and though there are inter-faiths dialogues held by individuals or organizations in the country, yet there are only creating protest and refusal among the larger mainstream community.
Though this program is meant to create dialogue between the two faiths, create a mutual understanding which consequently able to build acceptance, tolerance and perhaps reconciliation of solutions, this can never be done without the effort of the two faiths to reach those at the highest authority to stop this irrational lust for violence in the name of justice and humanities. At the grassroots level, the steps towards a universal understanding of different faiths and cultures have been done for years and in some parts of the debates, there are solutions being made to curb the conflict. This Muslim Leadership Program is one of the many initiatives from the Muslim minority in Australia to reach and build inter-faiths dialogues so that these understandings and acceptance of differences and similarities can be put forward to create a better world that uphold justice and humanity. In the name of our God, the Lord and the Creator, we seek to have a better place where we can practice and celebrate our faith and beliefs. I do hope that this first meeting with the Jewish community in Australia can help to build a harmonious relationship which allows acceptance of differences and tolerance on commonalities and perhaps could shape and change the future of the world we share.