6 June 2023
1. It has come to Muis and the ARB’s attention that a religious teacher posted a comment on social media that “asatizahs who opposed to the LGBT are given warning letters [sic]” on 30 April 2023. Although he has since taken down this statement, nevertheless it was clearly misleading.
2. The religious guidance on LGBTQ+ developments in Singapore that Muis issued on 22 August 2022 explicitly states that marriage in Islam can only take place between a man and woman, and Islam forbids any other forms of sexual relationships and unions. The Muslim community will preserve its religious and family values especially when these are directly challenged and disputed. All religious teachers are free to reiterate this religious position, and positions issued and verified by the Fatwa Committee, as they provide instruction and guidance to the community.
3. Consistent with the religious guidance, the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB), which regulates the Asatizah Recognition Scheme1 (ARS), has never issued any warning letter to an Asatizah on the basis that he/she holds the view that Islam does not condone homosexuality or that same-sex marriage is a sin in Islam.
THE CODE OF ETHICS OF THE ASATIZAH RECOGNITION SCHEME
4. All religious teachers must abide by the ARS Code of Ethics (CoE) for the Provision of Islamic Instruction2. This Code includes provisions that an Islamic or Quranic teacher must not do anything that is likely to cause public disorder, or advocate any idea that is likely to encourage extremism or violence, whether directly or indirectly.
5. Therefore, religious teachers must, in accordance with the ARS Code of Ethics (CoE), exercise care to avoid actions which may cause disharmony or ill feelings towards others for their beliefs or orientations. This is in line with key principles in The Shariah, which places great importance on human dignity, respect and peace.
6. Muis and the ARB have always worked with the Asatizah fraternity to guide the community to uphold the true teachings and ethical principles of Islam, treat others with respect and compassion, and avoid spreading untruths, especially when they amount to serious allegations on social media which can mislead and divide the community. This is in line with the true ethics of religious leaders.
EDUCATING THE COMMUNITY WITH COMPASSION
7. It had earlier been brought to the ARB’s attention that the afore-mentioned religious teacher, in various Facebook posts made from December 2021 to February 2022, had used inappropriate and inflammatory language that could incite hatred and disrespect towards members of the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. The ARB interviewed him, and subsequently found that these Facebook posts contravened the ARS Code of Ethics (CoE).
8. Accordingly, on 13 May 2022, the ARB issued him a warning letter on these and various other contraventions of the CoE. The ARB warned him, among other things, that he should not utilise controversial preaching methods that may lead to hatred and disrespect towards certain (minority) groups in Singapore. The ARB advised him that he should address socio-religious issues, including LGBT issues, with wisdom, kindness, compassion and mercy. The ARB does not issue such warning letters frivolously, but after much deliberation and taking into account the gravity of the contraventions of the Code of Ethics.
9. ARB has met the Ustaz regarding his latest posting to clarify his allegations and remind him of their earlier advice. The ARB will continue to guide and counsel such Asatizah who have shown sincere remorse for their actions.
10. Muis and the ARB call upon all Asatizah to fear and have piety in God (Taqwallah), uphold the highest ethical and moral standards, and comply with the ARS Code of Ethics (CoE), at all times. Asatizah must also treat others, despite their differences, with love, care, respect and compassion, and radiate blessings to all.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA (MUIS)
ASATIZAH RECOGNITION BOARD (ARB)
1 The Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) was established to enhance the standing of Islamic religious teachers (Asatizah) and serve as credible source of reference for the Singapore Muslim community. Recognition is granted only to qualified Islamic religious teachers and scholars who meet the minimum standards of qualification and are considered fit and proper to preach and teach Islamic religious knowledge.
2 This Code of Ethics, which is stipulated under the Administration of Muslim Law (Muslim Religious Schools) Rules, aims to preserve the good name of the Asatizah fraternity and institution, and maintain the trust and confidence of the Singapore Muslim community in our Asatizah.