16 August Khutbah- Celebrating Diversity Within the Muslim Ummah


In Pdf: 16/8Khutbah

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura

Friday Sermon

16 August 2013 / 9 Syawal 1434

Celebrating Diversity Within the Muslim Ummah

Dear Friday Jemaah,

On this day full of barakah, I would like to remind myself and all of you here to increase our taqwa to Allah s.w.t. Let us strengthen our determination to uphold Allah’s commands and strive to the best of our abilities to avoid what Allah s.w.t. has prohibited upon us. May Allah s.w.t. protect us and our families from the evils in this world and the hereafter.


My dear brothers,

Last week, we were reminded that physical and intellectual diversity and differences between people are determined by Allah. In fact, we should learn to understand it with faith and not with envy. This reminder becomes all the more important and pertinent in our lives today. With advances in technology, we are able to see how our community is exposed to various religious views. The reality is that individuals in the community have views, thoughts and religious orientations that are more diverse today. For example, in a family we can already notice differences in opinion, inclinations and religious practices that are different. This may, at times, bring about misunderstandings and friction between family members, if it is not based on the right attitude.


Thus, as an addition to last week’s discussion on adab and the ethics of having differences in opinion, I would like to share several other issues that we should take into consideration. Hopefully we will all benefit from the diversity of opinion and together, and strengthen our intellectual and spiritual relationships.


First, we should always ensure that the differences between us do not stray our view from the fact that there are similarities between us. Allah s.w.t. tells us in surah Ali ‘Imran verse 64:


Which means: “Say, “O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah.” But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].”


In this verse, Allah s.w.t. encourages us to call upon the People of the Book or Ahli Kitab to believe in the Oneness of God, which is to only worship Allah and no other. If this is the approach that we are taught in dealing with the People of the Book, what more for those who also believe in Allah and the Prophet; share the same qiblah as us, and hold on to the same book which is Al-Quran?


My brothers, when we learn of a new and different opinion or religious view, we often get too excited over it, and we tend to forget that there are more similarities rather than differences between us. We face the same challenges as a community. Social challenges such as broken families, poverty and so on, are problems that we must tackle and overcome together as a community.


Sometimes we see those with differences of opinion arguing on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on, when in fact there are those among us who have yet to be motivated to be closer to Allah s.w.t. We busy ourselves saying that so and so has been led astray, misguided or even deviated from the teachings of Islam, when in fact these issues that we are passionately debating about are issues that are still considered as khilaf (debatable) between the scholars. There are still many of our dear friends who have yet to know Allah s.w.t. and Rasulullah s.a.w, what more to fully understand Islam.

My dear brothers, let us ensure that we focus on our similarities and the challenges that we face as a community. Do not let Satan deceive us to the extent that what we thought started out as an intellectual debate and academic discussion evolves into one that causes hasad and jealousy among ourselves.


The second matter that I would like to share is that in any issue where there is no unanimous decision agreed upon by the scholars, we should not force our opinion on others. Today, we see that there are some people who will force their opinion on others, just because they have started to learn the reasons behind a certain opinion. And they go even further by labelling others as wrongful or even deviant, if those people do not agree with them or do not share the same opinion.


Let me share a story narrated by Abu Dawud and An-Nasai: Two companions of Rasulullah s.a.w. were travelling (musafir) when it was time for solat (prayer) and because they had no water with them, they performed tayammum and then performed their solat. After that, they chanced upon water, and it was still within the permissible time for the prayer that they had performed. One of them immediately took his ablution with water and repeated his solat while the other did not. They then met with Rasulullah to ask about this matter.


Rasulullah s.a.w. said to the companion who did not repeat his solat: “You have fulfilled the Sunnah and your prayer has been performed” and to the one who repeated his solat Rasulullah s.a.w. said: “For you, you will be given the rewards of praying twice”.


MasyaAllah! Indeed their akhlak is so beautiful. From this incident, we learn how two companions with different opinions did not blame and fault each other; neither did they utter any words of arrogance or hint that only their opinion is right. Then, reflect upon the response of Rasulullah s.a.w. which certainly calmed their hearts. Hence, when there are issues or matters that are khilafiyah between scholars, meaning there is no unanimous decision agreed upon, and it does not deviate from Islam, then we need to take a very careful or wara’ approach. There may be evidences (dalil) and explanations that we’ve not heard of yet, or have not read about it yet. Just because we have never heard or read a certain dalil does not mean it had not been narrated and linked to the Prophet s.a.w


In fact, regarding this matter, Professor Hamka once said when he was working on the tafsir of surah Al-Mumtahanah verses 7 to 9, that when he was invited to lead terawih prayers at any mosque, he will ask what is the norm at that mosque. If they normally perform eight rakaat of terawih, then he will perform eight rakaat, and if the jemaah at the mosque normally perform 20 rakaat of terawih, then he will perform 20 rakaat of terawih. He noted: “As guests we should not disturb public harmony with matters of khilafiyah.”


Hopefully with such deep understanding and appreciation, we can continue to be united as one ummah and come together to improve our religious lives and our daily lives, as well as those of our family members and the community. May Allah s.w.t. grant us with the maturity of knowledge to continue to bring ourselves closer to Him and gain Allah’s pleasure. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.





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