United religions Initiative – Malaysia needs interfaith dialogue

 In a country where the people practice different faiths and religions, clashes of opinon and different views on matters of life are unavoidable. To prevent these differences of opinion fathom into hatred and violence, there must be engagement between people of different faiths , so that any misunderstanding can be trashed out peacefully, so that people of different faiths can “agree to disagree”.

In other words, dialogue between people of different faiths is of utmost importance to prevent hatred and violence between different religious groups..

In the West, there are many groupings such as the interfaith councils, where people of different faiths can sit and discuss ways to cooperate, despite the differences of beliefs.

One such grouping is the United Religions Initiative.  “United Religions Initiative (URI) was founded in 2000 by an extraordinary global community committed to promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation and to ending religiously motivated violence. Today the URI includes thousands of members in over 65 countries representing more that 100 religions, spiritual expressions, and indigenous traditions… ”  according to the homepage of URI.

URI is a bridge building initiative. It encourages dialogue, cooperation and finding common universal values to help the community.

If these can be done in over 70 countries of the world, where Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other faiths can sit down, talk about thier difference and plan activities together, I see no reason that why this cannot be done in Malaysia as well, knowing that Malaysians are actually nice and friendly people.

I would like to call upon the various religious leaders to seriously consider taking such an initiative to promote inter-religious cooperation, and I wish to call upon all politicians to move aside and let the various religious leaders take the initiative to cooperate. Once politicians come into the picture,  even religions will be politicised , which should not be the case.

I will quote the preamble and the purpose of URI here, for my countrymen of different faiths to read. Please adopt an open mind when reading this; do not shut the door for dialogue:


We, people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions throughout the world, hereby establish the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.

We respect the uniqueness of each tradition, and differences of practice or belief.

We value voices that respect others, and believe that sharing our values and wisdom can lead us to act for the good of all.

We believe that our religious, spiritual lives, rather than dividing us, guide us to build community and respect for one another.

Therefore, as interdependent people rooted in our traditions, we now unite for the benefit of our Earth community.

We unite to build cultures of peace and justice.

We unite to heal and protect the Earth.

We unite to build safe places for conflict resolution, healing and reconciliation.

We unite to support freedom of religion and spiritual expression, and the rights of all individuals and peoples as set forth in international law.

We unite in responsible cooperative action to bring the wisdom and values of our religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to bear on the economic, environmental, political and social challenges facing our Earth community.

We unite to provide a global opportunity for participation by all people, especially by those whose voices are not often heard.

We unite to celebrate the joy of blessings and the light of wisdom in both movement and stillness.

We unite to use our combined resources only for nonviolent, compassionate action, to awaken to our deepest truths, and to manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth community.



The purpose of the United Religions Initiative is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.



26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A true Malaysian
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:55:31

    Yes, I support this initiative and I wish to call upon all politicians to move aside and let the various religious leaders take the initiative to cooperate.


  2. Dr Hsu
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:05:51

    A True Malaysian, thanks for agreeing to my idea of a URI in Malaysia.

    We really need bridge builders who can bridge the differences of various people of different faiths. We do not need bridge destroyers… How to reach out to other groups if there is no bridge?

    There are real fears among the different groups. The Muslims fear that their dominant position might be threaten, the nonMuslim fear that they would be marginalised and lose the freedom of practice of thier religion.

    We know that these fears are real, and so in order for the different groups to be relieved of their fears, we need dialogue, we need people who can build bridges across the “river of differences”.

    I hope both my Muslims and NOn msulim friends can see my points. And this initiative should ideally be world wide.


  3. monsterball
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:23:04

    If UMNO cannot learn to agree to disagree……how do you expect Malaysians to do that?
    UMNO is daily……getting more and more disagreeable and desperate……as you can see…after the election….what have they really said and done…..NOTHING!!…but keep defending themselves…creating fear…and provoking ..false asccusing…to test the good natures of Malaysians. Have UMNO ever allows us to apply… agree to disagree?
    They have always call for UMNO members to be loyalty….which means…m
    Malaysians..have to be firm……for or against UMNO.
    Doc….our country is made such…by UMNO….to complicate things…to disunite Malaysians….to divide and rule…..applying their mindset….shown by Mahathir for 22 years….and on going.
    Did you read…….Mahathir said…he plans to migrate…..if Anwar is PM? Why so….if he is so loyal??
    Taksin and wife seems to now live in Britain..avoiding attending court case.
    So the politicians apply for or against..all their lives……and with our present Malaysia situation….one simply..cannot apply agree to disagree…..until and unless….all Malaysians are united as one. Are we ONE yet??
    There is hope ..Doc……very soon.
    So keep on hold……..your brilliant idea…for about 10 years from now.


