Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
4 June 2021 / 23 Syawal 1442H
Let us increase our taqwa in Allah (s.w.t.) by obeying His commands and abstaining from His prohibitions. Let us continue our pursuit of good deeds and seek Allah’s grace and mercy. May Allah (s.w.t.) grant us His guidance and assistance. Amin.
My fellow Muslims,
The ‘age of ignorance’ or the period of ‘jahiliya’ was a time of great imbalance – between the have and the have-nots, the powerful and the weak, and between men and women. Women were treated as objects that could be bought and sold. Daughters were seen to carry the shame of their fathers, who would actually choose between burying them alive or letting them humiliate the family with their mere existence. Even if they lived, they ended up mostly being treated as property that could be inherited from one man to another.
When the Prophet (s.a.w.) preached Islam, he addressed these imbalances. He taught that every human soul, whether man or woman, has dignity and honour that society needs to protect. He reminded that we are all equal in God’s sight and the true measure of our status is not our wealth, gender or anything else, but our taqwa.
Islam’s message is therefore very clear: there is no gender differentiation when it comes to dignity, honour and respect, and women are not spiritually inferior to men in Allah’s sight.
My fellow Muslims,
If the Prophet (s.a.w.) through his teachings and his honourable examples had elevated the status of women, what shame do we bring upon ourselves if we denigrate, disrespect and dishonour women?
The recent case of the online poll has shocked the community is unfortunately not the only one of such cases. Anyone who does this has failed to see the humanity in those whom they disrespect. They only see objects that help them fulfil their desires. This culture must be weeded out to prevent it from further spreading and claiming more victims. We need to seriously reflect on why this culture has spread and have led to the actions of the perpetrators of this case and other similar cases in the past.
One root cause the culture of belittling women, is the lack of awareness that some of our acts or words could have such an effect in the first place.
For example, we cannot make light of derogatory, casual remarks and jokes about women and think it is acceptable that “boys will always be boys”. This is totally unacceptable. Let us take heed from the hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w.) which warned us of the dangers of not seeing the harm in what we utter:
“Indeed, a man may utter a statement that he does not see any harm in, but for which he will fall seventy autumns in hell” (Hadith narrated by Imam Tirmizi).
We must be conscious of the words we use, and the actions we commit, for which we will be held accountable on the day of judgment. They are a deeper reflection of our Iman and play a part in contributing to a more positive culture that our children will also learn from.
My brothers and sisters,
Another key factor that has greatly enabled this culture is victim-blaming. Women are constantly being blamed for the way they dress, and men are using this as an excuse for their vile behaviour.
While it seems convenient to blame the victims and even the world we live in, the truth is no one else is accountable for the sins we willingly choose to commit but ourselves.
If we continue to place the blame on women, what we are doing is giving men the justifications or reasons to continue to disrespect women. Allah (s.w.t.) mentioned in Surah an-Nur verse 30:
Which means: “Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks (they keep away from the prohibited), guard their chastity; that is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.”
When Prophet Muhammad’s cousin al-Fadhl ibn Abbas was staring at a beautiful woman, our Prophet’s reaction was to turn al-Fadhl’s face away from her. He did not reproach or blame the woman. Instead he chose to impart a lesson on the importance of self-control.
Each of us can be an agent of change. We start by reflecting on ourselves and ask if we have contributed to this problematic culture, be it intentionally or otherwise. Once we have set a good example for ourselves, let us remind each other to respect and accord women the dignity which Islam has bestowed on them. But of course, let us do this with adab. Remember that our respect for women should be consistent both in our private and public lives. Begin with our own mothers, wives and daughters, just as we would not want another actions by others in society to cause harm or disrespect to them.
Our children should be educated from a young age on the need to show respect for each other. Allah reminds us in the Quran:
“…And know that God knows what is in your souls, so beware of Him…” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 235).
Brothers and Sisters,
We must protect our religious institutions from such behaviour and incidents. Everyone who come to these religious institutions to learn, to work, and to pray, must feel safe.
To do this we must address and not tolerate any forms of harassment in these institutions. This is our duty to our community, and to God.
In these moments when our supplications are accepted by Allah (s.w.t.), let us pray for those who are directly or indirectly affected, and for our community as a whole.
Ya Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Protector. We humble ourselves before You in supplication. Cleanse our hearts from hipocrisy and help us refrain from committing any form of immorality, in private and in public. Help us avert our eyes from what is unlawful, and protect us from developing indecent thoughts in our minds and hearts. Shower Your love and mercy upon Your servants who desperately need Your help, and grant ease and comfort to Your servants who are being tested with hardship. Amin. Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.
أَقُوْلُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَ أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ العَظِيْمَ لِي وَ لَكُمْ، فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُوْرُ الرَّحِيْمُ
الْحَمْدُ للهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا كَمَا أَمَرَ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَن لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ الله، اِتَّقُوا اللهَ تَعَالَى فِيمَا أَمَرَ، وَانتَهُوا عَمَّا نَهَاكُم عَنْهُ وَزَجَرَ.
أَلَا صَلُّوا وَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى النَّبِيِّ الْمُصْطَفَى، فَقَدْ أَمَرَنَا اللهُ بِذَلِكَ حَيْثُ قَال فِي كِتَابِهِ الْعَزِيزِ: إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَـا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَ بَارِكْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ.
وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ المَهْدِيِّينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيِّ، وَعَن بَقِيَّةِ الصَّحَابَةِ وَالقَرَابَةِ وَالتَّابِعِينَ، وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ، وَعَنَّا مَعَهُم وَفِيهِم بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالمُؤْمِنَاتِ، وَالمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ، الْأَحْيَاءِ مِنهُم وَالْأَمْوَاتِ. اللَّهُمَّ ادْفَعْ عَنَّا الْبَلَاءَ وَالوَبَاءَ وَالزَّلَازِلَ وَالْمِحَنَ، مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ، عَن بَلَدِنَا خَاصَّةً، وَسَائِرِ الْبُلْدَانِ عَامَّةً، يَارَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ. رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنيَا حَسَنَةً، وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً، وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
عِبَادَ اللهِ، إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ، وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ، فَاذْكُرُوا اللهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ، وَاشْكُرُوهُ عَلَى نِعَمِهِ يَزِدْكُمْ، وَاسْأَلُوهُ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ يُعْطِكُمْ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ، وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ.