Non-resident Indian (NRI) businessman and philanthropist Yusuffali MA received the prestigious award for promoting interfaith harmony and tolerance at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) here on Thursday.
Datur Azman Bin Hassan, Director General of Malaysia’s Department of National Unity and Integration, presented the award to the tycoon during a one-day seminar based on the United Nation’s interfaith harmony and tolerance week.
Lauding India’s tradition of religious tolerance and multicultural values, Hassan said Malaysia also cherished the same values and its government was actively preserving and promoting that tradition by forming working committees on different areas.
“Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and those following traditional Chinese religions like Taoism and Confucianism live in harmony here. Religious and cultural diversity is a source of strength for us, not a barrier,” he told an international audience attending the seminar on the university’s sprawling Gombak campus here.
In his acceptance speech, Yusuffali, a member of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he had employed 27,000 people of different nationalities in his nearly 100 shopping malls across the Gulf region without any discrimination.
“I won’t be a true Muslim if I turn a blind eye on my neighbors who go to bed without food. I employed some 4000 people from my Nattika village in Kerala and they belong to all local religious communities,” he said.
Earlier speaking to reporters, the university’s deputy rector Prof Dr Abdelaziz Berghout said Yusuffali was chosen for the honor in recognition of his immense contribution in the field in different areas he has ventured into.
“Look at the demographic profile of the beneficiaries. It’s a wide range of expatriate community spread across the Gulf region. They belong to different nations, regions and cultures,” he said.
Besides Prof Berghout, the jury comprised Dr Robert Dixon Crane, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Richard Owen, Editor, International Reportage, Hong Kong, and Syed Ibrahim Khaleelul Bukhari, Chairman, Ma’din Islamic Academy, Kerala.