Posted by: HifzanShafiee | June 23, 2014

Practices Of The Prophet In The Month Of Syaaban

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Beloved Friday Jemaah,

Let us increase our efforts to boost our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. Seek religious knowledge, so that we can continue to improve our understanding of the laws, commands and prohibitions ordained by Allah. May Allah place us among those who have takwa and faith.

Jemaah,

We are now in the month of Syaaban. Time has passed by really fast. I can still clearly remember celebrating Ramadan and Eid last year. The year that has passed has been very valuable. We can never recover the time that has passed. Sometimes we fail to appreciate the value of time that Allah has blessed upon us because we keep thinking that will live a long life, that tomorrow will always come, and that we will have the opportunity to usher in Syaaban and Ramadan in the coming year.

Let us not be like those who realise how precious every second is only when they are at the end of their lives, or on their deathbeds! Allah s.w.t. says in surah Al-Mukminun verses 99 – 100:

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Which means:  “(In Falsehood will they be) Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: "O my Lord! Send me back (to life), – "In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected." – "By no means! It is but a word he says."- Before them is a Partition till the Day they are raised up.”

Blessed jemaah,

In appreciating the gift of time that Allah has bestowed upon us, let us reflect upon the state of our relationship with Allah s.w.t. We may be among those who have good relations with other people; always donating generously, helping those in need and well-liked by our family and friends. However, does the same apply when it comes to our relationship with Allah the Almighty? The One who created everything for us? Have we given enough of our time to Allah and to supplicate to Him?

Friday jemaah,

Let us take advantage of the month of Syaaban to bring ourselves closer to Allah s.w.t. by understanding how our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. filled his time throughout the month of Syaaban. Nabi s.a.w. said:

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Which means: “Syaaban is the month which humankind often neglect. It is the month between Rejab and Ramadan. It is the month where all of the servant’s deeds are brought to the Lord of the universe. Thus, I like to fast when my deeds are brought up. [Hadith narrated An-Nasaie’]

Imagine jemaah, how is the state of our record of deeds throughout this year? What would our value be when our book of deeds are opened and presented to Allah s.w.t, the Creator? If our books of deeds are presented to us today, would we be happy and proud of it? Or would we be embarrassed and filled with regrets, wising that we had done more good deeds? Just reflect upon how the Prophet s.a.w. – despite being infallible (maksum) – still continued to strive hard and was diligent in increasing his worship in the month of Syaaban.

Blessed Friday jemaah,

Syaaban is a sign that Ramadan will soon be here. Every mukmin who is aware of the advantages of the month will definitely strive hard and increase their deeds throughout Syaaban with the hope that Allah s.w.t. will grant the believer the strength to be able to usher in Ramadan.

Among the deeds that is a sunnah for us in this month of Syaaban is to fast more often. As narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim, the wife of Rasul s.a.w. ‘Aisyah r.a. said: “I have never seen Rasulullah fast more than during the month of Syaaban”.

Among the hikmah or wisdom behind why we are encouraged to increase our fasting in Syaaban is to prepare us for Ramadan. In fact, we are also encouraged to perform other acts of worship that we often perform in Ramadan.

During Ramadan, we are encouraged to increase our sunnah deeds such as reading the Quran, making zikir, performing solat tahajjud and witir, solat dhuha and acts of charity. In order to be able to perform these deeds easily and with consistency (Istiqamah), we need ample practice. This is where the month of Syaaban offers us the opportunity to practice these acts. With practice, it will come naturally and easily for us to perform them during Ramadan.

It is narrated that an ulama, Abu Bakar Al-Balkhi, once said: “The month of Rejab is for sowing (the seeds). The month of Syaaban is to water the plants. And the month of Ramadan is to reap the fruits.” [Kitab Lathoif Al-Ma’aarif]

Friday jemaah,

Besides preparing ourselves spiritually by increasing our acts of worship, a believer must also realise that one needs to prepare oneself intellectually as well, and that is done by continuously seeking knowledge. Year after year we will hear questions from some individuals within the community about errors or mistakes that they made while fasting, causing them to be uncertain as to whether the fast is still valid or has been nullified.

A mukmin should learn about the laws of Islam and matters pertaining to it. For example, learning about deeds that are encouraged when a person is fasting, as well as what nullifies or affects one’s fast. Armed with knowledge, we can then prevent ourselves from carrying out actions or deeds that can taint our fast.

Beloved jemaah,

Let us encourage each other (our friends and family members) to work together to enliven the spirit of Syaaban by performing acts of worship and increasing our knowledge. Take the opportunity in the month of Syaaban to prepare ourselves to usher in the holy month of Ramadan. Hopefully by doing as such we will gain the love and pleasure of Allah s.w.t., and be among those who attain success in this world and the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin

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Posted by: HifzanShafiee | June 23, 2014

Strengthening Our Faith By Seeking Knowledge

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us strive to increase our takwa to Allah s.w.t. Obey His commandments. Leave behind what Allah has prohibited upon us. Let us hold firmly to the true teachings of Islam. May each and everyone of us be protected from deviating from the straight path.

Dear jemaah,

Throughout this month, we have heard sermons that talk about the importance of faith or iman. It is important for us to constantly remind each other about issues concerning one’s faith. Especially in today’s developed world where many people are susceptible to an emptiness of their souls because they are too busy chasing material wealth or fulfilling the demands of their hectic lives in this world.

This is a phenomenon of the industrial society. An empty soul can easily be filled with various ideas, and so we must be careful about the sources of Islamic knowledge that we seek. We should ensure that we are seeking knowledge from the true sources that can fill our empty souls.

