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Showing posts from September, 2017

Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) on Using the Intellect

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) said, “One who does not use his intelligence will not succeed and one who does not use his knowledge will have no intellect.  One who understands will attain nobility and excellence, and one who is tolerant will triumph.  Knowledge is a shield, truth begets honour and ignorance disgrace, understanding is distinction, generosity is salvation and good manners command love and respect.”

Normalisation of Takfir against the Shi'ah in Singapore

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
More Muslims in Singapore should come out against discrimination and hate rhetoric against the Shi’ah community.  When there is some disagreement online or offline, one of the phrases trotted out is some version, often less polite, of “That person is Shi'ah”.
Who said the Shi’ah are out of Islam?  They go for hajj and ‘umrah, pray five times, fast in Ramadhan, and give zakat, in addition to holding on to the shahadah.  This normalisation of prejudice is unacceptable.  This takfir is a Wahhabi disease that should not be tolerated.  And so what if someone is Shi’ah?  I know a certain Muslim students’ organisation that excludes them.  I know of two couples who had problems at ROMM because one of them is Shi’ah.  I know entire groups in Singapore which make takfir of them.  I never noticed any Muslim organisation, or major ustadz come out against this.  In fact, I know of several who perpetrate this.
This shameful behaviour within our community has t…

Stumbling into Islam by Logic

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
I did not come to Islam because of someone I met, or some video, or even a book.  Rather, I stumbled upon it.  Like any young adult, I decided to relook my theological beliefs.  If the afterlife is so important, why should I leave it to the lottery of birth?  And so, over the course of the next several years, I tried to establish my conception of the Divine, and then find a religion that most closely met it, or simply have none.  It was a philosophical exercise before it was a theological one.
As such, after much thinking and consideration, I came to the conclusion that Creation was Created, therefore, there had to be a Creator.  And such a Creator had to be One, Unique and Absolute to account for the consistency of Divine Laws.  That meant He had to be Omnipotent, and Omnipotence requires Omniscience.  And He has to be Omnipresence, meaning not only beyond space, but time as well.  And it built from there.  As such, I was left with either the theol…

About Getting Older

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
What no one told me about getting older, is that we reach a stage in our lives where we just do what we think needs to be done, and not give a damn what anybody thinks.  The people who are our friends are our friends regardless.  The people who hate us are unlikely to matter.
When we consider that life is like a caravan of hope moving through the deserts of temporal existence, traversing from one oasis to another, returning to that ocean of Divine Unity, what else matters?  There will be barking dogs, but the caravan moves on.  It is the nature of rabid dogs to bark.  It should never be our nature to leave the caravan and bark back at the dogs.

The Car or the Driver

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
It has been said that sometimes the rules and obligations within organised religion can in fact turn someone away from God.  But without organised religion, there will only be organised materialism.  That is the inadequacy of the people, never the philosophy.  Many people own cars.  Some fancy, some not.  Some drive every day and some drive less often.  It does not mean that they are automatically better drivers with more expensive cars.  Or, that those who drive often have better records or vice versa.  When there are accidents, we blame the driver.  We seldom blame the car unless the car is obviously defective for such a car would cease to be produced.  We are those drivers and religions are cars.  Some religions are not appropriate.  Those defective cars are eventually part of failed production lines.  What are left are the ones we see now: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and so forth.  All are more than a thousand years.  There has not been a dis…

A Mature Democracy

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Ideally, in a mature democracy, we are not for or against parties or ideologies.  Rather, we are for or against specific policies and their instruments of implementation.  We are not labels, but people with needs, ideas and aspirations.  Crafting legislation and formulating policy direction is not a zero-sum equation, but a compromise for a win-win.
Practically, there is no such thing as a mature democracy.  The larger the demographic, the lower the ability to think critically.  This is because people are gregarious by nature, and it is our biological imperative to groupthink, and conform.
It either takes extraordinary foolishness, or extreme courage or colossal arrogance, or a combination of these factors, to break that biological programming, and be different.  History tends to celebrate these individuals, while contemporary societies vilify them.  This is logical.  People want their fantasies of empowerment, but few want to move out of that comfor…

"Cohabitation outside Marriage" in the Administration of Muslim Law Act

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The Administration of Muslim Law Act should be further amended, and the government should consider repealing the following:
Cohabitation outside marriage 134.—(1)  Any man who cohabits and lives with a woman, whether a Muslim or not, to whom he is not lawfully married, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. (2)  Any woman who cohabits and lives with a man, whether a Muslim or not, to whom she is not lawfully married, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. (3)  The court may, instead of sentencing a woman under subsection (2), order that she be detained in a place of safety established under any written law for such period not exceeding 12 months as it may determine. Enticing unmarried woman from wali 135.  Any person who…

