PADAWAN : 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 70 km from Kuching, have strong ties with their Christian relatives though they practise different religious beliefs.

Hussein Banyak, 63, the village native, said mutual understanding, genuine acceptance of others and respecting differences were important ‘ingredients’ to maintain interreligious 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.

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 being among the occupants.

Hussein said the existing interreligious 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 fellow non-Muslim relatives or friends during festive seasons, we do not have to worry about food because they understand us well. In fact, every prayer time they will stop their activities to allow us to perform prayers,” she said.

Meanwhile, Durrani expressed her gratitude to the state government because Kampung Darul Islam Belimbing had 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 had 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 exprience the lifestyle of the Bidayuh Muslim community.-Bernama

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