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Was He Banned?

libraryMuch hoopla has been circulating about Al-Bayyinah Institute which failed to fulfill their promise of hosting Mufti Ismail Menk in their recent event, Amazed by the Qur’an. It was arguably a substantial breach of contract given that Menk was their selling point. This breach has minimal enforceability if the intervening cause (the so-called ‘ban’ I’m about to discuss) was entirely unforeseeable – or was it?

It is common sense, or at least, I would like to assume as much, that the peaceful coexistence of all branches of all faiths is an extremely utopian ideal. Not impossible, but extremely utopian.

It is also common knowledge, or at least, I would like to assume as much, that the occasional rejection of foreign speaker permits happen.

In all fairness, this so-called ‘ban’ is provisional and has been blown entirely out of proportion.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has an extensive history of turning down foreign personalities from giving public lectures in Singapore. Foreign lawmakers? Check. Local and foreign political activists? Check.  Gay rights supporters? Triple check. Whether the grounds in each incident was reasonable is up for debate; I am not about to challenge the Government’s discretion in banning these persons.

Now, angry Muslims are taking to their keyboards and protesting the prohibition of Menk from speaking in a specific context, in Singapore. Allow me to repeat that the prohibition was provisional and people are now reacting to a single, isolated event. When something is provisional, it is not permanent. Therefore, perhaps using the term ‘ban’ was erroneous because it has permanent implications (such may be the case but even bans can be lifted).

To put things into perspective, various influential Muslim speakers have been banned from working in or entering Singapore over the past several decades. Starting from Bilal Philips who was banned in the 1990’s. The news is so old the internet has forgotten about it, but given his track record in Australia, Germany and the UK, there is absolutely no way for the government to grant him leave to enter Singapore. Later, Zakir Naik and Imran Hosein were banned from public speaking in the early 2000’s, the latter reacting rather bitterly as seen in this video.

(It is also worth noting that the people who pushed for the ban of Zakir Naik were not just Muslims but also Christians, primarily people from the National Council of Churches, in their personal capacity.)

The points I am putting across are thus:

1. The Muslim speakers that were banned had something in common.

They were threats to social cohesion and promoted values that were contrary to Singapore’s aim of achieving racial harmony. Drafted in 1989, the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act sought to diffuse existing tensions between various ethnicities and beliefs, and prevent similar incidents in the future. Zakir Naik’s Bible-vs-Qur’an talks were nothing short of antagonizing and misrepresenting Christianity. Imran Hosein earned his badge of (dis)honour when he told Singaporean Muslims to emigrate in order to escape the looming economic crisis. Bilal Philips’ views on terrorism alone warrant no further explanation.

In 2012, Menk posted on Facebook that “to feel obliged to congratulate others for engaging in something against ones core belief is against freedom of conscience & religion” – basically, he said that Muslims should not congratulate people of other faiths during their festivities. Not only that, but he also made it an issue of faith. This means that the mere act of even wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ was a threat to a Muslim’s belief and thus they should abstain from doing so, for fear of inciting God’s wrath. This implies that they cannot partake in festivities, even if their own families were of that faith.

Further, in claiming that the Prophet Muhammad was an ordinary man, and subsequently making fun of his narration on seeking knowledge in China , Menk has left the boundaries of the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaah . The provisions for this are in the Administration of Muslim Law Act, sections 139 (1) and 33 (1), the former which states:

      “139.—(1)  Whoever shall teach or publicly expound any doctrine … relating to the Muslim religion in any manner contrary to the Muslim law … shall be guilty of an offence”

What constitutes ‘Muslim law’ is explained in the latter,

     “33.—(1)  Subject to this section, the Majlis and the Legal Committee in issuing any ruling shall ordinarily follow the tenets of the Shafi’i school of law.”

It is known that besides major differences in creed, followers of the Wahhabi sect typically claim to be ‘la mazhabi’ or belonging to no school of jurisdiction. This implies discrediting the scholars of these institutions, who coincidentally happen to be authorities of either the Ash’ari or Maturidi school of theology, or the ASWJ.

