Malaysiakini Letter

Allow 'muhibah' spirit to shine during festivals, including Ponggal

J D Lovrenciear

LETTER | What can patriotic, right-thinking Malaysians make out of the Education Ministry and Jakim's stand over the Ponggal festival?

Not only are both the ministry and Jakim seemingly shifting the blame, but they also had to take the matter to the cabinet to clarify and uphold the unifying opportunity inherent in our rich cultural traditions.

The uncalled for advocacy over how Muslims should perceive and react to the Ponggal festival should be an insult to those upholding the Islamic faith that has been winning millions of hearts the world over for its hallmark message of compassion, tolerance and respectful co-existence.

If we continue to have or dismiss lightly such contradictory, knee jerk advocacy that sows thoughts and feelings of apprehension in Malaysian Muslims, it is only a matter of time before we become a fertile bed for ultra fanatics and power grabbers.

Let no lilliput and self-crowned learned individuals or institutions dictate what Islam should be in this beloved nation that has protected the muhibah spirit all these decades.

They must remember that Islam was not born in isolation or out of a vacuum. On the contrary, the holy Prophet showcased to the world the gift of the Most Merciful a religion that upholds peaceful co-existence, recognising the multitude of traditions and cultural bearings.

Religious guardians need to be reminded that the long tradition of rulers down the centuries here, too, have proven that Islam is a great religion and Malay Muslims remained fervent to the teachings all through the centuries despite the coming of colonial masters.

So stop treating Malaysian Muslims like unthinking, uncaring humans who will abandon their faith because of cross-cultural appreciation and partaking in the numerous traditions that have brought Malaysians closer with utmost respect for our differing faiths.

Hopefully, this will be the last time we will hear of such blinkered issuance of directives that do gross and ugly injustice to the beauty of Islam.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.+

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