A strong faith is built on the foundation of knowledge that is muktabar (true and authentic). We know that with knowledge, a believer (mukmin) can continue with his life in this world, obeying what will gain Allah’s pleasure in order to achieve eternal bliss and success in the hereafter. Allah s.w.t. says in surah As-Saba’ verse 6, which speaks of the advantages of a learned person:

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Which means: “And those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, and it guides to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy.”

Through this verse, Allah s.w.t. firmly states that knowledge is a factor for one to receive Allah’s guidance. It is through knowledge that we can strengthen our akidah (belief) and faith. Armed with knowledge, one will be able to face the sea of religious information, whether the information is found in books, other publications or through various site on the Internet, and be able to discern between truth and falsehood, authentic sources and those that are questionable. Indeed, this is the role of religious knowledge for every individual.

However, in seeking knowledge, especially in today’s age, there are three groups that we can identify.

The first group: Those who want things to be done fast.

This group consists of individuals who want to gain religious knowledge quickly. They do not bother about the authenticity of the information that they receive, as long as their queries or questions are answered. They are driven to simply use the Internet and various applications that we can find today as the only source of religious knowledge. We should be aware that those in this group may end up confused and may be led astray in their enthusiasm to understand religious texts.

Friday jemaah, the tradition of seeking knowledge during the time of Rasulullah s.a.w. is to seek knowledge from a person who is more knowledgeable. Thus, there exists an actual relationship between the teacher and the student. This is because explanations given by scholars regarding various religious texts have to be taken into consideration in our attempt to understand them. This is also to ensure that we can truly understand the meaning behind the text that we come across.

Second group: They want to take the easy route.

This group wants to take the easiest route to Allah s.w.t. They also want to take shortcuts in practicing the religion and fulfilling their obligations. This group may easily be taken in by claims from deviant groups who “promote” shortcuts to bring one closer to Allah s.w.t. For example: Teachers that claim whomever who follows him will be guaranteed a place Paradise, or those who claim that by making zikr or recitations taught by his group, that is sufficient to earn the follower a place in Paradise, or claims that fardh prayers (the five daily prayers) are not obligatory upon his followers.

These are just some examples of the many deviant teachings, which simply give false promises to attract those who lack knowledge of Islam.

Friday Jemaah, we should realise that there is no shortcut to Allah s.w.t. If indeed there were shortcuts, it would have been taught to us by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. However, Rasulullah s.a.w. and his companions showed us that the path to Paradise is often filled with trials and tribulations and various challenges and countless sacrifices. Rasulullah s.a.w. said:

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Which means: “The Fire has been surrounded by lusts and desires and the Paradise by hardships.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim]

Blessed Jemaah,

There is then the third group, that is the group that seeks knowledge in the right manner, which is by deepening their understanding of Islamic knowledge. These are individuals who strive to learn the methodology or ways to understand the Quran and the Sunnah of Rasulullah s.a.w. Quranic texts and Sunnah texts are complex and open to various interpretations. Thus, this is where we should not just say that we want to follow the Quran and Sunnah but also understand and learn how the scholars understand the Quran and Sunnah.

Allah has blessed those in the third group with the love for knowledge. They will always strive to attain a higher level of knowledge. For example: If this year they are not yet able to recite the Quran, then they will attempt to seek knowledge and learn until they are able to read and not just that, but also understand the contents of the Quran. They will seek to learn from an ustaz, and ensure they establish a teacher-student relationship with him, and not only with one ustaz but many others certified religious teachers, understanding and researching the sources of knowledge and the information received.

Blessed Friday Jemaah,

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We ask from Allah to grant us the love for knowledge and those who are learned. And hopefully, we will always be protected by Allah and be granted His guidance that may help us and our families Kita guard our akidah and strengthen our iman. May Allah protect this community that we love, to be on the path of His Syariah, as taught by Rasulullah s.a.w. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Every Friday we are given constant reminders and advice, our hearts are nurtured to listen to beautiful verses of the Quran and we are called to strengthen our takwa. Let us further heighten our sense of takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by obeying His commands and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us.

Friday jemaah,

Every year we recall important events in the Islamic history. And among the important events that we recall and reflect upon is that of the journey of Isra’ and Mikraj. This event is a testament of Allah’s might and Allah’s greatness. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran, regarding the truth of Isra’ and Mikraj, in surah Al-Israa’ verse 1:

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Which means: “Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”

Dear jemaah,

The event of Isra’ and Mikraj happened after a series of events that caused sadness to the Prophet s.a.w. This journey took place after the Year of Sadness “Amul Huzn” which saw the passing of the beloved wife of Rasulullah s.a.w., Saiyidatina Khadijah r.a, and the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, who took care of him since he was a boy. Furthermore, efforts by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. to spread the message of Islam to the people of Taif were rejected and ridiculed by them. Thus, scholars or ulama have concluded that the event of Isra’ and Mikraj is an event sent by Allah to honour His Beloved Messenger Muhammad s.a.w, for this is when the command for prayer (solat) was given and various signs of His Greatness were shown.