"Non-Payment of Zakat or Fithrah" in the Administration of Muslim Law Act

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
This portion of the Administration of Muslim Law Act is essentially unenforceable:
Non-payment of zakat or fitrah 137.—(1)  Whoever, being liable to pay any zakat and having failed to procure, in accordance with section 70, the cancellation or modification of such liability, refuses or wilfully fails to pay the same, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. (2)  Whoever, being liable to pay any fitrah and having failed to procure, in accordance with section 70, the cancellation or modification of such liability, refuses or wilfully fails to pay the same, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to both. (3)  A conviction under this section shall not operate to extinguish the debt. (4)  Any zakat or fitrah due by any person or the va…

"Failure to Report Conversion" in the Administration of Muslim Law Act

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
This portion of the Administration of Muslim Law Act is problematic:
Neglect or failure to report conversion 138.  Whoever, being under a duty to report to the Majlis a conversion to the Muslim religion under the provisions of this Act, wilfully neglects or fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
There are people who decide to be Muslim, but for various reasons, do not want the world to know, let alone be put on some registrar.  This needs to be adjusted.

"False Doctrine" in the Administration of Muslim Law Act

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
When they propose further amendments to the Administration of Muslim Law Act, I sincerely hope this section is defined better:
False doctrine 139.—(1)  Whoever shall teach or publicly expound any doctrine or perform any ceremony or act relating to the Muslim religion in any manner contrary to the Muslim law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
How do we define a false doctrine?  We have a lot of people espousing the positions of the Wahhabi sect, many of them registered in the ARS, teaching in our mosques and present in our Muslim organisations.  Should not a theology that states explicitly that Allah (s.w.t.) has a form, that other Muslims are kuffar, and is the underlying ideology of ISIS, JI, Al-Qaeda and almost every other terrorist group be considered a false doctrine?
On the other hand, we have these same people with extremi…

Malay Issues are Not Necessarily Muslim Issues

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
When it comes to our public discourse on Islam and Muslims and policy directions in Singapore, it is time that we decouple Malay issues from Muslim issues.  This “Malay-Muslim” catchall label is not helpful.  Malay issues are not necessarily Muslim issues, and vice versa.
Firstly, a growing number of Muslims in Singapore are not Malay.  Many are not even Singaporean.  Dialogue with the Malay community should focus on their specific needs to better address them.
Secondly, as much as many would prefer to think otherwise, a growing number of young Malays, even graduates from religious schools, self-identify as agnostic or atheist.  There is a significant number who have formally apostatised and joined other faiths, notably Christianity.  They deserve to have their voices heard.
Thirdly, there are anywhere between 20,000 to 30,000 converts.  It is obviously difficult to have precise statistics for various reasons.  Our issues and concerns are not Malay is…

Shari'ah is Not Fiqh

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Shari’ah is simply Divine Law.  It consists of two portions, regulating the relationship between Creation and the Creator, and the relationship among Creation.  If shari’ah were a house, its foundation is mercy, its walls are justice and its roof is God-consciousness.  When it leaves any of this, it ceases to be shari’ah.
What people often mistake for shari’ah is jurisprudence, fiqh.  Whilst shari’ah is Divine, jurisprudence is human commentary, and is not.  Whilst shari’ah cannot be wrong, jurisprudence can, and can also be corrected.
And that is why the Prophet (s.a.w.) said that we are all born upon fithrah, that God-consciousness and connection to the Divine inherent in all when Allah (s.w.t.) Blew His Ruh into Adam (a.s.).  Shari’ah is within us and calls us to acts of mercy, that outrages us at miscarriages of justice, and causes us to seek knowledge.  If there is a doubt in a ruling, then do as the Prophet (s.a.w.) says “istafta qalbak,” “ques…

