“Sembang Harmoni The Series – 15” was moderated by Calvin Ohsey and the panelists were representing the Christians, Reverend Father Edward Rayappan (the Parish Priest of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Johor Bahru), Sheikh Imran from Hidayah Centre Johor representing the Muslims and Madam Tani Nila, a kindergarten teacher representing the Bahai Centre.
The theme, “Kelaurgaku, Syurgaku” (“My Family is My Paradise”) attracted a lot of interest among the participants.
In the first round, each panelist shared their respective faith’s principal teachings, holy scriptures and adherents’ practices.
In the second round, the panelists shared their perspective on the theme. Madam Tani Nila shared that the family is a refuge and a haven of loving kindness. She defined the family unit as consisting of a father, a mother and children. She shared a quote from Royal Professor Ungku Aziz who said, “The family is the first university and it’s parents are the professors.” More important than just formal education, it is equally important to have faith education. A child is like a white canvass, whose life will be painted in beautiful colours and patterns. She elaborated on the roles and responsibilities of the father, mother and children. She mentioned the public reaction to the deaths of 8 youths in Johor Bahru and the Sultan of Johor, who said, “Biarlah anak-anak menangis, janganlah sampai ibubapa menangis.” (Let the children cry, but forbid that parents should shed tears.)
Rev. Father Eddie (as he is fondly called) said that in Christ, the family is the domestic church. The love Christ have for His Church is externalised in the love between a husband and wife. God unites us. A loving family produces a harmonious society.
The 2 purposes of marriage are for conjugal love and procreation. Nowadays, many people are too B-U-S-Y, “burdened under Satan’s yoke”. He stressed the importance of family prayer and said, “A family that prays together stays together.”
Sheikh Imran said Islam has a high regard for the family institution. He contrasted the patriarchal society during the Prophet’s (pbuh) time when women were treated as chattels to be used and discarded as things. Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) challenged this view when he prayed with his wife at the mosque publicly. Islam strongly encourages marriages and procreation. During that time when having a male child was deemed a blessing, the Prophet said that females who are cared for by their families till their marriage will be blessed, too.
Sheikh Imran shared this story,
“A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet (PBUH) said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Thus, in Islam the position of women is highly respected.
On the subject of marriage, the panelists shared that all faiths uphold the institution of marriage as sacred. The discussions centred around the practices and procedures of marriage among its adherents. During the Q&A, questions on polygamy, same-sex marriages, interfaith marriages, divorce, annulment, celibacy, etc. were raised and were competently answered by the panelists.
Dr Nur Ain Hussein, on behalf of HCJ presented tokens of appreciation to the panelists and moderator. The participants completed a feedback form for future SHS sessions. The event ended light refreshments being served.
By Bernard Wong