Of nationalism: Accepting differences in opinion

By Syafiah Sakirin

GOMBAK, 25 August 2022: An intellectual gathering on “Nationalism/ Patriotism, is it dividing or unifying the Islamic World?” took place at the Dar Al-Hikmah Library on Monday (22 August) aimed to create a safe environment to practise the arts of disagreement.

The event that served as a platform for sharing different opinions related to nationalism was organised by Nibras Library, a sustainable project aimed at creating an intellectual community enlightened by the shared knowledge among its members.

According to Mr. Zaidel Baharuddin, Vice President of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), students should not be afraid to challenge and initiate ideas, change things, and understand that diversity has merit. 

“Keep an open mind and accept that differences between all of us are our strengths,” he said in his speech.

Commented on the topic, Mr. Zaidel said, “We often confused that nationalism and patriotism are the same things, which is actually not. Nationalism is a tool that often being used by politicians as a means to stay in power. More often than not, the nationalism ideology tends to get dictated as we can see in history.”

“The concept of Ummah goes beyond nationalism, yet for some reasons, we as the Muslims are the ones being caught by nationalism the most. In fact, this Islamic institution you are studying is designed to transcend the ideology,” he added. 

“Whatever happens around the world will affect us in the areas of climate change, economic, war, and health. Thus, the idea of having this university is to share the thoughts that we may have common ground to avoid major problems with the concept of the ummah. Consequently, we can understand each other when it comes to our different interpretations of religion, ideas, and experiences of our lives.”

Mr. Zaidel also opined that ideas are supposed to be shared, debated, and challenged so students would have a broader understanding of everything.

The programme that was opened to the public started with a sharing session related to nationalism presented by undergraduate and postgraduate IIUM students from various countries such as Malaysia, India, Algeria, Indonesia, Syria, and Guenia as the three volunteer groups.

One presenter from Abdulhamid Abusulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHAS KIRKHS) with a title, ‘Some countries do not accept refugees in the name of nationalism’, said, “There are refugees who will cause trouble in our nation. You can not just say that you’re not going to accept refugees in the name of nationalism. But you can teach them what the rules, manners, and values are in your country.”

He noted that if countries have the capability, they should teach the refugees by accepting them as they are also equal human beings.

Another participant from Kulliyyah of Economics and Management Sciences (KENMS)  mentioned how the politicians Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot divided the Islamic world, especially the middle east, into pieces by drawing their maps and borders. She insisted that the idealistic response to this would be to reject Israel as the world is very much aware of the crimes and bloodshed caused by the colonialist.

“However, we have to agree that dangerous ideologies still exist even within the Muslim community. We indeed would like to reject it, yet we still do not have any proper alternatives to the problem,” she added.

The intellectual gathering was followed by a question and answer session between the audience and the speaker before the adjournment at 7.00 pm.***

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *