It is Hari Raya today. My kids are at their Muslim friends’ homes. Each one to a different place, a different friend. They have gone out since lunch time and said that they won’t be back till tonight. I see this as an achievement, an affirmation that I had brought up my kids well. In our flurry of activities in trying to get our children to be educated, we may forget one of the most important lesson. We want them to have excellent results in their studies, we want them to master learning maths and science, we want them to possess leadership quality, be involved in competitive sports and all the trendy things modern kids learn nowadays. But what good are they if our children cannot mingle well in a Malaysian society? What good is it if they only mix with their ‘own feathers’? It is the norm for the Chinese to send their kids to a Chinese school and our Malay friends too are in favour of sending their children to an Islamic school. In a Chinese school, the kids only mingle with Chinese and probably one or two Malays and Indians. In an Islamic school, all the children are Malays. So, when do these Malay and Chinese children’s path crossed? In university? By then, they are too old. They will be too stubborn to be sensitive to the other races. And if they don’t meet at universities and colleges, are they able to blend in at the workplace, the market, on the road, in the neighbourhood?
Therefore, as a Malaysian, I feel that it is very, very important that we inculcate the semangat muhibbah in our children from young. But before we can do this, we have to learn and understand each other’s religion. We still see adults getting confused with Hindus and Indians. Some people wish all Indians Happy Deepavali which is incorrect. Deepavali is a religious celebration of the Hindus. Hinduism is a religion. I have to often remind my children on the religious sensitivities of the other races. I do not allow my children to eat in front of their Muslim friends when they come to my house after school hours. The young one will argue with me that he is not eating pork. But I forbid him all the same.
Like most of us adults, my kids too are confused with their Indian Muslim or Indian Christian or Indian Hindu friends. Then, it is more explanation again. (they do not have problem understanding that Malays are Muslims) I like explaining to them what is religion and what is race. It is only when we are sure of our fellow brothers and sisters Malaysian sensitivities that we can live in harmony. We have to learn and to know before we can accept and receive them with our open hearts and open arms.
I feel blessed to live in colourful Malaysia. When I see the kind of tragedies that is happening to our South-East Asian countries, I am even more determined to see that my kids grow up in a peaceful, harmonious and muhibbah Malaysia. It is our responsibilities as parents to see that Malaysia continues to be a country that other countries emulate in terms of peace, harmony and unity.