The Imam seeks forgiveness for adding supplication, not from Quran

Only the highlighted line is found in the Quran and the rest were added by the Imam

God Help, or protect us against, or grant us victory over, the disbelievers/persecutors

God Help, or protect us against, or grant us victory over, the polytheists

God Help, or protect us against, or grant us victory over, the Jews and the Christians

God Help, or protect us against, or grant us victory over, the Jews and the Christians

He did the apology in front of several interfaith leaders.

The Quran does not mention any supplication that asked for Gods victory over Jews and Christians, instead, they are respectfully referred to as people of the Book and calls for dialogue and reconciliation.

Speaking exclusively to Berita Harian after the apology, Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jaleel Abdul Malik, 47 years, said that he did so (apology) as he regretted his actions and acknowledge that his supplication which is sensitive was not taken from the Quranic verses. He told Berita Harian that the authorities have been reasonable/appropriate in handling the case.

He has also expressed during his apology (made during a closed-door session) that He is extremely remorseful to have caused inconvenience, tension and trauma to this country.

‘My actions are not appropriate for the ethos and the local context of a young robust nation’, he said, who came from Tamil Nadu, India and working in Singapore as an Imam in Jamae Chulia Mosque.

Video of the imam’s remarks uploaded on social media sparked widespread debate, with some criticising the uploader for whipping up tensions between religious groups, and others saying he was right in bringing the matter to light.

This prompted the Mufti and many Malay leaders to call for calm in the community.

In a strongly worded comment, they said, “on such sensitive matters, it would be better to go to the authorities in the first instance, rather than online”.

We have some quick thoughts here:

We appreciate the Imam coming forth and explaining that his supplication was wrong in Singapore’s context. Many had no idea what was actually being said and could only rely on third-party interpretations. This stirred speculations and fueled further misunderstandings. But why apologise now when the case is still under investigation? We have no reason to doubt him but wouldn’t this invite people to speculate that perhaps he was ‘hand twisted’ to make the apology so that he would not be charged with a stiffer sentence? What about the many initial social media comments who were quick to judge that he was not wrong and that the government is going too harshly on him; what are they going to say for themselves, now that the imam has admitted that his supplication was actually from his village in India.

On the whole, many would have no problem accepting that we have to protect our harmonious multi racial relations. Although a literal translation of the verse is misguided and inappropriate, we could see how it could be easily misunderstood by others who do not have a strong foundation in the religion. Enforcing the law in effect will protect minority communities in Singapore from the majority. What the imam did was done within the limitations of his personal exposure and adaptability, there was no malicious intent on his part, he just failed to understand the nuances of our society.

The community is still sore about Terrance (the guy who uploaded the video). He deserves more for sowing discord within and across the community. Many felt that he is the trouble maker especially since he wasn’t the slightest bit apologetic about the incident. But is he really wrong? After all, he did mention that he has highlighted the incident to MUIS once before but no action was taken.

Has he then been counselled? Is he going to apologise and admit that he has learnt from the incident and could have done better when whistle-blowing? Why no follow-up on him?

What about the NUS Professor (Khairuddin) whose comments were highlighted by Min Shanmugam for explicitly supporting hatred. He is currently suspended from NUS, but is he going to apologise too, for reacting to Terrence remarks?

The social fabric in Singapore is very very fragile and we live in a time where society expects every Muslim to be able to articulate their faith and practice well and assure that people are not radicals and fundamentalist.

Singaporean Muslims have to be steadfast in their beliefs, reject using Islam and the Quran to justify aggression, and to be aware of the climate that we live in, to always be careful and to uphold the good name of Islam and the Muslim community. – Mufti Fatris Bakaram

These were Mufti Fatris Bakaram words when the incident first started to divide the community.

The Imam is a man of faith. He came up to apologize when he was wrong. He kept true to the teachings Islam and asked for forgiveness to those he offended.

We welcome the apology from the imam, but is there wisdom for us to expect the same from the others (i.e Terrance and khairudin) too?

(HE knows best)

Read also: Managing Conflict the Mufti Way