A conference was held last week featuring scholars in the modern Muslim world sharing what amazed them about the Quran. These scholars include Mufti Ismail Menk, Abdul Nasir Jangda, Omar Suleiman and Nouman Ali Khan.
During the conference, Mufti Menk did not appear and his session was covered by the other presenters.
No one understood why and many were understandably disappointed.
Within hours, an individual claimed the ban for his own glory
The organiser (together with Mufti Menk) got into the fray by conducting a poll on Mufti Menk and asking if he stood for peace, tolerance, coexistence and mutual respect.
Their poll caused more chatter. It led to more people believing that
1) he was indeed banned
2) all the conspiracy theories about the Singapore government against Islam is true and
3) MUIS and our Muslim MPs are powerless to do anything (as ususal)
News of his alleged ‘ban’ went viral and most people (took FB news as truth) were furious. Almost instantaneously, the Muslim Community were divided into two camps.
On one hand, they were asking why the ban and if this has got anything to do with Singapore (aka the government) clamping down on extremism and Islam.
On the other hand, people were throwing the term Wahabism around and accusing Mufti Menk of being pretentious and fundamentalist (i.e not good for Islam in general)
More petitions were created – This time to un ban him.
Many more people googled on Wahabism.
Most passed on the messages they read online as the truth.
Points we want to think about
- There are many branches of Islam (Sunnis, Syias, Wahabbis, etc) and all of them have coexisted peacefully in Singapore. Why the division? Except for certain sects, Shia’s, Sunnis, Wahabis are a part of the Muslim community. #fact
- The assertions and allegations on FB are all made by layman (i.e he could be the uncle drinking Kopi in the coffee shop or your funny colleague you just had lunch with). The point is they are not made by 1) authority or 2) credible scholars. The points that they posted are their thoughts and should not be taken as truth.
- MUIS who oversees the Muslim affairs in Singapore did not say anything about any ban – Why?
- Most Singaporean Muslims have been petitioning through various channels for years to allow the wearing of Hijab at all workplaces. They were not successful (..yet). Here comes an individual who claim that he wrote in to the authorities (i.e probably MHA) and succeeded in imposing ban on Mufti Menk. I shall leave it up to you to think about this.
In the last few days, the organiser has come forward to inform that there was indeed No Ban on Mufti Menk.
Even the person who started the petition to ‘Unban Mufti Menk’ acknowledged that he might have jumped the gun and apologised to the public. The petition was subsequently removed (by than it has gathered more than the required signatures)
Perhaps the only people that could/should address this are the authorities (i.e MUIS, MOM, MHA, anyone?)
Otherwise, they are just leaving room for the gossip mongers and news agencies to hijack the narrative.
MUIS credibility is at stake (every slip ups or inaction would only undermine their credibility further and reinforce the community beliefs that the MUIS and the Malay MP are just puppets) – Its nearly a week after the incident and they are still quiet..!
If there were some sort of restriction that does not allow Mufti Menk to speak – the authorities should explain why and what are the guidelines that one must follow to be able to give talks?
What can we do?
On our part, the least we could do is to stop and consider the news that we read online (we have said this multiple times and we will say it again). Be wary of sensational news. Very often, it is only part of the story and very very biased.
It is easy to shout claims of Islamophobia, play the victim card and stand up against perceived injustice and the infringement of human rights.
In my opinion, that is in itself Islamophobia – something that the westerm media have been telling us non-stop about.
source: Pristine ILM FB; Zayedtalib Blog