Compassion towards fellow humans — irrespective of race, nationality, colour and creed — seems as distant as heaven itself
pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
IN THE holiest month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims aim to do as many good deeds as possible and avoid wasteful acts as they believe rewards from Allah are multifold compared to other months.
The reward of performing the umrah (a mini version of the pilgrimage) in Ramadhan is equivalent to that of haj, reward for a “sunat” (optional) prayer is the same as an obligatory one, and by performing an obligatory prayer, one gets 70 times the reward.
It is also believed that the devil is chained up and cannot influence those who are observing Ramadhan.
However, as human beings who have been exposed to bad influences our whole lives, we are not free from bad deeds even during Ramadhan, if we are not careful.
Currently, while the world is busy fighting Covid-19, Malaysians are fighting with each other due to the differences in opinion over the Rohingya issue.
The Rohingya refugees returned to the spotlight when Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Right Organisation Malaysia president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, in social media posts believed to be fake, demanded equal rights and citizenship for the Rohingyas.
He was also accused of questioning the authorities for denying a Rohingya refugee boat into the country and of calling the Malays “stupid”.
This, of course, sparked anger and hatred among Malaysians, especially the Malays, who are demanding that the refugees be kicked out of the country.
Once compassionate, they are now saying that the refugees are crossing the line.
Comments on the Internet like “send them back to where they came from” and “ungrateful, rude immigrants” would be like the introduction in a fairy tale compared to the more shocking, uncivilised and degrading remarks floating in the cyber sphere.
One such comment is: “If a paramilitary wing is set up to gun them down with machine guns, count me in. Ethnic cleansing is fun. (Laughing emojis.) And “Now, we know why the Myanmar government murdered them.”
Level-minded sympathisers had pleaded for understanding as the Rohingyas had lived through nightmares. But the level of hatred is so intense that any intellectual articles that side with the refugees are met with mockery, while defenders of these migrants are called traitors.
Equally interesting is the controversy surrounding Ustaz Ebit Lew, a revert and an Islamic preacher who, after Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, could be the most loved Malaysian presently.
His generosity and charity exceed racial and religious backgrounds, providing homes and food to families during this trying time.
His critics, who are surprisingly from the “ustaz and ustazah community”, questioned his need to publicise his charity and accused him of showing off, using donors’ money to buy luxury cars, and shaming poor people.
Popular for his mission to spread love, Lew, who is also a successful businessman, had not responded to any of the hate messages he received. Among those messages are threats from some “higher-ups”.
Instead, in a video, he only said he was saddened by the situation and apologised repeatedly for having offended anyone.
While Lew wanted to avoid conflict, his followers lashed at the critics, especially another popular preacher, with so much hatred, anger and obscene words.
Some demanded that the latter’s “ustaz” title be revoked and described him as mentally ill, while others called him with derogatory names which are inappropriate for publication.
It seems like the only Ramadhan spirit you can find on social media are the bustling online Ramadhan bazaars. Compassion towards fellow humans — irrespective of race, nationality, colour and creed, which is deeply ingrained in Islam — seems as distant as heaven itself.
Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.