30 December 2016
Singapore is regarded by external observers as an oasis of religious harmony in a troubled world. It has not faced any religious conflict as all the faith communities have lived in peace with one another for the past 50 years. Few, if any, countries have achieved this. This is the product of hard work and perseverance, since Singapore’s independence, to build an efficacious interreligious ecology.
The importance and need for such an ecology are validated by a study done by Netpeace, a forum of media workers and journalists committed to peace and security in Africa. The study, which involved 54 semi-structured interviews conducted in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States from 2007 to 2008, found that interreligious networks can transform conflicts into peace-building opportunities.
This is indeed the power of religion, because religious text, scriptures and traditions provide very strong motivations for peaceful living. In the same breath, more scholars today believe that religion can be quite easily misused as there are religious predispositions towards intensifying conflicts, encouraging extremism and providing impulses for violence.
There is strong evidence that there are now more countries encountering social hostilities in the form of religious-based conflicts. This means that the government, religious leaders, faith-based organisations (FBOs) and religious communities here must work together to harness the humanising, unifying, peaceful and constructive roles of religion, and at the same time contain its misuse. Singapore’s untiring efforts in building its interreligious ecology, premised on an unequivocal recognition of the positive role of religion, have been instrumental in growing its social capital, which can be drawn upon if need be to defuse tension and to avert conflict.
… Mohammad Alami Musa is Head of Studies in Interreligious Relations in Plural Societies at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
SRP / Online / Print
Last updated on 30/12/2016