Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
13 December 2013 / 10 Safar 1435
hallenges And Obstacles In The Era Of Globalisation
Dear brothers, On this noble Friday, let us strengthen our iman towards Allah s.w.t. and aim to become Muslims who hold true to the teachings of Islam in every situation.
Dear Friday jemaah, Changing times and circumstances is a Sunnatullah, or the decree of Allah, which cannot be avoided. The situation today is not the same as ten years ago. Technological advancements in communication and transportation systems which we enjoy today have not only changed our lifestyles but also the way we think. Along with these beneficial changes come various challenges. The question that arises is; how do we Muslims face these challenges as an individual as well as a community?
Last week, we were reminded of the need to leverage on technology in today’s globalised world, to bring ourselves closer to Allah s.w.t. This can be done by taking advantage of platforms such as the Internet to spread the beauty of the akhlak of Rasulullah s.a.w. and to increase our knowledge. Alhamdulillah, we are grateful to Allah s.w.t. who has given us many pathways to deepen our understanding of His deen, and to seek His pleasure. We pray that we will become Muslims who will be of able to help others and bring benefits to others, just as Rasulullah s.a.w. said: Which means: “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the res
t of mankind”. [Hadith Riwayat Imam As-Suyuthi, Al-Jamik As-Saghir
The world today is described as a global village, where people can communicate freely without any barriers and limits. Globalisation allows the massive exchange of goods and services as well as cultural exchange. The spread of information is no longer limited to one country but can now cross borders. We can easily attain information and news wherever we are.
Today, the sources of information are no longer limited to books, newspapers and television but include websites on the Internet as well as various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many more. The explosion of information that occurs today is indeed amazing.
Dear Friday jemaah, We cannot deny that through this “explosion of information” we are able to access information quickly and thus, it makes us more aware of current affairs. However, at the same time, we must also learn to be discerning readers, as this “explosion” may lead to challenges which may affect our religious life. The diverse information that are available to us today exposes us and our children to all sorts of ideologies, including ideologies that may not be healthy such as liberalism, hedonism, violence, extremism and so on. Values that contradict Islamic teachings may also be present (either subtly or in a more obvious manner) in songs and videos that can be easily viewed and downloaded from the Internet.
Globalisation has also led to the concept of ‘free market of ideas’, more specifically when it comes to the spread of religion through the Internet. Although this means that more religious materials can be accessed through the Internet, the challenge lies in ascertaining its authenticity, integrity and accuracy. With diverse views and information made available today, we may be confused in discerning between reliable information and inaccurate sources, as well as in sieving through the information to ascertain which are applicable today as well as applicable to our context.
My brothers, Knowing about the present challenges without understanding ways to overcome them will not enable us to move forward. Thus, as Muslims who continue to thrive in today’s world, we need to be guided by several steps which may help us face the challenges that globalisation brings about, so as to ensure that we can continue to practice Islam and hold true to the principles of our religion in today’s constantly changing world.
Because we are facing a massive explosion of information which is hard to contain, we must be wise and smart in discerning the information that we read, watch and listen to through the Internet, television, radio, newspapers and other channels and sources.
First : We must observe carefully the values encouraged by the ideology or theory. Could the video we watch or materials that we, or our family members, read carry values which deny the existence of God and distract us from the true purpose of life? Or could it potentially lead to animosity, hatred or even the degradation of akhlak?
Second : We must train ourselves and make it a habit to investigate and thoroughly understand any information in detail before we hit that “Share” or “Forward” button and spread the information to others. In other words, we should not be hasty in receiving and believing in any information before we are able to ascertain its authenticity. As Allah s.w.t. says in Surah AlHujurat, verse 6:
Which means: “O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.”
Besides carefully reviewing the content of any information, another characteristic that we should emulate is being honest and truthful in spreading information to ensure that there are no lies or slander. Do not easily and hastily spread information when we are uncertain or may not even know the source or the validity of the information. This may cause conflicts in our society and unhappiness among us. Let us reflect upon a saying of Rasulullah s.a.w: Which means: “It is enough (to be considered as) lying for a man to speak of everything that he hears” [Hadith narrated by Muslim]
Third : We must make it a habit to refer to the experts if we are uncertain about something. This is what is meant by the amanah or the responsibility (trust) of knowledge. We should not be quick to jump to conclusions for example, about a certain view or teaching which we read about from the Internet, without referring to others who are experts in the field. This is because, the Internet provides all sorts of information, but we have to ensure that we understand the information and the context of it, and this has to be verified from a trusted scholar or ulama. Didn’t Allah s.w.t. tell us in surah An-Nahl, verse 43: Which means: “And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know.”
This is even more important if the information that we have received pertains to religious matters. In this case, its interpretation or view may be based on the understanding of the writer or the person who passes on the information. There could be a possibility that the opinion is not the opinion agreed upon by majority of the scholars or “Jumhur Ulama”. We must be extremely careful, especially if we have a tendency to seek for answers regarding religious matters and practices through the Internet.
Blessed Friday Jemaah, I would like to share a doa which was reported to have been a supplication practiced by the Companions r.a, so that we will always seek help from Allah, asking for His guidance and asking for Allah’s protection from being astray and from being duped. The doa reads as such: “Oh Allah the Almighty, show us truth as the truth and grant us the strength to follow it. And show us falsehood as falsehood and grant us strength to avoid them”. [Kitab Syarah Muntaha Al-Iraadat