Let’s Put Nation’s Interest Above Our Own
As Malaysians usher in 2019 today, one cannot help but ponder upon what lies ahead in the future for the country. The Malaysian society is a mélange of various races, religions, cultures and ethnic backgrounds and this aspect is the biggest challenge not just for the government to manage but also to us, as fellow Malaysians. We need to realise that as Malaysians, the love towards the country is the most important force that could help strengthen and unify all of us as a nation.
In Islam, the love towards one’s country is highly encouraged. It was written by Abu al-Walid al-Azraqi in his book, Akhbar Makkah wa ma ja’ a fiha min al-athar (News of Makkah based on narrations from the Companions and followers of the Prophet), that Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) also shared his feeling of love towards his birth place, the Holy City of Makkah. Indeed, to have a sense of belonging, love and loyalty to one’s country is therefore encouraged. A renowned Muslim thinker and activist who many might have thought to say little about the feelings of love towards one’s country was Hassan al-Banna. He used terms like wataniyyat al-hanin (love for the country) and wataniyyat al-hurriyyah wa al ’izzah (nationalism of freedom and glory) to explain the need for patriotism and to protect the freedom of one’s country. In his Risalat al-Mu’tamar al-Khamis (Message of the Fifth Congress), al-Banna said: “Islam enjoins upon every person to strive for the good of his country and lose himself in its service, render utmost service to the nation (ummah) in which he lives, and to give precedence to kinship and neighbourliness (in acts of benevolence).”
To love our own country requires us to put the interests of the nation above our very own. There are times when we feel that we know what is best for Malaysia, but our judgement might lack complete understanding of the whole issue or situation. To be fair, we need to always recognise the contribution of other fellow Malaysians from all segments of the society. Leaders need to realise that they are neither the only ones who put in effort to solve problems faced by the country and work hard for its development nor are they the only people who know what is best for the nation. Likewise, as common citizens, we should not think that we do not have to contribute to nation-building and only leave the responsibility to the government. A dynamic and synergetic relationship between the leaders of the country and its people coupled with the understanding that each has a role to play in Malaysia’s development would speed up the whole process and produce viable solutions in times of difficulties.
As Malaysia is currently facing trying times on its economy, politics and society, its leaders and people in general should work hand in hand to push Malaysia out of the quandary. There is no use denying that problems exist in the country, but most importantly, we should formulate the right answers to allay such problems. Just like any other nation, Malaysia faces its own challenges and is tested from time to time, and like any success story, it is how we bounce back from all of the setbacks which matters.
In this sense, the nation is like a family which is made up of different individuals with their very own unique personalities and personal interests but in the end, it is the family that is most important. The love for the family is the binding element that stands as the pillar of strength. For Malaysia, it can only move forward and remain relevant if every individual citizen is sincere enough to appreciate what each of us is doing for the country. The role of some might be less compared to others, but if we learn to perceive things correctly by acknowledging everyone’s contribution, the country will be able to tread through these tough times. In addition, if we sincerely love the country and wish to see it move forward and become stronger, we need to learn to set aside our egos and individual interests especially if those interests threaten the sovereignty of the people and the country. Most importantly, we need to learn to trust one another. The social trust deficit among Malaysians today is actually alarming and disheartening. It has caused us to become judgemental and prejudiced against people who are different from us. Instead of respecting and appreciating one another, we sow seeds of discontent among us. If we love Malaysia, we need to learn to trust one another more regardless of race, religion and culture to allow us to move forward as one united society. Lastly, if we really love Malaysia, we should celebrate more on our commonalities and shared values as the foundations to propel the nation further towards success and greater unity.