‘Islam and Confucianism can make us better’


New way: Anwar receiving a copy of ‘Islam and Confucianism’ from its author, Professor Dr Osman Bakar (third from right), at the launch of the Islam-Confucianism Leadership Dialogue 2023 in Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Balance, ethical conduct and the importance of collective good are all Confucian teachings that are similar to Al-Quran’s tazkiatun nafs (purification of the soul).

These should be embraced by Malaysia to set an example to the world with a united and harmonious front despite the different races and religions, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister, in his keynote address at the Islam-Confucianism Leadership Dialogue, said Malaysia, as a nation where major civilisations interact, stands uniquely positioned to be a beacon in the discourse.

“This idea (of harmony) is integral to enlightened leadership in both traditions.

“In Confucianism, the way is referred to as ‘inner cultivation’ and is hardly different from the Al-Quran’s tazkiatun nafs,” he said.

“They remind us that our actions and innovations must be grounded in moral and ethical principles.

“In this age of rapid technological advancement and environmental crises, these teachings can guide us towards more sustainable, equitable, and ethical paths.

“Our diverse heritage offers us a unique perspective and the opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping a new era of global ethical governance.”

Anwar added that Confucianism and Islam share a similar emphasis on the idea of moral empowerment and its implementation.

“By embracing the wisdom of Islam and Confucianism, we can work towards a future that is not only technologically advanced but also morally enlightened,” he said yesterday.

Anwar used the government’s Madani concept as an example, where the discourse on sustainability – the first pillar of concept – must extend beyond environmental concerns.

“It is imperative to understand that the relationship between man and nature is one of profound interconnectedness and respect.

Speaking to the media later, Anwar said the seminar on Islam-Confucianism can be the platform to provide in-depth understanding and create a positive evaluation on the faith and philosophy.

“With this, we can empower a new kind of unity and spirit. It is different from the current development where political identity is restricted to only one race or religion and then creates tension and hostility,” he said.

China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing extended an invitation to the Prime Minister to visit his country’s Xinjiang province to witness the Global Civilisation Initiative, which advocates respect for the diverse communities and the common values of humanity.

“Like Malaysia, China is also a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. We attach great importance to the preservation and inheritance of languages and cultural practices of all ethnic groups.

“In Xinjiang, which is one of the major settlements for Chinese Muslims, the Chinese government places utmost importance in ensuring all ethnic groups enjoy their rights of religious beliefs, ethnic culture, languages and employment.

“All ethnic groups, regardless of their population numbers, have the same legal status. They have freedom of religious belief, receive education, can use their own language and preserve their traditional culture,” he said.

Earlier at the event, Anwar spent almost 30 minutes in a virtual meeting with prominent Confucian scholar Prof Tu Wei Ming, the chair professor of humanities and founding director of the Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies at Beijing University.

Anwar also launched the Islam and Confucianism; A Civilisational Dialogue; a book by Prof Datuk Dr Osman Bakar.

Also present at the event were Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang, Boao Confucian Entrepreneurs Forum president Professor Li Honglei, Centre of Regional Strategic Studies (CROSS) organising committee chairman Lee Chean Chung.

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