Soka Gakkai Malaysia Hosts Lecture on Buddhism in an Islamic Society
On August 17, 2008, Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) hosted a lecture entitled "Buddhism in an Islamic State: Religious Tolerance and Harmony" by Prof. Mohamed Yusoff Ismail, dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences at Open University Malaysia (OUM). Some 160 attended the event at the SGM Culture Centre in Cheras, Selangor, including Prof. Tan Sri Anuwar Ali, president and vice chancellor of OUM; his wife Puan Sri Eveline Anuwar; and Puan Hajah Kamariah Mohd Noor, general manager and registrar of OUM.
In his lecture, Prof. Yusoff Ismail focused on several aspects of the Theravada Buddhist tradition that is practiced in Kelantan, a Malaysian state known for Muslim residents' strict adherence to the orthodox practice of Islam. The Buddhists in Kelantan are mainly from the Thai community. There are 20 Theravada temples in the state, with some of the largest statues of Buddha in Malaysia. Prof. Yusoff Ismail lived for two years among the Buddhists in Kelantan to carry out his research and reported that his investigation has shown that Buddhism and Islam can be practiced within the same social and cultural sphere without generating much ethnic or inter-religious tension. He emphasized that Buddhist practice allows for non-antagonistic adaption to local societies and cultures, when viewed from sociological and anthropological factors.
[Adapted from a report from Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM); photos courtesy of SGM]