IJ Sr Maria Lau (far left) moderating the panel discussion with the speakers. From left: Ms Michelle Voo, Rabbi Mordechai Abergel and Ustaz Zulhilmi Mohamed.

Jared Ng

Three religious representatives recently spoke on the topic of marriage in their respective religions of Judaism, Islam and Catholicism.

Rabbi Mordechai Abergel, Ustaz Zulhilmi Mohamed and Ms Michelle Voo, a member of the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue (ACCIRD), shared insights on various aspects of marriage such as its purpose, customs and traditions.

The July 17 interreligious panel and discussion on marriage, held at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, was organised by ACCIRD.

According to Mr Gerald Kong, executive secretary of ACCIRD, the event “provided participants with the opportunity to be acquainted with the beliefs and teachings of other religions on a given topic” which helps to address misconceptions while at the same time clarifying the Catholic Church’s stand on these issues.

“This builds up interreligious understanding of the similarities and also differences across different religions and strengthens the foundations for interreligious respect and harmony,” he added.

During his presentation, Rabbi Abergel said marriage in Judaism is where one half of a soul meets another.

“They unite, become one flesh, one spirit,” he said.

Also, marriage is a response to loneliness. Nothing replaces wholeness like marriage, said the rabbi.

Ustaz Zulhilmi said that marriage in Islam is one way to achieve piety as well as maintain chastity.

He also spoke about the Hantaran, a customary wedding gift usually in the form of money. It is given by the groom to the bride’s family and the sum must be agreed upon by both family parties.

Ms Voo shared certain values that are to be practised by a married Catholic couple such as fidelity, unity, freedom and totality – the act of giving oneself wholeheartedly to the other.

During the panel discussion, some questions posed to the three speakers included: How does each religion deal with the issue of same-sex marriage? What are your views on the increase in inter-faith marriages? What is each religion’s take on divorce?

The Catholic Church does not accept same-sex marriage, said Ms Voo.

She said procreation was a factor in marriage and that same-sex couples would not be able to produce children.

Rabbi Abergel said that in Judaism, same-sex marriage is a “distortion of how life is supposed to be lived”.

Ustaz Zulhilmi also shared that in Islam, same-sex marriage is not condoned.

On the increase in inter-faith marriages, Ms Voo said that Catholics have no issues with this.

However, “it is a core issue” in Judaism, said Rabbi Abergel.

One reason is its impact on children. It becomes hard to educate a child if he or she has multiple religious identities, he said.

Ustaz Zulhilmi acknowledged that interreligious marriages “is a reality in today’s society” but is not encouraged in Islam.

On the topic of divorce, Rabbi Abergel likened divorce to the “soul being torn apart” because of what it does to the couple as well as other family members.

Both Ustaz Zulhilmi and Ms Voo said the act of divorce should only take place as a last resort in their respective religious traditions.

This event was the second in a series this year. The first, on the topic of birth, was held in April. 

If you are interested to know more about ACCIRD’s events, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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