The Malta Independent 23 June 2021, Wednesday

Promoting national unity

Laiq Ahmed Atif Sunday, 14 February 2021, 07:14 Last update: about 5 months ago

Unity is strength. The core objective of any religion and that of Islam is the belief in the Almighty God and the establishment of the unity of humanity bound together by ties of practical brotherhood. This is the hallmark of Islam which abhors strife, hatred, greed, selfishness, pride, intolerance and any divisive and inconsiderate dispositions.

The Holy Quran sets forth a golden principle in terms of our social bonding and states: “And help one another in righteousness and piety; but help not one another in sin and transgression.” (5:3)

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Emphasising on the message of unity, the Holy Quran further states that: “And hold fast, all together, by the rope of God and be not divided.” (3:104)

Mutual love, accord and brotherhood should be the cornerstone of our society and we must avoid all manner of egotistical matters and love each other for the sake of attaining God’s pleasure. Fortunate are those who keep their words and deeds in this manner.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad has repeatedly emphasised on the unity of humanity and truly being considerate towards each other. He said that all true believers are like one body, if one part of the body is in pain, the entire body feels it. He has also likened the true spirit of the brotherhood of humanity to that of a building, every part of which reinforces other parts.

The initiative of His Excellency, Dr George Vella, the President of Malta, of holding a national conference for the promotion of national unity, is a breath of fresh air in a tense and divisive environment. This wise initiative is taken by an astute statesman who knows the strengths and weaknesses of this society. Furthermore, this step is taken at a time when the entire nation is struggling and making huge sacrifices to curb the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to share my personal experience of how such division is affecting society. Back in Pakistan, we had a tradition to wish each other happy Independence Day on 14 August, the day Pakistan gained its independence.

During my first year in Malta, keeping that tradition in mind, on 21 September – the Independence Day of Malta, I sent an email to a close friend wishing him the national Independence Day. However, it was unusual that I did not receive any reply and acknowledgement from my friend. It was a surprise for me how such a message could be ignored?

With the passage of time, I realised that the reason was the person to whom I sent such message was from the opposing political background and does not acknowledge that day as a true representation of Malta’s independence.

Although it cannot be assumed that every citizen has a similar approach, it does however highlight the division in the society. It does reflect how people feel uncomfortable with opinions different to theirs.

I am personally of the opinion that there should be some kind of consensus regarding national events, which unite the entire nation and enables them to celebrate together, holding the principle of unity at heart.

Undoubtedly in unity there is strength. It reminds me of a story of a wise person who had seven sons. At his old age when he thought he may depart from this world at any given moment, he wanted to teach his sons a valuable lesson of life.

One day he asked one of them to bring him a bundle of sticks. Then handing the bundle to each of his sons, he told them to attempt to break it. Although each of his sons tried his best, none was able to break the pile of sticks. The father then untied the bundle and gave the sticks to his sons to break one by one. This they did very easily and quickly.

The wise man then stood up and addressed his sons and said that I want you to remain united; if you would let division grow among you; anyone can break you, just like these sticks. If however you remain united like this bundle of sticks, no one ever will have the power to harm you. If you agree with each other and help each other, it will be impossible for your enemies to hurt you. But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be no stronger than a single stick in that bundle.

How rightly the saying goes: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

 

Laiq Ahmed Atif is president Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat Malta

[email protected]

 

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