Islam

The future of political Islam

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ISLAMIST DEMOCRACY: The Egyptian crisis raises deeper questions about religious politics

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1.  THE toppling of president Mohamed Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt has raised a host of deep and difficult questions about the future of politicised religion in general, and political Islam in particular.

2.  For starters, it has posed us with the singular query: if the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt now feels that the democratic path is not the means to attain state capture, would this induce some of them to abandon the democratic process altogether and opt for other, perhaps extra-constitutional, means to come to power?

3.  One is reminded of the thesis of Olivier Roy, who has written extensively about the future of political Islam. His argument, developed in the late 1990s, was that religio-political movements such as the Ikhwan’ul Muslimin would eventually learn to moderate and compromise if they were allowed to become part of the democratic process.

4.  The belief then was that the arena of politics was like a structured mould that would shape and form all movements that entered its normative space. The assumption underlying this argument is that religio-political movements were the “soft” human component that entered the “hard” structure of states and institutions, and that such institutions – by virtue of their capacity to maintain and reproduce structured norms of behaviour – would tame the belligerent forces that would otherwise have tried to capture the state and turn it into something else.

5.  For a while, the thesis struck a resonant chord among many analysts and scholars; and there was ample evidence from all over the Muslim world that Islamist parties and movements would conform to the pattern of behaviour Roy had predicted.

6.  Even Islamist thinkers like Rashid Ghannouchi had stated, before the 1990s, that the Islamist movements of North Africa would have to learn to play by the rules of democracy and that if they wanted to come to power, it had to be via the ballot box. Related to this was the other caveat that such movements would also have to accept the will of the majority and accept the possibility that they may also be voted out of power.
The experiment with Islamist democracy was, therefore, not unique to Egypt, for we have seen the same taking place in countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia, we are also presented with several Islamist parties that have likewise committed themselves to the democratic process.

7.  By and large, Roy’s argument seems to have been correct, for we have seen how the Islamist parties of Turkey and Indonesia have adapted themselves to the realities of modern states and modern democratic processes. This has not simply meant the change to their outward appearance in terms of their sartorial choices and the shift from robes and turbans to business suits and i-Pads.

8.  It has also meant that many of these religio-political parties have begun to speak the language of democracy as well, and have to take into account serious challenges such as the accommodation of religious and cultural pluralism in the countries they wish to govern.

9.  Morsi has been accused of being too strong-minded, autocratic and even borderline dictatorial.

  The manner in which the new Egyptian constitution was ramrodded without the visible support and cooperation of other parties in the country was a poor starting point that eroded his claim that he would abide by the norms of democratic consensus and consultation.

10.  So were the many less important policies that were pushed through, which had more to do with cosmetic forms of religious politics than a genuine shift in terms of the ethical prerogatives of the state.

11.  But the toppling of Morsi is also something that has serious repercussions in the short and long term for Egypt, and the Muslim world at large.

12.  For whatever mistakes and shortcomings of Morsi and the FJP party, it has to be said they had come to power with a majority of votes that did reflect the will of the people.

13.  The toppling of the Morsi government has now gained the attention of Islamist movements worldwide, from Turkey to Indonesia; and the fundamental question has been raised by them: if an Islamist government can be brought down despite having won the elections, does this mean that all Islamist movements will meet the same fate in the end? And, if so, why should the Islamist movements of the world even play by the rules of democracy in the first place?

14.  My own concern lies in the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood’s short-lived experiment with democratic politics was seen as a barometer for Muslim sensibilities in the Arab world today, which remains in a state of semi-permanent crisis. The Brotherhood was criticised by some of the more radical and violent Islamist groups of Egypt for “selling out” and transforming themselves into a political party, and by doing so accepting the rules of the democratic game.

15.  Now that they have been deposed, the more radical voices in the Arab world might find themselves in a stronger position to say that democracy cannot be reconciled with religion.

16.  That would be the wrong and dangerous path to follow and one that may end up being self-defeating in the long run. But, for now, the Brotherhood’s democratic experiment has come to a halt and the world waits to see if rational voices will be heard again.

