Love is a powerful weapon that unites and brings people, communities, nations, religions and countries closer. In the same way, hatred and malice are the instruments of division and conflict.
The Muslims living in Malta have a religious duty to love Malta and remain loyal to it
The editorial of The Times of April 4, ‘Maltese perception of Muslims’ shed light on the recent study of racism in Europe. It said all the stakeholders “have a responsibility to ensure discrimination on grounds of race or religion is eliminated”.
As a citizen of this country, I think it is my duty to contribute something towards the elimination of discrimination and for the establishment of a harmonious and tolerant, inclusive society. These values and principles are crucial for the wellbeing, prosperity and security of the country at large.
To make this a reality, a two-way process is urgently required and all stakeholders including the Muslim community have to play their role.
It is not only the responsibility of the local community – the migrant Muslim community must exhibit a true sense of duty and responsibility. Without the contribution of both communities, local and migrant, this noble cause cannot be made a reality.
I would like to draw the attention of the Muslim community to some basic principles that will help in the formation of an equal and tolerant society.
The most basic and fundamental principle that a Muslim has to remember and practice as a citizen of a country is to remain loyal and faithful. The Muslims living in Malta have a religious duty to love Malta and remain loyal to it; and to keep in mind that true loyalty requires a relationship built on sincerity, honesty and integrity.
Thus, all Muslims are required to establish a relationship of genuine loyalty and faithfulness to their nation and country of residence.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad instructed that the “Love of one’s country of residence is part of faith”. Thus, sincere patriotism is a basic requirement in Islam. To truly love God and have faith requires a person to love his nation.
Muslims are expected to make every effort to reach the highest standards of love and loyalty to their chosen countries.
Obedience to the law of the land is also a religious duty and the Holy Quran commands Muslims to remain faithful not only to God and Prophet but also the authority they live under. It says: “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority over you (Ch.4: V.60).”
The words “those in authority” also include such non-Muslims as may happen to be in authority over Muslims. The head of the Ahmadiyya Community elaborates this commandment further and says: “Islam also teaches that under no circumstances should any individual take the law into his own hands and nor should he partake in any schemes or conspiracies against his country. This is an absolutely clear and unequivocal command given by Islam...
“A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter against the ruling authority or government of the time. It is the responsibility of a true Muslim that he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.’’
Moreover, mutual cooperation should be encouraged. The common values of tolerance and acceptance should be practised. We should not preach mere words of tolerance and respect for others, but practice them fully. It is not tolerance to be respectful towards those who agree with you, but tolerance is “the willingness to accept or tolerate somebody or something, especially opinions or behaviour that you may not agree with, or people who are not like you.” Contribution towards the betterment and prosperity of the country should also be an integral part of a Muslim’s life, as should contribution in social and humanitarian sectors.
Muslims should try to become an asset for the country and not a burden on the national economy; and should try to render sincere services to the nation and carry out a positive and effective integration into the local community. We must offer our heartfelt gratitude and pray for the welfare of this country.
Let me also make it clear that I am not saying that these values are not being practiced. What I mean to say is that a collective effort, with a collective wisdom, in this direction will be more effective and fruitful.
I am convinced that, if all Muslims living in Malta strive to adopt these principles fully in their daily life, it will represent a great effort on their part towards the elimination of discrimination and will lead to the building of a vibrant, tolerant and harmonious society.
These sincere and loyal practices will help to change the current perceptions and misconceptions into an affective, diverse and inclusive community.
These efforts will be translated into a loyal and sincere relationship, because love, respect and loyalty are true instruments of unity and friendship.
Laiq Ahmed Atif is President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.