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Malaysia Day: Diversity and unity are blessings to be celebrated

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The medley of cultures in our land has seeped deeply into the relationships that we have formed with éach other from the day that we were born, observes Sisters in Islam.

Looking back, the lead up to the 2018 general election was one of the most unifying moments in our country’s history.

From fresh faces of hope emerging amongst those who have always walked shoulder-to-shoulder with us, to campaign speeches of ambitions that bravely went into the night – it did not matter what background we came from because every Malaysian, regardless of our walk of life, had one vote.

We needed each other. Everyone mattered equally in this momentous achievement.

The day after the elections was a surreal one, in so many more ways than one. For so many of us, there was a definitive sense of liberation and of pride – something we desperately needed for the sake of our beloved country.

In surah Al-Hujurat verse [49:13], Allah swt tells the human race that they were intentionally created into “peoples and tribes,” and that the reason for this is so that these different walks of peoples and tribes “may [get to] know each other”. Indeed, as the verse goes, “the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”

This beautiful message of respect for anyone and everyone who does good is echoed by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) in his last sermon near the summit of Arafat, when he placed emphasis on the equality of all humankind: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action.”

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In Malaysia, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, we are truly blessed with a melting pot of diversity. This wonderful feature of our country has coloured every aspect of our lives from the clothes we wear, to the languages we speak, to the food that we eat.

On top of all of that, this medley of cultures has seeped deeply into the relationships that we have formed with éach other from the day that we were born (because chances are, that hospital ward we were born in was staffed by doctors and nurses of different races), to classmates we had in school, to our colleagues at work, and everyone in between.

A hundred-plus days later, the honeymoon phase seems to be starting to wear off. Little by little, cracks have started to form between our ranks. Of course, no country is perfect and a few disagreements here and there are completely normal. What is important is to remember we need each other and that differences should never be allowed to tear us apart.

Allah reminds us in the Holy Qur’an to not forget about the time “when you were enemies and They brought your hearts together and you became, by Their favour, brothers and sisters” [3:103]. The verse goes on to describe how unity is a blessing which saved us when we were “on the edge of a pit of Fire”.

On this extended Malaysia Day weekend, let us remember that we could not have got to where we are today if not for each other. No matter what our cultural background is, diversity is a gift to humankind and the bonds of unity that we share are a blessing to be celebrated.

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Selamat Hari Malaysia, from all of us at Sisters in Islam.

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