Archive for the ‘Celebrating Diversity’ Category

‘Projek Bina Bangsa’ aims to foster unity

Sunday, September 13th, 2020
Pusaka founder and director Eddin Khoo with Allianz Malaysia Berhad chief executive officer Zakri Khir (right) at the launch of Projek Bina Bangsa today. - NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDINPusaka founder and director Eddin Khoo with Allianz Malaysia Berhad chief executive officer Zakri Khir (right) at the launch of Projek Bina Bangsa today. – NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

KUALA LUMPUR: A series of books discussing notable occasions in the country’s history with the aim of fostering unity among Malaysians will soon hit the shelves.

In commemoration of the Rukun Negara’s 50th anniversary, the book series called “Projek Bina Bangsa” will explore the foundation of the nation through past events such as the Malayan Union, the Formation of Malaysia, and the introduction of the New Economic Policy, among others.

Author Eddin Khoo, the son of the late Professor Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim who was one of the drafters of the Rukun Negara, said the project, of 10 books, was essentially about putting historical events into context.

“The books cover a range of topics including the National Language Act as well as looking into other things such as vernacular schools and how certain decisions were made (then) on the plurality in our education (system).

“The book will also talk about the the Malay Reservation Enactment 1913 which was not just about land but it was really (about) defining communities…

“The book series will end with an edition on Wawasan 2020 (Vision 2020). I just got word that I’ve finally gotten an interview with (former premier Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad to reflect on his Wawasan 2020 and (content) of that interview will of course be in the book,” he said.

Khoo said this during the launch of the first edition in the series titled “Rukunegara: A Brief Introduction”. The series is an initiative by KL-based cultural organisation Pusaka and Allianz Malaysia Bhd.

“How many people know about Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Malaysia’s first prime minister) speech on the day he resigned or the full content of the Rukun Negara including the preamble or the speech by (former minister) Tun Ghazali Shafie?

“I have woven in a lot of their own quotations (into the books) so that they could illuminate us about what the ideas were, what the objectives were and what the quarrels were (about).

“Another thing I must say is how beautiful the language was – the eloquence that went behind these things that seem to be totally lost in this very reductive culture,” he said.

Khoo said the first book, which was on the Rukun Negara, would present past speeches of former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak on the content of national philosophy.

The Pusaka and Allianz Malaysia founder and director expressed hope that the presentation of such occasions involving past leaders in the book would allow Malaysians to have more frank debates.

“I included some newspaper cuttings of Tun Razak’s speech in the subject of a liberal and just society and this (speech) came a day after one of our government agencies described (the word) liberal as an open, free belief system that is motivated by lust.

“And so there (should be) discussions on how do we encapsulate the concept of liberalism which is there in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and of the Rukun Negara. Hopefully this debate can be sparked.”

The other titles in the series will cover topics such as the Malayan Union, the making of the Malayan Constitution, the formation of Malaysia, the National Language Act and National Cultural Congress, the Malacca Digest, the Treaty of Pangkor, the Malay Reservation Enactment 1913, the New Economic Policy, and Wawasan 2020.

The book series will be available online starting Sept 14 and at major bookstores by the end of the month.

By Arfa Yunus

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‘Dunia Melayu’ today is akin to a ‘Mimpi Indah’

Monday, September 7th, 2020
Caption: A makyong performance. Our culture should be popularised on the international stage. FILE PICCaption: A makyong performance. Our culture should be popularised on the international stage. FILE PIC

LETTERS: Dunia Melayu has existed for more than a millennia. From ancient Champa to the oldest monarchies in the world like Kedah (Langkasuka), Melaka, Kelantan, Patani, Perak, Johor Riau Lingga and Sri Vijaya, the culture has dominated our history.

The lure of Dunia Melayu was the promise of riches, holistic culture, or “adat dan adab”, knowledge and the beautiful balance of worldly and spiritual life.

Yet, this culture can be so easily obliterated, give or take 100 years. We must save it from systematic annihilation. How? Learn from history.

It is common knowledge that there was a thriving Muslim sultanate that ruled in Manila 300 years before the Spanish arrived in the Philippines.

How was this obliterated from history? The Spaniards built their version of Manila atop the very city it trampled on.And what about Melaka? What have we lost in this city that gave birth to our warriors and queens, master strategists and wise elder statesmen?

Melaka of old, whose busiest waterway in the world bears its name since ancient times, and Malacca today are worlds apart.

The city is devoid of a historical soul, its disconnect so jarring that I find it hard to breathe in Jonker Street.

