01 February 2015  
We are all relatives: Ismail Lutfi Japakiya
2009-07-24 15:54:16
Nattrawut Muangsuk

Violence has again flared up in the three southern provinces of Thailand with the massacre of ten Muslims praying at the Al-furkon mosque in I-Payae village, Cho Ai Rong district, Narathiwat and the killing of a Buddhist monk in Muang district, Yala. Analysts and security officers hinted that the incidents could be an attempt to provoke a religious confrontation between Muslims and Buddhists.

While the motives for the crimes are not yet known, the violence has inflamed feelings and increased distrust in the region. This is perhaps a time to bring back the idea of a pluralist society, of being ‘different yet having no divisions,’ of society as consisting of ‘flowers of many colors’.

Speaking at the event of the promotion of the idea of the ‘kampong takwa’ or ‘village of respect’, in Yala on July 20, Dr. Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, rector of the Yala Islamic University and a well-respected expert on Islam, touched upon the sensitive issue of the differences between the two religions, Buddhism and Islam.

‘A village without 'respect' could bring problems,’ said Dr Lufti. ‘Anyone using the word ‘Kampong Taqwa’ should be very careful since the word is music to the ears, but the idea behind it is very difficult to implement’.

The word ‘taqwa’, to respect or to believe in, is being used to promote projects whose development ideology rested on religious values.

‘The first ‘kampong taqwa’ was built in Medina. The prophet Mohammad led his followers to construct the village. It was built for a cause and I think the conditions which allowed it to happen should be learned. It is not necessary that everyone needs to be ‘taqwa’, respected. Although the others have their own families to ‘taqwa’, we all have to accept the conditions.’

‘If we think the goodness of Islam is still a necessary thing for us then we should ‘taqwa’ Islam’, said Dr Lutfi. He emphasized on the differences of ‘taqwa’ of each individual which represents different beliefs.

He then explained that all religions have five elements in common.

'First is humanity. We are all human beings. We are all equal and all created by Allah. In the eyes of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims alike are created by God. They think everyone is God’s servant. The fact that many people do not believe this doesn’t in any way change God’s status as our creator.’

‘Secondly, according to Islam, all men are the children of Adam who fathered us all.’

‘Third, we are all living in the period of the prophet Mohammad. We are all in the same era and are the prophet’s people whether we believe in it or not. It is like Thailand now being under Prime Minister Apisit Vejajiva. The Yellows like him but the Reds do not accept him, but still we have him as our prime minister and no one else. The Prophet Mohammad is the leader of all the people and it doesn’t matter if some of them do not follow or respect him.’

‘Fourth, the Prophet Mohammad received the commandment from Allah that all people are relatives to each other. The prayer says, ‘I maintain that all men are brothers’ and hence we should not quarrel and even if we do we should do it like relatives would. There are different kinds of relatives, those from other mothers or fathers, and relatives from different religions. But Islam accepts these differences. It is not that people from different religion cannot be regarded as their relatives.’

‘The last point is that every religion has a similar teaching, that we are all enemies to the devils no matter in what form. If they are bad, then all the religions say those are the enemies.’

Dr. Lutfi's comment was from an expert on Islam. Such a "warning" from someone of his caliber should be listened to by everyone in the area. But above all, it falls directly on the security officers to

bring out the truth and to do it fast.

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