Caring for one another will surely forge a strong bondWritten by Wan Roslili Abd Majid
The theme of this year's National Day celebration, Malaysia Prihatin (Malaysia Cares), clearly illustrates the importance of a caring attitude in achieving the agenda in the fight against Covid-19.
The government has implemented several initiatives to counter the economic impact of the outbreak. The ultimate aim is to protect the welfare of the people.
The Malaysia Prihatin spirit is not only embraced by frontline workers, but also by every Malaysian.
By carrying out their responsibilities in adhering to the new normal, they become unsung heroes, irrespective of religion, race, background or political ideology.
Such a positive attitude would bring success to the government's efforts in containing the pandemic.
On the other hand, indifference and selfishness obviously cause more difficulties to others by risking life and livelihood. Causing harm to others is strictly forbidden in Islam.
This can be seen in an authentic statement by Prophet Muhammad: "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm (Ibn Majah)".
Based on this hadith, Muslim scholars formulate a principle that emphasises the need to eliminate all forms of harm. Thus, it is the duty of Muslims to avoid not only from harming themselves, but also other people.
Patriotism, love and sacrifice for the country are important, so much so that they are always highlighted during National Day and Malaysia Day.
From an Islamic perspective, patriotism and love for the homeland and its people is a trait which is very much encouraged.
Prophet Muhammad once uttered beautiful words to his homeland, Makkah, reported in a hadith from Ibn Abbas: "How sweet of a land you are and how dear you are to me, and if it were not that my people expelled me from you, I would not have lived in other than you (Al-Tirmizi)".
At this point in time, it is apparent that we are facing tribulations that test our love for the country and spirit of patriotism.
As mentioned by the prime minister, the deep love for Malaysia is one of the powerful forces that make people come together.
The support given by the people when our country is facing the threat of the coronavirus, as well as the adherence to preventive measures such as the Movement Control Order, is commendable.
These measures aimed at preserving the people's interest are in line with the Islamic principle of "the rulers' decisions must be in favour of the people".
In this regard, the government can restrict public rights if there is a need to preserve the public interest or maslahah.
However, there are still many things that people need to do to prove their love for the country.
This is particularly so when there are provocative actions without any sense of shame and guilt towards important symbols, such as the national flag and religions in the country.
The freedom to celebrate National Day, despite the unfavourable circumstances, should bring about gratitude.
This creates a deep appreciation of what our country has achieved in combating Covid-19 when compared to other countries, as well as refugees whose fate remains uncertain.
We should be grateful for the basic healthcare facilities which are readily accessible, and the ability to take precautionary procedures, including observance of general hygiene measures.
It is really hard to imagine living in a cramped refugee camp, exhausted by years of war with traumatic experiences, and barely having clean water to wash hands.
In Malaysia, there are also stateless people, but their condition may not be as critical as refugees in other parts of the world.
However, the fact remains that they face certain difficulties, such as access to healthcare, which is enjoyed by citizens. Therefore, there is pertinent need for them to take extra precautions to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
The Malaysia Prihatin spirit will also be meaningful if fellow citizens, who have lost their source of income due to the pandemic, continue to receive assistance from the government and banks.
Once the moratorium on loan repayments ends on Sept 30, the adverse economic effects of the pandemic would be more pronounced.
The assistance provided by the government will make those affected feel that they are not neglected.
Caring for one another will surely forge a strong bond, enabling us to be united in facing current and future challenges as a united country.
The writer is a fellow, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia
Published in: New Straits Times, Monday, 07 September 2020