Berdialog dengan Gereja (Dialoguing with the Church): A book review

CHRISTIAN-Muslim relations in the past few years have been sorely tested over the Allah controversy. Into this breach comes the unlikely figure of Mujahid Rawa. Since 2010, the Member of Parliament (Paris Buntar) has been involved in a series of dialogues with churches in an attempt to heal strained relations between both faith communities. Coming from PAS with its Islamist credentials, he comes across as a surprising agent of reconciliation. 

Berdialog Dengan GerejaIn Dialog dengan Geraja: Sebuah travelog kedamaian (Dialogue with the Church: A travelog of peace), Mujahid gives an account of how he became involved in interfaith dialogue as the events and people involved. He also gives an insider’s account of how the PAS leadership formulated their position with regards to the Allah controversy. He also gives, from a Muslim perspective, reasons as to why Christians should be allowed to use Allah.

However, the most interesting part of the book is on his reflections concerning dialogue and peace. Noting that Malaysia is a diverse society where misunderstanding and conflict can arise, Mujahid believes that the way to peace between faith communities lies in dialogue to clear misunderstandings and misconceptions. But for dialogue to happen, there must first be a willingness to build friendships that transcend differences and the desire to bring goodwill to the process.

As Christians, we too are called to bring the shalom of God to our little corner of the earth. In Jeremiah 29:7, we are reminded to “…  work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you …” and in the Beatitudes, we are taught that the peacemakers shall be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

Let’s not be distracted by who Mujahid is and the party he represents, but consider the challenge his book throws at Christians. Can we be honest and ask ourselves if it isn’t the prevalent Christian mindset to shun interfaith dialogue? More importantly, can we afford to shun such dialogue in light of Jesus calling us to be peacemakers?

Should we not take part in bringing shalom to our beloved nation by joining hands with people of other religions Muslims in dialogue and friendship? I recommend all Christians to read this book and ponder its message.

An English edition of this book is now available in bookstores.

This review was published in Berita NECF January-March 2014.


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