I was, however, relieved to see that on the eve of National Day last month, Mendam Berahi sailed once more in Sungai Melaka in memory of Hang Tuah’s bahtera.

Today, there seems to be a lingering doubt of who we are. We find it hard to believe our Budaya Melayu is worthy of the world stage.

Rich civilisations are traceable to an equally rich literature. And ours is rich, indeed. Manuskrip Melayu accounts for more than 10,000 manuscripts, available in more than 150 museums and libraries across the globe in four major scripts: Rencong, Chamic, Jawi and Roman.

And yet their wisdom lies in vaulted rooms under correct temperatures, beyond our reach.Where did we go wrong? Why have we become so apologetic of our culture? Of our hikayat? Our performing arts? Our kebaya? Our kuih and woodcarving craft. Our makyong. Wayang Kulit, Asyik and Zapin.

Let us take our place on the world stage. The strong revival of Dunia Melayu can lead to a strong identity and confidence of the people.

This will spill over to other aspects — such as empowerment, professionalism, economic strength, education and strong roots promoting a balanced and holistic foundation — which translate into the nation’s better performance in terms of political stability, economically and thought leadership rooted in Tamadun Dunia Melayu.

And yet today, Dunia Melayu is akin to mimpi indah. Many cultural traditions, knowledge and craftmanship have been lost, and in direct proportion, the confidence and intelligentsia of the Malay world are adversely affected in the process.

From the 1980s to today, the government has taken the approach that economic empowerment is key to ensuring the prosperity of society.

Through the Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap, the government worked towards the development and fair representation of Bumiputeras in the economy.

While this helped to kick-start economic revitalisation, development through purely economic means resulted in a new generation of Melayu who has lost touch with its roots and identity, and needs to grow as a people.

There is a call for a more holistic development, which incorporates socio-economic needs — like economic strength, education, moral values, social interaction, growth, arts and human development, knowledge sharing, spirituality, and the people’s shared aspiration — to live more liberated lives throughout the full spectrum of existence.

We seek the Shared Prosperity Dream on billboards that scream to our children with personalities tied to the violin they hold and the science they seek. So take a deep breath and read slowly after me: a nation without culture will be one without a future.

by Ninot Aziz.

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We must be inclusive, morally just

Friday, September 4th, 2020
In retrospect, our society has been working  hard since 1957. The nation’s “sail” occasionally encounters high tides and strong winds. - NSTP/File picIn retrospect, our society has been working hard since 1957. The nation’s “sail” occasionally encounters high tides and strong winds. – NSTP/File pic

AS Malaysians rejoice on Merdeka Day, we must be proud of our nation’s progress since its independence in 1957. I am part of the first generation of citizens born after Malaysia’s independence.

Without a doubt, our homeland has so far progressed impressively since then. In 1957, the nation’s per capita income was RM788. Last year, it was RM45,212.

Despite this, there are notable disparities. Last year, the nation’s Gini coefficient of disposable income was 0.393. The gap of mean income between the Top 20 and Bottom 40 income groups is RM15,354. Although income does not fully explain a nation’s socioeconomic wellbeing, it is a reliable metric in examining the challenges concerning the betterment of, at least, material prosperity.

Globalisation has narrowed the gap of individual and public health, life expectancy and physical human connectivity between countries. It, however, does not equate to genuine improvement in terms of a nation’s wellbeing.

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates the inconvenient truth of enhanced cross border movement of people that triggered widespread transmission of the virus in the last eight months.

This resulted in many people losing their jobs and access to better socioeconomic opportunities. The nation’s immediate concern is to restore its citizens’ livelihoods to the pre-pandemic level. This is especially crucial for those in the lower-income group.

Once recovery is achieved, income growth will become the key to long-term material progress. Although fair competitions produce disparity, a society where everyone is equitable in income distribution without competition is not ideal. Likewise, a society where winners take all is neither acceptable.

There are many tragedies and miseries in authoritarian states. They do not incentivise competitions. A democratic society must guarantee freedom of choice, association and expression.

These are the foundations for encouraging fair competitions that bring about equitable outcomes with minimal disparities between different income groups. In retrospect, we could have done better.

Malaysia, which is a multiracial country, has 32 million citizens. Our pluralism must be inclusive, morally and socially just, and the rakyat must have access to equal opportunities and rights to serve as the foundation to incentivise fair competitions and equitable outcomes, which can promote upward social mobility.

A majority of our elected legislators will not disagree with my suggestion. A democratic society ought to respect minorities who disagree. This way, citizens can reap the fruits of sustained social economic wellbeing.

In retrospect, our society has been working hard since 1957. The nation’s “sail” occasionally encounters high tides and strong winds. Despite the “unpredictable weather and sea conditions”, Malaysia continues on its long journey to its “destiny”. Its “captain, crew and passengers” must remain resilient and endure the sporadic bad weathers in the sail. We must strive to complete the journey.

The Rukun Negara, which was introduced on Aug 31, 1970, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Every citizen has been pursuing the ambitions inscribed in it: “Fostering unity in society, preserving a democratic way of life, creating a just society where national prosperity can be enjoyed equitably, building a liberal attitude towards the nation’s rich and diverse cultures, and building a progressive society that will make use of science and modern technology.”

These are the “North Stars” that guide all of us to the land created from the Five Principles of the Rukun Negara: “Belief in God, loyalty to the king and country, supremacy of the constitution, rule of law, and courtesy and morality.”

Japanese reformist Fukuzawa Yukichi said: “The independence of a nation springs from the independent spirit of its citizens. Our nation cannot hold its own if the old slavish spirit is so manifest among the people.

By Lau Sim Yee.

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NST Leader: Stop the bickering

Friday, August 28th, 2020
Mira Filzah was the subject of a heated debate about cultural appropriation recently. - Pic credit Mira Filzah’s InstagramMira Filzah was the subject of a heated debate about cultural appropriation recently. – Pic credit Mira Filzah’s Instagram

WHEN popular actress Mira Filzah put on a traditional Indian costume for a photoshoot, she would never have guessed that she would be the subject of a heated debate about cultural appropriation.

Those two words have become a catchphrase these days, one used for all sorts of things, rightly and wrongly. The debate has been going on for quite some time now and shows no sign of abating.

There are those who say that using things belonging to another culture, be they clothes, dances, music or something more deeply rooted, is cultural appropriation.

Others say it merely shows appreciation of another culture. For now, the accepted definitions are that cultural appreciation is when someone seeks to understand and learn about another culture to broaden perspectives and connect with others cross-culturally, while appropriation is simply taking one aspect of a culture that is not one’s own and using it for his own personal interest. Those are the general definitions.

But, things are not as easily defined as that. They are too broad to be accurate in every scenario. Take Malaysia, for instance. In our multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country, what others may call appropriation is, more often than not, simply cultural appreciation.

We have a healthy respect for our countrymen of differing races and religions, and we embrace our differences as well as our multicultural existence. In fact, our “multicultural-ness” is something that should unite, not divide. A simple example — weddings. How many of us have attended wedding ceremonies of different cultures?

When one goes to a Hindu wedding, he or she would probably wear the Indian traditional costume, the dhoti or kurta for men, and sari for women. For the Malay wedding, one would wear the baju Melayu, or a cheongsam to a Chinese wedding, whether Buddhist, Taoist or Christian.

According to the accepted definition, this is cultural appropriation because it is for personal gain. But what this actually does, in Malaysia at least, is unite us even more. To us, seeing someone of a different culture wearing clothes from our culture is an ode of sorts.

The cultural appropriation/appreciation debate has been taken too far. Wearing the clothes of someone else’s culture should be viewed in the same way as eating food from a different culture.

A Chinese man is allowed to have as his favourite cuisine Indian food, just as a Malay woman could have Eurasian, Iban or Kadazan food as her favourite. So, why not clothes or some other cultural item?

In just a few days, we celebrate our 63rd National Day. It may not be such a big deal for those of us from Sabah and Sarawak, but they do celebrate along with those of us in the peninsula.

And in a little over two weeks after that, we celebrate Malaysia Day. Now that is a day that means a lot to all of us, or at least it should. These are the times when, even more so than in other times, we should be celebrating and appreciating our cultural differences.

Malaysia — and Malaya before that — has long been known as a melting pot of different cultures. We need to keep it that way and ensure decidedly Western notions of “appropriation” are not accepted here.

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‘Bersatu’ through cultural appreciation

Thursday, August 27th, 2020
For that, I’m excited over the bold move taken by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to open up Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which started off as a Malay-based political party, to other races as well. - NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAADFor that, I’m excited over the bold move taken by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to open up Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which started off as a Malay-based political party, to other races as well. – NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

AMID the pleasant celebratory voices in the Merdeka month, I was recently drawn to another kind of vocal din over the wearing of an Indian wedding dress by a Malay artiste as part of her promotional efforts. Cultural appropriation was the cause of the brouhaha, it seemed.
As an Anak Malaysia, I never really understood those two words.

