PETALING JAYA: This Christmas, Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah has issued a timely reminder to everyone that people of all faiths have the right to celebrate their festive holidays.
Raja Zarith Sofiah, in her season’s greetings to Malaysians, wrote that her Muslim faith was not shaken by all the hustle and bustle of Christmas in London, where she was vacationing with her family.
“During the last couple of nights, I looked up at the full moon and as always, I was filled with awe at the beauty of His creations. Have I forgotten about Allah and being a Muslim because I am in London during the days before Christmas? The answer is a simple ‘No’.”
In her posting, Raja Zarith Sofiah also fondly reminisced about her years at a boarding school in Britain, where she celebrated Christmas along with her Christian schoolmates.
“The memories have little to do with the Christian religion, but more with friendships forged with English girls who welcomed me without questioning my race or faith.
“I also remember being in charge of decorating the Christmas tree in our boarding house not because our housemistress wanted me to stray away from my Muslim faith, but because she considered me as one of the more artistic and creative girls under her care.
“She knew about the tasbih (prayer beads) I kept under my pillow and the Quran I had brought with me. Both were constant reminders of home and my faith,” she wrote.
She also said that as she walked along the streets of London thronged with shoppers buying Christmas gifts for their families, or tourists like her, she thought of how wonderful it was for everyone to share in looking at beautiful lights and hearing melodious Christmas tunes sung by choirs.
“I compare myself here with tourists in Malaysia before Hari Raya when shopping malls are filled with Muslims busy buying Raya clothes. It is really not that different!
“Instead of seeing shadows when there are none, I feel – as do my husband and our family – that everyone has a right to celebrate their festive holidays.
“Tuanku Sultan Johor, my family and I would like to wish everyone celebrating Christmas a happy and memorable time with their families and friends, and to all Malaysians, peace and unity,” she added.
In a post on his Facebook page, Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar shared a virtual Merry Christmas card wishing all Johoreans a joyful celebration.