Source : Dr. Farish A Noor, The Future of Political Islam,

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Professor Jackie Ying

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A Life of Passion, Commitment and Hard Work: Professor Jackie Ying

Jackie Y. Ying is someone whose life defies expectations and stereotypes at every turn. In the largely male-dominated field of scientific research with few prominent Asians or Muslims, Professor Ying is a female, Chinese-Muslim whose work in the field of nanotechnology has earned her accolade after accolade throughout her career, earning her the position of Executive Director of the Institute and Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) under Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in 2003 and a spot in the list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims, published annually by Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC).

Her Work and Achievements

At age 36, Professor Ying became the youngest full Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and two years later became the youngest member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the world’s oldest academy for medicine and natural sciences. In 2008, she earned a place as one of only eight women in a list of 100 Engineers of the Modern Era, compiled by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, honouring individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of engineering.

In 2003, she was handpicked by Philip Yeo, then Chairman of A*Star, to head the newly-formed IBN, where she still serves as Executive-Director. Her laboratory’s research in the field of nanotechnology has applications in biomedical sciences and the environment among others, with research including the creation of an artificial kidney, advanced solar cells and carbon sequestration. Professor Ying is also the Editor-in-Chief of Nano Today, a journal ranked 2nd in the Institute for Scientific Information’s (ISI) Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Professor Ying has 290 articles and 120 patents to her name, and presented more than 330 lectures at international conferences.

Her Life

Despite her prominence in her field and having been interviewed by the media both in Singapore and abroad, Professor Jackie Ying has been tight-lipped about her personal life, never divulging much information about her family, or her conversion to Islam several years ago.

Born in Taiwan, at age 7 Professor Ying came to Singapore, where her father was a lecturer of Chinese Literature at Nanyang University (the current Nanyang Technological University). Her passion for science developed during her teenage years spent both in Singapore, where she studied at Raffles Girls School, and New York, when her teachers instilled in her a love for chemistry.

Mentor and Role Model

Her desire to pass on her passion for science to the younger generation is apparent. Professor Ying credits her mentors at the chemical engineering department at MIT with providing her with invaluable advice and support, and she intends to cultivate this culture of mentorship to the next generation of scientists here in Singapore.

In 2003, IBN established the Youth Research Programme, to give secondary and tertiary level students the chance to experience life in the world of biomedical research through attachments, workshops and lab visits. The Youth Research Programme allows the institute to identify young talents and every year, 200 students are mentored by a researcher under the programme, with many keeping in touch with their mentors.

Professor Ying has spoken at Transformations, a forum organised by Mendaki on individual, familial, organisational and societal change, and the Young Muslims Scientist Seminar, organised by The W.R.I.T.E. Club, an initiative under Masjid Al-Istiqamah. She has also spoken at Creating a Nanotechnology Toolbox, a talk organised by the National University of Singapore Muslim Society (NUSMS), on nanotechnology as well as her experience in the field of research as a Muslim academic.

Professor Ying is also one of the mentors under Mendaki’s Project Protégé, mentoring and inspiring Muslim youth wanting to go into the field of science, and giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in a research project carried out at her laboratory.

Passion and Hard Work

All of the above is just scratching at the surface of Professor Jackie Y. Ying’s life and work. With Professor Ying herself acknowledging that she puts in 70-80 hours a week at what she does, she is a living testament to the need to have both passion and a commitment to hard work when pursuing one’s goals. Professor Ying is an inspiration, not just to women or Muslims, but all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender or nationality.

In defence of Erdogan

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Eric S. Margolis

WESTERN politicians and media have been scolding Turkey’s prime minister Recep Erdogan over anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara.

What began as a local protest over the foolish plan to raze trees in Gezi Park near Istanbul’s bustling Taksim Square quickly exploded into major protests thanks to the ham-handed response of Istanbul police, who tear-gassed and beat demonstrators. Turkish police have never been famed for gentleness.

Erdogan’s curt dismissal of the crowd as “looters” further inflamed the situation. In the West, Erdogan was accused of growing authoritarianism and trying to remake Turkey into an Islamic state.

Even the normally sensible Economist magazine accused Turkey’s leader of trying to become a new Ottoman sultan.

What hypocrisy. These were the same western newspapers and politicians who ardently backed Turkey’s former governments that were little more than sock puppets for the military. The very same opinion-makers lauded Egypt’s brutal dictator, Hosni Mubarak, as a “statesman”.

So-called NGOs like Freedom House and Amnesty International, cat’s paws for western governments, attacked Erdogan.

The demonstrators in Turkey’s cities were mostly young, secular and indulging in a springtime flash riot, facilitated by new social media and support from abroad.

Many were rightly angered by Erdogan’s wrong-headed decision to take a lead role in trying to overthrow Syria’s government, a key trading partner for Turkey.

Others, by his plans to limit public drinking and the eternal dispute over women’s head scarves.

What we have been witnessing is an attempt by anti-Erdogan secularists and far rightists, joined by members of Turkey’s long quiescent far left, to achieve what they could not do at the ballot box: ousting Erdogan’s moderate Islamic AK party from power.

These are the same forces who made a terrible mess of Turkey when they were in power from the 1940’s until the 1990’s: coups, riots, murders, regular financial crisis, and brutal human rights violations.

The United States and its media have turned against Erdogan primarily because of his clashes with Israel. Pro-Israel groups in the US are now taking the lead in calling for Erdogan’s ouster. Washington’s conservatives see him as too independent and unreliable.

Over the last decade, Erdogan transformed battered, bankrupt Turkey into an economic powerhouse by imposing sound finances and releasing the pent up power of the commercial class that had long been stifled by the cartels and monopolies of the secular leadership for whom the 1930’s anti-Islamic dictator, Kemal Ataturk, remains a state deity.

Ataturk was a great national hero who saved Turkey from being carved up by the western powers, Greece, and the Soviet Union. But he proved a destructive political leader, tearing up Turkey’s historical roots and religion and replacing them with a vague form of 1930’s state fascism.

Erdogan has indeed grown mildly imperious; success and the lack of any real political opposition has gone to his head. But he is not yet a new sultan and shows few signs of trying to become one.

He has brought real democracy to Turkey, financial stability, and brought it close to European social and legal standards.
Syria aside, Erdogan has made great strides in restoring Turkey’s regional leadership and power.

As Turks used to say, “Turkey is the centre of everything.” Erdogan remains the Middle East’s most popular leader.

Turkey’s able president, Abdullah Gul, who may become a rival of Erdogan in elections, has helped calm the waters. Gul remains the good cop while Erdogan the bad.

Remember, in the last election, Erdogan won a landslide in Turkey’s fractured political system, taking almost 50% of the vote in a poll with an over 80% turnout.

Recent demonstrations have sent Turkey’s stock and bond markets into a tailspin, threatening a financial crisis after a decade of calm and steady growth.

Erdogan is on the edge of achieving a real peace with Turkey’s rebellious Kurds – the most important advance in modern Turkish history. One suspects Turkey’s generals, some of them itching to stage a coup, and their foreign allies, are trying to derail Kurdish peace talks by encouraging the demonstrations.

It took the AK Party a decade to defang the generals and push them out of politics. Are Turkey’s pashas trying to stage a comeback?

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, writing mainly about the Middle East and South Asia. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

Islam & Science -The road to renewal

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After centuries of stagnation science is making a comeback in the Islamic world

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THE sleep has been long and deep. In 2005 Harvard University produced more scientific papers than 17 Arabic-speaking countries combined. The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have produced only two Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics. Both moved to the West: the only living one, the chemist Ahmed Hassan Zewail, is at the California Institute of Technology. By contrast Jews, outnumbered 100 to one by Muslims, have won 79. The 57 countries in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference spend a puny 0.81% of GDP on research and development, about a third of the world average. America, which has the world’s biggest science budget, spends 2.9%; Israel lavishes 4.4%.

Many blame Islam’s supposed innate hostility to science. Some universities seem keener on prayer than study. Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, for example, has three mosques on campus, with a fourth planned, but no bookshop. Rote learning rather than critical thinking is the hallmark of higher education in many countries. The Saudi government supports books for Islamic schools such as “The Unchallengeable Miracles of the Qur’an: The Facts That Can’t Be Denied By Science” suggesting an inherent conflict between belief and reason.

Many universities are timid about courses that touch even tangentially on politics or look at religion from a non-devotional standpoint. Pervez Hoodbhoy, a renowned Pakistani nuclear scientist, introduced a course on science and world affairs, including Islam’s relationship with science, at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the country’s most progressive universities. Students were keen, but Mr Hoodbhoy’s contract was not renewed when it ran out in December; for no proper reason, he says. (The university insists that the decision had nothing to do with the course content.)

But look more closely and two things are clear. A Muslim scientific awakening is under way. And the roots of scientific backwardness lie not with religious leaders, but with secular rulers, who are as stingy with cash as they are lavish with controls over independent thought.

The long view

The caricature of Islam’s endemic backwardness is easily dispelled. Between the eighth and the 13th centuries, while Europe stumbled through the dark ages, science thrived in Muslim lands. The Abbasid caliphs showered money on learning. The 11th century “Canon of Medicine” by Avicenna (pictured, with modern equipment he would have relished) was a standard medical text in Europe for hundreds of years. In the ninth century Muhammad al-Khwarizmi laid down the principles of algebra, a word derived from the name of his book, “Kitab al-Jabr”. Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham transformed the study of light and optics. Abu Raihan al-Biruni, a Persian, calculated the earth’s circumference to within 1%. And Muslim scholars did much to preserve the intellectual heritage of ancient Greece; centuries later it helped spark Europe’s scientific revolution.

Not only were science and Islam compatible, but religion could even spur scientific innovation. Accurately calculating the beginning of Ramadan (determined by the sighting of the new moon) motivated astronomers. The Hadith (the sayings of Muhammad) exhort believers to seek knowledge, “even as far as China”.

These scholars’ achievements are increasingly celebrated. Tens of thousands flocked to “1001 Inventions”, a touring exhibition about the golden age of Islamic science, in the Qatari capital, Doha, in the autumn. More importantly, however, rulers are realising the economic value of scientific research and have started to splurge accordingly. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which opened in 2009, has a $20 billion endowment that even rich American universities would envy.

Foreigners are already on their way there. Jean Fréchet, who heads research, is a French chemist tipped to win a Nobel prize. The Saudi newcomer boasts research collaborations with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and with Imperial College, London. The rulers of neighbouring Qatar are bumping up research spending from 0.8% to a planned 2.8% of GDP: depending on growth, that could reach $5 billion a year. Research spending in Turkey increased by over 10% each year between 2005 and 2010, by which year its cash outlays were twice Norway’s.

The tide of money is bearing a fleet of results. In the 2000 to 2009 period Turkey’s output of scientific papers rose from barely 5,000 to 22,000; with less cash, Iran’s went up 1,300, to nearly 15,000. Quantity does not imply quality, but the papers are getting better, too. Scientific journals, and not just the few based in the Islamic world, are citing these papers more frequently. A study in 2011 by Thomson Reuters, an information firm, shows that in the early 1990s other publishers cited scientific papers from Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (the most prolific Muslim countries) four times less often than the global average. By 2009 it was only half as often. In the category of best-regarded mathematics papers, Iran now performs well above average, with 1.7% of its papers among the most-cited 1%, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia also doing well. Turkey scores highly on engineering.

Science and technology-related subjects, with their clear practical benefits, do best. Engineering dominates, with agricultural sciences not far behind. Medicine and chemistry are also popular. Value for money matters. Fazeel Mehmood Khan, who recently returned to Pakistan after doing a PhD in Germany on astrophysics and now works at the Government College University in Lahore, was told by his university’s vice-chancellor to stop chasing wild ideas (black holes, in his case) and do something useful.

Science is even crossing the region’s deepest divide. In 2000 SESAME, an international physics laboratory with the Middle East’s first particle accelerator, was set up in Jordan. It is modelled on CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory, which was created to bring together scientists from wartime foes. At SESAME Israeli boffins work with colleagues from places such as Iran and the Palestinian territories.

By the book

Science of the kind practised at SESAME throws up few challenges to Muslim doctrine (and in many cases is so abstruse that religious censors would struggle to understand it). But biology—especially with an evolutionary angle—is different. Many Muslims are troubled by the notion that humans share a common ancestor with apes. Research published in 2008 by Salman Hameed of Hampshire College in Massachusetts, a Pakistani astronomer who now studies Muslim attitudes to science, found that fewer than 20% in Indonesia, Malaysia or Pakistan believed in Darwin’s theories. In Egypt it was just 8%.

Yasir Qadhi, an American chemical engineer turned cleric (who has studied in both the United States and Saudi Arabia), wrestled with this issue at a London conference on Islam and evolution this month. He had no objection to applying evolutionary theory to other lifeforms. But he insisted that Adam and Eve did not have parents and did not evolve from other species. Any alternative argument is “scripturally indefensible,” he said. Some, especially in the diaspora, conflate human evolution with atheism: rejecting it becomes a defining part of being a Muslim. (Some Christians take a similar approach to the Bible.)

Though such disbelief may be couched in religious terms, culture and politics play a bigger role, says Mr Hameed. Poor school education in many countries leaves minds open to misapprehension. A growing Islamic creationist movement is at work too. A controversial Turkish preacher who goes by the name of Harun Yahya is in the forefront. His website spews pamphlets and books decrying Darwin. Unlike his American counterparts, however, he concedes that the universe is billions of years old (not 6,000 years).

But the barrier is not insuperable. Plenty of Muslim biologists have managed to reconcile their faith and their work. Fatimah Jackson, a biological anthropologist who converted to Islam, quotes Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the founders of genetics, saying that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. Science describes how things change; Islam, in a larger sense, explains why, she says.

Others take a similar line. “The Koran is not a science textbook,” says Rana Dajani, a Jordanian molecular biologist. “It provides people with guidelines as to how they should live their lives.” Interpretations of it, she argues, can evolve with new scientific discoveries. Koranic verses about the creation of man, for example, can now be read as providing support for evolution.

Other parts of the life sciences, often tricky for Christians, have proved unproblematic for Muslims. In America researchers wanting to use embryonic stem cells (which, as their name suggests, must be taken from human embryos, usually spares left over from fertility treatments) have had to battle pro-life Christian conservatives and a federal ban on funding for their field. But according to Islam, the soul does not enter the fetus until between 40 and 120 days after conception—so scientists at the Royan Institute in Iran are able to carry out stem-cell research without attracting censure.

But the kind of freedom that science demands is still rare in the Muslim world. With the rise of political Islam, including dogmatic Salafists who espouse a radical version of Islam, in such important countries as Egypt, some fear that it could be eroded further still. Others, however, remain hopeful. Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s president, is a former professor of engineering at Zagazig University, near Cairo. He has a PhD in materials science from the University of Southern California (his dissertation was entitled “High-Temperature Electrical Conductivity and Defect Structure of Donor-Doped Al2O{-3}”). He has promised that his government will spend more on research.

Released from the restrictive control of the former regimes, scientists in Arab countries see a chance for progress. Scientists in Tunisia say they are already seeing promising reforms in the way university posts are filled. People are being elected, rather than appointed by the regime. The political storms shaking the Middle East could promote not only democracy, but revive scientific freethinking, too.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21570677-after-centuries-stagnation-science-making-comeback-islamic-world-road

Developing a Close Relationship with Allah

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Allah

Dear beloved jemaah blessed by Allah,

On these last days of the blessed month of Zulhjjah, let us seek from Allah s.w.t. to continue protecting our taqwa to Him throughout the year. Let us persevere, my dear brothers, in our efforts to improve our obedience to Allah s.w.t. as well as to subjugate our hearts to avoid all that He has forbidden. May on these last few days of the year 1434 Hijrah, Allah will accept all our good deeds and reward us with His pleasure, Amin.

My dear brothers blessed by Allah, 

With each passing year, we are in fact getting closer to Allah s.w.t. With the balance of time left for us to live in this world, we should remind ourselves by asking: What have we done to bring ourselves closer to the pleasure of Allah? Have we observed the examples of our beloved Prophet s.a.w. to become as what Allah s.w.t has described in surah al-Anbiya ayat 107:

Meaning: “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.”

This is where I wish to share with you, one of the earlier advices of our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., when he first entered the holy land of Madinah Al-Munawwarah. He advised us to take a step closer in becoming a community of Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin (that is, a merciful community to the worlds) and a community that is close to Allah s.w.t.

From Abdullah bin Salam r.a., he said, meaning: “The first words that I heard from Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. were: “O People! Spread the Salam, feed the people, pray in the middle of the night while the people are asleep, for verily you will enter Paradise in peace.” Hadith narrated by Imam at-Tirmidzi.

This hadith reminds us of three main things, which forms the basis for the well being of humankind.

The first point relates to spreading of Salam. My dear brothers, although extending Salam to another Muslim may seem trivial and insignificant, nonetheless, it has a very profound impact. 

The advice to extend Salam to another reminds us to always be a source of peace and tranquillity, as well as the carrier of hope to people around us. The declaration of “may peace be upon you” that we frequently recite, is in fact, a prayer that can soften any angry hearts and be a cure for those who are depressed and in sadness. It conveys to the listener the message that we only wish for them goodness and peace. 

