The imam cupped his palms before his face and invited the congregation to pray. “Oh Allah, return to us those who are lost. Oh, Allah, grant safe passage to MH370,” he said.
The prayer was not unusual. The setting was.
Gathered in the courtyard of a shopping mall in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the Muslim religious leader was followed by a Christian reading from the Bible, then a Buddhist monk, a Hindu and finally a Taoist priest echoing the imam’s pleas before hundreds of worshippers in a largely Muslim country where religious intolerance has been on the rise.
The baffling mystery over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people on March 8 has united Malaysia, a nation of numerous ethnicities, as never before in recent memory.
Tuesday night’s interfaith ceremony would have been inconceivable 11 days ago in the country of 28 million people where religious differences and bigotry have often been on open display. For Malaysians the sight of non-Muslims bowing respectfully as Imam Hilman Nordin said prayers from the rostrum was an incredible step toward unity. While there have been interfaith prayers before, they have always been without a Muslim representative.
Malays, who account for about 60 percent of the population, are almost exclusively Muslim. Chinese, who are Buddhists, Christians and Taoists, represent about 21 percent, while Indians, who are Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, are about 7 percent...Gee, I wonder how long it'll last:
Muslims have been at loggerheads with Christians and Hindus in recent years, and some sermons last month identified Christians and Jews as enemies of Islam. Hard-line Muslims have called for the burning of Bibles and in January firebombs were thrown into a church compound. A few years ago, a group of Muslims stomped on the severed head of a cow outside a Hindu temple. Cows are sacred to Hindus.Not bloody long, I predict.