*Uniting instead of dividing*
By Nathaniel Tan_

ABIM and TBCC organised a historical forum titled “Compassion and Mercy - Common Values between Islam and Buddhism” featuring the Dalai Lama and Professor Osman Bakar.

It feels like we live in an era of being torn apart.

We are being torn apart by what looks like to be a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. And we are being torn apart by endless political bickering.

The power struggle that precipitated the Sabah state elections is a prime example of how the latter led directly to the former.

Then of course there are the recent announcements on one hand and rumours on the other, both concerning realignments of power that may ultimately result in federal snap elections.

If one state election can bring our Covid-19 levels back to near MCO levels, I shudder to think what effect national elections will have. It appears we have indeed been a little too lax, and letting our guard down against the pandemic.

While some fiddle and continue in naked pursuit of power as the country burns, it is heartening to know that there are at least some who are doing the exact opposite - trying to build bridges, instead of tear us further apart.

This last Monday, on the 28th of September, a historical forum was held, featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Professor Emeritus Datuk Osman Bakar, who holds the Al-Ghazzali Chair of Epistemology and Civilizational Studies at International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) here in Kuala Lumpur.

This forum was co-organised by Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and the Tibetan Buddhist Culture Centre (TBCC), Malaysia, and was titled: “Compassion and Mercy - Common Values between Islam and Buddhism.” 

It’s hard to describe the historical significance of this forum.

On the one hand, it may seem on one level to be just one of the many simple webinars we see nowadays, with two older gentlemen speaking on subjects close to their heart.

But the true rarity and groundbreaking nature of this forum only underscores how thirsty we have been for even such basic conversations in pursuit of harmony, mutual understanding, and affirmation of common ground.

I understand that weeks and months of preparatory work went into making this short event happen, but it all seems to have been worth it.

Having followed ABIM’s work closely for some time now, I was particularly encouraged to see them so successfully take another stride forward in their ongoing mission to build bridges among communities.

As so many different people want to tear us apart, I truly feel this is what Malaysia needs now, more than anything - movements of Malaysians, strong and confident in their own sense of religious and ethnic identity, who are unafraid to reach out and build vital connections with those from different backgrounds.

This is the most essential building block of the national unity that Malaysia needs, now more than ever. .

We don’t need more politicians aligning, realigning, and re-realinging to the point where financial analysts Fitch Solutions have predicted that political instability will stunt economic growth for no less than ten years.

We need Malaysians who can look beyond existing divides and transcend the unending toxic mire of partisan politics, and do the real work of nation-building.

Looking at Malaysia’s long term prognosis, I am reminded of a lunch I had with a Cambridge educated economist and Bank Negara scholar.

I asked him about the most important things to look out for in terms of Malaysia’s economic future. I expected the answer to be something about petroleum, or GDP, or some such thing. But he started talking about trust.

He said that Malaysians are trusting each other less and less, and without this type of social trust, our economic prospects as a nation are dim.

I was really struck, and I don’t think this will be the last time I use this story in an article.

If my friend was right, then our only hope is to start rebuilding that trust.

It feels like last Monday’s forum was exactly the kind of step in that direction that we need.

Humans trust one another more when they feel a sense of sameness - a sense that we share certain values and principles.

These days, our political culture encourages us to focus on our differences - on all the things that set us apart.

Last Monday’s forum was a step in the opposite direction - identifying what it is that brings us together.

Both the Dalai Lama and Professor Osman had profound things to say on this matter.

The Dalai Lama spoke of how a sense of concern for human beings is a part of human nature, and how all religions teach the loving kindness that can be the key to our survival as social creatures. He also shared colorful anecdotes about his interactions with Muslims in his younger days in Tibet.

dalai lama

Professor Osman meanwhile spoke about how all human beings have a seed of compassion and mercy, and that mercy is the essence of Islam.

prof osman bakar

As the conversation progressed, both wise men uncovered more and more similarities between what may at first look like two very different faiths. This journey of discovery was as enlightening as it was heartwarming.

If we as a nation can replicate this process, and keep working hard to find these types of vital common ground which can unite us all, we will have a fighting chance of putting our country back on the right path.

dialog dalai lama

Photo caption: His Holiness the Dalai Lama pictured with forum moderator and ABIM President Faisal Aziz and other participants.

NATHANIEL TAN works with Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR) and was thrilled to see Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche participate in the Zoom call last Monday. Sources:- The Star. Videos Link:-“Compassion and Mercy - Common Values between Islam and Buddhism.”


A conversation about Compassion and Mercy, values common to Islam and Buddhism, had been organized by the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and the Tibetan Buddhist Culture Centre (TBCC), Malaysia.

Prof Osman stated that mercy is the essence of Islam. The Arabic word for it from the Quran is ‘rahmah’ and it may be defined as compassion, love, mercy, kindness and so forth. It is comparable to what ‘karuna’ or compassion means to Buddhists and what ‘agape’ or love signifies for Christians.

Mercy, he said, is the most divine attribute of God, who is described as ‘most gracious’ and ‘most compassionate’. ‘Mercy to the world’ is one of the epithets of the Prophet Muhammad, who was especially compassionate to orphans, the poor, the weak and oppressed.

Prof Osman also remarked that the divine law of Islam (Shari'ah) was given as guidance and mercy by God the lawgiver, not out of a sense of compulsion or punitive enforcement, but out of his compassion, mercy, and kindness. The Professor concluded that since all human beings have a seed of compassion and mercy, these qualities are among their essential attributes.

Prof Osman suggested that it was important to distinguish between different interpretations of the teachings and misinterpretations. He conceded that religious instruction can be interpreted in different ways.

Prof Osman remarked that Shari'ah offers guidance. Prayer has the effect of weakening self-centredness, as does fasting and ‘zakat’ or charity.


24 September 2020,Ipoh Perak:- Seluruh warga Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM), Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) serta Wadah Pencerdasan Umat Malaysia (WADAH) merakamkan rasa dukacita di atas pemergian murabbi yang kami sayangi, Allahyarham Ustaz Dr. Haji Azmi Shah Suratman di Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun, Ipoh pada jam 10:10 malam tadi.

Allahyarham merupakan Presiden Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM) ke-17 (1984-1986) serta Yang Dipertua ABIM Johor keempat.

Pernah menjadi Pengarah Yayasan Takmir Pendidikan ABIM Negeri Johor, beliau merupakan individu aktif dalam gerak kerja dakwah umat melalui platform ABIM dan WADAH di Johor dan Perak.

Beliau juga banyak membantu dan terlibat dalam kempen kemanusiaan yang digerakkan oleh Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia.

Allahyarham juga merupakan bekas Dekan Fakulti Tamadun Islam, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).


Allahummaghfirlahu warhamhu wa ‘aafihi wa’fu ‘anhu. Kami bersaksi akan setiap kebaikan yang beliau lakukan untuk ummah.

InnaliLlahi wainna ilayhi raajiuun.

 Laporan Ringkas Oleh : Thai Ming Yeow, Felo Penyelidik, Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM)

28 September 2020, Shah Alam:- dan Tibetan Budhhist Culture Center Malaysia (Pusat Kebudayaan Buddhist Tibet Malaysia, TBCC) telah mengadakan dialog antara agama dua hala antara agama Islam dan Buddha pada 11:30 pagi, 28 September 2020 (Isnin) secara dalam talian melalui aplikasi Zoom.

Siaran dialog tersebut turut disiarkan melalui Facebook Live dan Youtube Live. Sdr. Thai Ming Yeow, Felo Penyelidik Majlis Belia Malaysia telah mengikuti dialog tersebut melalui saluran Facebook live.

Dialog tersebut dibicarakan oleh dua orang tokoh agama yang terkemuka iaitu Profesor Emeritus Datuk Dr. Osman Bakar dari Institut Pemikiran dan Ketamadunan Islam (ISTAC), Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (IIUM) dan His Holiness Dalai Lama yang ke-14 yang berada di Dharamsala, India. Manakala moderator bersama terdiri daripada Presiden kedua-dua pertubuhan penganjur iaitu Sdr. Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz (ABIM) dan Sdr. Vsdey Liu (TBCC).