My dear brothers, 

Would we not feel happy if our relative or friend regularly speaks good things to us, or reward us with a cheerful smile every time we meet? That is what was intended by the advice to spread the Salam. It makes a Mukmin a catalyst for a tranquil heart, to pacify others who may be feeling anxious or sad. That is why the Prophet s.a.w. reminded us in a hadith which means: “Do not discount any deed of goodness, even greeting your brother with a smiling face.” Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim.

This is one of the noble characteristics of the Prophet s.a.w. He is known as a generous man with his smiles and encouraging words. He is also known as someone who only speaks when it is beneficial. This is what makes the Prophet s.a.w. approachable and attractive to those around him. This is among the characteristics of a candidate for paradise. 

What about us today? With the presence of new media and modes of communication, such as facebook, we are given a new freedom in expressing our opinions. There is nothing wrong with this, provided what we are responsible and what we express reaps goodness. Let us make use of this new media to be a place for us to plant goodness, and not to promote slander and hatred. This does not mean that we cannot be firm on the issues that we strongly feel for, but let us focus on the issues at hand and not attack other’s personal reputation and dignity in public.

Every time we publish a comment on platforms such as facebook, twitter, email and the rest, do remember that Allah will hold us accountable for them. Remember that in the end, we all want to earn the pleasure of Allah s.w.t., and not to succumb to our own desires.

The second point that the Prophet s.a.w. advised us in this hadith is to feed others. The willingness to share part of our possession whether it is time, wealth, energy or knowledge constitutes an important aspect to the well being of our lives in this world and the hereafter. How is this so? 

Imagine what would happen if every one of us refused to share what Allah has blessed us with? It will destroy the spirit of our humanity. The fates of those in need are neglected. Worse, it will lead to a feeling of jealousy between the rich and the poor and it will result in grave discomfort between them. 

As the ummah of the Prophet who is a mercy to the universe, let us rise and respond to the call of our beloved Rasulullah s.a.w. Let us help those in need, as best as we can. We do not have to go very far to do this. We just need to look around us. Ask the condition of our neighbours, our relatives, and our friends. Are they in need?

If we are not able to help them individually, we should at least refer them to various self-help groups to assist them. We need to understand that matters involving families, health, finance and others, are complicated and requires the help and advice of professionals and experts. Hopefully, by channelling them to the appropriate assistance, we are able to alleviate and lessen their burdens in this world and in the hereafter. Let us be reminded by the sayings of Rasulullah s.a.w. which means: “Whosoever relieves a Mukmin of his difficulties in the world, Allah will relieve him of his difficulties in the Hereafter. Whomsoever, eases the path of a Mukmin in the world, Allah will ease his path in this world and in the hereafter.” Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim.

The third is the advice given by the Prophet which form the basis of a compassionate heart, is to establish a good and strong relationship with Allah s.w.t. This can be achieved through night prayers and supplications to Allah s.w.t.

My dear brothers, when was the last time we submit our hearts and souls in complete humility to Allah s.w.t.? When was the last time we experience the beauty of a peaceful heart as a result of our repentance to Allah s.w.t.? If our answer to these two questions is always, let us recite Alhamdulillah. But if our response is the opposite, then let us resolve to re-establish an intimate relationship with Allah s.w.t. 

A heart that knows his Lord will always remember the mission of his life on earth that is to be the one who spreads mercy to the world. Therefore, let us set aside some time from our daily lives to supplicate to Allah s.w.t. If we can set aside time for vacations, entertainment and other works, we can also set aside time for Allah s.w.t.

Remember my dear brothers, each of these three deeds reinforces each other. The deed of extending Salam makes it easy for us to be closer to Allah s.w.t. and will transform our hearts. When we set aside time to pray to Allah, our hearts will be strengthened to continue performing good deeds consistently. 

It is in this spirit that we discussed today, that all the mosques in Singapore will be holding an event called ‘Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin’ this Sunday. This is to encourage a heightened appreciation of the teachings of Rasulullah s.a.w., so that we will be his successors as carriers of compassion to all. I call upon all of you to support this effort by making this as part of our lives. May Allah facilitate and make it easy for us to receive His Pleasure and His Blessings in this world and the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

Source : Khutbah Jumaat 30 Nov 2012, Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore)