ZULFIKAR SHARIFF SOWED THE SEEDS OF TERROR AMONG MODERATE S’POREAN MUSLIMS, TIME FOR ISLAMIC REFORM?

This is exactly why the need for a discussion on Islamic Reform is so, so pressing. Here you have Mr Zulfikar Shariff, a Muslim who is well versed in Islamic Theology and pretty eloquent. Some may even say, from his posts and personal experiences, that he is someone who can be very convincing.

In these 3 posts below, you will be able to read how he calls upon ‘moderate’ Muslims, presumably those who live among us in Singapore and the region, and cites hadiths, verses and events in Islamic history in an effort to convince them that ‘Jihad’ and ‘Offensive Wars’ are not only necessary but an essential and fundamental part of Islam.

He has the temerity to go as far as to ask Muslims to take up arms for causes which a significant proportion of Muslims in Singapore are sympathetic towards like the plight of the Palestinians and the Rohingya.

The problem arises when Muslims reading the posts start pondering about the legitimacy of these verses, hadiths and stories. And when they are actually found in the Quran and/or other reputable texts, they face a dilemma. They know that these acts do not sit well with them inherently, but they are conflicted as to what to do to reconcile their beliefs and what the religion advocates.

This is how the seeds of Islamic Terror are sowed among seemingly peaceful and moderate Muslims. And unfortunately, 2 have already been radicalized as a result of Mr Shariff’s postings. Amongst those who may not take up arms per se, a number of them may stay silent too if and when such atrocities occur, especially against groups of people like the LGBT Community (as seen in Orlando) or the Israelis.

When faced with verses, hadiths and anecdotes like these, it is all the more important that questioning their relevance shouldn’t be equated to apostasy or islamaphobia.

If the Christian Church can choose to disregard verses which justify slavery, Islam can and must do the same for anachronistic and barbaric verses and practices. It is of utmost importance that we have this conversation.

I would expect to see a considerable number of comments from Muslims who perceive the very act of questioning the faith as blasphemy. I would be the first to admit that this conversation isn’t one that is easy. After all, we were always taught that the Quran is the final word of god and to question it or be selective in which verses we choose to heed would be illogical. Nevertheless, so many different sects of Islam still exist. And for us to begin and adopt a more liberal and tolerant strand of Islam, would do no one any harm. In fact, I submit that it would do the world a great good.

I doubt ‘all-loving gods’ would punish someone for being too peaceful, too tolerant and too reasonable

Also, on a related issue. I have argued against the use of indefinite detention without trial provided under the ISA before. Zulfikar was arrested under the Internal Security Act. As of now, it is not known if the Ministry of Home Affairs plans to eventually bring formal charges against him, as they have done recently with the radicalized Bangladeshi workers. However, such a law is open to abuse.

Ideally, a separate law to deal with terrorist threats should be introduced. Something like the UK’s Terrorism Act. One which incorporates a limited period of preventive detention (4 weeks?) with the renewal subject to the approval of an ombudsman, after-which the accused must be brought to trial. I think it provide sufficient time to gather evidence for a trial in open court.

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