PITTED against fanatic religious activists who chastised the “Jom Ziarah Gereja” programme, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh has found a very unlikely supporter in the Sultan of Johor who sees no harm for Muslims in the state to visit houses of worship of other faiths or their festivals as long as they do not participate in their rituals or prayers.
“This is very clear and I have complete trust in Muslims because their faith is strong and unshakable. I do not wish to dwell at length here. There is no need for any kind of polemic over this,” The Star cited Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar as saying.
His Majesty said racial and cultural tolerance was important in the state. The guidelines issued by the Palace and the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAIJ) were clear and there should be no confusion and speculation.
Sultan Ibrahim went on to stress the importance of interfaith values, unity and understanding as espoused under the Bangsa Johor concept.
“This is how it is done in Johor. We respect non-Muslims and they, too, must respect Muslims. We don’t have a problem in Johor and I am proud of that because the Bangsa Johor concept is accepted by everyone here,” he enthused.
Towards this end, Sultan Ibrahim encouraged non-Muslims to visit mosques and to understand Islam better as it is a beautiful religion which promotes peace, tolerance and compassion.
“I encourage Muslims to invite non-Muslims to break fast together during the holy month of Ramadan,” he espoused. “Explain to them the meaning of abstinence and the concept behind this practice so non-Muslims understand and value Islam better.”
Set against the backdrop of religious hostility in recent times, Sultan Ibrahim has also asserted that Johor is out of bounds for politicians and bigoted religious leaders who are out to break the bonds of unity and solidarity among the different races in Johor.
“Since the beginning, I have always stressed and reminded everyone that understanding and mutual respect among races are the pillars of Johor’s unity,” he stressed in a statement to mark his official birthday today.
“The Bangsa Johor identity and concept is the glue unites all the people of Johor, comprising various races, and this has been practiced in this state for a long time.”
Added Sultan Ibrahim: “I warn against any attempt by anyone to break Bangsa Johor’s strong bridges of unity and co-existence.” – March 23, 2023