andarin Oriental, City Centre – Truthfully speaking, I had not much knowledge on Karen Armstrong when she spoke about “Islam And The West : Bridging The Gap Between Islam and the West ” by the invitation of YB Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s department recently.
She, a freelance author by vocation and a freelance monotheist by practice had professed that modernity has been inflating the gap among religions despite the fact that they preach similar nuances of conviction which is goodwill and PEACE.
As she elaborated on various beliefs and critically weaved them with politics and war, I waited with much alacrity for the moment that she would propose possible solutions to the indispensable reasons of the contended barriers. Unfortunately, that never came round.
I wondered to myself if it was due to time constraint, misuse of topic highlighted or was I having erroneous expectations? Was the talk supposed to be on alleviating the aggravation between Islam and the West or ‘liquefying’ all religions (Islam crucially in this matter) as in one stream?
Sadly, I’ve failed to suss out what I was seeking for in that session. I could only sense how it was sort of mitigating religious differences and promoting interfaith unification. Yes, I agree that we are to tolerate and respect other creeds. Yes, probably we are revering the same source of transcending ‘spirit’ in our own ways. However, we can never compromise in faith and practice because we portray God differently.
Still again I’d humbly repeat that we do have high regards to other religions. Thus it is vital that like it or not, there is that sensitive territory which can never be breached for the sake of harmony.
In Malaysia, I find that religion is not the main issue to the disparities within our society. Why? Now that is another different story but in this case, I felt that the existence of influential people with Armstrong’s stance itself could assuage the misunderstandings of the West towards Islam. If these people were to come together and strategize on subtle advocation to prejudiced Westerners that Islam does not propagate violence in nature, I’m sure that the outcome would speak for itself. Clearly this would be an arduous endeavour in its context but God Willing it is possible.
Another one of her intriguing statements was that people create barriers due to anxiety. Unfamiliarity breeds anxiety but familiarity breeds contempt. So which solution comes best? Diplomacy or cunningness? You tell me.