Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Religious Tolerance in Malaysia: A Comparative Study between the Different Religious Groups

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Religious Tolerance in Malaysia: A Comparative Study between the Different Religious Groups

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper reports a study conducted on 2400 respondents in Malaysia on their tolerance and mutual respect to each other religion. The study is important in order to map the religious tolerance in Malaysia and the findings can be used to plan future action by related authorities. The respondents, males and females of different ethnics, from the age 18 to 45 years old were obtained randomly from all over the country. The respondents were given booklets of questionnaire containing statements provided with responses in the form of Likert type scale i.e. 1. Strongly agree, 2. Agree, 3. Not sure, 4. Disagree, and 5. Strongly disagree. The booklets were collected and the raw data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), to obtain the mean responses, the percentages of the responses. The mean responses were tested using the t-test to know if the difference of mean were significant or not. One data of the responses for the statements "I am prepared to do away with some of the teaching of my religion for the sake of national unity" was analyzed. The findings of the study indicate that the 61.7% of the respondents rejected the statement. On the basis of the religion of the respondents, the rejection of the statements were Muslim 72.1%, Buddhists 35.55, Hindu 33.3% and the Christian 43.2%. There were significant difference between the means response of the respondent base on the religion and the difference of mean were significant. T-test analysis shows that there were significant different between the mean response of the Muslim respondents with the other religious groups.

Keywords: tolerance, Malaysia, religion, ethnic, comparative

1. Introduction

Malaysia is a multiracial, multi-religious and multi-cultural country. The population consist of the indigenous Malays who are mostly Muslim, The Chinese who are mostly Buddhists, Taoists, Traditionalist adherence and some are Christians, the Indian who are mostly Hindu and significant percentage who are Muslim, the Sabah indigenous people and the Sarawak indigenous people who are mostly Christian and pagan, and other religious minorities such as Sikhism and Baha'i (Mitsuo et al., 2001).

The country has been experiencing peace and stability since the independent from the British in 1957 with minor racial tension such as in May 1969 (Thompson, 2005). With the prevailing peace and stability Malaysia has been able to pursue economic development and the improvement of the living standard of the people. Racism and intolerance have been checked through various programs carried out by the government including the introduction of courses at the different levels of education such as the Ethnic Relation course which was introduced and taught at all the public institutes of higher education and also the Islamic and Asian Civilizations course. The objective of both courses is to inculcate the understanding and tolerance toward different races, religions and cultures. The study thus attempted to know the level of tolerance of the people toward each other especially religious tolerance. The findings of the study could be used by the government to improve further the effectiveness of various programs to inculcate tolerance among the Malaysian.

2. Literature Review

The ethnic and religious composition of Malaysia prompted the ruling government since the Independent from British colonial power to take steps to bolster the national unity. In the past the government introduced the concept of Muhibbah (the concept of mutual understanding) (Landis & Albert, 2012), and now the government is promoting the One Malaysia concept which promotes the unity of the Malaysian of diverse ethnics and religions groups (Martines, 2014). The steps to forge the national unity which have been taken by the government since the Independent from the British colonial power in 1957 indicate the urgency of the national unity since without it progress in the economic development cannot be achieved. …

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