Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
23 August 2013 / 16 Syawal 1434
Strengthening our Religious Understanding
Dear Friday Jemaah Let us heighten our sense of taqwa toward Allah s.w.t by heeding all of His commands and avoiding all that Allah has prohibited upon us. May Allah s.w.t. bless us with strong faith and a deep understanding of His religion.
During the last two Friday sermons, we have been discussing about diversities that exist in our lives. The sermons also highlighted the importance of maintaining unity and strengthening the ties of kinship, despite differences that exist between us. As one ummah, we are strongly encouraged to respect the opinions of others, and to promote this sense of mutual respect. This is the adab and code of ethics that we must live by, to help overcome the differences among us. Hopefully the sermons have helped to guide us and are useful reminders for all of us.
Although Islam has outlined for us the code of ethics to observe in preserving unity and appreciating diversity, we also should not overlook the fact that Islam is a religion that has also established general principles and core tenets that the ummah must hold on to. For example, our faith is based on the six articles of faith, which are the pillars of our aqidah. These are: Believing in Allah, believing in the angels (malaikat), believing in the scriptures (kitab), believing in the Prophets (rasul), believing in the Day of Judgement and believing in qada’ and qadar of Allah. And the five pillars of Islam are: reciting syahadah, praying, fasting, paying zakat and performing the hajj.
To guide mankind in their belief and practice of Islam, the noble Qur’an was sent, and its contents explained by our beloved Rasulullah s.a.w. through his Sunnah. The pillars of faith (iman) and Islam; as well as the guidelines set in the Quran and in the Sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w., form the basics of the religion which should be held by every Muslim. However, scholars do have different opinions in understanding and explaining the details of the teachings of Islam that are contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah. They differ in explaining issues in aqidah, ibadah and so various aspects of the religion and life as found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Rasulullah s.a.w.
Despite that, there are several main thrusts and core issues in Islam that are agreed upon by the scholars, based on evidences that are clear in nature and its meanings are certain. These issues outline the boundaries of the religion which we cannot transgress. In other words, if the previous sermon talked about accepting differences so long as the differences are within the boundaries of the core tenets of Islam, there are also differences which we cannot accept because they have transgressed the boundaries. For example, if anyone claims to have knowledge as to when the Day of Judgement will occur, then this is clearly in conflict with concrete evidences found in Islam. The fact is Allah knows when the Day of Judgement will occur. In fact, Rasulullah s.a.w himself asserted that he does not have any knowledge as to when the Day of Judgement will come. This is among the core issues that have been agreed upon by the scholars. Thus, that is why the Fatwa Committee has decided that the teachings of the group which called themselves Faiz al-Baqarah are deviant and misleading, because their teacher claims that he knows when the Day of Judgement will occur. This is an example in matters of aqidah where such alternative opinions cannot be accepted.
Similarly, we can also identify deviance in matters of ibadah. For example, some might claim that the they do not have to perform fardhu or obligatory prayers because they have reached a special position in the sight of Allah, known as Ainul Yaqin. According to them, prayers are only for those who are still on the journey to be close to Allah, and hence they are not applicable to them. This is another deviant and misleading opinion, which has in fact transgressed the boundaries of Islam, and can never be accepted within the boundaries of acceptable diversity.
In matters pertaining to life and relationships, there are those who are of the opinion that marriage, or the akad nikah and all its principles, is no more than a contractual agreement between two parties; and is outdated and irrelevant today. These people claim that the more important basis of family in Islam is the love and undertaking of responsibilities. Hence, according to them, any couple can live together or cohabit as husband and wife without first being married according to Islamic rites. Some also extend this argument to those who are of the same gender. My brothers, these are some of the examples of diversity of opinion that do not fall within the boundaries that are acceptable in Islam.
Thus, in today’s sermon, I would like to impress on several matters:
First: As Muslims we must hold true to our faith. Let us celebrate diversity and respect differences of opinion so long as it falls within the accepted boundaries. But let us not be swayed and fall prey to opinions that aim to confuse us and destroy the integrity of our faith. Thus, this means we require accurate knowledge and a deeper understanding of Islam. That is why it is critical for us to seek knowledge. Our pursuit of knowledge should continue as long as we live. Besides the determination to seek knowledge, we must ensure that we receive guidance from the right sources and teachers who are certified. Let us reflect upon what Allah says in Surah Yusuf verse 108, where verse underscores the importance of encouraging mankind to obey Allah with basirah, which are evidences which are clear and certain:
Which means: Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah; and I am not of those who associate others with Him.”
Second: While we must be firm in fighting deviant and misleading opinions, we must also be careful and cautious. It is best that the decision as to whether a particular opinion is transgressing the boundaries of Islam be left to the scholars and those who are learned in Islam. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. Scholars and those who are learned in Islam must have a deep sense of responsibility and must be aware of the importance of making careful consideration before ruling whether an opinion is deviant or otherwise. We must take the wara’ approach and be extremely cautious before ruling someone is deviant or is no longer a believer. It involves comprehensive and detailed research, discussions and muzakarah. It cannot simply be based on secondary sources, or from hearsay or rumours. Nabi s.a.w. once said:
Which means: “To curse a Mukmin (and the punishment) is similar to killing him, and anyone who accuses a Mukmin as a disbeliever (kafir), and then it is just like killing him.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari].
Third: Even if it is clear, and it has been proven that a particular teaching or opinion is deviant and misleading, we should not abandon them or ostracise them. We should also prevent ourselves from criticising them harshly and unnecessarily, or worse, hurling abuses at them and insulting them. Instead, we should try to help them understand the truth and convince them to leave behind the deviant teachings which contradict the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is the responsibility of every Muslim to spread dakwah with wisdom (hikmah). We should advise them gently without ever giving up, and with full belief that Allah s.w.t. will guide whoever He wills. And the duty of a Muslim is simply to deliver.
May Allah s.w.t. continue to protect us and our family members in iman and His guidance. And may Allah s.w.t grant us the love for our religion and for this beloved ummah, amin ya Rabbal Alamin.