25 Apr 2021

DBP Ignorant of Other Faiths, Sikhism is About One Creator

AS the “Tuhan” controversy rages on, the Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) has come forward to criticise the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) for its shallow understanding of other religions.

“The DBP must accept and acknowledge all faiths, as intended by Rukun Negara. On several occasions, Guru Nanak was asked which religion is greater.

“And he replied that without good deeds, one will weep and wail only, and the fact of belonging to a particular religion is not the criteria to get accepted in the court of the Lord,” it said, in a statement. [full statement]

Last week, Kavyan Writers’ Group told FocusM that DBP had made a distinction on the use of the word “Tuhan” among Muslims and non-Muslims.

The group’s founder Uthaya Sankar SB said that DBP has reserved the word “Tuhan” for Muslims, while “tuhan” is used for non-Muslims. [read here]

He cited that while there was only a single entry for ‘Tuhan” in Kamus Pelajar (1988), Kamus Dewan (2005) and Kamus Dewan Perdana (2020) made the distinction.

It says: “Tuhan” seem to refer exclusively to Allah, whereas “tuhan” refers to “something worshipped by people whose religion or belief is not based on the One God” (“sesuatu yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Esa”).

Subsequently, DBP received backlash from various quarters, with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vice president Datuk Seri RS Mohan Shan calling the move illogical and senseless.

“They just want to show that they are superior to everyone else,” Mohan lashed out. [Read more reactions here]

Touching on the matter, the MGC said that the Rukun Negara uses the word “Tuhan” in its first principle, “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan” (Belief in God) as it is a common word to address the Almighty across all religions.

“Rukun Negara did not intend for ‘Tuhan’ to refer to any one religion in particular,” it opined.

As for Sikhism, MGC said that their holy scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, on first page and in the first sentence gives the attributes of the Universal God.

“The first line says ‘Ek Ongkar’ (there is only one Almighty without duality and is the life within the entire creation). ‘Satnaam’ (exists everywhere and His form remains in all ages), ‘Karta Purakh’ (He is the creator and sustainer of all), ‘Nirbhau’ (He is without fear), ‘Nervair’ (He is without enmity), ‘Akaal’ (He is immortal and beyond time), ‘Morrat’(He is formless), ‘Ajuni’ (He is beyond reincarnation and is unborn) and ‘Saibhang’ (He is illuminator of knowledge and the life form is only obtained with his grace),” it stressed.

On that note, MGC added that Dhaka University Department of World Religions and Culture chairman Kazi Nurul Islam has even mentioned in a six-page article entitled “Guru Granth Sahib: A Model for Interfaith Understanding”, published on Dec 15, 2010, on how the holy book can be used as a unifying tool for people of various faiths.

“And Guru Nanak himself vehemently opposes those who criticise the holy books of other religions. He categorically asks his followers: ‘Do not say that the Vedas, the Bible and the Qur’an are false. Those who do not contemplate on them are false’,” the statement said.

(Published in Focus Malaysia on 25 April 2021)