Mujahid Yusof describes how people of various faiths came together for a historic occasion.
This year Ramadan has been tarnished by violence and killings in the name of religion.
It saddened us across different religious divides to hear and see fellow human beings becoming targets of hatred. Innocent lives who had no connection whatsoever with any conflict had to pay a high price as victims.
Ramadan is the month of mercy; a Muslim competes to be closer to God by fasting during the day and praying at night. The act of getting closer to Allah should produce peace in the heart, thus allowing peace to prevail in society.
One cannot imagine a peaceful heart pursuing hatred and observing prejudice and to a certain extent paving the way for the path of terror and violence.
The least of this inconsistency is hate speech in the holy month and spreading threats to others “to protect Islam”. These bigots and zelouts are confined in their small world and tend to see everyone as enemy, not realising that they themselves have become slaves to their seige mentality.
I had to challenge such a mentality as it smeared the essence of Islam, which demands consistency between peace in the soul and peace to the world. Thus I spent my Ramadan offering the mercifulness of Islam and the message of Peace to my fellow brothers and sisters of different faiths.
I had the chance to organise buka puasa (iftar, breakfast) with non-Muslim friends at my home and other places. The biggest was the 28th of Ramadhan (22 June 2017), when I, as chairman of Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh, hosted about 40 non-Muslims and religious leaders of other faiths. I was guided by Dato’ Dr Anwar Fazal, who helped me to get things done.
We started walking from St George’s Anglican Church, passed by the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy and then the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, a pit stop at Kapitan Keling Mosque and ended at the Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh for a short tour and buka puasa – altogether an 800-metre brief walk down the Street of Harmony.
I gave a 10-minute speech as host and stressed five points on the essence of religiosity: being human, embracing diversity, swiftly responding to kindness, spreading peace and protecting peace.
I was happy to receive guests of different faiths in the historical mosque, all coming together in a united stand against the rise of radicalism and extremism. I cannot express how great it felt to conclude Ramadan by delivering this message of PEACE to the world.
It was a great Ramadan when I realise that the friends of humanity and peace are one – strong comrades showcasing their will and strength not to submit to the pressure of bigotry and extremism.
Ramadan delivered us the hope, and we will never give up pursuing peace to the soul, peace to the world.
Dato’ Dr Mujahid Yusof is the member of parliament for Parit Buntar, vice president of Amanah, and chairman of Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh in the George Town world heritage zone.