This means the guidelines in administering the sharia in Singapore do not apply to this sect. Thus, allowing them to teach Singaporean Muslims (to whom AMLA’s jurisdiction applies) is in direct violation of S 139 (1).

2. The organizers should not have marketed Menk if they knew he was not granted a permit.

When an application for a foreign speaker’s permit is submitted, it must always be accompanied by the synopsis of their speech, or sometimes even the full paper. The process may take about 6-8 weeks, so by following this logic, the synopsis for Menk’s speech should have been ready way before the event itself. Al-Bayyinah Institute promoted the event and claimed that Menk’s speech would be a ‘surprise topic’, but the other speakers had their own topics. This suggests that either they knew that he did not get the permit, and didn’t apply for it – or that they applied for the permit, and assumed that he would get it in time. The former is more likely because if they applied anyway, they would at least have the topic at hand, and would have marketed it as such. It simply does not make sense to market a public speaking event (or at least part of it) with an unknown topic, because the application process does not allow it.

If there is compelling evidence that proves me wrong in this point, I will retract my argument. But as it stands, I have no reason to believe otherwise.

In conclusion, the above information was publicly available and required minimal research – but people are too easy to convince, quick to react and often do so disproportionately. It takes just a little discretion and scrutiny to understand things as they are.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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TSG: Closing Du’a

arabic-calligraphy

The Sharing Sessions every Friday are always ended with the following du’aa:

اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ جَمْعَنَا هَذَا جَمْعاً مَرْحُوماً وَتَفَرُّقْنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِ تَفَرُّقاً مَعْصُومًا وَلَاتَجْعَلْ فِينَا شَقِيّاً وَلَامَطْرُوداً وَلَامَحْرُومًا بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ

The grammatically correct transliteration:

Allahumma ij‘al jam’anaa haadthaa jam’an marhuuman, wa tafarruqnaa min ba’dihi tafarruqan ma’suuman, wa laa taj’al fiina shaqiyyan wa laa matruudan wa la mahruuman, birahmatika yaa arhama al-raahimeen.

The transliteration if the rules of tajweed are applied:

Allahummaj’al jam’anaa haadthaa jam’an marhuumaa, wa tafarruqnaa min ba’dihi tafarruqan ma’suumaa, wa laa taj’al fiina shaqiyyan wa laa matruudan wa la mahruumaa, birahmatika yaa arhamarraahimeen.

What it means:

O Allah, bless this congregation, and protect us as we disperse, and protect us from distress, banishment and disentitlement, by your Eternal Mercy, O Most Merciful.

اللَّهُمَّ زِدْنَا وَلَا تَنْقُصْنَا، وَأَكْرِمْنَا وَلَا تُهِنَّا، وَأَعْطِنَا وَلَا تَحْرِمْنَا، وَآثِرْنَا وَلَا تُؤْثِرْ عَلَيْنَا، وَأرْضِنَا وَارْضَ عَنَّا

The grammatically correct transliteration:

Allahumma zidnaa wa laa tanquswnaa, wa akrimnaa wa laa tuhinnaa, wa a’twinaa wa laa tahrimnaa, wa aathirnaa wa laa tu-atthhir ‘alainaa, wa ardhinaa wa irdha ‘anna

The transliteration if the rules of tajweed are applied:

Allahumma zidnaa wa laa tanquswnaa, wa akrimnaa wa laa tuhinnaa, wa a’twinaa wa laa tahrimnaa, wa aathirnaa wa laa tu-atthhir ‘alainaa, wa ardhinaa wardha ‘anna

What it means:

O Allah, increase us (in all aspects) and do not decrease us (in all aspects), and grant us respectability and not disgrace, provide for us and do not hold back (our rizq), grant us influence and do not affect us (with bad influences), make us pleased with You, and be pleased with us.


 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What we seek;

Bismillahirrahmaanirrahim.

“Oh Allah,

I seek Your Counsel by Your Knowledge,

And I ask You from Your Immense Favour,

For Verily You are able while I am not,

And verily You know while I do not,

and You are the Knower of the unseen.

