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Meet Abdul Rahman Kasim, the man behind the Muslim-Christian ‘cake diplomacy’

February 5, 2013

Anil Netto on 5 February 2013

Why should the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Hasan Ali and Harussani Zakaria hog the headlines? If you are tired of reading about their preposterous statements, meet bridge-builder Abdul Rahman Kasim, who has been working hard to improve Muslim-Christian ties in the country.

abdul rahman kasim

Bridge-builder: Abdul Rahman Kasim

You may have read about Tok Guru Nik Aziz handing over a cake to Bishop Sebastian Francis during their recent Penang meeting, which was held at 6.30pm on Thaipusam Day. Nik Aziz was only told by his aides at 4.00pm that day that the meeting had been confirmed. So where did he find a mouth-watering cake with appropriate words inscribed at such short notice?

Enter Abdul Rahman Kasim, the Mr Fix-it with a booming voice and an equally hearty laugh, who has been instrumental in setting up appointments for talks and dialogues between Pas and churches in the northern region.

After all, what do you give a Bishop as a memento during such a meeting to help sweeten ties? It was Abdul Rahman who had ordered the cake even before the meeting – and an earlier one for a previous meeting between Mujahid Yusof Rawa and the bishop – well before the meetings had taken place. Indeed, it was Abdul Rahman who sent out the initial feelers to set up the meeting between Tok Guru and Bishop Sebastian.

Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake: Where did the cake come from?

Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake: Where did the cake come from?

The Langkawi-born Rahman is the Tasik Gelugor Pas information chief and the point-man in sending out similar feelers to Catholic churches in the northern region. He is a familiar face whenever the Pas head of inter-religious dialogue, Mujahid Yusof Rawa or Dzulkefly Ahmad, speaks at dialogue sessions with parishioners of various churches. In fact, on the same day the Penang meeting took place, Mujahid and Rahman had travelled to the Fatima Church in Kangar for another dialogue session in the morning.

Rahman, 56, worked for a decade at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Butterworth before turning to business as a chicken seller in a local market – an honest living if there was one – for the past two decades.

Today, he is trying to sell the idea of Muslims and Christians talking to one another. “I feel compelled to do so, because during my parents’ generation we had much better ties. I experienced that growing up.

“My idea for interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue stems from the fact that we are drifting apart socially and getting more polarised. Why can’t we behave according to the book and have no ill-feeling towards others?”

Mission accomplished: Abdul Rahman (far left) looking on at the conclusion of the recent Tok Guru-Bishop Sebastian meeting

But why is he focusing on the churches? Abdul Rahman is clear about the reason: “We have so much in common especially a shared Abrahamic tradition; so it is a good place to start.

“It was truly amazing to have seen Tok Guru and the Bishop greeting each other. That was part of my mission accomplished.”

Providentially, as it turned out, the meeting took place on the same day that an unknown group of bigots had scheduled a ‘Bible-burning festival’ in the morning – which thankfully failed to materialise.

Today, because of Rahman’s persistent attempts to reach out to churches, it is no exaggeration to say that he knows more Catholic priests and lay leaders in the northern region and which parish they are located compared to the average Catholic!

So the next time someone like Ibrahim Ali or Hasan Ali disturbs your state of mind or gets under your skin, think of the towering Abdul Rahman Kasim as the perfect antidote: an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. siman permalink
    February 5, 2013 11:30 am

    Good one. Be kind to our fellow Christians and harsh/rude to our fellow Muslims – Tokguru’s teaching!

  2. truthseeker permalink
    February 5, 2013 3:02 pm

    [Yusufali 113:1] Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn

    [Yusufali 30:19] It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living, and Who gives life to the earth after it is dead: and thus shall ye be brought out (from the dead).

    She follows to the goal of those that are passing on beyond, she is the first in the eternal succession of the dawns that are coming, – Usha widens bringing out that which lives, awakening someone who was dead…. What is her scope when she harmonises with the dawns that shone out before and those that now must shine? She desires the ancient mornings and fulfils their light; projecting forwards her illumination she enters into communion with the rest that are to come.

    Kutsa Angirasa – Rig Veda, I. 113. 8, 10.

  3. February 5, 2013 4:45 pm

    Saya masih ingat lagi lawatan Perdana Menteri ke Vatican City telah dimaki hamun dan dicerca dengan berbagai kata-kata nista dan caci maki oleh puak PAS sendiri. Sekarang kerana politik, apa yang mereka ludahkan kepada Perdana Menteri sebelum ini dijilat kembali oleh pimpinan PAS sendiri termasuk Drs. Dzul sendiri.

    Berbagai tuduhan dan maki hamun PAS terhadap UMNO selama ini telah terpelanting kembali ke muka PAS. Dalam isu kerjasama politik dengan bukan Islam, dulu PAS hina dan mencerca UMNO kerana UMNO bekerjasama dengan MCA dan MIC walaupun kerjasama UMNO dengan MIC dan MCA itu tidak menggugat kedudukan Islam dan orang-orang bumiputera pun. Sekarang PAS boleh pula jadi pak turut kepada DAP, sudah jadi halal, hukum hakam dibuat sendiri oleh pimpinan PAS tanpa rasa malu mempergunakan agama secara tidak bermoral seperti yang dibuat oleh PAS ini. Saya ingin bertanya, mengapakah PAS menuduh kerjasama UMNO dengan MCA dan MIC sebelum ini sebagai haram dan berdosa? Mengapakah PAS boleh pula bukan saja kerjasama dengan DAP, malahan PAS dah menjadi kerbau dicucuk hidung oleh DAP sekarang ini, mengapakah boleh pula?

    Sudah jelas, bahawa PAS selama ini mempolitikkan agama, mempergunakan agama untuk memburukkan UMNO untuk kepentingan politik PAS selama ini. Saya sebenarnya sangat hairan dengan pimpinan PAS sendiri yang lebih mengutamakan dengki khianat dan busuk hati mereka terhadap UMNO lebih dari kepentingan orang-orang Islam dan bumiputera di negara ini. PAS sanggup memecah belahkan perpaduan di kalangan orang-orang Islam dan bumiputera di negara ini dengan menggunakan sentimen agama bagi menghasut masyarakat membenci UMNO sebagaimana nafsu serakah PAS membenci UMNO. PAS lebih rela menjadi kerbau dicucuk hidung kepada DAP semata-mata mahu merosakkan UMNO tanpa mempedulikan kesan kepada kedudukan Islam dan bumiputera di negara ini.

    Sebelum tahun 2008, isu-isu sensitif seperti perkauman dan hal agama kurang menjadi panas kerana tidak dipolitikkan lagi secara melulu, selepas itu, terutama selepas Pakatan Rakyat menang di beberapa negeri dan menguasai banyak kerusi parlimen walaupun tidak mampu mengalahkan Barisan Nasional, isu-isu sensitif ini dimanipulasikan dengan begitu keji oleh Pakatan Rakyat semata-mata mahu menyemai kebencian kepada kerajaan Barisan Nasional. Pakatan Rakyat akan menghasut orang Islam dengan menuduh kerajaan Barisan Nasional beri muka kepada bukan Islam, kemudian Pakatan Rakyat akan hasut orang bukan Islam dengan tuduhan kerajaan Barisan Nasional menindas golongan bukan Islam, sebagaimana dalam isu kalimah Allah yang dipolitikkan dengan begitu tidak bertanggungjawab oleh Pakatan Rakyat selama ini.

    Sebenarnya Pakatan Rakyat bukannya tahu apa untuk membangunkan negara ini, mereka tidak ada pengetahuan ke arah itu kerana pengetahuan mereka hanyalah untuk berpolitik siang dan malam memburukkan kerajaan dan mewujudkan keadaan tidak aman supaya mudah mereka mengambil kesempatan demi nafsu serakah politik mereka tanpa mempedulikan kesan dan musibah kepada pembangunan negara dan perpaduan negara.

    Rakyat Malaysia perlu sedar dan insaf akan keadaan ini supaya insiden di Mesir, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan dan Somalia tidak terjadi di negara kita. Negara-negara seperti Mesir, Syria, Libya dan Afghanistan serta Somalia dulunya adalah aman walaupun pimpinan mereka tidak sebagus pimpinan di negara kita, tetapi kerana politik liar yang diamalkan oleh gerombolan politik yang tidak bertanggungjawab di sana, maka hingga kini negara mereka porak peranda. Lihat sajalah Afganistan dan Somalia, di Afghanistan, sebelum pencerobohan Soviet Union yang menjadi benting golongan sosialis di sana, sebelum itu Afghanistan adalah maju dan rakyatnya hidup aman damai dan senang lenang, kemudian bila golongan sosialis dengan bantuan Soviet menguasai Afghanistan pada tahun 1979, maka terjadinya perpecahan yang sangat serius hingga ke hari ini, meskipun Mujahiddin berjaya menghalau Soviet dan mengalahkan golongan sosialis, tetapi Mujahiddin sendiri berbalah akibat kepentingan puak hingga porak peranda hingga sekarang ini.

    Sedarlah keamanan dan kemakmuran yang dikecapi oleh kita semua selama ini bukannya dibina dengan sekelip mata, tetapi nak memusnahkannya boleh dengan sekelip mata saja. Lihatlah apa yang berlaku di Afghanistan yang punah ranah dan porak peranda dalam sekelip mata akibat perbalahan di kalangan pihak yang merasakan dirinya baik sangat sedangkan dirinya tak sebaik mana pun. Macam Pakatan Rakyat jugalah, rasa diri jaguh sangat, tetapi setakat jaguh menghasut dan membuat kerosakkan adalah, sedangkan segala urusan pembangunan di negara ini diusahakan oleh Barisan Nasional untuk kesejahteraan rakyat. Sedarlah semua. Sekian, terima kasih.

    Encik Mohamad.
    Nasionalis Melayu

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