Creeping Islamisation in Singapore

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
As a Muslim, I am very wary of creeping Islamisation in Singapore.  I equate it with intolerance.  Today, it is about the hijab in secular schools.  Tomorrow, special prayer places.  And the day after, dictating our foreign policy.  I look across the Causeway, in Malaysia, where ridiculous fatawa are gazetted and made into law, politicians are justifying child marriage, and aggressive intolerance of non-Muslims is becoming a norm.  Is that really the direction we want the Muslim community here to go?  This is not the Islam I converted to.
I think we should consider scaling back the AMLA and removing entire sections of it.  I think the Mosque Building Fund should be abolished; they already have enough money.  I think we should consider moving away from a rigid interpretation of shari’ah, migrating from an emphasis in Shafi’i fiqh to Hanafi fiqh to better address the challenges of the time in terms of our fiqh al-mu’amalah.
I think Muslim leaders, part…

My Personality is Incompatible with the General Ummah

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
I have had to take many personality tests and psychological profiles over the years, mainly due to work requirements.  And my personality is the rare sort, especially in Singapore.  I am a form of disemphatetic sociopath.  I am a hyper aggressive dominant type personality.  In summary, I like animals better than people.  I can empathise with people I am close with, but treat others as objects or pieces to be moved.  I have far above normal intelligence, an almost eidetic memory and do not lack self-belief.  I do not believe there is anything wrong with me; I like what I am.
On the other hand, I think people are strange, weak.  I never understood, for example, sentimentality.   People stay in relationships longer than they are worth, for example.  If someone is not worth the investment in time and intimacy, get rid of them.  If people are dishonest, disloyal or incompetent, discount them.  There are always replacements.
I never understood jingoism and…

I am Neither For or Against the Hijab

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
I am neither pro-hijab nor anti-hijab.  I do not believe it is compulsory.  That makes me pro-choice.  If a woman wants to wear it, fine.  And if she does not want to, fine.  But just as I do not believe women should be forced to take it off, it is equally hypocritical to believe she must wear it.

The Roots of Radicalisation

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
When it comes to terrorism, we cannot deny that the majority of attacks are perpetrated by those who profess to be Muslims.  Has anyone ever considered what sort of mindset is required for a person to deliberately target civilians, tourists, children, ordinary people going about their lives?  It is this mindset we must address.  Without that internal justification, all the opportunities would pass by.
It begins with the way Islam is taught in many communities, even in Singapore.  Muslims are taught that we are different from the non-Muslims in terms of our morals and this bleeds into a form of exceptionalism.  Many Muslims casually refer to all non-Muslims as “kuffar”, “disbelievers”.  A kafir is someone who knows the truth of Islam and then chooses to oppose it.  Such a person is damned.
Many Muslims buy into all sorts of historical revisionism and conspiracy theories.  Essentially, there has been a confluence of events throughout history where “rig…

The NRA's "Jesus"

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
A people that glorify violence and war cannot claim to be Christian.

Missionaries & the Oppression of Christianity

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Dr. John Henrik Clarke was an African American activist, and later professor of Black & Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1969 to 1986, where he served as founding chairman of the department.  He said, “To hold a people in oppression, you have to convince them first that they are supposed to be oppressed.”  And that is exactly what Christianity did to many nations and tribes in the Age of Colonialisation.

Albert Einstein on Zionists

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Albert Einstein said, “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinian Arabs much of what Nazis did to Jews.”

The Bible in the Wrong Hands

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The Christian Religious Right will have a legacy of being on the wrong side of many issues of our time, from slavery to segregation to economic disparity.  They are the epitome of those who have sold their afterlife for this world.

Syria Once Welcomed Greek Refugees

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
There was a time when Greeks sought refuge in Syria.  The Asia Minor Catastrophe occurred in 1923.  It was the forced exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, as agreed upon under the Lausanne Treaty.  After the end of World War II, thousands of Greek refugees travelled to Syria and Lebanon, areas that were under French occupation.  At least 17,000 Greeks from Asia Minor sought refuge in Syrian cities alone after being expelled from the newly created Turkish Republic.

Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani's (r.a.) Poem Seeking the Intercession of the Prophet (s.a.w.)

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بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Imam ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (r.a.) wrote:
“By the gate of your generosity stands a sinner, who is mad with love, O Best of Mankind in radiance of face and countenance! Through you, he seeks a means, Hoping for Allah’s Forgiveness of slips; From fear of Him, his eyelid is wet with pouring tears. Although his genealogy attributes him to a stone, How often tears have flowed, sweet, pure and fresh! Praise of you does not do you justice, but perhaps, In eternity, its verses will be transformed into mansions. My praise of you shall continue for as long as I live, For I see nothing that could ever deflect me from your praise.”
In this poem, the line, “Although his genealogy attributes him to a stone,” is a double entendre since “stone”, in Arabic, is “hajr”.