In a joint media statement, the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) and the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB) addressed a recent controversy involving a religious teacher’s social media post.
The statement clarified MUIS’ position on LGBTQ+ issues and emphasized the importance of upholding ethical standards within the Asatizah community. The organizations emphasized the need for compassion, respect, and adherence to the Code of Ethics (CoE) in delivering Islamic instruction.
Misleading Social Media Comment:
The media statement highlighted that a religious teacher had posted a misleading comment on social media, claiming that “asatizahs who opposed to the LGBT are given warning letters.” Although the teacher had since taken down the statement, MUIS and ARB stressed that it was inaccurate and aimed to clarify the situation.
MUIS’ Position on LGBTQ+ Developments:
The statement referred to the religious guidance issued by MUIS on 22 August 2022, which clearly states that marriage in Islam can only occur between a man and a woman. Additionally, Islam prohibits any other forms of sexual relationships and unions.
MUIS reiterated its commitment to preserving religious and family values when faced with challenges to these principles. Religious teachers are encouraged to reiterate this religious position, as well as other verified positions issued by the Fatwa Committee, in providing instruction and guidance to the community.
No Warning Letters for Opposing LGBT Views:
MUIS and ARB clarified that the ARB, which regulates the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), has never issued any warning letter to an Asatizah based on their opposition to homosexuality or the belief that same-sex marriage is a sin in Islam. As long as religious teachers adhere to the CoE, exercise care to avoid causing disharmony, and treat others with respect, they are within their rights to express their religious views on these matters.
The Code of Ethics:
The media statement highlighted the importance of the ARS Code of Ethics for the Provision of Islamic Instruction, which all religious teachers must abide by. The CoE prohibits actions that may cause public disorder or advocate ideas that encourage extremism or violence.
It also emphasizes the need for religious teachers to avoid actions that may lead to disharmony or ill feelings towards others based on their beliefs or orientations. These principles align with the teachings of Shariah, which emphasizes human dignity, respect, and peace.
Educating the Community with Compassion:
In the past, the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB) became aware of the religious teacher’s inappropriate behavior on social media. Various Facebook posts made by the teacher between December 2021 and February 2022 contained inflammatory language that could incite hatred and disrespect towards the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore. Following an interview with the teacher, the ARB determined that these posts violated the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) Code of Ethics (CoE).
Consequently, on May 13, 2022, the ARB issued a warning letter to the teacher, addressing the contraventions of the CoE and emphasizing the importance of avoiding controversial preaching methods that may lead to hatred and disrespect towards specific groups in Singapore, including minority groups. The ARB’s decision to issue a warning letter was not made lightly but was based on careful deliberation and considering the seriousness of the violations.
Regarding the teacher’s latest posting, the ARB has met with the ustaz (religious teacher) to clarify the allegations and remind him of the earlier advice provided. The ARB will continue to provide guidance and counseling to Asatizah who demonstrate sincere remorse for their actions.
MUIS and the ARB jointly call upon all Asatizah to have fear and piety in God (Taqwallah), uphold the highest ethical and moral standards, and consistently adhere to the ARS Code of Ethics. It is essential for Asatizah to treat others, regardless of their differences, with love, care, respect, and compassion while radiating blessings to all.
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