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On November 26, the Quranic Youth Club of the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) organized an interfaith dialogue based on the theme "The Concept of Science and Religion" at the IIUM campus in Gombak, Selangor, in collaboration with Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM), the Hidayah Centre and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council. Some 800 IIUM students and representatives from various religious traditions were in attendance.
In the form of a panel discussion, representatives from Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist communities in Malaysia explored different views on the relationship between religion and science and how the two could work more closely to address and resolve complex social issues. The dialogue also provided a forum to discuss the elimination of prejudice, discover commonalities, and build trust and friendship to strengthen solidarity toward a shared goal of global peace.
Panelists included Muhammad Nicholas Sylvester, chairman of the Hidayah Centre, a support center for new Muslim converts; Chew Phye Keat, chairman of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students Malaysia; and M. Bala Tharmalingam, deputy president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam Association, who presented viewpoints based on Islam, Christianity and Hinduism respectively. Representing Nichiren Buddhism was Johnny Ng Teck Sim, SGM vice general director.
Speakers remarked on how religion can play a contributive role in the development of science and how each is influenced by other fields in society, such as politics, economics, education and health. The degree to which these fields influence the direction of scientific advancement was also considered potentially detrimental without the guiding wisdom that could be derived from religion. One such guiding principle described by Mr. Ng was the Buddhist concept of "dependent origination" which explains the interconnectedness of all life. Mr. Ng called for humanity to maintain a sense of equilibrium and not allow technology to take precedence over humankind’s spiritual development. related article Dialogue in Buddhism The practice of dialogue expresses a central tenet of Buddhism--faith in human beings, in their limitless dignity and potential as possessors and embodiments of universal truth.
[Adapted from a report by Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM); photos courtesy of SGM]
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