SINGAPORE - Muslims in Singapore should go beyond a ritualistic understanding of their faith and better appreciate its substance and ethos, Mufti Fatris Bakaram said in a sermon marking the start of the Islamic New Year on Thursday (Sept 21).
This entails contributing to wider society, working together as a nation to succeed, and lending a hand to anyone in need.
Dr Fatris was speaking to some 1,500 Muslims who gathered for evening prayers as well as prayers to welcome the start of Islamic New Year 1439 at Darussalam Mosque in Clementi.
The Islamic New Year marks the hijrah, or migration, of Prophet Muhammad and his companions from Mecca to Medina in the year 622. Muslims follow the lunar calendar.
Dr Fatris, Singapore's highest Islamic authority, told media before the sermon that Muslims should reflect on the lesssons they can tap from this history.
"It was not motivated by anger nor hatred, but the motivation was the drive to build a community that radiates goodness, mercy and compassion to others," he said.
He felt it was critical for Muslims to understand this ethos.
"It is very sad to see some youth who were misled to believe that in order for you to change the world to a better place, you have to be reckless, you have to be mindless, you have to be heartless even, doing acts of terror," he said. "That is not the way portrayed by the Prophet."
He urged listeners to continue the effort to build a community and a nation of mercy and compassion, adding "there is so much that we can contribute to the region and also the world".
In his 30-minute sermon, Dr Fatris touched on how Prophet Muhammad was exemplary in showing how hard work, sheer determination and faith can pave the way to success in spite of tremendous challenges.
He urged the Muslim community to not let challenges and limitations hinder it from excelling.
Said Dr Fatris: "Ultimately, the Muslim community in Singapore wants to propagate an Islam that is full of love, mercy and compassion, not an Islam that is full of hatred, violence and destruction."
The Islamic New Year is traditionally a quiet holiday, with time spent in prayer and contemplation, and some choose to make resolutions on the day.
"As we celebrate this new Hijrah year, let us affirm our resolutions to achieve greater heights and attain success together as a community.
"True success is also one that is achieved together, without leaving anyone behind," the Mufti added.