PADAWAN (Sarawak): Despite living in a Christian-majority area, the interfaith relations between residents of Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing, a Bidayuh Muslim village in Sarawak, and their surrounding community has remained strong.
Muslims in the village, which is located about 70km from Kuching, have strong ties with their Christian relatives though they practise different religious beliefs.
Hussein Banyak, 63, a village native, said mutual understanding, genuine acceptance of others and respecting differences were important “ingredients” to maintain inter-religious harmony.
“We still maintain our Bidayuh culture and traditional practices as they continue to be of great importance in our everyday life, the only difference now is the religion,” said Hussein, who embraced Islam when he was 15.
According to a Bernama report, Hussein who is also the former village head, said during festive seasons such as Hari Raya, Christmas and Gawai Day, the different communities would come together to celebrate by visiting one another.
Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing, which was founded in 1968, is a resettlement area for Muslim residents from Kampung Kawa Belimbing.
Under the resettlement programme, a 40-door longhouse was built to accommodate them.
The village now has more than 150 houses with several non-Muslim families living among the occupants.
Hussein said the existing inter-religious harmony between the Muslim residents in Kampung Darul Islam and other communities was the best example of the Keluarga Malaysia or Malaysian Family concept introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Another Muslim resident, Durrani Bahrum, 54, said she was blessed to live in a village where both Muslim and non-Muslim communities have strong inter-faith relations and understand each other.
“When we visit our non-Muslim relatives or friends during festive seasons, we do not have to worry about food because they understand us well.
“In fact, during prayer time they will stop their activities to allow us to perform prayers,” she said.
Durrani also expressed her gratitude to the state government because Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing has not been left behind as the villagers are now enjoying the fruits of development by having access to clean water supply, electricity and roads which has helped improve the residents’ socio-economic status.
To help the residents generate extra income, the village has also introduced a homestay programme that offers the best opportunity for tourists to experience the lifestyle of the Bidayuh Muslim community.