PETALING JAYA: Children should be introduced to religions apart from their own so they will have a better understanding of those who subscribe to other faiths, according to an interfaith council.
“Such a practice will only bring greater unity and harmony,” Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president Datuk R.S. Mohan (pix) said.
He proposed that the Education Ministry introduce a special subject on other religions from the primary school level.
“It is important for Malaysians to cultivate a better understanding of other religions from a very young age. All religions teach us to do good and to go on with life on a good path.”
Mohan was responding to a proposal by Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha that students be taught about other faiths to foster unity and promote religious sensitivities.
He said currently, the focus was only on Islamic studies.
In response, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said schools and higher education institutions should instead focus on organising more cross-cultural programmes.
However, Mohan said children would not understand the core values of other religions from cross-cultural programmes.
“The problem with such programmes is that we don’t learn the values of other religions, which is more important.”
In sharing Mohan’s sentiments, Parent Action Group for Education president Datin Noor Azima Abdul Rahim said it was vital for everyone in a multi-religious society to learn about each other’s faiths.
“Most religions share many similarities, and those qualities should be emphasised to foster unity among Malaysians,” she said.
“We should keep an open mind. Otherwise, the world will be fighting over religion.
“We won’t fight if we learn that we have many similarities.”
Noor Azima said a lack of understanding of other religions was the main reason people became suspicious and fight against each other. But the truth is that it is a trait in Islam and other religions to be peaceful, she added.
She said if the proposal is to be implemented, a set of proper objectives should be in place and the subject matter be dealt with sensitively.