Friday sermon is a compulsory segment of the Friday Prayers and congregants are expected to give his undivided attention when listening to it.

Friday Sermons in general talk about helping the community to be a better Muslim. They talk about spiritual guidance and share the words, habits and messages of the Prophet Muhammad so that we may use them as reference and inculcate them in our daily lives.

The topics covered in the sermon includes, self-reflection, empathy, strengthening of faith, ethics, morals and generally all about being a better Muslim and human being

Today’s Friday Sermon talked about Fake News.

Yup. Fake News.

Excerpts from the sermon:

“O you who believe! If a troublemaker brings you any news, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become regretful for what you have done.”

The aforementioned Quranic verse clearly explains to us that it is indeed our responsibility to verify and ascertain the truth of any 3 information and news that we read or hear, to ensure that we do not end up inflicting more harm and damage by relaying the fake news that we have received. This is because, spreading lies, slander and bad news are among the dangers and sins of the tongue that we must avoid, as mentioned by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. in a hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Amru r.a.: “A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir (Emigrant) is the one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden”.

It also covered how you should react to fake news

First, be patient and calm in facing it.

Second, to uphold justice and to tread the middle ground.

You can find the full sermon here:

http://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/documents/E17Apr21%20-%20Cleansing%20Our%20Hearts%20from%20A%20Blameworthy%20Trait%20Passing%20on%20the%20Lie.pdf

Quick thoughts:

Digital literacy is the duty of every citizen and the government seems to be going all out to combat fake news like a scourge, starting from Min Shan statements in Parliament against The Online Citizen and States Times Review.

Surely you do not need to use a Friday Sermon to bluntly inform people about it.

Aren’t there better platforms to do this.

While MUIS intentions are good, it was awkward to be hearing these things from an Imam at the pulpit.

A light-touch approach would be ideal. One possible way is to warn Muslims about spreading falsehoods and fitnahs and then go further to share about other traits that they should also take note of (e.g. greed, lust, etc).

Over the years, congregants have pointed out that some of the sermons sounded like propaganda from the ruling party and questioned the agenda of MUIS.

There was even a sermon (in 2015) which praised the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy.- Why? How does that make us better Muslims?

Please understand that the Friday sermon is sacred and congregants are irritated if they think you are just blindly spreading government messages. 

While we fully support preaching NON-hatred and NON-incendiary verses to congregants, MUIS must not lose sight the purpose of the Khutbah –  It is a spiritual guide to the community and not a government mouthpiece.