Salleh Said Keruak
The first day of Muharram or Maal Hijrah is the beginning of the new year in the Muslim calendar. The Muslim new year is calculated from the day Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mekah to Medina in the year 622. This episode in Islamic history is so significant that it marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
Maal Hijrah is not just about celebrating a new year but about celebrating the meaning behind the migration. Muslims believe this migration happened due to a commandment from God or Allah for Prophet Muhammad to seek freedom of choice and freedom from oppression. In other words the Hijrah is symbolic of civil liberties and human rights.
Back in 622, when Europe was still in the Dark Ages, the Muslim world fought for freedom, civil rights, and an end to oppression and persecution. Muslims, Jews and Christians co-existed in one community and respected one another’s right to their own belief. That eventually led to what historians call the Golden Age of Islam.
Unfortunately all that was eventually destroyed due to corruption and disunity. Civil wars broke out and that weakened the umma and led to the collapse of the Islamic Empire. Malaysians need to learn from history and avoid that same fate. Malaysia is fragile because of our many ethnicities and opportunists will exploit that to divide us.