SINGAPORE - The Muslim community needs to take efforts to deal with the terrorism scourge seriously, said a group of Islamic religious teachers in Singapore.
They urged the community to speak out against individuals who have been influenced by radical ideology and praise acts of terror committed worldwide, saying these people should be given proper counselling as they have been led astray.
Seven ustaz - among them Madrasah Aljunied principal Mahmoud Matlub Sidek, Ustaz Abdul Manaf Rahmat, a mosque religious officer at Mydin Mosque and Maybank Syariah consultant Kamal Mokhtar - issued a statement on Tuesday (June 13) calling the Muslim community to action.
Their call follows news that Singaporean Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, was detained earlier this month under the Internal Security Act for radicalism.
"Violent ideology must be viewed as heresy, and must be reported to the authorities so that its influence can be constrained, and the individuals involved can be rehabilitated," said the statement, which was written in Malay.
Izzah is the first woman to be detained in Singapore for radicalism.
Her detention shows that although the Muslim community here has been warned about terrorist activities abroad and advised to steer clear of such activity, there are still members who have fallen prey, said the statement.
"Being in multi-racial Singapore, we need to be aware that our activities and actions will have impact and implications on other communities," it added.
"This case will no doubt raise feelings of unease and anxiety among the other communities. They may be suspicious of the Muslim community, especially Muslim women who deal directly with the general public."
So the Muslim community must take decisive steps to ensure such an incident does not occur again, it said.
"This has become more urgent in the light of terror attacks happening around the world," said the statement, which laid out three steps the community should take.
First, members of the community must let all Singaporeans know that Islam is a religion of peace, which does not preach violence.
"Only in a peaceful country country can we practise our religion and show the beauty of Islam to others," said the statement.
Second, religious knowledge must come from clear and credible sources, not from sources of unknown origin.
Information obtained online, or from speakers of unknown background, will bring about the wrong understanding.
"We need to stress to the Muslim community that knowledge must come only from accredited religious teachers," said the statement.
And third, the Muslim community must take proactive measures to reach out to other communities.
"We need to get close to our neighbours in any way, and we need to encourage all members of our community to take part in community events, so that people know who we are," said the statement.
"They need to know we are just like them, and share the same aspirations in life. We also want to contribute to national development, and want good for all. Although many community activities have been carried out by many members of our community, this needs to be further improved."
The other four ustaz are: Khairul Anwar Mohamed Aznan, Fathurrahman M Dawoed, Muhammad Imran Othman and Zaidi Samsudi.