15 JULY 2015
Once again, the fasting period is over and our Muslim brothers and sisters are celebrating their victory of self-restraint and abstinence, and the resulting purification and renewal during the Aidilfitri. This Ramadan season has unfortunately been marred by several incidences where some individuals have attempted to impose their thinking on values on others. Many Malaysians are disappointed that our leaders did not take the bold and courageous stand to state that we are a secular country and that moderation is essential to maintain the harmony that has existed between the races for many years.
Malaysians of all faiths fast as part of their religious duties. Christians are guided by Matthew 6: 16-18 which states “16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
On fasting for Muslims, the renowned scholar and philosopher Tariq Ramadan has said: “We must master our egoism, and through this mastery, step outside ourselves and educate ourselves in giving. Fasting requires that we rediscover all that is alive around us, and reconcile ourselves with our environment." And “Instead of looking outside of ourselves and counting potential enemies, fasting summons us to turn our glance inward, and to take the measure of our greatest challenge: the self, the ego, in our own eyes and as others see us."
The messages for Christians and Muslims have a common underlying element: that fasting is a deeply personal and private matter that helps the faithful to develop an awareness of the self and thus free themselves of the ego. Therefore the practice of fasting should encourage us to be mutually understanding and respectful of each other’s rights and to accept our differences in this diverse and colourful country.
During the past few weeks, our country has been rocked by financial scandals and revelations of corruption within our governmental institutions involving our leaders. At the same time, the raykat are having to deal with the rising cost of living brought about by the GST and petrol hikes. The rich and powerful enjoy luxurious lifestyles financed by dubious means. The 1MDB/PM’s bank accounts scandal, the profligate spending of the Prime Minister’s wife and her associate Jho Low, our governor’s son’s admission of being worth RM1.185bil, and the mega rich profiting at the expense of the people has made the us distrustful and tired of the current crop of leaders. It appears that the temptation of wealth has got the better of them and this is a reflection of the enormous challenge that this nation faces.
This Aidilfitri, as we mark the triumph of self-restraint and abstinence, let us pray that we will one day have leaders who are worthy of our trust, and who will reject the temptation of corruption and greed. Only then can we truly celebrate a victorious Aidilfitri.
I wish my Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
N70 Ba’ Kelalan