  4. A true Malaysian
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:30:55

    Dr. Hsu,

    For me, I always look at things at all angles.

    I always stand in other people’s shoes to look at problems by asking myself, what if…..happens to us.

    If everyone of us can do that, then you and me will be a happier person.

    Also, just reflect ourselves to the day of our birth, we come with nothing, not even a piece of cloth on our body….and the day we say ‘good bye’, we leave what we have.

    But legacy that we left, will be forever there. So, just don’t be calculative who win more.


  5. jeff
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:36:11

    Two top gun in the government already said this forum is a threat to national security and racial harmony, instead of encouraging civil discussion, and reign in on illegal protesters, the forum key speaker is facing the possibility of sedition or ISA detention.

    It is not the Malaysian people against civil discussion, it ‘s umno hire thugs continue to prevent such forum from taking place.


  6. veonszu
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:54:56

    Forget about the politicians. They are there to politicize everything to their own self-fish interests.

    The civil society that consists of groups of different faiths should take the initiatives and start building bridge. Need not be on big scale and high profile, just be sincere, open and mature. Then and then something good would come out from it.

    That is my wishful thinking, may be. But, never try, never know.


  7. A true Malaysian
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:18:22

    Politics is a messy game, that is what you can see in monsterball’s comments so far.

    Religion by right, is an individual matter. Everyone of us has this ‘universal rights’ to choose whatever religion that we have faith on. You just can’t force me to have faith on the religion that to yourself is ‘the best’ religion. Even if you managed to force me to convert into the religion that you want, in my inner self, I am still what I was before.

    So, politics can never be equated to religion and I wish to say again :-

    “I wish to call upon all politicians to move aside and let the various religious leaders take the initiative to cooperate.”


  8. wazzup
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 14:08:24

    When a subject lacks people to study and work them, it will soon die out or worst modified beyond recognition of its true self. When people lacks understanding of English they will come out with Singlish or Minglish.

    So if the ‘authority’ appointed by human who lacks understanding of Islam is calling those who wanted to disect and study it’s supposed beautiful form ‘names’, the losing side is Islam itself. That is when cult and diversion of true Islam is unrecognisable. Soon you’ll find a big teapot out of nowhere and Ayah Pin as your saviour.


  9. nick
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:00:03

    I love football, rugby, cricket, badminton, F1 and swimming. But nothing beats football, the “beautiful game”. You get to enjoy the EPL when the game is played fair and square with no corruption and the referee can never be bought. The best team wins esp MANU. What has this subject got to do with religion, the topic Dr. Hsu is blogging? Well in Malaysia, we have the ISA, an unfair law. The referee is Badawi, an idiot. With him holding the yellow and red card, I better stick to football than to discuss religion. Until that idiot goes away and someone like DSAI takes his place, maybe I will be free to discuss this all-important topic. Sorry Doc, I sokong you but not time yet.


  10. A true Malaysian
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:26:27

    Such initiative is worthy of our support. Whether the proposal is agreeable or not comes later.

    If at initial stage no one support, how to proceed further?

    Just ask yourself honestly, can the initiative brings peace and harmony, nick?

    If yes, why not?


  11. monsterball
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 20:53:48

    True Malaysian must check account books…slowly…carefully…with a pair of sharp eyes.
    Therefore..he subscribe to….slow and steady ..win the race..type of attitudes. Accounting is a tedious profession….requiring him to be… very patience.
    But guys like us…go for broke..take it or leave it….for or against…which will produce faster results…and if our check and balance goes wrong,…we can always depend on “True Malaysian”…to straighten out the mess we created…later…….hahahahahaha


  12. monsterball
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 21:08:19

    I am with nick..forget politics…until after Permatang Pauh election.
    Lets enjoy…sports…individuals…team…all sorts.
    Peace and Harmony??
    False ones…..for 51 years.
    Who created it?
    If those talking about peace and harmony…and have voted mostly for UMNO and BN…then you are the cause of all the mumbo jumbo…why talk of peace and harmony now?
    Talk it with your votes in the 13th general election….vote UMNO out.
    I have been accused for treating this blog…like kopitiam….well I do…..as change of moods without missing the topic is a rare art..not many can do.
    Hope chilpadi and petestop read this…….come here and talk sense.


  13. Justin Choo
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 21:20:26

    Dr Hsu,

    “Universal ideal” organizations are not not new .. There are several quite active here in Malaysia. Off hand I can name two, MRA (Moral Re-armament) and The Pure Life Society. In fact Dr Amir who is the Chairman of the interfaith commitee of the Pure Life Society is also the Malaysian representative of URI. The other on the border-line is Brahma Kumaris. All have good intentions and all have conytibuted alot to the society.

