Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Friday Khuthbah at a Singapore Mosque & the Muslim Community

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

This is a video, from the 06th January 2017, of the imam at Jami' Chulia Mosque cursing Christians and Jews.  This was during the Friday khuthbah.  He did it again on the 24th February, meaning that this is not a one-off occurrence but a norm.

In summary, he said, “God Grant us victory over the disbelievers, God Grant us victory over the polytheists, God Grant us victory over the hypocrites and the people of envy, God Grant us victory over the Jews and the Christians, God Grant us victory over the Jews and the Christians ...” The last part was repeated twice as an emphasis, and it is certainly not in the ayat in the Qur’an.

This is 2017, and we still have unlettered people leading prayers in the mosque and supplicating as if we are all living in the Crusades and there is a huge religious war.  How is this acceptable in the context of Singapore?  It is only because he said it in Arabic that most people in the congregation likely did not realise.  Islam is not at war with people of other faiths, particularly the Ahl al-Kitab, People of Scripture.  This is an unbecoming relic of a different age.  We should not encourage this sort of thinking or condone this sort of supplications.

Based on the general comments of the Muslim, particularly the Malay, community in Singapore, whether on this post, or on attendant posts elsewhere, it is patently obvious that the general community sees no wrong in what the imam has done.  And certainly, MUIS did nothing until it was in the news and their hand was forced.

I observe that there is an undercurrent of suspicion and hostility towards Jews and Christians.  The anger, in some comments, is that is has been exposed and creates “animosity” between Muslims and others.  This is a fallacy.  The animosity is already present when the normal conversation is that the Jews and Christian are the “enemies” of Islam.  I have been told that they are in a conspiracy against us, and we should not be friends with them.  I have been told that Islam justifies our seeking domination over them because “the Qur’an and Surah al-Fatihah have shown they have incurred Allah’s Anger”.  I have seen it written that they are “kuffar”, “disbelievers” and “mushrikin”, “polytheists”, and that they are not “real” Ahl al-Kitab because their Scripture is “corrupted”.  If this is what Muslims think, and if this is what is allowed to be taught in mosques and institutions, then we have a major problem here.

I have been told that since I do not believe this, then I must not be a “proper” Muslim.  I am an “undercover Christian”, a “Zionist”, a “Jew”, “Liberal Muslim”, or “Shi’ah” or “Qadiani”.  To extend further the point, if the belief of the Sunnis is that Shi’ah are not “real” Muslims, then we also have a problem.  There is a normalisation of hate and discrimination against Shi’ah in Singapore, and this hate speech has gone unabated online.

This further extends to how the community perceives converts to Islam.  Essentially, there is still that underlying belief, which has been exposed, that one is only a convert to Islam, as long as one is a convert to “Malay” values and norms, because, as I have been told, “we are the majority”.  So, that means women must wear the tudung, and men must have facial hair, and we all must think a certain way, and to question anything is to “shake the iman of the Muslims”.

This is also a strong indicator that the virulent Malay nationalism in Malaysia has seeped across our borders, and that the extreme values of the Wahhabi sect has corrupted the community.  A community that does not inherently believe that we are a greater part of the whole of the nation state, and that people of other faith traditions deserve respect, is to be viewed with some form of trepidation.  This is certainly not my Islam and it calls into question what Muslim organisations, Muslim institutions, and mosques have actually been fostering.  A lot of people have been asleep at the wheel.

The Muslims have eroded their moral high ground when they complain about discrimination, about Islamophobia, about the state of the community, when they represent the very stereotypes and values we are trying to debunk.  If asking for the hijab to be allowed as part of the uniform, or as an option in some places also means an extension of this intolerance and Islamofacism, then the Singapore Government is correct to resist it.  If asking for the madrasah intake to be increased means a propagation of hostility and suspicion of non-Muslims, the it does not benefit the nation to do so.  If there is a hesitation to put Muslims in certain sensitive positions in the military and the government, based on all this, it is sound policy.  This puts paid to the lie that large numbers of Singapore Muslims, as a minority, are actually interested in being integrated, not assimilated, into the nation state.  And this means that there is a lot of work to be done, at a policy and grassroots level, to address this.


  1. Assalamu'alaikum Encik Terence. I hope you are in good health.

    Some people have digging up some of your old Facebook posts as a means to discredit your orthodoxy due to the current outrage over the video. You might see it online. In my opinion, it is best you provide clarifications regarding this matter. You do not have to give up your principles. Just clarify your positions on certain fiqhi issues (e.g hijab, dogs etc.) and intentions especially considering the fact that you have no malice or ill intentions or for that matter, any sort of hobby to be a Government whistle-blower.

    I know this sounds strange coming from a complete stranger but I enjoy and still enjoy the information and knowledge you provide regarding traditional Islam in Singapore. It pains me that people misunderstand your intentions and even worse doubt your orthodoxy and sincerity.

    Allah yahfizuka wayarhamuka Sayyidi.




    1. Wa 'Alaykum as-Salaam,

      My positions are public, transparent and articulated. If there are doubts, all people have to do is ask nicely.

  2. Salaam is deeply disturbing for me to read all the vitriol hurled at you. Personally, I must concede that you, brother, are an acquired taste which for some tastebuds tastes a little too bitter to appreciate the truth.

    I've listened to the video recording a number of times. I find it odd how people are so fixated on the final verse of surah Al-Baqarah. I have no issues for an imam to recite that verse from the Quran as part of his supplication as they are rightfully the words of God. But if people were to listen a little more, singling out specific groups of people in a multi-cultural society such as ours, where none are warring against one another, is potentially explosive.

    Little care had been given to that thought; the fact that the imam had perhaps erred was not entertained. I would assume that the imam would have had a far more extensive education in the Arabic Language than I had, therefore I find it hard to fathom that he was unable to word his supplication in a more sensitive manner.

    If people, from Mufti, academics, to Joe-Public, could harp on the so-called context of the supplication, then may I suggest that they consider to just simply ask for Divine help to overcome the Oppressors which may come in many shapes and forms. Bear in mind that sometimes the biggest oppressors may be those who worship the same Divine-Being as we do.

    1. Wa as-Salaam brother,

      The point that should be noted here is that the last two lines are not from the Qur'an at all.

    2. Salaam brother,

      Which I agree upon. Why the denial then?

    3. I have no idea. This began as a post on my blog, like many posts. The fact that it gained traction caught me by surprise. The audience in my blog is normally people familiar with me.

      Also, thank you for your concern. I appreciate it.


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