A test of patience

THE serenity of Ramadan was disrupted by bloody incidents in London involving the loss of many lives. Not discounting the wars in other parts of the world, the senseless killings further ridiculed all Muslims who regard Ramadan as a blessed month where compassion and harmony reign supreme and must be preserved at all cost. That the London attackers like the others, carried out the heinous crimes allegedly in the name of Islam comes across as a bizarre claim, unjustifiable from any standpoint.

If the London tragedy can be reduced to the handiwork of a small group of “mad men”, one is lost for words to describe the action taken to “isolate” Qatar last week. Disregarding the reasons that led to the decision, rightly or otherwise, what is more bothersome is again the timing.

Here we have a handful of prominent countries that are populated virtually by Muslims and led by Muslim “leaders” who somehow chose to create tensions during the holy month. It is hard to imagine how they came to such a potentially explosive decision while adhering to their religious duty to fast and keep the state of internal harmony and compassion towards others – especially their fellow co-religionists within the same geocultural sphere.

This cannot then be less bizarre than the madness that took place at London Bridge. Perhaps worse given the influence and riches that each of the countries has at their disposal. We thought that they would have the wisdom to know better! Regretfully not so.

One, therefore, fails to understand what the rush is all about that resulted in Ramadan to be marred by the decision. This is despite the fact that one of the virtues to be observed during Ramadan is the test of utmost patience come what may. Moreover in barely 14 days, when Ramadan passes, whatever decisions that must be made can be amply done after that. Why then the hurry?

As a consequence they have turned into a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. Though they may not care a hoot given their obsessive hatred for each other, other Muslims all over the world feel the humiliation. Especially when in one of the countries involved, millions are congregating from all corners of the globe to practise and nurture the virtues of patience, humility and peaceful co-existence. Yet their “leaders” are blind to this reality and did the opposite.

Enter the US president who reportedly rejoiced at Qatar being isolated and he “took sides in a deep rift in the Arab world”.

He allegedly claimed that his recent Middle East trip “already paid off” and that his speech (purportedly “written by a pro-Israel ideologue”) in Saudi Arabia inspired the host and audience to hurriedly launch the dubious collective action. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries (including Malaysia) already paid off,” he tweeted.

That Malaysia was dragged into another avoidable global predicament is unfortunate since according to award-winning journalist, Eric Margolis, who specialises in Middle East affairs, the Saudi gathering was none the “more bizarre or comical spectacle” – attended by rulers who know full well how Trump “hates the Middle East with a passion”.

Chest-thumping “moderate” countries like Malaysia seem to be caught, by design or otherwise, in the battle of hatred that only Trump and his despotic colleagues can appreciate! So much so that he was able to lure and “grease” the so-called “moderates” to play second fiddle without any qualms to string along.

The question that comes to mind is how naive are they to fall in line and having to act against what Ramadan adamantly advocates: to stay only with those of noble intentions and company in order not to violate the sanctity of the fasting month in arriving at mutual peace and harmony, not the reverse as it is now.

So it looks like Malaysia has squandered a golden opportunity to advice against the face-off, or at least to defer it post- Ramadan if it is that crucial.

Malaysia needs such a leadership role to boost its sagging image internationally. Sadly it is not to be, leaving us with the obligation to pray hard in the remaining days of Ramadan hoping that the companions that we keep and consult are truly noble and morally worthy. That we walk the talk of “moderation” that we claim to champion without compromising it when it is convenient to. Instead to act courageously with clear conscience as fostered through the honesty imbued during Ramadan by insisting on it, rather than betraying it yet again.

With some four decades of experience in education locally and internationally, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com