The English sayings that time and tide wait for no man and that time flies accurately and perfectly apply as we look back at 2011. It was almost yesterday that celebrations were held all around the world to welcome 2011. People were praying for peace, wishing each other the very best and a better new year.

Affection and kinship can change a bitter enemy into a warm and loyal friend- Laiq Ahmed Atif

Of course, we will not be incorrect if we describe 2011 as a remarkable year, full of news, good and bad, and leaving unforgettable marks on the history of mankind. A lot has been written on this and I would not like to repeat what has already been said, so I will attempt to sum up this year very briefly.

It has been a year of struggle for the sake of freedom, human rights and democracy. On one side, we have seen people in their hundreds of thousands protesting and thousands among them gave their lives for their rights, dignity and freedom.

On the other hand, some rulers were seen fighting to prolong their era of denial of human rights, of disrespect to the sentiments and voices of their own people and of iron fist rule.

There were also natural disasters. A powerful earthquake in Japan led many towns and villages to disappear from the surface of the earth. New Zealand and Turkey were also rocked by earthquakes.

Pakistan recorded heavy rains and the worst floods in history affecting more than eight million people. Thailand too experienced floods

The economic crisis led to protests in a number of countries, including Greece and Italy.

There were terrorist attacks in Nigeria, Iraq and elsewhere. The US military killed the world’s most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden.

In Norway, a lonely gunman wrought death and destruction.

Arab countries were the theatre of popular revolutions.

But there was good news too, like, the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, surely, one of the most beautiful and joyful moments of the year.

The history of man is filled with ups and downs, happiness and sadness, enmity and friendship, hatred and love. There is no doubt that both good desires and bad temptations always remained with humans. However, true love and affection has always proved itself the best and most powerful instrument and weapon in the history of human beings. Affection and kinship can change a bitter enemy into a warm and loyal friend, a friendship and relationship that sees no boundaries and would be ready to take all the necessary measures to help and support others.

While writing this piece, the story of two prisoners in India came to mind. Their ideologies and actions were extremely different but the kind and loving attitude of the young man towards the other, who was older, changed the latter completely.

I would like to quote his words when he was won by the young man. He expressed himself with such beautiful and remarkable words that are really so precious. He said: “I understood that love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities.”

I believe that to be so true. We witnessed the great spirit of love and solidarity between human beings on Boxing Day during L-Istrina.

Despite the prevailing worrying political and economic situations and the negativity dominating the world news, Malta has once again proved that, whatever the circumstances, whatever the crisis, “the love between two human beings is more powerful than the hatred between two communities”. In just one day, the Maltese donated €2.6 million to charity, demonstrating their unique values of generosity and solidarity. That works out to more than €6 per person and more than €20 per family, which is really remarkable and wonderful.

Malta’s generosity and solidarity is not only recognised at national level but also on the international plane. A worldwide study ranks Malta first among 153 countries when it comes to giving money to charity, with 83 per cent of the population saying they had donated cash the previous month.

This is no surprise. However, Malta should be proud of it. And I believe that as long as such goodwill and human values remain alive, Malta will always flourish and no one can stop its success and progress.

Long live Malta, long live humanity.

I hope and pray that 2012 will be a year of love and brotherhood so that the love between human beings prevails over any kind of enmity and aggression and we will be able to hear the voices of love for all in every corner of this planet. The world at large can thus become a haven of peace. For, indeed, love and true sympathy are the very antidotes of terrorism and serve as an effective weapon and an instrument for the establishment of peace.

I wish to all readers, the editor and the staff of The Times the best wishes for the New Year.

The author is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.

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