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  • Writer's pictureDr. Asma Abdullah

Reviving Spirit of Muhibbah

Written by Dr. Asma Abdullah, Interculturalist

The spirit of muhibbah has long been revered as a guiding principle of unity and harmony in our Malaysian society. However, recent challenges have highlighted fractures in intercultural relationships and understanding, calling into question the resilience of this cherished ideal. 

In recent times, Malaysia's diverse population, encompassing various ethnicities, religions and cultures, has faced growing tensions and divisions. Expressions of dissent, criticisms of government policies and instances of racial and religious intolerance have underscored the urgent need for concerted efforts to address these challenges. 

Understanding root causes 

The erosion of the spirit of muhibbah in Malaysia can be traced to deep-rooted Issues such as the ethnicization of social realities, conflicting narratives and historical grievances.

Each ethnic group holds its perspective on Malaysian identity and development, often leading to competing narratives and perceptions. These differing viewpoints contribute to a sense of exclusion and marginalisation among certain communities, fueling resentment and discord. 

The failure to address these underlying Issues has allowed cultural tensions to escalate, undermining the fabric of Malaysian society. 

Role of ACT

Amid these challenges, I would like to propose using Adverse Consequential Thinking (ACT) as a critical tool for navigating the complexities of multiculturalism to avoid the minefield of multicultural sensitivities we are not aware of. 

ACT involves considering the potential negative outcomes of actions before making decisions enabling  individuals, politicians and organisations to avoid exacerbating cultural tensions and conflicts inadvertently.

By fostering empathy, understanding and foresight, ACT facilitates the effective management of sensitive issues related to religion, ethnicity and culture.

Applying ACT In decision-making and policy formulation

In policymaking public discourse and community leadership, the application of ACT can guide decisions towards promoting Inclusivity and harmony.

Leaders must recognise the far-reaching implications of their actions and priorities initiatives that uphold principles of non-discrimination, equality and mutual respect.

By fostering a culture of dialogue and collaboration, Malaysia can navigate its multicultural landscape with greater resilience and cohesion.

Promoting cultural understanding and tolerance

Education, dialogue and awareness-building initiatives play pivotal roles in promoting cultural understanding and tolerance.Emphasising intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes enables Individuals to transcend biases and stereotypes, fostering a deeper appreciation  for the richness of  Malaysia's diverse heritage.

By fostering empathy and solidarity, communities can bridge divides and forge genuine connections based on shared humanity.

Building an inclusive society

An Inclusive approach to development is essential in creating a society where all Individuals feel valued and empowered. Policymakers must prioritise initiatives that dismantle barriers to participation and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities.

By fostering a sense of belonging and ownership among all segments of society, Malaysia can realise its potential as a harmonious and prosperous nation.

Call to action

Reviving the spirit of muhibbah requires a collective commitment to lostenn. respect, tolerance and solidarity across diverse communities.

Embracing ACT as a guiding principle, Malaysians can overcome cultural divides and forge a shared vision of unity and coexistence. By celebrating diversity as a source of strength rather than division, Malaysia can reclaim its position as a beacon of multicultural harmony.


In building a muhibbah Malaysia, ACT emerges as a fundamental tool in  fostering empathy, understanding and resilience. It can help us navigate ourselves out of the minefields we are not aware of among Malaysians.

By prioritising Inclusivity, dialogue and mutual respect, transcend cultural divides and forge a future grounded in unity and harmony.

Let us embrace the true spirit of muhibbah as a guiding light, illuminating the path towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all and moving us from tolerance to understanding, respect and acceptance of diversities.

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