by May Salitah
Traditions and familial unity are one of the most important elements of Hari Raya. In Sabah, the sense of togetherness transcends racial and cultural differences, reflecting the strength of interracial love and harmony.
There are many examples of inter-racial marriages in Sabah. In fact, it is one of the many things that we are proud of as Sabahans, (other than the abundance of mother nature, of course). We believe that compromise and mutual respect for each other’s cultural and religious sensitivities allow both sides of the families to celebrate family unions in peace.
Local Kadazandusun sweetheart, Joanne Kimberley Majalap, 27, embraced Islam when she married Bajau-Tuaran born Mohammad Gadaffie Pintaz, 31 on February 26, 2016. Kim and Dafi celebrated their union with two wedding receptions. The Akad Nikah in Tuaran and a Kadazandusun wedding reception in Penampang. Both of them felt that it was important to celebrate their wedding in both respective hometowns.
“Family is a very important aspect for the both of us. Dafi and I make it a point to be never let our religion bar us from being with our families,” said Kim adding that her family will most definitely be joining in their Raya celebrations. “We have had our fair share of challenges but we couldn’t have done it without the love and support from both of our parents. We have learned to be more compassionate and empathetic towards each other because of them.”
When asked about Kim’s views on Islam since her conversion, she answered, “I think my views towards Muslim and Islam changed drastically. It gave me a diverse perspective on life. I admit, it wasn’t easy in the beginning, because I was constantly judged for my decision to convert to Islam and I always felt the need to explain myself all the time. It was exhausting. However, all that changed the moment I decided to be at peace with myself and everyone around me. Life was smooth-sailing from then on.”
Last year, Kim and Dafi spent their first Raya as a married couple on a small scale. “Because it was my first Raya as a Muslim, my husband knew I’d be overwhelmed with the whole experience, so he let me experience it the way I would be most comfortable with, which is surrounded by our closest friends and families,” said Kim.
She added,” We didn’t even have matching Raya outfits last year because we weren’t prepared at all! I only remember eating throughout Raya! This year, you will most definitely see us go all out in our matching baju Raya.”
Every Raya, Kim loves to look forward to the delicious Malay kampung dishes. Her favourite Malay dishes include Beef Rendang and Ketupat Pulut. When asked about the Malay dishes she can (expertly) cook for Dafi, she giggled and said, “Nasi Lemak?”
“I won’t be able to fast this year because I’m pregnant but I look forward to Ramadhan month! Last year, our friends and family would get together to buka puasa almost every day, regardless of our religions. This made me love the holy month of Ramadhan even more because it brought everyone closer socially and spiritually. Besides that, we got to eat different types of food every day.”
As they enter their second year of marriage and a step towards parenthood, Kimmy and Dafi hope to raise their children to always remember their roots and be proud of their heritage. “To be honest, I was never formally taught to write or speak in my native language when I was growing up. I’m envious of those who can speak their native languages fluently, which is why it will be compulsory for my children to learn it.”
“I also hope to be able to teach my children the values that my parents taught me, which is to tolerate others and show love and compassion despite (your) cultural and religious differences,” she continued, while firmly stating that lessons on respect towards each other should be taught at an early age – at home and in school.