Input by Ustazah Nuurunnuur
Adapted from ‘Risalah for Building a Singapore Muslim Community of Excellence’ published by Office of the Mufti and ‘Religion and Secularism: Seeking The Convergence’ written by Ustaz Ridhwan Mohd Basor.
What does it mean to be a Muslim living in Singapore, a secular state? In today’s post-modern world, it seems as if the pervasive narrative is that one has to choose between faith and secularism, and cannot straddle both worlds.
Can secularism and religion co-exist? Can people of faith function well within a secular environment? Different people may have totally different arguments to support either side of the fence.
To truly answer these questions, a profound understanding of religion is key.
In the first revelation to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., the process of learning, encapsulated by the phrase “Iqra” (meaning “Read”), is linked to the beginning of life itself.
Muslims who truly understand the significance of this message will spend their lives seeking to further examine and study the creations of Allah s.w.t., while sharing their insights with the rest of humanity. There are many verses in the Holy Quran that call on mankind to continuously improve on their knowledge and skills.
Science and technology is also developing at an astonishing rate. And yet, current research findings do not contradict the Holy Quran. Instead, they have been found to support and expand on Quranic arguments.
“We shall show them Our signs in every region of the earth and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses everything?”
If each individual Muslim were to continuously deepen their understanding of their religion, it is indeed possible for them to exercise sufficient flexibility to adapt to their surroundings without compromising their faith.
Religion and secularism may not necessarily be a zero-sum-game. In reality, Islam continues to triumph in today’s largely secular and increasingly Westernised world, as well as within Singapore’s religiously diverse landscape.