More people must speak out against extremist acts

The Sultan of Johor recently rebuked the owner of a launderette and decreed that putting up a sign stating that the shop is "Muslim only" is an extremist act (Laundry removes 'Muslim-only' sign after sultan's rebuke; Sept 28).

Desiring to implement Islamic values may be noble, but it can never be achieved through extremism.

As an ordinary practising Muslim in Singapore, I view Islam as a simple religion based on the Quran and on the Hadiths, which are the words and actions of Prophet Muhammad.

It is a religion that advocates peace and tolerance to all. Each person of faith has the moral obligation to maintain peace, without compromising on justice and truth.

One fundamental Islamic principle is "Wasatiyyah" or moderation, that is, not going to the extreme in any form.

In fact, Islam propounds that there should be complete moderation, perfect ease and full liberty in matters of faith and religious practices.

It seems to me that some Muslims have lost their understanding of the teachings of our faith, and are substituting the sublime message of Islam with a discourse of anger and rhetoric of rage.

In many parts of the world, deviant people or groups are committing extremist acts in the name of Islam.

These acts are contrary to the fundamentals of the Islamic faith.

There is no teaching or command in our faith that can be referenced as the direct reason behind extreme actions and practices, including the killing of innocent children, women, the elderly and the helpless.

Unfortunately, not enough Muslims are standing up to these bullies and self-righteous people.

As Singaporeans, it is our duty to speak out against extremist practices by followers of any religion that could undermine the religious and racial harmony that has been built over the past 52 years in our society.

Sattar Bawany (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2017, with the headline 'More people must speak out against extremist acts'. Print Edition | Subscribe