22 August 2022
Strengthening our community through inculcation of religious values
1 The best way to preserve our religious practices and way of life is by actively educating and imbibing Muslims with values and principles. All members of our community, particularly the young, should be engaged and empowered to navigate current issues with the guidance of our religious values and principles. We need to strike the right balance in ensuring we continue to hold on tight to our religion yet remain compassionate in our dealings towards others.
General advice to the Community
2 The Shariah (Islamic law) places importance on human dignity, respect and peaceful relations. These values are crucial as we navigate complex socio-religious issues today. As Muslims, we should treat everyone with full dignity and respect. Everyone, regardless of their sexual orientations, must feel safe in our society and institutions. As such, Muslims should uphold the best of character, charity and compassion, in dealing with others, even with whom we disagree. At the same time, we reject any form of bullying and harassment in an increasingly contested public sphere.
3 The Muslim community has the right to preserve its religious and family values especially when these are directly challenged or disputed. Any form of LGBTQ+ advocacy should respect the values that the Muslim community holds dear in practicing its faith. If our religious values and beliefs are challenged openly and aggressively, this will inevitably transform the public space into one that is confrontational and divisive. We must work towards preventing any differences in orientation and worldview from turning into clashes and conflicts which will weaken our society.
4 We call upon members of our community to deepen the love for our faith in all its dimensions and to teach our children the same. As the religious authority, Muis will continue to support all efforts to strengthen Islamic values in all religious instruction and curriculum for the community. This is undoubtedly a great test of our empathy, respect, compassion and principledness in dealing with the teachings of our faith in a complex and more open world. It requires a delicate balance and constant engagement with wisdom and compassion, so that we can co-exist peacefully amidst differences in worldviews and orientations.
On Marriage and Sexuality
5 Islam emphasises the building of families through marriage between male and female as the basic foundation of society. Marriage and the sexual relationship within it as determined by Sharī’ah are part of God’s chosen path for humankind to procreate and prosper on earth. Islam forbids all other forms of sexual relationships and unions. The teachings of our faith steer us towards this path with wisdom and compassion.
6 Within the Muslim community today, some individuals may profess the Islamic faith but self-identify on matters of sexuality and gender in other ways. There have also been attempts to re-interpret religious texts to find a religious basis for their choices. These developments pose a challenge to the traditional Muslim position on family, marriage, and sexuality.
7 The Muslim community is concerned over the long-term impact of these developments on our religious values and practices, particularly when Islamic guidelines on sexuality are openly contested.
8 Differences in worldviews and values are to be expected. In Islam we are taught not to judge or condemn individuals even though they had committed clearly harmful or wrong actions.1 Our role is to merely offer advice and wise counsel based on the teachings of our faith. Ultimately, it is for God to evaluate everyone based on their conditions and circumstances.
9 One’s sexuality and gender identity are not the only factors that define us as human beings. Some profess the Muslim faith and worship the same God as all Muslims do, but face their own struggles as they seek to privately reconcile their faith and sexuality. One that proclaims and practises the basic tenets of the religion is still a member of the Muslim community. They deserve dignity and respect and should not be condemned or vilified simply because we disagree with their sexuality. Our religious values of compassion and kindness demand of us to not turn away from them, and not to turn them away from their faith.
10 We recognise the need to develop and enhance the capabilities of religious teachers and counsellors, in particular, on how the values and teachings of our faith could be sensitively imparted to such individuals whilst keeping their dignity intact and respecting their confidentiality.
On Civility and Diversity of Views
11 A public discussion that lacks respect and empathy will only polarise our society. Where tolerance for different viewpoints diminish and one segment is aggrieved and feels unprotected or unsafe, society will weaken. As such, it is important that we take a considered and civil approach in engaging on this issue and in finding a common understanding on how to move forward as one society amidst a diversity in values and orientations.
12 Ultimately, we must keep our community and society intact, such that everyone can live safely and without fear. The public sphere must remain safe for the mainstream and faith communities to educate members of their own communities in accordance with their belief systems and values. Even as we preach our principles and values, we should respect our differences, without devolving into calling out or cancelling individuals or groups that differ from one’s own or degenerating into hate speech.
Preserving our values by strengthening the institution of marriage
13 In line with our religious principles and values, efforts to strengthen the institution of marriage between male and female in Singapore are very much welcome. We have also called on the government to consider our position as it deliberates on laws that are appropriate for Singapore in preserving and strengthening the institution of marriage.
14 In this broader context, a particular change in law or legislation does not mean that our way of life will change too, and it is our personal duty to ensure that. Muslims must live with confidence guided by their enduring principles and values. Our main concern is not so much the laws themselves but their impact on society and what the society holds dear to. With God’s grace and Blessings, we are able to practise our religious life confidently in our inclusive and secular context, by finding the right balance in dealing with many complex socio-religious issues.
15 Please refer to www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Irsyad/ for the full religious guidance issued by the Office of the Mufti, in both English and Malay.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA
1The Prophet, peace be upon him, once heard his companions insulting a person amongst them who had consumed alcohol, even though it had been made forbidden. He said to them, "Do not curse him, for I know that he is a person who loves Allah and His Messenger." Narrated by Al-Bukhari (6780)