Blessed Jemaah,

If we study the various hadiths that captured the journey of Nabi s.a.w. and look at the events Rasulullah s.a.w. had witnessed during Isra’ and Mikraj, we will find that Rasulullah was shown the beauty of Paradise and its dwellers. Let us reflect upon this hadith, which talks about the allure of Paradise:

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Which means: Rasulullah s.a.w. was once asked about Paradise and he answered: " He who would get into Paradise would live forever, would enjoy everlasting bliss that he would neither become destitute, nor would his clothes wear out, nor his youth would decline. Rasulullah s.a.w. was asked again:  Ya Rasulullah, how about the buildings? He replied: Bricks of gold and silver, and mortar of fragrant musk, pebbles of pearl and sapphire, and soil of saffron. [Hadith narrated Ibn Abi Shaibah]

Subhanallah, doesn’t it excite our hearts to hear of this hadith that talks about the beauty of the gardens in Paradise, the tranquillity and serenity that awaits every believer! Life in this world is never free from all sorts of trials and tribulations, what more for those of us who are adults and bear many responsibilities. So just imagine life in the Hereafter as shared by Rasulullah s.a.w. in the hadith above; a life filled with serenity, calmness and eternal bliss. Based on this, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, when asked by his child: My dear father, when is it the time for us to rest? He replied: When you take your first step into Paradise (then that is the time to rest). [Tabaqaat Hanabilah]

Friday Jemaah,

There are many hadith that describes the beauty and allure of Paradise. However, I would like to share a short hadith about the Paradise that will entered by the last person who is admitted to Paradise. That person will be admitted to the lowest Paradise. This is to help us imagine just how magnificent the Gardens of Paradise created by Allah.

In a hadith narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Rasulullah s.a.w. talks about the last person who will be admitted into Allah’s Paradise. Imagine, Allah will grant that person a Paradise that is ten times wider than this earth. The Prophet s.a.w. laughed when he shared the story and said: “That is the lowest Paradise”.

If this Paradise is the lowest, then what would the highest Paradise be like? How about the Paradise of those who will become neighbours with Nabi Muhammad s.a.w.? In fact, how about the Paradise for those who take care of orphans? The Prophet s.a.w. promised that those who take care of orphans will be those closest to him in Paradise. How about the Paradise for those who carried out their obligations and responsibilities to their families?

Dear Jemaah,

Those who aspire to be given a place in Paradise should uphold the practices of the dwellers of Paradise. These practices are those that would attain Allah’s pleasure, such as acts of worships, which include prayers, paying zakat and so on. Good deeds such as helping individuals and charitable acts such as wakaf and making donations are also part of those practices.  So these are the acts and deeds that will bring one closer to Jannah (Paradise).

Besides just increasing our good deeds, we should also realise that a noble akhlak, or good manners, can help one to attain Allah’s pleasure and His Paradise. A noble akhlak – being truthful, trustworthy, and courteous and so on – is pertinent in Islam. Rasulullah s.a.w. said in a hadith, which means: “Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners”. [Hadith narrated by Abu Dawud]

Hence, those who wish to attain ease, comfort and tranquillity in the Hereafter, would have to be conscious of their deeds, and ensure that they are in line with the deeds of those who have been promised Paradise. Let us make the effort to deepen our Islamic knowledge, and learn about the habits and practices loved by Allah and those upheld by the Prophet and his beloved companions.

May Allah s.w.t. grant us taufiq and the ability to use all the blessings that Allah has given to us to achieve goodness, attain His pleasure and His forgiveness and mercy, insyallah. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 23 May 2014 / 23 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 26, 2014

Death – A Meeting With Allah

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Blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us renew our resolve to strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. He is the One who gives live and we will definitely return to Allah. Thus, obey all of Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us to achieve success in this world and the hereafter.

Friday jemaah,

Life is a blessing from Allah s.w.t. which we should always be thankful for, because with it comes many blessings such as family, health, wealth and so on. The blessings or nikmat from Allah are meant to help us in our life’s journey on this earth, to help us fulfil our responsibilities as His vicegerent or khalifah in this world. However, people often forget that these blessings are just a means and not the end goal. We may forget that this world is just a temporary stop for us to prepare ourselves and as a means to seek Allah’s pleasure in the hereafter, which will be our final destination and eternal abode.

Hence, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. who taught us that we should be like travellers or musafir in this world. This means that even though we dream of wealth, comfort and convenience in this world, but we should ensure that all these are to assist us in preparing for the moment which Allah s.w.t. mentions in surah Al-Qiyamah verses 26 to 30:

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Which means: “Yea, when (the soul) reaches to the collar-bone (in its exit), And there will be a cry, "Who is a magician (to restore him)?" And he will conclude that it was (the Time) of Parting; And one leg will be joined with another: That Day the Drive will be (all) to thy Lord!”

In fact, the Prophet s.a.w. encouraged us to constantly remind ourselves and others that death will surely come to us. In his hadith which means: “Remember frequently the thing that cuts off pleasures: which is death, verily the grave says everyday: I am the home that is abandoned, the solitary abode, the home made of earth, the home of worms. When a believer is buried, the grave will say: Welcome, you are the person I love most, now you have come to me. And the grave will be expanded as far as the eyes can see, and the door of Paradise is opened for him.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi]

Blessed jemaah, even though the moment of death is not made known to us, it is one that will surely occur. Thus, it is pertinent upon us to prepare ourselves for the moment when death is immediately upon us. Perhaps, we have had many friends and family members who were still young and were still very healthy, but Allah has called them to return to Him earlier. We do not want to meet Allah in a condition where we are stained with sins and wrongdoings. We hope that the end of our lives is beautiful. We would want the angel of death to greet in the manner mentioned in Surah An-Nahl verse 32:

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Which means: “(Namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity, saying (to them), "Peace be on you; enter ye the Garden, because of (the good) which ye did (in the world)."

Dear jemaah, let us ask ourselves, how will our first night be in the grave, with the earth as our bed? Will it be spacious and beautiful, like the gardens of paradise as mentioned in the hadith earlier, or will it be cramped, our bodies crushed and suffering from the torment of punishment?

