Enizahura Abdul Aziz
MALAYSIA Day, celebrated on Sept 16 every year, marks a significant chapter in our nation's historical page. If National Day on Aug 31 is about appreciating the struggles of our forefathers in securing freedom for the country, Malaysia Day is a celebration of nationhood that calls upon every Malaysian to hold firmly to the fundamentals that keep the country together.
There must be great sense of pride and also belonging within us that despite the odds that Malaysia faces, the nation has remained peaceful, harmonious and stable.
The Covid-19 pandemic is a clear example of how one's love for the country is able to beat such anomalous circumstances. The slogan "Malaysia Prihatin", or Malaysia Cares, points to a strong sense of solidarity among Malaysians from all walks of life in facing such an unprecedented crisis.
In Islam, the feeling of love for one's country is highly encouraged. It was written by Abu al-Walid al-Azraqi in Akhbar Makkah wa ma ja'fiha min aathaarin that Prophet Muhammad also shared his feeling of love for his birthplace, the Holy City of Makkah.
Also in a hadith from Ibn Abbas, the Prophet said of Makkah: "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." (Narrated by al-Tirmizi.)
In showing his love for the place where he lived, led a nation and breathed his last, Madinah, Prophet Muhammad said: "O Allah! Make us love Madinah as You made us love Makkah, or more." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari.)
Loving the country requires us to put its interests above our own. Each and every one of us must always be ready to contribute in safeguarding these interests within our capabilities and capacities.
For example, leaders need to realise that they are not the only ones who work hard for the development of the nation nor are they the only people who know what is best for the country.
A dynamic and symbiotic relationship between the leaders and people is much needed in this endeavour, coupled with the understanding that each has a role to play in achieving the country's development goals, stability and security.
Like any other nation, Malaysia is tested from time to time, but just like any success story, it is how we bounce back from all these setbacks which matters.
In this sense, we should regard the nation as a big family, made up of different individuals with their own unique personalities and personal interests, however diverse it may be. Love for the family is the bond that helps to strengthen and preserve the setup.
We need to put aside our egos and personal interests, especially if those interests threaten the peace and the sovereignty of the people and country.
Malaysia is indeed blessed, and for it to be able to preserve the peace, harmony, stability and achieve the intended success, all of us need to come together as one.
It is insufficient to merely utter the word 'love' for the country. It must also be accompanied by the right actions, sincere dedication and great sense of responsibility as Malaysians.
The writer is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Shariah, Law and Politics, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia
Published in: New Straits Times, Tuesday, 15 September 2020