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.