Let us strive to prepare ourselves to return to Allah. Ensure that our hearts are filled with beneficial knowledge. Those who have religious knowledge, ensure that they practice what they have learned because that will help us to answer the questions asked when we are in the grave. Our knowledge should not remain as information that’s simply stored and not applied.

Friday jemaah,

While we should constantly prepare ourselves for death, it does not mean that we ignore our lives in this world. In fact, constant reflection of our condition when death comes to seize  us  should actually drive us to become better servants of Allah; obedient to Allah and become ummah of Rasulullah s.a.w. who perform more good deeds.

In order to help us overcome the trials of the grave, we should increase our religious knowledge, and ensure our children do the same, and that our family will uphold the religion to the best of our abilities and knowledge. We should also be more diligent in trying to understand the Noble Quran and strive hard to practice the lessons from the Quran. A person who constantly thinks of death will not let go of any opportunity to help those in need and will not transgress the boundaries set by Allah. If one has accidentally sinned, one will quickly make taubat and try not to repeat the mistakes made. If we have hurt someone, we should quickly seek forgiveness. If we have broken ties with others, then we should try to amend the relationship so that we will not trip just as we reach the door to paradise.

Blessed jemaah, fill our hearts with the light from the Noble Quran for Nabi s.a.w. once said: “Surah al-Mulk (which is the 67th surah if we are to read and reflect upon its meaning) can be our intercession from the punishment of the grave”. Just imagine if one Surah can bring ease and lighten our pain and burden while in the hereafter, what more if we try to understand, appreciate and practise what is in the Quran. We should not let the Quran to be a book that is foreign to our families and us. We should not limit the appreciation of the Quran simply to the beautiful recitation and knowing the rules of tajwid while reading the Quran. If we have sent our children to Quran reading classes, we should ensure that they understand what they read and learn lessons from the verses read. 

May Allah grant us the best of ending to our lives on this earth. May Allah accept all our good deeds and grant us husnul khotimah (a good ending) and call upon us with His angels who are gentle and make our graves among the gardens of paradise. Amin ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 16 May 2014 / 16 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 25, 2014

Reflecting Upon The Lessons From The Day Of Judgement

wps_clip_image-22091 Dear Friday jemaah,

On this day full of barakah, let us strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. Heed all of Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us. May our takwa help us achieve happiness in this world and the hereafter.

Blessed jemaah,

One of the articles of faith is to truly believe in the Day of Judgement, or Day of Qiyamah, and that there is an end to this entire universe. Al-Quran explains that this world is just a temporary place for a “stopover” or us and the Day of Judgement is certain. In the noble Quran, Allah s.w.t. mentions the condition of some of his servants on the Day of Judgement:

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Which means: “But when there comes the Deafening Blast, On the Day a man will flee from his brother, And his mother and his father, And his wife and his children, For every man, that Day, will be a matter adequate for him.” [Surah Abasa verse 33-37]

My dear jemaah, 

How terrifying would that be. We have seen and heard how a mother or father is always willing to sacrifice his or her life to save his or her child. And most of us simply could not bear to see our loved ones suffer. However, the severity of the Day of Judgement will cause us to not even have the time to think about the condition of others. Everyone gathered in the field of Mahsyar will be in a state of fear and worry about their own condition. Everyone will be preoccupied with his or her own sins and errors; and hopes that no one wishes to hold him or her accountable for their errors. That is the condition of someone who was neglectful in religious practices. 

However, a believer and his family will be protected by Allah’s rahmah (mercy). Allah s.w.t. says:

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Which means: “And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained”.  [Surah Al-Tur verse 21]

Jemaah, have we ever asked ourselves why we should believe in the Day of Judgement? What are the intended outcomes of believing in the Day of Judgement? Is it sufficient for us to be aware of the signs of the Day of Qiyamah and try to look out for it? Or is the intention more encompassing than that? It was reported by Imam Muslim, from Anas r.a., that an Arab Bedouin met Rasulullah s.a.w. and asked: “Ya Rasulullah, when will the Hour (Day of Judgement) take place? Rasulullah s.a.w. then responded with a very important question: “What have you prepared for it?”

Subhanallah, sometimes it seems that there are those among us who are more driven to search for the signs of the Day of Qiyamah, and to guess when it would occur, as if it is a game. This is most unfortunate, as one of the reasons for us to learn about and to be aware of these signs is to spark remorse in our hearts as we think about how we have prepared ourselves to face the Day of Judgement. What good deeds have we done that we can present to Allah when it’s time for us to be judged and assessed?

Friday Jemaah,

Believing in the Day of Qiyamah should strengthen one’s determination to be a mukmin (believer) who strives to obey Allah’s commands.  This is because one believes that one is accountable for all of one’s actions and the blessings (nikmat) Allah has given. Every deed and action will be questioned and judged by Allah. 

Thus, a servant of Allah who truly appreciates the meaning of the Day of Judgement will strive to better his or her acts of worship. The rights of other individuals will be fulfilled and met earnestly. A husband will be conscious of his responsibilities toward his wife, and ensure that they are carried out well, and her needs are met. A father will prioritise his children’s education. A child will fulfil his or her obligations to his or her parents by being kind to them. 

It is intended that by believing in the Day of Qiyamah, we will also abstain from sins. Every time we think of carrying out a sinful act – whether it is stealing, lying, being mean to others, shaming others and so on – our belief and fear of the punishment during the Day of Judgement should prevent us from carrying out sinful acts. 

In addition, a mukmin who believes in the Day of Judgement will not betray the wealth of another. For example, if one has been trusted to safekeep the inheritance of a deceased, one will return the assets to the inheritors, whether it is a huge amount or otherwise. This is different from those who are neglectful towards the Hereafter. They will not bother about the source of the wealth; not caring if it is halal or haram and if Allah is pleased with them or if their actions will incur Allah’s wrath. 

Dear jemaah,

Let us increase our good deeds, as our “investment” for the Hereafter. Start today; do not wait until Ramadan or a later period to perform good deeds. This is because our age, death and sustenance are all determined by Allah. While we may still have today, there is no guarantee we will be given the same opportunities tomorrow. May our belief in the Day of Judgement drive us to become servants of Allah who will achieve goodness in this world and the hereafter. Amin ya rabbal ‘alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 9 May 2014 / 9 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | May 2, 2014

Iman And The Manifestation Of Akhlak

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us all boost our takwa towards Allah s.w.t., by heeding all of His commands and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us. Verily, it is only with takwa that we can achieve the nikmat (blessing) of true iman towards Allah s.w.t., Lord of the Universe

Jemaah,

If I were to ask you whom do you define as a bankrupt, there would be those who will answer: A bankrupt is someone who does not have any money or wealth, or is debt-stricken and is unable to repay his debts. However, our Prophet s.a.w. has  defined it as someone who is experiencing bankruptcy  beyond that of the worldly wealth.

The Prophet s.a.w. once said, which means:
“The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with (good deeds of having performed) Salat (Prayers), Saum (Fasting) and Sadaqah (Zakat and Charity). However,  he has also insulted others, accused and slandered them, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and hurt others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at hishands and tongue). If his good deeds are not enough to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim]

Subhanallah, just imagine jemaah, Rasulullah s.a.w. explained that a servant of Allah will meet Allah with the rewards of his acts of worship. These acts refer to the acts of worship performed in this world that are accepted by Allahbecause they fulfill the conditions for validity, intention and sincerity. However these rewards for the accepted deeds will be traded away because of the way one treats others with his hurtful and insulting manners or akhlak.

This hadith proves the important relationship between akhlak and iman. In fact, it is a reminder that if we profess our faith but our actions and personality do not reflect our faith, then it is a sign of the imperfections of our iman. In another hadith, Nabi s.a.w. said: “The most complete of believers in iman (faith) are those who are best in character.” [Hadith narrated by Tirmizi]

Moreover, in Surah Al-Mu’minun, verses 1 to 8, Allah describes a believer as someone who not only understand the theory and professes belief, but a believer’s faith will be reflected through his or her kind actions, beautiful behaviour and pleasant actions:

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Which means: “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive; And they who turn away from ill speech; And they who are observant of zakah; And they who guard their private parts; Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed; But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors; And they who are to their trusts and their promises attentive”.

In this verse, and many other verses in the Quran, Allah s.w.t. relates the importance of a noble akhlak to those who profess themselves as believers. Noble attributes such as being fair, patient, always grateful, honest, fulfilling promises and not hurting others, should be the character of those who claim that they are believers. A true believer will not allow any form of his or her body, nor the inner self to be tainted with sinful and malicious acts, and oppression. The believer will not be able to stand and watch someone else suffering. A mukmin’s mind will not be left to have useless thoughts that are not progressive.

Honourable jemaah,

By appreciating the above, it will lead us to understand that it is impossible to separate good character from true iman. Thus, the more we seek Islamic knowledge to strengthen our iman, the more we should ensure that we should uphold good akhlak.

Sometimes, we observe that there are those among us who, because of their enthusiasm seeking religious knowledge, they forget that akhlak is an aspect that is heavily emphasised in Islam. Their hearts refuse to listen to advices from others; theirarrogance and the desire to show off can be seen in their attitude, because they think they are better than their friends and other people. In fact, there are those who would go to the extent of calling others deviant just because they differ in opinion from these people. There may also be children who are rude to their parents because of differences in religious opinions. when in fact, the issue is one that is being debated by scholars, and hence such differences are still acceptable in Islam.

Friday jemaah, Islam is extensive, and Islamic knowledge is vast. It is highly possible that the knowledge that is possessed by a friend who differs from us, is knowledge that we have yet to learn.It is possible that the Hadith that we know or have heard of, may have a different interpretation or explanation compared to what we have learned from another scholar.  Thus, we should be open to seeking more knowledge;Knowledge that will nourish our love for Allah and Rasul; knowledge that will beautify our hearts and personality with attributes that are in line with the example by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Let us reflect upon ourselves to be committed towards replacing our habits that are hurtful to others with noble acts; and replacing rude and abusive language with kind, honorable speech. May we be among those who are accepted by Allah s.w.t. as true believers. Amin ya Rabbal ‘alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 2 May 2014 / 2 Rejab 1435

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | April 25, 2014

Maqasid Syariah And The Rules Of Inheritance (Faraid)

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Dear Friday jemaah,

As a reminder to myself and to all of you, let us strive to strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by obeying all of His commands and leaving behind what Allah has prohibited upon us. Let us bear in mind that there are always blessings and compassion in Allah’s every command.

Jemaah,

The heart of a believer remains obedient to Allah s.w.t. even though there are some commandments of Allah that one’s desires (nafs) and wants are not able to accept. This is because our intellect and desires have to follow the rules and laws prescribed by Allah s.w.t. As a servant of Allah, we firmly believe that all of Allah’s commands and laws will eventually benefit us. Allah s.w.t. says in surah Qaf, verse 29:

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Which means: “The word will not be changed with Me, and never will I be unjust to the servants.”

Blessed jemaah,

Among the laws set by Allah, which we have to understand the hikmah or wisdom behind it is the laws of inheritance or faraid, which involves the distribution of the wealth of a deceased. Some Muslims find it very hard to comprehend and accept the Islamic laws of inheritance. There are even those who question its relevance in today’s world, and whether it is just.

The wisdom and spirit, as well as the objective of Faraid, perhaps can be better understood through a hadith narrated by Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas r.a. Rasulullah s.a.w. said:

“It is better to leave your heirs wealthy than to make them beg from people with their hands. Whatever you spend on maintenance (nafkah) is sadaqa, even the morsel you put in your wife’s mouth.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

This is one of the objectives and wisdom of the laws of faraid as set by Allah. It is a form of wealth planning guided within Syariah to ensure justice, and that the family members left behind can continue to live their lives as per normal; and to protect them from oppression after the death of their loved one.

Friday jemaah,

Although in certain situations the male inheritors receive a bigger share of wealth than the female inheritors, we must remember and be aware that this is because of the responsibility that they have to bear. In other words, the rights are given along with the responsibility entrusted upon them to look after the women in their care.

A husband has to use that wealth to support his wife. A father has to support his children, a son has to support his parents, and a grandfather is responsible for his grandchildren. In fact, many often forget that a brother is responsible for his sister and an uncle is responsible for his orphaned nieces.

In comparison, the inheritance that is received by the women is entirely for them. Allah s.w.t. does not ask of them to support others.

At times, there are those who are reluctant to give the rights of the inheritors for various reasons. Allah reminds us in the Quran in surah An-Nisaa’ verse 10:

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Which means: “Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze.”

Dear jemaah,

Even if we have received our share through faraid, we should be aware that besides the principle of justice that is upheld through faraid, Islam also impresses upon the values of rahmah and ihsan (compassion). Islam encourages us to care for the needs of those who are weaker. Allah says in surah An-Nisaa’ verse 8:

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Which means: “But if at the time of division other relatives, or orphans or poor, are present, feed them out of the (property), and speak to them words of kindness and justice.”

Based on this verse, even though we have a share in the wealth according to faraid, but Allah s.w.t. asks us to give part of our share to those who would need it more than us. For example, it could be a male family member who is in financial difficulties; or a female family member who is poor or has lost her husband and has many children to support. Or even, our adopted siblings who may have lost a form of support and attention because of the death of our parents.

Sadly, there are inheritors who are selfish and do not care for other relatives and family members; to the point that some of their family members may end up on the streets, losing their homes and so on, because all the inheritors care for is to gain their share of the inheritance. This happens when the house or flat belonging to the deceased is sold immediately after death, thus forcing the occupants to move out without any preparation and on short notice.

There are also those who forget the kindness of relatives who have helped to care for their parents with compassion and generosity, even paying for the medical needs of their ailing parents until they have passed on.

Remember, for every single thing that we own, and for every single right that has been given to us, there are responsibilities to be fulfilled and objectives to be met. Even every single part of our body, will be questioned by Allah as to whether it has fulfilled the obligations required of it. Do we think that the wealth from inheritance would then be excused from these responsibilities? Can one seek one’s rights to inheritance, and then abandon the family of the deceased when in fact faraid is meant to ensure that the family of the deceased can continue to lead normal lives?

Dear jemaah,

We should be aware that our wealth is indeed not ours. It belongs to Allah s.w.t. And just like how Allah has prescribed it shall be distributed upon our death, Allah has also set responsibilities that we must fulfil for the share that we have been given.

Thus, members of the family must understand that the share of inheritance that they receive will come with responsibilities and obligations, and they will then be questioned about it when we are all gathered in the field of Mahsyar. Inheritance may not be a result of our hardwork and effort, but it is the hardwork and effort of the deceased. Hence, while the inheritors easily acquire the wealth, it can also be taken away or lost easily if it does not get Allah’s barakah. We ask from Allah s.w.t. that any inheritance that we receive will become a source of barakah or blessing for our lives, and not the cause of difficulties or musibah (hardship) in this world and the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura

Friday Sermon

25 April 2014 / 25 Jamadilakhir 2014

Posted by: HifzanShafiee | April 18, 2014

Maqasid Syariah In Taking Care Of Our Health

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Dear Friday jemaah,

Let us strengthen our resolve to increase our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by obeying all that Allah has commanded upon us, and avoiding what He has prohibited for us. May Allah grant us a strong iman as a source of strength for us to face the various challenges in life.

Dear jemaah,

It was once narrated by Anas r.a. that a man once asked Rasulullah s.a.w.:

“What is the best doa?” Rasulullah replied: “Ask from your Lord for forgiveness and health in this world and the hereafter” And the man asked again, and Rasulullah repeated his answer until he said: “When you have been granted forgiveness and health in the world and the hereafter, then indeed you have achieved success” [Abu Daud and classified as hasan by Tirmidzi]

My dear jemaah,

Over the past few weeks, the khatib has been reminding us how we can preserve the five important aspects of our lives: religion or deen, intellect, wealth, life and lineage. This hadith reminds us of two important elements that we should always seek from Allah; protection from His anger through His forgiveness and also for protection from both physical ailments and ailments that would affect our heart and spirituality; both now and in the hereafter.

It is very interesting that Rasulullah s.a.w. asked us to seek for health from Allah. Often, it is something that humankind tends to overlook and treat too lightly. The Prophet s.a.w. once said in a hadith:

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“There are two blessings in which most people are in great loss; good health and free time.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari]

Friday jemaah,

I would like to call upon all of us here to engage in some self-reflection or muhasabah. Why did Nabi s.a.w. highlight the importance of asking from Allah for good physical and spiritual health? Why did Rasulullah remind us about the nikmat of good health? This is because, with good health we can continue to increase our opportunities to contribute in the path of Allah. With good health, we can easily perform our ibadah or acts of worship to Allah. The value of good health is so crucial that Allah s.w.t. says in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 195:

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Which means: “And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.”

From this verse, we find that Allah s.w.t. forbids us from doing anything that can harm ourselves; from things that may cause suffering in our lives; or that could cause a loss of wealth, which could even inconvenient those around us. Taking care of our health is hence a commanded upon us by our religion to achieve the aim of the syariah. We would also be unable to perform our acts of worship well if we are not in the best of health.

Dear all,

When we fail to take care of our health, the chances of being inflicted with serious ailments increase greatly. When this happens, it will require huge amounts of money to be channelled for the treatment. Our family members will also have to sacrifice their time and energy to take care of us.

So, let us all strive to maintain good health. We need to change our lifestyle if we currently have an unhealthy one. Ensure that we have a balanced diet. If we smoke, strengthen the resolve to stop smoking or at least reduce the bad habit. Use our free time to exercise and take part in recreational activities with our families.

For those who take medication for the illnesses that they already have, ensure that you take your medication according to the prescribed schedule and do not delay getting treatment. Go for annual health screenings to ensure that any health problems can be detected early. And undertake all these measures with the intention that our doa (prayer) for good health will be answered by Allah. For it is not sufficient to only raise our hands and make doa, without putting in any effort for our doa to be answered by Allah.

Dear Friday jemaah,

Another aspect of health that is emphasised in Islam is one’s spiritual well-being. There are numerous hadith transmitted from the Prophet s.a.w., that are related to the spiritual well-being of a believer; from the importance of remembering Allah at all times, to maintaining the purity of heart from bad attributes and so on. These and many more are just some spiritual aspects that must be upheld by every servant of Allah.

If our bodies require food, drinks and exercise to maintain its health, then our souls contained in our bodies also require its “food”. Our souls need spiritual nourishment and calmness of the heart and mind. This can be attained by attending the various religious education classes held weekly at the different mosques islandwide.

May Allah s.w.t. grant us spiritual and physical health which will enable us to lead our lives with iman and takwa, amin ya Rabbal ‘alamin.

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Posted by: HifzanShafiee | April 13, 2014

Maqasid Syariah In Education

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Dear blessed Friday Jemaah,

Let us heighten our sense of takwa towards Allah s.w.t. wherever we are; carrying out the commands Allah has prescribed upon us and avoiding what Allah has prohibited upon us. May Allah s.w.t. place us among those who are filled with takwa.

Dear Jemaah,

Islam highly emphasises education and the pursuit of knowledge. Knowledge is the light that enables one to distinguish between Truth and falsehood (or Haq and Batil). Knowledge allows humankind to learn about “Al-Khaliq”, The Creator. Knowledge will lift the status of humankind and allow him to attain nobility. And it is also through knowledge that a person remains humble, because the person is fully aware that Allah s.w.t. is the source of all knowledge.

Allah s.w.t. teaches humankind of how the angels attest to this fact, proven by the fact that Prophet Adam a.s. has knowledge of Allah’s creations beyond what the angels knew. Allah says in surah Al-Baqarah verses 31-32:

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Which means: “And He taught Adam the names of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: "Tell me the names of these if ye are right. They said: "Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom.”

Jemaah,

One of the hadith that talks about the importance of education is the hadith narrated by Al-Bazzar, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said, which means: “Be a person of knowledge (alim) or a person seeking knowledge or a person who listens (to the teachings) and you should not be the fifth which makes you perish”. [Hadith narrated by Al-Bazzar]

In this hadith Rasulullah s.a.w. praised the four groups of people who are linked or connected to knowledge. However, the fifth category of people are those who display hatred towards ulama’ (scholars and jurists) and belittle the ulama, and are not interested in seeking knowledge. Thus, it is clear that only when we have truly learned and understood the teachings of Islam, then we would become a noble ummah.

Dear Jemaah,

Knowledge helps us to appreciate our deeds, whether they are acts of worship (ibadah) or daily actions. It is feared that a Muslim who does not have enough knowledge of his religion may become easily influenced and taken by all sorts of information that he comes across, from questionable sources.

Through our understanding of Islam, we can develop individuals who are able to make the right considerations when they are faced with challenging life choices, and also able to make the best and most accurate decisions affecting their religious life. For example, today we see how the Internet and the easy access of information have exposed the young to various religious opinions that may at times not be in line with the opinion of the majority of scholars. There are many irresponsible rulings or fatwa that are flying around over the Internet. How do we ensure that those under our care and responsibility continue to be rightly guided by Allah, and are not easily influenced and affected by this challenge? It is only possible through an accurate, deep and comprehensive understanding of Islam.

Thus, as parents we must ensure that we and our family members receive proper Islamic knowledge and teachings that are true and accurate. We must be aware of activities that are questionable. We must aim to seek knowledge from accredited asatizah at the mosques or at Islamic education centres, conducted in an open manner.

Blessed  jemaah,

Knowledge will help us to contribute to the prosperity of the Singapore community. This will ensure that the development of our religious life is taken care of and further improved; our economy flourishes and our prosperity maintained. In fact, it is knowledge that can help us to move forward in developing civilisation.

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This is in line with the azan, the call to prayer, which we hear five times a day, where the words: are called out to us loud and clear. It means: “Let us strive to success” or “Rush to success”. We know that Islamic teachings encourage every believer (mukmin) to work hard to achieve success, both in this world and the hereafter.

