THE peaceful chants of 'selawat Nabi' (praises to Prophet Muhammad) filled the streets of George Town as some 2,300 Muslims participated in the state’s annual Maulidur Rasul procession.
Beginning with a short prayer at the Esplanade at 8am, 46 contingents made the 3.1km journey around the state’s capital in commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday yesterday.
Greeted with a beautiful and cool morning, the participants sang praises through the streets with many groups bringing their own hailers and kompangs.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Mansor Othman along with Penang State Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain and state Domestic Trade, Consumer and Religious Affairs committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim led the procession with state government department heads.
Among participating contingents were the Royal Malaysian Police Force, who were dressed in elegant black baju Melayu with gold kain samping, the Second Royal Malay Infantry Regiment from Sungai Ara camp clad in red and white as well as student contingents from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknology Mara, Penang branch.
State departments, some carrying banners bearing ‘Wassatiyah Tonggak Kecemerlangan Ummah’ (Equilibrium Towards Excellence of Ummah) — the Maulidur Rasul theme adopted by all the Pakatan Rakyat-led states — also took part in the parade that weaved through Farquhar Street, Upper Penang Road, Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling.
A women’s contingent from Kelab Yayasan Aman, dressed in bright green and singing steadily, also took part in the procession which reached back at the Esplanade at about 9.15am.
Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas then officiated at an official assembly at Dewan Sri Pinang in honour of the celebration.
In his speech, Abdul Rahman urged all Muslims to be united and reject division.
“We are all brothers, despite having differences in opinions and appearances. If left unchecked, divisions among us will spread like a cancer and lead to destruction,” he said.
Abdul Rahman also launched the Penang Islamic Religious Department’s (MAIPP’s) Wakaf Cash Fund to raise funds for Muslim development in the state.
During the assembly, Maulidur Rasul special awards were handed out to USM School of Pharmacy lecturer Prof Dr Zhari Ismail and young imam Muhammad Asyraf Mohd Ridzuan.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, along with state exco members Lim Hock Seng and Danny Law, also attended the event and visited an exhibition that showcased Muslim products and religious information booths.