The Muslim community needs to make serious efforts to deal with the terrorism scourge, a group of Islamic religious teachers in Singapore said yesterday.
They urged the community to speak out against individuals who have been influenced by radical ideology and who support acts of terror committed worldwide, saying that these people should be given proper counselling as they have been led astray.
"Terrorist ideology should be likened to deviant teachings, and must be reported to the authorities so that its influence can be curbed and the individuals involved rehabilitated,'' they said in a statement in Malay.
The call to action was made by seven ustaz, or Islamic religious leaders. They are: Madrasah Aljunied principal Mahmoud Matlub Sidek; Ustaz Abdul Manaf Rahmat, a mosque religious officer at Mydin Mosque; Maybank syariah consultant Kamal Mokhtar; and Uztaz Khairul Anwar Mohamed Aznan, Fathurrahman M. Dawoed, Muhammad Imran Othman and Zaidi Samsudi.
Their statement comes a day after news broke that Singapore had detained, for the first time, a Singaporean woman under the Internal Security Act for radicalism.
The woman is Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, a contract infant care assistant at a pre-school who was arrested earlier this month. 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 some who have fallen prey, said the statement.
"As part of a multi-racial society in Singapore, we need to be aware that our actions have implications on other communities," it added. "This case is bound to cause unease and anxiety among them. They may become suspicious of Muslims, especially Muslim women who deal directly with the general public."
So, the Muslim community must take decisive steps to ensure this episode is not repeated, it said.
"This has become more urgent in the light of terror attacks happening around the world," the seven ustaz said.
They 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 that does not preach violence.
Second, religious knowledge must come from accurate and credible sources, not dubious sources that may give rise to misinterpretations of the faith.
"We need to stress to the Muslim community that knowledge must come only from accredited religious teachers," said the statement.
Third, the Muslim community must be proactive in reaching out to other communities.
"Not only should we reach out to our neighbours, (but) we must also actively participate in various community events so that people will know who we truly are," said the statement.
"It is imperative that they know we are just like them and have similar aspirations. Like others, we also wish to contribute to nation building and hope for the best for everyone."
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh