We live in a nation comprising of many ethnic and religious backgrounds. And unlike many other nations around the world with (seemingly) lesser diversity, we Malaysians have managed live with one another without much major inter-cultural or inter-religious strife.
And for the last almost half century, it really is an achievement to be proud of that we've managed not to kill each other over our diversity. And let's not fool ourselves - we are a very diverse lot.
So, when Walski sees stuff like the e-mail that was supposedly a corporate directive to its employees (presumably predominant or 100% Muslim) that it would be tantamount to syirik to wish Hindus a Happy Deepavali, it raises all kinds of red flags in Walski's mind.
It is a sign of just how insensitive some can, and have, become, all in the name of religion. In the process, it gives credence to the many critics of Islam, of how Islam is intollerant of other religions.
And based on the majority of commenters, Walski's not the only one that feels the directive was uncalled for - an unnecessary, and Walski dares say, un-Islamic, extrapolation of what constitutes syirik - the act of associating another with God.
Today it may be the assertion that wishing our Hindu brethren a Happy Deepavali is sacriligious. What next? To share a table at a restaurant with someone of a different faith? Or for a Muslim to hire a non-Muslim? That a Halal-certified eatery run by a non-Muslim is off-limits?
Where does it end?
(more thoughts and True Faith in the full post)
But the phenomenon of religion being used as the justification for bigotry is not something new. It has happened many times in history, it continues to happen today, and undoubtedly, it will happen again in the future.
Our job today is to recognize bigotry for what it is, regardless of what religious facade it chooses to wear. Bigotry is an ugly human mindset, and it has no place in religion, and definitely has little to do with true faith.
If we claim to have true faith, then we know that God, in His infinite wisdom, created humans in so many brands and flavors for a reason.
For Muslims, the reason per the Quran (see Surah Al-Hujurat [surah 49], verse 13), it is so that mankind could learn to co-exist peacefully as one gigantic collective - the human race. Not a trivial task, but one that is possible if we are really true to our faith, and not fall prey to the bigots, opportunists, and chauvinists among us who choose religion as their weapon of influence...
Walski's almost irrelevant True Faith bonus: The title of this post comes from a New Order single of the same name. New Order emerged from the ashes of Joy Division, after the death of front-man Ian Curtis. The following is the video of the song, True Faith. Apart from the title, the song's lyrics, and even the video itself, does have some connection to the subject-matter of this post, albeit in a very obtuse way.