Religion and the muhibah legacy

We can use our religious values as guidance on how to live harmoniously and peacefully with each other.

MUHIBAH, in the Malaysian context, is a word enriched with its own meaning and is historically important to the nation. Many purely associate the word with an Arabic word “hub” which is the root word for mahabbah meaning love, but it is simply not enough to explain the exact definition of the concept in relation to its importance in Malaysian history.

Muhibah was discussed at length by Dr Kamar Oniah Kamarul Zaman in her book Religion and Pluralistic Co-Existence: The Muhibah Perspec­tive.

She stresses, “…muhibah is not merely an act or a few isolated gallant deeds; rather muhibah is a spirit, a spirit of togetherness, a culture of sincere and appreciative co-existence with sensitivity towards fellow citizens and fellow beings, a kinship and fellowship among the people of this nation, Malaysia.

Muhibah is therefore based on willing and sincere acceptance of the other, of genuine respect for the other, of the fellowship of citizens and the kinship of humanity”.

This rich understanding of muhibah is indeed important and must be set as the basic foundation of interaction among the different religious adherents in Malaysia.

Muhibah is set upon the premise that there must be sincere acceptance of differences.

In the context of religion and pluralistic co-existence in Malaysia, each religion has its own worldview and value system that are different from one another.

In essence, religions differ in the theological perspectives. Many religious leaders also agree that theologically, the religious worldviews that frame the understanding of the individuals who embrace a particular religion are different from one another.

In Islam for example, the acknowledgement of the differences among religions is mentioned in the Quran:

For you is your religion, and for me is my religion. (Chapter 109: Verse 6)

However, the distinctions that exist among religions in this dimension should not stop religious followers from effectively playing their role in addressing issues and problems that affect mankind in the world today.

by Enizahura Abdul Aziz.

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