    However, we have a big problem here. You see the same people in these organizations. The curse of societies, the bigots, the fanatics, the selfish, the inconsiderates and all evil peoples are still out there creating problems for all of us. These are devils who are forever present to spoil our days!! No matter how much we tried this scorch of society will always be there. The only hope is that to reduce their influence.


  14. jeff
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 21:39:30

    “kopitiam”? monsterball, some here probably do not understand what it means…ha ha ha… Why these people acted so crazy over a discussion forum, threatening to storm the building with violence force,
    Taliban must be very glad to see them around in Malaysia.


  15. monsterball
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 22:15:44

    True Malaysian have a phobia….thinking he is a second class citizen.


  16. jeff
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 22:15:45

    Doc. how can URI forum take place with all these crazy men n women shouting and threatening to use violence to end the discussion? with such uncivilized people around couple with prime minister threat of using ISA on the bar council members n attendees, instead of on those hooligans protesting outside, any civility will extinguish from this country soon or later, it is really not hard to figure out why no one dare to support the forum!


  17. monsterball
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 22:24:32

    Hentam hentam tentam…..tora tora tora…onward Malaysians march forward…..just as UMNO is doing to us.
    But they hold all the four aces!!
    So hentam and tora tora tota…march with loving kindness.. .smiling to his all their marchais…they send out…to create trouble……let them talk talk talk….accused…..insult….provoke…….but never loose your temper. Keep smiling and keep quiet ….like idiots.
    That will make them crazy!!!
    That’s the AGAINST I am talking about….inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.


  18. romerz
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 02:35:52

    Dr Hsu,

    I just started reading a book by Suflan Shamsuddin titled RESET : Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm.

    I’ve only read the intro and the 1st chapter and already I found a valid argument why interfaith dialogs are so difficult in Malaysia.

    If I interpret correctly, its about the context from which the participants of such dialogs are from. That we have not even established the common base context from which the participants are ‘launching’ their views from is already a non-starter.

    In essence, not withstanding where you sit on the spectrum, no meaningful dialogs can even take place unless all participants can even agree on a common ground.

    In short, unless the rules of engagement can even be agreed upon, no meaningful discussions can take place.

    I do not know what the rest of the book will suggest but from what I’ve read so far, it would seem that finding a common ground to sit down and talk is hard enough as it is without religion and faith being brought in.

    It is made all the more difficult by the huge disparity in education, wealth, security, etc., of us all.

    I’m reminded of the worm which can only go so far with its head unless the tail moves along at the same speed. It may stretch but only for a few inches at most.

    My point is maybe, we are moving at a pace our Muslim brothers are not accustomed to. Maybe we should temper our ideals for democracy a little so as not to exacerbate the divide further.

    But it would be helpful too if our Muslim brothers could tell us that if we were to be patient, they would not let this patience be in vain.

    Tell us that you understand the world waits for no man. Don’t resort to the many times heard reply of “God works in his own way and in his own time”.

    Until we can even expunge from our vocabulary the ‘pendatang’ word in so far as Malaysia is concerned, we can’t even scratch the surface of interfaith dialogs!


  19. A true Malaysian
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 11:18:25


    Your views are absolutely true in Malaysian context. We have to convince our Muslim brothers that since ‘United Religions Initiative’ (URI) was already formed in the West, and is working fine over there, why not in Malaysia?

    Of course, we foresee this is not an easy task. We have read ‘Anak Malaysia’ comments that it is impossible for the contents of Quran or Hadith to change or revise, even though some of those contents sound ‘unacceptable’ to us non-Muslim or, I may say, to the Muslim themselves, they have no other choice but to have ‘faith’ and ‘submit’ to God. If not, they may be deemed as ‘rebel’ against Islam. This is further made more complex by Biro Tatanegara (BTN) that Malays attended, which very much influenced their mindsets.

    But, I still see that however ‘rigid’ the scenario maybe, so long as this world is ‘open’, our sincerity in working together with Muslim will one day, convince them. Afterall, true Muslim believe, as what written in Quran that Muslim must respect and not to discriminate non-Muslim.

    As I can see, we stand more chance to have this Initiative in Malaysia if Pakatan Rakyat take over the government (minus the bad impression that we get form the recent protest. Even Haris Ibrahim are against such protest).