Oh Allah,

If You know this affair to be good for me

In my relation to my religion, my life, and end,

Then decree and facilitate it for me,

And bless me with it.

And if You know this affair to be ill for me

Towards my religion, my life, and end,

Then remove it from me and remove me from it,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good… wherever it be,

And make me satisfied with such.”

Ameen.

This is the English translation of the Dua Al Istikharah ; which means The supplication to seek what is good. This is recited after the Istikharah prayer, which is a non-obligatory prayer that we perform when we are faced with tough decisions, stress, and such. I think many of us are familiar with it (: i obtained this translation from http://bit.ly/dNi91D – Mishary recites the Dua so beautifully here.

Don’t stop asking for Allah’s guidance – we need it more than anything.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2011 in Arabic, Fiqh, Hadith, Ramadan, Spirituality, Uncategorized

 

Sparkling Refreshments

And so 2011 has arrived. I’m not about to preach to you about whether or not Muslims should be out there celebrating the new Gregorian year – the lines have clearly been drawn, and despite that everyone has their own opinion on this, furthermore I do not have the knowledge to speak on the matter lest it should start a debate amongst those far more knowledgeable than me (I’m sure there are many).

What I’d rather talk about is this: since this marks the beginning of the school term (probably even school year for some), and a fresh new year at work – basically we are at the beginning of many things since we live under a secular system – perhaps it’s time we renewed our objectives and remembered what we are working / studying for, to give ourselves a little confidence boost.

Number one: work hard towards your Goal – because, as cliché as it sounds, you reap what you sow.

“..and that man can have nothing except what he strives for” [53:39]

At times life may seem unfair, but in truth Allah has His reasons for holding back – just keep on going, because:

“..and that to thy Lord is your Goal” [53:42]

Once you remind yourself that whatever you’re doing is for Allah and Allah alone, every second becomes worth the effort. This, of course, will bring us to question ourselves whether what we are doing is lawful in the eyes of Allah, whether it has any elements of sin in it, and so on – and inshaAllah if we set our Creator as our goal, He will guide us, as long as we ask for guidance.

Number two: purify and refresh your day, every day, 5 times a day.

“and be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity, and whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, you shall find it with Allah, for Allah sees all that you do” [2:110]

This verse says it all: Take advantage of the 5 prayers to refresh and confide in Allah, and be charitable – because generosity purifies the heart and trains it to be sincere. Keep on sending good deeds before you, and be God-conscious in your actions. Allah is watching you.

Number three: trust in Allah, and be patient.

“And seek help in patience and prayer“[2:45]

Like Maulana Dr Waffie said in his book The Story Of Joseph in the Qur’an: “They (the believers) should know that “fear Allah” on one hand; and “trust and faith in Him” on the other will qualify a person for extra help and protection from Him” [Page 59 para. 2]

We are constantly seeking success here, and the hereafter, inshaAllah – and there is no guidance except Allah’s guidance.

Note: inshaAllah I will be on hiatus for a week or two.. I hope Allah allows me to share much, much more when I’m back!


 
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Posted by on January 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Bite-sized

Man, being as forgetful as his Arabic name “Insaan” implies, is constantly needy of being reminded. Allah swt knows this well, of course, and thus reminds us in the Holy Qur’an:

“..and be not divided among yourselves, and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you” [3:103]

Do not forget the fact that all that has been granted to us is but a favour from our Creator; Allah owes us nothing, and He can take back His favours as and when He pleases. So think twice before you open your mouth to complain – be it about a serious matter or a trivial one – because I think, for every difficulty that has been set in your path, there are at least 100 blessings you have yet to be thankful for.

So Remember, with gratitude, Allah’s favour on you J and once you start counting your blessings, you’ll realize – that there really isn’t anything worth complaining about.

Allow me to digress a little – there is a blog i would like to promote. it belongs to our Muslim Brother Abu Ibrahim Stuart, and his posts are highly relevant, beneficial and sometimes even funny. and he updates way more often than i do, so if you like my blog, you will probably love his ^^ visit him at http://americanrevert.tumblr.com/ – may Allah bless you!