Prof. Dr. Osman menyatakan bahawa agama Islam dan Buddha merupakan dua agama yang paling ramai dianuti di Malaysia dan Asia Tenggara. Setiap agama mempunyai persamaan dan perbezaan.

Dialog antara agama bertujuan mencari persamaan nilai dan pada masa yang sama mengenal pasti perbezaan yang wujud dan mencari titik persamaan untuk meminimumkan perbezaan.

Kasih sayang merupakan inti pati ajaran Islam dan juga agama lain walaupun istilah yang digunakan berbeza atau diekspresikan dan difahamkan melalui cara yang berbeza. Dalam agama Islam, kasih sayang dikenali sebagai “rahmah” yang merangkumi makna kasih sayang, belas kasihan, kebajikan, simpati dan sebagainya. Ia mempunyai makna yang hampir sama dengan “karuna” (compassion) dalam agama Buddha dan “love” (kasih sayang) dalam konteks agama Kristian.

prof osman bakar

Rahmah merupakan sifat yang utama dalam agama Islam kerana ia adalah sifat kemanusiaan dan Ilahi. Ar-Rahman merujuk kepada kasih sayang Tuhan yang tidak terhingga (infinite mercy) dan Ar-Rahim merujuk kepada belas kasihan Tuhan yang tidak terhingga (infinite compassion) untuk sifat kemanusiaan demi tujuan penyelamatan (salvation). Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. adalah personifikasi kasih sayang Ilahi kepada semua ciptaan-Nya tanpa mengira Muslim atau bukan Muslim.

H.H. Dalai Lama menyatakan bahawa beliau telah menjalinkan hubungan yang erat dengan keluarga Islam sejak zaman kanak-kanak di tempat asalnya. Keharmonian agama kerap dipromosikan oleh kerajaan beliau kerana kedamaian dan keharmonian merupakan sebahagian daripada sifat semula jadi manusia (human nature) kerana manusia adalah makhluk sosial yang tidak dapat diasingkan daripada komuniti sejak dilahirkan.

Kelangsungan hidup manusia bergantung kepada rasa penyayang (sense of caring). Oleh itu, dalam dunia kini, semua orang mengharapkan hidup yang bahagia. Kasih sayang dan belas kasihan merupakan teras kelangsungan hidup semua manusia. Walaupun wujudnya falsafah dan konsep yang berbeza mengikut agama yang berbeza, semua agama menekankan sifat kasih sayang.

Sejak 3000 tahun yang lalu, India menekankan konsep “Ahimsa” (non-violance) dan “Karuna” sebelum kewujudan agama Buddha. Konsep pembangunan minda juga diberi perhatian melalui meditasi untuk menangani isu dan melatih emosi yang positif serta membangunkan kearifan. Begitu juga, sifat-sifat tersebut diketengahkan oleh Buddha. Kita perlukan kasih sayang untuk menjadikan hidup kita lebih bahagia.

dalai lama

Terutama pada abad 21, adalah lebih penting untuk membina keamanan dalaman minda kita untuk mempraktikkan belas kasihan dan kasih sayang sebagai seorang manusia tanpa mengira agama.

Beliau juga menekankan kepentingan pendidikan nilai-nilai murni bagi menyemai minda yang positif dan bersih. Penawar kepada kebencian adalah kasih sayang.

Oleh itu, keharmonian agama adalah sangat penting sama ada antara agama (interfaith) atau dalam agama (intrafaith).

Pada penghujung dialog, Prof. Dr. Osman menyeru semua peserta supaya mendidik diri sendiri untuk mengamalkan belas kasihan dan kasih sayang dalam kehidupan seharian dan sentiasa berfikir serta bertindak untuk kebaikan sejagat.

Kesimpulannya, kasih sayang dan belas kasihan merupakan sifat semula jadi manusia yang wajib dipupuk. Ia diperlukan untuk kebahagiaan dan kesejahteraan hidup. Pendidikan adalah salah satu instrumen yang penting untuk membudayakan kasih sayang dan belas kasihan.

Kita harus lebih berfokus kepada persamaan berbanding dengan perbezaan. Kedamaian dalaman merupakan penawar bagi mengubati kebencian dan kemarahan.

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