I was really nonplussed over the need to make such stinging barbs or stark differentiations for we had been interchanging or “borrowing” our cultural appendages in fashion, food or language among ourselves for ages!

I was told that cultural appropriation happens when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that are not their own.

To split hairs, someone said a deeper understanding of cultural appropriation refers to a particular power dynamic where members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group.

Certainly, it gets a little heady here. For the sake of sanity, let’s set our minds on the fact that such “borrowings” are actually cultural appreciation. It’s like we wouldn’t want to adopt certain things if we didn’t like them anyway. Take nasi lemak. We wouldn’t consume it if we didn’t like it, would we?

Or devour rava thosai and the accompanying spicy dhal if we didn’t think they’re not any good. And what about the Hainan chicken rice that Malay restaurateurs are increasingly featuring on their menu?

When I was small, I always heard of elders casually talking of “wearing a Hawaiian shirt”. Back then, it meant wearing a somewhat floral or colourful short-sleeved shirt where you didn’t have to tuck it in.

But then the people of Hawaii didn’t even tell us to stop wearing those locally-made shirts that well-suited our hot weather.

Talking about donning shirts, have we forgotten what the late Datuk Sudirman Haji Arshad used to do when he performed on stage and with RTM decades ago? He wasn’t averse to using clothes from other races for his skits although he was always the epitome of the Malay gentleman in his cool Baju Melayu. Such was his deep sense of cultural appreciation.

And Sudirman wasn’t bashful in using the Jalur Gemilang to full advantage either whenever he performed during Merdeka. As we celebrate our coming of independence, it’s best to free our minds from the shackles of narrow-mindedness.

Like it or not, Malaysia will always be a multiracial and multi-cultural nation although from out of the blue, some aspiring politicians may try to stir up dirt and get onto the pinnacle of race-based politics. It’s an easy route to fame but its dangers are ruinous for our nation’s unity.

For that, I’m excited over the bold move taken by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to open up Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which started off as a Malay-based political party, to other races as well.

While his detractors may deride that his suggestion smacks of political survival, Muhyiddin’s vision of a multiracial Bersatu certainly embodies its very name — united!

For someone who had said he is a Malay first by virtue of being proud of his own ethnicity, his latest proposal should make people sit up and laud its far-reaching boldness. It certainly opens up a new chapter in our beloved country’s political history.

As we look towards this new chapter, let’s not let differences divide us. Let’s celebrate those differences and enhance our ability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Certainly, what former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan had said: “We may have different religions, different languages, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race” — should ring strongly inside us.

Cultural appropriation? Certainly, it shouldn’t be so. The recent war of words over the Indian garb by a Malay artiste was really a storm in a teacup. Let’s push for increasing cultural appreciation and make Malaysia greater!

By Datuk Yong Soo Heong .

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Azmin: Multiracial Bersatu is part of govt’s reform

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The opening up of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to all races is part of the reforms promised by the Perikatan Nasional government to represent all Malaysians, says Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

The Senior Minister said the applications by 200,000 members of four NGOs at the national congress were not an effort to turn the party into a PKR 2.0.“We are committed to institutional and political reforms.

This is a big announcement by the Prime Minister that Bersatu should open up.

“We need a multiracial party after 60 years of independence.

We have to move on from being a party based on race and religion,” he told reporters after attending the congress of 3,000 delegates from the four NGOs.

Azmin said Bersatu was first conceived to help the bumiputra, but would need to evolve now.

“When Bersatu was formed in 2016, it was the right decision.

“But now under Perikatan, the Prime Minister sees the need to look after all Malaysians.

“As party president, he has been able to convince the leaders of Bersatu that this is the way forward for a strong and credible government.

“Bersatu has been able to provide leadership despite many challenges in the past six months,” he said, describing Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as “calm, committed and open-minded”.

When asked if turning Bersatu into a multiracial party would be a threat to the Malays, Azmin said Malaysia had many races and that one community should not dominate all.

“The younger generation would like to see all Malaysians actively involved in political parties and the direction of the country.

“We should not allow only one community to dictate. I am glad the party president has raised and discussed this matter in the supreme council,” said Azmin.

Earlier, Azmin handed over the applications from members of the NGOs to Muhyiddin.

“The youths have agreed to join Bersatu to strengthen the party.

“We are the frontliners and prepared to fight for the party’s ideals and struggles,” he said.By ZAKIAH KOYA and RASHVINJEET S.BEDI.

