SINGAPORE - The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) issued a second statement on Friday (Nov 27) thanking the public for sharing information regarding the alleged leader of a deviant religious group.
Muis is working with the authorities and re-investigating the self-styled prophet, after The Straits Times' exposé on the deviant group was published on Nov 9.
To help in its ongoing investigations, Muis continues to invite people with credible evidence - such as recordings, lecture notes and e-mails -and persons who are willing to testify to make their submissions to it before the Dec 11 deadline.
"Muis understands there are families and individuals who have been affected by the alleged group," the council said.
"We are reaching out to affected individuals who have approached us on the matter to render support and assistance.
The man at the centre of the investigation is a former massage therapist in his 50s.
It is believed he has led the group, whose female followers help run a small restaurant and an events management business, for the last 15 years.
Among his teachings, the man professes to be Prophet Muhammad, permits gambling to help needy Muslims, and aspires to have 13 spiritual wives.
ST's four-month-long investigation documented the existence of five highly-educated women who were described by the group's ex-followers as the man's spiritual wives.
Of the five female followers, four had divorced their husbands between 2010 and 2017. The men were accused of mistreating their former wives and not giving them allowances.
At present, ST's video story on the group has garnered 468,000 views on Facebook, including 4,800 shares and 1,300 comments.
Muis' first statement on the matter on Nov 10 revealed that it was first alerted to the case in 2018.
The council had then issued a formal advisory to the man, who is not a qualified or registered religious teacher under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), to cease his religious activities immediately.
Added Muis in its latest statement: "We would like to remind the community of the importance of seeking religious guidance and knowledge from credible and recognised asatizah. The ARS was set up to ensure the community has access to qualified asatizah and registered Islamic schools."
In the last three weeks, Friday sermons at Singapore's mosques have focused on the dangers of deviant religious teachings and how to spot them.
ST understands that as part of its investigation, Muis seeks to find out if the man had continued teaching his deviant religious beliefs despite being told to stop by the council.
A former male follower of the group, Mr Ahmad (not his real name), told ST he hoped Muis would expedite its investigations.
Mr Mohammed (not his real name), a former husband to one of the self-styled prophet's spiritual wives, said he is relieved that the Muslim community is now "aware of the dangers of someone teaching Islam without ARS certification".
Persons who are able to help Muis can send their e-mails to email@example.com or can present in person at the Singapore Islamic Hub.