Families play key role in ensuring youth understand the religion: Muis

SINGAPORE Muslims play a crucial role in keeping family members and youth on the right path, so that they can reject deviant or radical ideas, especially those that support terrorism and are against Islamic teachings.

This reminder was highlighted in a Friday sermon prepared by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and delivered at mosques here yesterday.

"If we are unable to advise or guide them, we must refer them to those who are capable of tackling this," the sermon added.

It comes two days after the announcement that a Singaporean youth planning to join terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and carry out attacks here, M. Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i, 19, was detained last month under the Internal Security Act.

Citing his arrest, the sermon said: "Not only do we need to ensure that our children are practising the religion and understand it, but we are also responsible in ensuring that the religious education received are the correct teachings.

"This becomes more imperative in view of the current ISIS terrorist group, which misuses the name of Islam to commit killings and terrorism, (including) through the active use of social media."

Countries around the world, and in particular Muslim communities, have been concerned about extremists using social media to groom young Muslims who often become radicalised and leave home without their families knowing.

Analysts say many of the young people lack a proper understanding of Islamic concepts and readily buy into distorted interpretations.

Another Singaporean, aged 17, was arrested this month for further investigations into his radicalisation.

Yesterday's sermon urged the Muslim community to ensure that children and family members are equipped with religious knowledge to build self-resilience and to help them recognise and reject deviant and radical ideas.

"We must also be conscious of the changes in behaviour and attitude of our children or family members. This is especially if we have witnessed changes in their attitude and religious outlook which seem to be tilted towards radicalism," the sermon said.

"For example, when they start to be rigid in giving views on issues related to religion-associated political thought, such as the discussion of the establishment of the Islamic State, or the caliphate. These issues require critical research and reading to ensure that one is able to acquire the correct understanding."

Mr Mohamed Nassir Abdul Sukkur of education group Simply Islam said the family is a core player in addressing religious doubts.

"If you have a strong, closely knit family, the parents will be aware if their child's behaviour changes, and will try to find out more and answer any questions.

"But if the family is distant, the parents too busy, children will seek attention elsewhere. They will seek answers elsewhere, and usually that is the Internet," he said.

The sermon advised worshippers unable to guide family members themselves to get help from counsellors and certified religious teachers or to consult mosques or the Mufti's office.

"Do not let them be misguided as that will only harm themselves, us and the community at large. Indeed, it is our responsibility to help our brethren, whether he or she is the one committing evil or the victim of an evil act," the sermon said.

It noted: "Prophet Muhammad explained that we help those who are committing evil by preventing them from continuing the evil act."


This article was first published on May 30, 2015.
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