Let us continue in our efforts to develop our community, by contributing diligently. Do not forget that every bit of knowledge that we learn is part of our effort to expand our contributions to the ummah, in developing humankind and the society.

Let us cultivate the spirit and the desire to regain the excellence of the Muslim community and the glory of Islam. We should not just be at the receiving end; instead, we should be key players globally, contributing to the world community. We should live as individuals who truly understand the value of time and appreciate the goals in life. We should develop a family with a clear vision. We should become seekers of knowledge who are diligent and will excel, and then contribute to the development of humanity.

Hopefully, Allah will accept our sincere efforts in continuing and appreciating this tradition of knowledge, as well as our resolve to place much emphasis on our children’s education. May Allah ease all our affairs insyallah. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 11 April 2014 / 11 Jamadilakhir 1435

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Dear Friday Jemaah,

Let us continue developing our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by inculcating a deep sense of piety, obeying all of His commands and avoiding what He has prohibited upon us. May Allah open our hearts to accept beneficial knowledge, for our success in this world and the hereafter.

My dear jemaah,

From the beginning, Islam has always placed importance on women’s affairs. The importance of women in Islam can be seen in a hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. where a young man asked Rasulullah s.a.w. as to whom he should treat well, and the Prophet s.a.w. firmly replied that he should first treat his mother well. And Rasulullah s.a.w. gave the same response thrice, and only after that he mentioned that the father should be treated well. [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]

Perhaps when we first heard this hadith, we would have assumed that it only meant that the mother has priority over the father. However, the fact that it was mentioned thrice by the Prophet s.a.w. signals that the role of women is far more important compared the men in educating and nurturing the younger generation. This is because, a pious woman will give birth to and groom her children to become a pious doctor, a pious engineer, a pious architect, a pious entrepreneur, a pious judge and so on, until a civilisation is developed. Indeed the hand that rocks the cradle shapes the world.

Islam acknowledges the important role played by women, and thus Islam places much importance on education for women. This is because a mother is the first source of knowledge for her children, and thus her descendants. The first message from Allah to mankind through the Quran was the command for us to read. Allah says in the Quran in surah Al-Alaq:

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Which means: “Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created-. Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not.” (Surah Al-Alaq: 1-5)

These verses are enough to impress upon us the importance of seeking knowledge and the importance of intellectual thought for the Muslim ummah. The importance of seeking knowledge is not just obligatory upon men but also for women as well. If we study Islamic history, we will learn about leading Muslim women who contributed vastly to the development of the ummah and towards civilisation. For example, an esteemed female scholar who made many contributions to the ummah of her time was Sayyidah Nafisah Binti Al-Hasan, the great-granddaughter of Sayyidina Ali Bin Abi Talib r.a., and Sayyidatina Fatimah binti Rasul r.a.

My dear brothers,

When she was in Madinah, Sayyidah Nafisah learnt from leading scholars of Hadith and Fiqh, and was given the title “Nafiisatul ‘Ilmi” (which means the most valuable gem in the field of knowledge). This despite the fact that she was still very young at that time. When she moved to Egypt with her husband, Sayyidah Nafisah became a well-known and influential figure within the society. Many students came to her to learn Al-Quran and the Hadith of Rasulullah s.a.w. In fact, Imam As-Syafi’i rahimahullah himself once studied from her.

Much can be said about the life and contribution of Nafisah, but I believe that we should reflect upon the valuable lessons which we can learn from the life of this distinguished female scholar.

First: The support of the father, as the leader of the family, and the support of the family when it comes to the children’s education especially that of the daughters’; is a crucial factor.  We have to encourage our daughters to emulate the life of Sayyidah Nafisah, and ensure that the home environment is one that promotes reading and creates the drive to pursue education. The first verse of surah Al-‘Alaq underscores the fact that reading should be a culture of the Muslims, no matter the era or the place. A successful community is one that reads.

Second: There needs to be a culture of knowledge within the Muslim community, and it has to be one where women are encouraged to seek knowledge.

At times, we forget that learning is supposed to be a lifelong process. . We take for granted the importance of reflecting and thinking, and thus this weakens us and makes us less resilient in facing the various challenges today. There are also those who are "backward" in their thinking, and are of the opinion that women do not need to pursue higher education because she will "ultimately remain in the kitchen".

If this sort of thinking continues to permeate in our society, especially among parents, then our concern is that the future generation will be robbed of the opportunity to be well-educated and groomed into future leaders and thinkers, simply because they lack the education – be it religious education or otherwise.

If we look back and reflect upon history, we will realise that even during the time of Rasulullah s.a.w., the Prophet himself strongly encouraged women to seek knowledge. Despite his busy schedule as a Prophet, Rasulullah s.a.w. would dedicate one day where the women could learn from him. Nabi s.a.w. was very concerned about the women, and took pains to entertain all their queries. In fact, his wives, including Sayyidatina A’isyah r.a; were among those who narrated many of the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. and became one of the sources of reference of hadith for the companions and the generation after them.

Dear jemaah,

InsyaAllah, if we adopt a more open-minded attitude and continue our support for Muslimahs to pursue their studies in whichever field they are interested in and give them the opportunity to share the knowledge, then our Muslim women will definitely be more successful and not only will they contribute to their families and themselves, but also to the society and country.

We should grab the various opportunities that are readily available to us today to encourage our children to follow their dreams to pursue their education. May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala put barakah in our efforts to educate and raise our children and grandchildren, to be knowledgeable with a deep sense of takwa towards Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and the pride of Nabi Muhammad Sollallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam.

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Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 28 March 2014 / 26 Jamadilawal 1435

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