Muhammad Azneel bin Muhammad Joseph

Muhammad Azneel is currently a final year accounting student in USM. Participated in many competitions, he was once awarded the Best Presenter Award in Deloitte Tax Challenge 2014 for the Team Category. While highly commended by his peers for his presentation skills, other interests include dining, politics, poetry and sports. Although he is not much of a specialist, he prefers a general discussion on any topics whether it is conservative or controversial.

“The first is always the hardest”. Well, I have to say, I guess the phrase is true though. This is my first experience in writing an article for a media (or the Duaringgit blog in this case). With this, I would like to congratulate the editors and the founders of the blog for initiating this project, which in my opinion, is highly beneficial for both the contributors and readers. I have always welcomed the exchange of ideas and opinions and more so when you are carrying a huge role as students, so-called leaders of tomorrow.

Just in case if you are reading this, there is a chance that Christmas is already over. With that, I would like to wish Merry Christmas to all readers and a Happy New Year. But to be honest, even by looking at the current landscape of our nation in this present moment, I would be “reprimanded” for even uttering the word “Merry Christmas” itself. As a Muslim, we do not believe in Jesus (Prophet Isa in the Islamic context), was a son of God. However, this is not the point that I want to talk about for the rest of article. My point was, as a nation and individually, what have we come into? 20 years ago, this is not a problem that is even considered as a problem in the first place. How does a seasonal greetings wish as simple as “Merry Christmas”, could actually be brought forth as an issue in itself? And this is actually faced by me a couple of years ago when I publicly posted a status on my Facebook profile to wish my greetings.

Well, it turns out that in this modern day and age, we have become more sensitive towards others yet somehow we lack sensitivities on others as well. My point is that, whether it is about religion, racism, gender orientation, and other points of difference, we tend to force our opinions and beliefs towards others. This might not be the case for those who are more liberal; but just because it is not seen and experienced, does not mean it is not happening. I did come across an article trying to justify why Muslims should not be wishing “Merry Christmas” to the Christians on the Internet. Regardless, why would something be as simple as a wish is taken to the extreme? Sometimes, we do have to think for ourselves. In this day and age, we need to be more receptive and open towards others. All of us are born different, but that is the beauty in diversity. If we are open towards ideas and opinions of others, we can share a lot more and gain more perspective from various points of views from differing party. The problem occurs when we try to impose our beliefs on others by force. That is not the ultimate goal of a discussion. We have to understand how people think, before making ourselves being understood by others. There are people out there who shut down their own mind, refusing to accept the ideas of others yet at the same time, strongly imposing their own. Sometimes, we have to take it calmly and tread carefully. Listen to others and understand because if we go too far, it is no longer an idea; it becomes an extreme ideology.

Extreme ideologies are dangerous. The rise of ISIS, Islamophobia, and even a simple formation of parties and policies (you do not have to look far for it), can be directly attributed to extreme ideologies. In recent times, many cases of hate crimes begin to spread like wildfires, and can be attributed to extreme ideologies, both locally (e.g. Yellow Shirts vs Red Shirts) and internationally (e.g. Brexit and US Election). You might not realise it, but these are clear examples of how extreme ideologies and misinformation can be used by certain parties to mislead the public.  Perhaps, on a national scale, we have yet to collectively mature as a society. There are some of us that are still relying on only one side of the arguments and sources (mass media as an example) rather than looking at both. Irresponsible parties will aggravate and sensationalise it to make it worse than it actually is. Due to this, they are not open to others; they believe in what they know and what they had trusted in. But we cannot move forward if we are not open and unwilling to change and modify our perception.

It is ironic to see that in this age of information, many of us are being misled and misinformed. That is because we did not research something very well to gain a complete basic understanding of it. It is the new threat of thinking – being misinformed and accepting it as a fact. It pains me to say this, but even students – the frontiers of future leaders and pioneers – are still being misled and misinformed, and they take this as part of their understanding. As a student, it is our responsibility to add value to our knowledge as well as being able to differentiate between what is right, what is wrong and the grey area in between.

The ultimate goal is to enhance your understanding, accepting the ideas of others while firmly maintaining your own personal beliefs without forcibly imposing it to others. In my utopian world, I would love to see people start to be more tolerant of each other. A simple change of perspectives can do that. Take everything with a pinch of salt. Exercise caution at all times.

Again, I would like to wish a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers. I hope you will have a blessed celebration ahead with your loved ones.


*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of DuaRinggit.

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