Dear Friday Jemaah,
As a reminder to myself and to all of you, let us strive to increase our taqwa to Allah s.w.t. Obey all of Allah’s commands and avoid what He has forbidden upon us. May Allah s.w.t grant us the strength to contribute toward the welfare and betterment of the community.
Islam encourages its ummah to value knowledge. On that basis, the first revelation (wahyu) from Allah s.w.t. emphasises knowledge. Allah s.w.t. the Most Wise chose that the first revelation sent to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was about knowledge. Allah s.w.t. says in surah Al-‘Alaq verses 1-5:
Which means: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous – Who taught by the pen – Taught man that which he knew not."
Today, I would like to take the opportunity to share with all of you about an outstanding scholar so that we may be able to appreciate and explore the legacy he has left behind. He contributed vastly to the field of education, and has left a great impact on the Muslim community in this region. He played a tremendous role in laying the foundations of Islamic law in Singapore and Malaysia. He is none other than the late Professor Ahmad Ibrahim.
As recorded in Obor Ummah, a book published by Pergas, Professor Ahmad Ibrahim was born on Monday, 15 May 1916 in Singapore. He was the first Malay born in Singapore who graduated with first class honours in law and economics from the University of Cambridge.
Given his background in legal matters, he contributed greatly to the community within the field of law. His vast experience and expertise in law led to his appointment as Singapore’s first Attorney General after the country’s independence in 1965. Professor Ahmad Ibrahim is a sterling example of an individual who used his knowledge to improve the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Singapore and Malaysia.
The late Professor Ahmad Ibrahim was a visionary leader, legal expert and a pioneer. He also drew up the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) which continues to benefit us today. AMLA led to the setting up of statutory boards such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM), the Syari’ah Court and the administration of institutions such as madrasah and mosques in Singapore.
There are many lessons that we can learn from the life of Professor Ahmad Ibrahim. Among them:
First: The importance of leaving behind a legacy that will be beneficial to future generations. Allah s.w.t. says in the Qur’an, surah Yasin verse 12:
Which means: "Indeed, it is We who bring the dead to life and record what they have put forth and what they left behind, and all things We have enumerated in a clear register."
Sheikh Wahbah Az-Zuhaily in his tafsir book explained that the phrase "what they have left behind" refers to the lasting impact and benefits of their practices and contributions, even after they have left the world. These contributions could be in the form of charitable donations, knowledge that can be passed on to others and so on.
My brothers, let’s take a moment to think. If our time has come to leave this world, what have we contributed, and what good deeds can we bring with us when we meet Allah s.w.t? Have we made contributions that will continue to benefit others even after we have passed away? How did we make use of the age, wealth, knowledge, talents and energy that we had, to develop an ongoing legacy well beyond our time on this earth? Remember my brothers, there is no contribution that is too small in the sight of Allah. Perhaps we do not own enormous amounts of wealth, or vast knowledge, but we have children and grandchildren. They are our heritage. If we educate and raise them to be individuals who bring benefit to others, then we will also reap the benefits of their good deeds
Second: We must be confident and have the vision to contribute as much as we can, and as widely as we are able to.
Professor Ahmad Ibrahim’s significant contributions can also be seen in his academic and scholarly efforts in developing expertise in Islamic law within the region. His valuable contributions not only benefited Singapore, but also the region. Through his appointment as a lecturer at the university, thousands of legal scholars from various countries -in this region and globally- have benefited from his extensive knowledge. His contributions were so great that it led the International Islamic University of Malaysia to name the law faculty after him, the Law Faculty of Ahmad Ibrahim. This is indeed a reminder that even though we are from a small country like Singapore, we are capable of contributing to this region and the world. This is what it means by rahmatan lil’alamin, which we are often reminded of.
Third: To appreciate our time in this world, that Allah has given to us.
My dear brothers, every single minute that passes by is a golden opportunity for us. It is a question of whether we choose to take full advantage of it, or otherwise. Rasulullah s.a.w. was asked: “Ya Rasulullah s.a.w who is the kindest person?” Nabi s.a.w. said:
Which means: “Whoever who lives a long life and has good deeds.” The man asked again: “And who is the worst?” Rasulullah s.a.w. replied: “Whoever lives a long life, but has bad deeds.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi]
Professor Ahmad Ibrahim dedicated his life to his country and the Muslim ummah in this region. Let us strive to ensure that we make full use of the age given to us, to build a legacy for the benefit of others, ensure the well-being of the religion and humankind.
May Allah s.w.t. grant us taufiq and inayah to contribute towards the betterment of this world. May Allah help us to build a lasting legacy as a provision investment for us in the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, Friday Sermon
20 September 2013 / 14 Zulkaedah 1434