MUSLIMS throughout the world welcomed Maal Hijrah yesterday, reflecting on the new beginning for the ummah celebrated with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions 1,439 years ago. Pix by Iqmal Haqim Rosman

MUSLIMS throughout the world welcomed Maal Hijrah yesterday, reflecting on the new beginning for the ummah celebrated with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions 1,439 years ago. Hijrah, meaning migration in both physical and spiritual sense, marked the move of the first community from Mecca to Madinah. It was a migration from abuse and discrimination to dignity as a community of nation. It is on this day of Maal Hijrah that close to two billion Muslims resolve to serve God better this year than they did last year.

For Malaysia, a nation of many cultures and faiths, Maal Hijrah has a special meaning. It has special significance because the first community of Muslims set the example for the rest of us to follow: it was a community of different ethnicities and faiths. The Jews and Christians and people of other faiths lived in peace under the same national roof. When we travel to the Arab world, we witness the Muslims and non-Muslims living together as a people of a nation. Here, too, we must create a united community under a single roof called Malaysia. Of course, in this much troubled world of many hotspots, terrorists are pushing their private agenda. These extremists are not limited to one faith. From Southeast Asia to Middle East and elsewhere around the globe, there are extremists abusing their faith to kill, maim and persecute the hapless. The persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar is the worst of all examples. But, these are people who are deranged deviants. They are not humans even, because they lack compassion. Their hearts are tainted and their souls weigh heavy with crimes that rub against the grain of humanity.

There are some among us who will want to create divisions by pushing an idea that was stillborn. A clash of civilisation, these people hypothesise. We have heard all this before. We remember, too, Rudyard Kipling’s the “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. This and other such ideas are mental blockades against finding commonalities. We must remember that God created us in different hues so that we will get to know each other. And love each other. This is part of the grand design.

Malaysia has shown its example of moderation for the world to see. As a nation, we have six decades of living together in harmony. We must not let any form of extremism disturb this balance. We, as a nation of different ethnicities and faiths, will, of course, be challenged now and then by deviants, not only in faith but also by other persuasions. We must not succumb. We must not open a window of welcome for such perversions. We must reason our way to the things we do. We must be a nation of compassionate people. Like the first community of Muslims in the Arab land, let us strive hard to serve God by making our every tomorrow better than all our yesterdays. By serving God better, we can serve humanity well.

Have a happy Maal Hijrah.

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