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Questions

The saying goes, “to err is human”. I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t anything else. Maybe it was a consolation for people who made mistakes – claiming that it is in their nature to make mistakes so they won’t be held fully responsible for their actions. And yes shortcomings and accidents are inevitable; it is a fact that we are imperfect. But why was the saying never “to improve is human”, or “to be considerate is human” or even “to make the right choices is human”?

The reality that we have chosen imperfection as our defining characteristic is saying a few things. Either a) we recognize our weakness and are using it as a reminder that, no matter how rich, powerful, intelligent, etc we are, we will never be perfect – and that should douse any flames of superiority that burns in our hearts. Or b) we are trying to push away the blame of the wrong choices we made, portraying them as something unavoidable and making it an excuse to make even more mistakes.

I think (b) is a little extreme.

We are imperfect, and by His will we should all know this very well. But we are imperfect for a reason – because where else would our effort go if not towards improvement? It could be improvement in anything – I’m speaking on a non-specific scale here – as long as we are heading somewhere. Fundamentally, it is imperfection itself that drives us forward.

As Muslims we believe that nothing happens except by Allah’s permission – and Allah always has a reason behind all that He allows to happen, and there is a wisdom behind every calamity that befalls us whether we know it or not. We are constantly searching for ways to better ourselves but sometimes, it just feels like we’re going nowhere.

Don’t despair. Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an:

“.. And never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy; certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve” [12:87]

Let us be reminded that everything we posses and every good thing that has happened to us have been by Allah’s Mercy – same goes with self-improvement. We have only gone this far by Allah’s mercy, and if we pause in our tracks, Allah tells us to never give up hope of His mercy. It could be that He is testing your Iman and steadfastness, and it could be that a greater reward awaits in the end. Allah knows best J have Faith. I personally think that having Faith should be the defining characteristic of humans – what do you think?

On a another completely unrelated (but inshaAllah beneficial) note, do you know the origins of Christmas? The fact that it is nowhere near the birthday of Jesus (aka Prophet ‘Isa Pbuh) has long since been established (proven in both the Qur’an and the Bible), and there is more to this than exchanging gifts and dinners – as explained by brother Isma’eel in his Khutbah which you can check out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVxhRboTFPs

Allah Haafiz.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

A Collage of Sorts

“That to thy Lord is your Goal” [53:42]

A verse to bear in mind in all we do, all the time. To Allah is your Goal, to Allah is your Goal, to Allah is your Goal.

Today by Allah’s mercy I learnt why and how ablution helps when one is in frustration. Of course the sound of water and its cooling physical touch has a sort of calming effect, but this time there were a few steps I took, mentally, to further enhance the whole experience of wudhu’. Label it whatever you like, I am not saying what works for me will work on others too. But inshaAllah we’ll benefit one way or another from my sharing of this experience, I hope.

When I performed wudhu’ for ‘Asr prayers today I was, as you can guess, in a slight form of frustration and unrest at heart. As the norm would be when one is in this state I had garnered some not-so-nice thoughts about some things. I guessed it wouldn’t be a good thing to bring into prayers so I sincerely hoped to ‘wash away’ these thoughts through ablution.

As I rinsed my mouth I thought of the inappropriate and non-beneficial words that I’ve uttered earlier.

As I washed my face and forehead I thought of the unnecessary feelings that ran through my mind earlier,

The things I’ve seen that day which were better off unremembered.

As I washed my arms I thought of my actions that might have been displeasing to Allah swt.

And it went on that way, thinking of sins I hoped to be washed away by the water. A small sense of calm ensued afterwards and Alhamdulillah I am thankful for that. Perhaps we could utilize Wudhu’ for constant muhasabah, which is the recollecting and pondering of your previous actions, 5 times a day. Perhaps it could even help quell certain habits when we realize we’ve been hoping to ‘wash away’ the same thing every time. Perhaps. I have yet to try that out.

and i hope it works, by Allah’s will. Ameen 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in Uncategorized