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This year’s Hungry Ghost Festival will be a silent affair due to Covid-19

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

JOHOR BARU: The Hungry Ghost Festival will be a “silent’ affair this year as performers say it will be their quietest year since entering the industry to entertain both humans and spirits alike.

As the present standard operating procedure (SOP) restricts outdoor mass gathering, temples and organisers have decided not to hold ge tai or stage shows which are typically set up outdoors throughout the Hungry Ghost Festival celebration, also known as Zhong Yuan Festival.

On top of providing entertainment, ranging from song, dance and Chinese opera, ge tai shows are usually held side-by-side with prayer altars and fundraising drives for devotees to give offerings.

Johor Muhibbah Music Lovers Association chairman Datuk Seri Kowa Cher Chiang (pic left) said the current situation would definitely be a first where no stage shows are held as celebrations would be toned down this year.

While there were suggestions to take the shows online under the new normal, he said the idea was not well received as many of the temple committees were from the older generation and were not open to the idea of online ge tai shows.

“What makes the ge tai shows interesting is the interaction between the performer and the audience, as banter and cheers make the performances that much more exciting.

“Online shows also defeat the purpose especially when the performers’ main job is to sing and dance for our ‘good brothers and sisters’, ” he told The Star yesterday, referring to the roaming spirits.

According to Taoist beliefs, the festival falls on the seventh lunar month when the gates of hell open for one month.

This year’s festival started on Aug 19.

The festival gives the hungry spirits a chance to roam the mortal world in search of food and entertainment.

Kowa, who also owns a local entertainment company with 20 years of industry experience, added that show organisers and temples in Johor started cancelling their plans from as early as March, right after the movement control order was put in place.

“This has impacted the entertainers’ livelihood and a lot of them, especially the younger performers, have switched to other jobs selling char kuay teow, nasi lemak and other home-based food and beverage businesses, ” Kowa said.

Kin Guan Sound & Lighting managing director Vincent Pang said in previous years, slots for the festival shows would be booked right after Chinese New Year.

“We would usually get orders for 30 shows each time but this year, there was none.

“Our regular customers and temple committees have chosen to hold indoor prayers on a much smaller scale, which is not open to public so as to limit the number of people, ” he said.

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Vital to preserve and promote it in original form

Friday, August 21st, 2020
Instead of attempting to adulterate the traditional performing arts, we should preserve and promote them in their original form. - File picInstead of attempting to adulterate the traditional performing arts, we should preserve and promote them in their original form. – File pic

LETTERS: Once again, the Kelantan government has embarked on its crusade of making the traditional performing arts Syariah compliant. Previously, it was wayang kulit and makyong, now it’s main putri.

Executive councillor Major Datuk Md Anizam Abdul Rahman said it would conduct a study to determine elements that are non-Islamic in main putri.

Main putri is an ancient healing ceremony that is an integral part of makyong. It uses makyong music, movements and repertoire in the ceremony.

While the makyong performance relates stories such as Dewa Muda or Bongsu Sakti, with actors and actresses supported by an all-female chorus, main putri has only two main performers: Tok Minduk and Tok Putri, other than the musicians and patients.

Tok Minduk is the rebab player who guides Tok Putri, the healer, who acts out, while in an altered state, character roles to determine the psychosomatic illness.

There are animistic elements in this healing ceremony, considering that it started during a time when animism was part of the belief system.

But through time, these non-Islamic elements have lost their significance and have become adornments that add to the mystical ambience of the ceremony.

In fact, this healing ceremony has a scientific basis, as shown by research undertaken by the Performing Arts Department of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

The researchers examined it within the context of clinical medicine, especially the neurological aspects that deal with the non-invasive stimulation of the brain.

The elements of main putri that stimulate the brain are music (sonic orders), movement (kinetic) energy and mantra (auto-suggestion and sound stimulus).

The music (sound vibrations) activates brain wave patterns to elicit emotional states that cause the brain to release endocrine, dopamine, opioid and serotonin, which act as painkillers, stress release and muscles relaxation.

The mantra acts as autosuggestion to patients, assuring them that they will be cured.

Thus, main putri has scientific basis that’s couched in mysticism.

Together with herbal pharmacological and tactile healing, it was the mainstay of healthcare before the advent of clinical medicine.

As modern medicine became more accessible and versatile to address invasive and non-invasive interventions, main putri lost its appeal among the younger, educated generation, leaving only the older generation to keep it alive and relevant.

