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The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Muis condemns the heinous attacks on churches and the murder of churchgoers in the bombings in Surabaya yesterday (May 13) as well as the latest attack on Surabaya Police Headquarters today (May 14). This wave of attacks has claimed more than 20 innocent lives, caused injuries to over 40, and these numbers are set to rise.
This senseless violence is against everything that Islam stands for, as a religion that calls for peace and harmonious relations between communities. Islam respects the sanctity of religion and human life, and calls for the protection of all worshippers and places of worship, always.
Mufti Dr Mohd Fatris Bakaram expressed his deep sorrow that the bombings were carried out by entire families, including young children, led by their parents who had been completely misled by exclusivist and extremist ideology. “These supposed ‘martyrdom attacks’ run fully contrary to the teachings of Islam, which clearly forbid attacks on non-Muslim’s places of worship. Such attacks are serious transgressions of the principles and values taught by the Prophet”
Dr Fatris added that that Muslims in Singapore treasure the harmonious inter-religious relationships that have been nurtured in our country, and that we must never allow the ideology of hatred to creep in. The Grand Imam of Al Azhar,
Dr Ahmed Al Tayyeb, had stressed during his recent visit to Singapore that Muslims were encouraged to be good to people of other faiths; he also emphasised that Muslims should never practice exclusivism because this went against a key tenet of Islam – the guarantee of the freedom to practise one’s religion.
Last week, in the wake of the new case of a self-radicalised Singaporean Muslim, Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Senior Director, Religious Policy and Development, Muis, had emphasised the role played by accredited asatizah (religious teachers) in guiding Muslims in their socio-religious life “so that each Muslim embraces the compassionate and peaceful spirit of Islam and is well-equipped to immediately reject any form of extremist ideology”.
Dr Nazirudin said that the latest incidents were another grim reminder that without proper guidance and a solid moral foundation, individuals and even families may fall prey to misleading teachings and ideologies by extremist groups such as Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and ISIS, with tragic results.
“The only way to build resilience against being misled by such teachings is to understand and observe the right values in Islam. This is one of the key functions of our Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), which seeks to ensure that the community receives the correct and contextual appreciation of Islam and its teachings. The asatizah and the Muslim community must continue to work hand in hand to combat any form of extremist and exclusivist thinking.”
The scheme was started after senior religious teachers saw the need to enhance the standing of and professionalise asatizah sector. Since the ARS was made mandatory in January 2017, 3,824 religious teachers and 248 Muslim religious schools have been registered under the ARS.
At the heart of the scheme is its Code of Ethics, which serves as a guide for religious teachers to provide correct guidance to the Singaporean Muslim community. The Code of Ethics calls for moderation and contextualisation, and prohibits exclusivist and divisive content from being taught. Dr Fatris, in an address to registered religious schools in October 2017, had stressed how religious teachers needed to “be competent in understanding the society we function in. We should appreciate the norms of a multi-religious society. We must, for example, understand and teach how a good Muslim can function alongside others of different races and religions, towards the common good for society.”
Muis and the Asatizah Recognition Board are committed to maintaining the integrity of the Code of Ethics of the scheme and do not tolerate individuals who preach segregationist and exclusivist thought.
In conclusion, Dr Nazirudin said, “Our religious teachers are more than our source of knowledge and guidance. They are our bulwark against problematic ideologies and practices taking root in our society. They are the ones our community should turn to. Hence, it is important to always consult the list of registered religious teachers when seeking religious guidance.”