  20. monsterball
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 11:47:37

    In short….for or against is the only solution with an opponent that is bias…unfair…with sickening mindsets.
    One is not engaging with an opponent at all. One is engaging with UMNO who thinks they own the country forever and using the slim majority given to them….they will try to ..strenghten it …..by hook or by crook.
    Malaysians are learning fast…like romerz.
    It is like a war battle!! Battle of words and deeds..both UMNO have proven to be unreliable.
    UMNO will like to bully and create fears.
    Malaysians that are already overwhelmingly for change of government…need to control themselves….don’t be suckered up.. by insults..and be prepared to bear all unfair punishments…and show UMNO …who is the boss…through non violence and disobedience to UMNO…inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
    We created the monster!!!…. for the past 28 years….getting from bad to worst. They know we treasure….peace and harmony…and a united Malaysian for Malaysia. That will be what they will try to destroy..by dividing us.
    Peace and harmony..are for people who think like humans beings…but when your opponent is corrupt…greedy…unfair and unjust…and is in power…we must apply….disobedient and non violence.. ..to win. They have build up a crop of fanatics on religion. It is best….Bar Council and all leaders of the People’s Party guys running the 5 States plus K.Lumpur…to be very careful..not to allow UMNO find the slightest excuse…to criticize them. Khalid is right……but he should wait till change of government…plus few more years of open debates…to open the minds of what is good or bad for students..as well as for Malaysians. Certainly…all educational institutions should be for all Malaysians. He is right…but totally wrong to suggest it now.
    After 52 years of race and religion politics…no human being can correct all in such a short time.
    I am sure….Khalid ad Anwar at one time….both were in UMNO…know what UMNO is. So how can they change a monster…which both have played a big part to create…in the past……for such a long long time?
    Yes…nice to see…..both are hungry to make amends and have love for a united Malaysia…but they have to be patient.
    All should concentrated to expose corruptions and mismanagements by UMNO and BN…to the country and leave ….people out… by not exposing….their race and religion politics so forcefully…at this stage.
    Doing so…is asking for trouble.
    To Malaysians….I hope .they will support……disobedient and non violence ….to UMNO…starting from 31st August…stay at home..and do not drive.. for one day.
    Put up the National flag proudly in your homes…if you want…but Merdeka Celebration….it is UMNO’s. Stay out of it.


  21. Y C Chai
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 12:42:20

    The hope may be very slim. but it worth trying. Keep up the good work. We need stubborn minded people to achieve success!

    Mind are the forerunner of the universe. It break up barriers and obstacles.


  22. jeff
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 11:36:55

    Accept 10% of non-bumi students into UTM is look upon as trample on bumiputra special right by student body….Opppp, in that case, it is better off for a non bumiputra go study somewhere else, no point making them all so heat up and having massive protest against selangor MB… I for one will not feel good at all if getting admited into UTM.


  23. HANAN
    May 18, 2009 @ 14:33:50

    Would be great if Dr Hsu’s could define “dialogue”. Is it dialogue, discussion, understanding, that you want.
    Each of these word can turn the forum into a different direction.
    Already from the previous comment the direction made by commentators don’t prove to be good seed or ideas. Or is it just me, who felt it that way.
    “Dialogue” as I see it has a seed of attacking and trying to impress on the other so that their views (only, their views) are accepted at all cost. This create militant citizen. Other views are just unacceptable. You can see this inclination if you read the views that were already published.


  24. Dr Hsu
    May 18, 2009 @ 14:58:54

    thank you for your comment on this post which were posted some time ago.

    Dialogue is just another term meaning talk to each other. All must talk to each other, otherwise how to get understanding?

    You can use any other terms to mean the same thing, discuss, talk to each other, .

    Whether commenatators ‘prove to be good seed or idea’, it is really up to the commentators (you are one of them by commenting) themselves since i do not moderate comments, apart from personal attacks, vulgar words, or attack on religions or race


  25. A true Malaysian
    May 18, 2009 @ 15:28:03

    Dr. Hsu,

    Yours and HANAN’s comments brought me down memory lane. I guess this is one of our behavior when come to reading blogs, we usually read the latest posting and don’t bother the earlier postings. I think all of us should change this behavior by reading back earlier postings and comments so to refresh ourselves whether we have changed our stands since we last commented.

    As to this topic of religion, my stand still stays and have a successful dialogue on religions, every participant or representative should be come with open mind and with attitude of learning from one another, and should not have the impression that my religion is superior or play dominance over the other. At the end of the day, if such dialogue can build trust and friendship, then I suppose we have achieved the objective. Once true trusts are there, no matter will consider ‘sensitive’ or whatever until one of the party breach such trust.

    I still remember, my best friend in school is a Muslim where when we mix, we don’t even realise what beliefs each of us are. But such kind of relationship is getting rare in Malaysia for the last 20 over years. What happened?


  26. Dr Hsu
    May 18, 2009 @ 15:42:09

    A True Malaysian,
    That is because certain politicians with agenda have changed the mindsets of some of the people..


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