Nevertheless, it is an important part of our heritage and should be preserved as a historical and anthropological reference of early forms of healthcare.

Making it Syariah compliant would affect its original performance healing structure that exhibits an ancient belief system.

Main putri does not pose any threat to Islam. There are more pressing problems, such as drug abuse, pornography and poverty, in Kelantan that need attention.

Instead of attempting to adulterate the traditional performing arts, we should preserve and promote them in their original form.


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King, Queen attend national-level Maal Hijrah celebrations

Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah tonight attended the national-level Maal Hijrah celebrations at Masjid Negara here. - NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAADThe Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah tonight attended the national-level Maal Hijrah celebrations at Masjid Negara here. – NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

KUALA LUMPUR: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah tonight attended the national-level Maal Hijrah celebrations at Masjid Negara here.

Their Majesties were greeted upon arrival at 6.30pm by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Senator Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri.

Also present were prime minister’s wife Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman and Zulkifli’s wife Datin Dr Shereen Mohd Yunos.

The event began with the recitation of the Quran by Ustaz Syukri Ali followed by the recitation of the “Yasin, tahlil, doa selamat” as well as year-end and new year prayers by the Grand Imam of the mosque Ehsan Mohd Hosni.

Their Majesties and the congregation then performed Maghrib prayer.

Zulkifli in his speech at the event said the theme for this year’s Maal Hijrah celebrations, “Ummah Rabbani Negara Harmoni” carries an important message that should be appreciated by all especially Muslims in facing the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Hopefully, we can embody the spirit of Hijrah in the days ahead in the new norm,” he said.


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Fulfilling the ultimate purpose of our existence

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020
Sacrifices must be made along the way and this journey would not be free from difficulties and challenges, as evident from Ibrahim’s journey. - NSTP/FAIZ ANUARSacrifices must be made along the way and this journey would not be free from difficulties and challenges, as evident from Ibrahim’s journey. – NSTP/FAIZ ANUAR

LETTERS: Muslims has just celebrated Eid-ul-Adha (Aidiladha) in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The celebration should not just be a public holiday for us and we should reflect on how it relates to the purpose of our existence.

Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was a messenger of God and like other messengers, he was very clear on his purpose. Submitting to God’s will, he left his wife, Siti Hajar (RA) and his child Ismail (AS) in a torrid valley with no source of food or water.

In another test of his faith, Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Prophet Ibrahim’s readiness to sacrifice his son and Ismail’s submissiveness was a testament to their faith, and at the point of sacrifice, a ram was substituted in the place of Ismail.

The valley became the holy city of Mecca where both Ibrahim and Ismail built the Kaaba and where pilgrims from all over the world gather. To symbolize the sacrifice and faith of Siti Hajar, the saie (journey back and forth between two hills, Safa and Marwah) is made an obligatory ritual in the Hajj. Eid-ul-Adha signifies the completion of Hajj and the offering of sacrifice to commemorate Ibrahim’s successful journey towards his purpose.

Fulfilling one’s purpose requires sacrifices and it goes without saying that the bigger the purpose, the bigger would be the sacrifice. The great and countless sacrifices made by our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Sahabah (friends of Prophet) were all based on a clear purpose of spreading Islam and for the benefit of the ummah.

In the context of our everyday life now, do we really know our purpose? Finding our life’s purpose is finding out how we can serve our creator, the secret of which can be unravelled from the Quran. He made each of us unique and by finding and deploying our strength, each of us would be able to serve Him best.

To justify the ultimate purpose of our existence, finding one’s purpose in life goes beyond setting personal goals or about material gain. However, if one is raised with good moral values and consistently hold these values, our parents and teachers have fulfilled their purposes.

The Malay saying “didik anak menjadi insan yang berguna” literally means to raise your child to be a useful human being. Being useful is indeed serving humanity and finding a greater purpose. It is about giving and sharing and helping others; it is about preserving the earth we are entrusted with; it is about leaving behind a legacy for future generations. It is about making a difference in the world.

Finding one’s purpose in life may come easily to some but may be a struggle for others but faith can surely be a guiding factor. Once you find how you can serve humanity, you are likely on your way to a journey of bliss and happiness.

Sacrifices must be made along the way and this journey would not be free from difficulties and challenges, as evident from Ibrahim’s journey. Wishing all Muslims a blessed Eid-ul-Adha.

May each and every one of us find our own purpose in life and contribute to the greater good and may this celebration be a constant reminder for us to strengthen our faith in fulfilling the ultimate purpose of our existence.


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