About 50 people set the example for religious coexistence as they walked on a journey of harmony visiting various houses of worship along Pitt Street, before breaking fast at a mosque.
GEORGE TOWN: The city’s trishaw peddlers, tourists and passersby stopped and watched in awe as leaders of different faiths walked hand-in-hand during a “spiritual tour” of Pitt Street here, commonly known as Street of Harmony.
The group of nearly 50 people were led on a tour to diverse places of worship by Acheen Street Mosque chairman Mujahid Yusof Rawa and award-winning activist Anwar Fazal.
Many took out their cameras to witness leaders of different faiths walk hand-in-hand as they stopped at different mosques, temples and churches.
Most notable in the group were Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang Rt Rev Sebastian Francis, College General rector of the major seminary Rev Gerard Theraviam, and St George The Martyr Church Bishop Rev Charles Samuel, who donned their clerical outfits for the event.
Others present were also equally stunning in their traditional attires, such as Cheah Kongsi representative Cheah Swee Huat and Sikh representative Sukhindarpal Singh. Also present were Penang’s peranakan association vice-president Lillian Tong.
The group walked along the street for about 1km, visiting a church, a Chinese temple, a Hindu temple and a mosque. Also in the group were 12 students from Deakin University, Melbourne, who are under attachment with a company in Penang.
The group started from the St George The Martyr Church, then walked to the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Lord Ganesh shrine, the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, then to the Kapitan Keling Mosque, before ending at the Acheen Street Mosque.
The group also stopped at Hock Teik Cheng Sin Taoist temple and visited Chinese clan houses in between.
During the 90-minute walk, they were given a guided tour of the city’s different places of worship by Anwar Fazal, Penang’s leading social activist.
‘Integrated spiritual centre of the universe’
In between the walk, Anwar stopped to look at a banner containing a poem of the late Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam.
Anwar said the poem epitomised the essence of George Town.
Kalam describes George Town’s street of harmony as the “integrated spiritual centre with a message to the universe”.
At the Acheen Street Mosque, the group was given a complete tour by well-known syarie lawyer Muner Farid.
He taught the group how a Muslim would pray and the unique features of the 210-year-old mosque.
Mosque chairman and organiser of the walk Mujahid Yusof Rawa gave a moving talk on living in a multiracial society.
He said the walk represented the Malaysian hope of living in a multiethnic, multireligious society.
‘Salam is the best word’
Mujahid also focused on the word ‘salam’, which he said was the best thing one could give another.
“There is no better greeting than the words of ‘peace be upon you and the blessing of Aållah on you’.
“The word ‘salam’ in Arabic connotes everything that brings goodness, peace and blessings. The Holy Quran has mentioned this in chapter An Nisa:86.
“…We should protect every human soul and every place of worship and spread the word of ‘salam’ and let’s consider this our crusade and jihad to maintain the diversity and plurality and as we do that we are protecting the signs of God (Maidah:32),” Mujahid told the group.
Later, Bishop Francis reminded all present that God had called on everyone to be messengers of peace, joy, hope and justice.
“So, we share together this evening with the people of Penang, the people of the world, the passion, obedience to God.
“Passion for all God’s people, and for all creation. May peace be upon all of us.”
The group then had a traditional buka puasa session with the congregation of the Acheen mosque.