As a matter of habit, I try not to tread into the area of religion or religious beliefs, where they impact on society at large. One can never tell when the government chooses to interpret with ISA lenses and throw one into detention without trial.
But this morning, reading Today’s front-page report of “Masagos ‘saddened’ by those who defend massacre”, I just couldn’t see how the Right Honourable Minister Masagos’ words, who was recently appointed to also help the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, would serve the purported purpose of his uttering, that “Muslims should take action to uphold the good”.
To avoid being accused of taking his words out of context, I read (6:30 pm, 16 Nov) his entire Facebook post (status: 10:39 yesterday. Edited).
Here, the part of his statement that bothers me:
“In not condemning acts that are themselves anti Islam we confuse ourselves what it means to be the witness of the religion of peace against becoming a people who must pay every misdeed with killings and damage.” (bold, italic and underlined, mine for emphasis)
What I do not understand:
In questioning those who ‘defend the massacre’, he accepted and took wholesale the very basis of why those defenders or apologists acted the way they did.
In other words, the Minister is saying that whatever the West has done in Palestine, Iraq and Syria are ‘misdeeds’.
How does characterizing what the Americans and Europeans have done in the Middle East as ‘misdeeds’ help Muslims to better ‘uphold the good’? Except, perhaps, in feeling a snug sense of self-righteousness (or holiness?) to ‘forgive’ the miscreants of those ‘misdeeds’?
Let’s be very clear, ISIS has never once proclaimed the Palestinian cause as part of their mission. The recent morphosis of ISIS’ is explicitly to create the ‘caliphate’. What does the Minister have to say about why Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and UAE, Muslim countries all, are also bombing Syria and Iraq? Are these fellow Muslims also guilty of ‘misdeeds’?
Also, why the Minister’s deafening silence in not uttering any direct condemnation against the ISIS or perpetrators of the Paris massacre himself but merely alluding to them?
The first place to start in any conflict is to ask, “Does the fault arise from within ourselves, not outside of us?”
Would Masagos do better to walk his brothers and sisters through questions such as;
Why did it have to be ‘the West’ that commenced actions against Iraq? Did the Muslim countries’ own lack of action against Iraq mean that they approved of, or at least not disapproved, what Saddam Hussein was doing then, what ISIS is doing now in Iraq?
Likewise, in Syria, what pushed the West to take the lead against the ISIS’ atrocities in their goal to create the Caliphate? Did the Arab nations’ original torpor suggest a hidden acquiescence of ISIS’ Caliphate goal? And the practice of crucifixion, beheading innocents and kidnapping as a fund-raising exercise?
How about these related questions to focus the Muslim mind; Why are the majority of the 3 mil Syrian refugees opting recently to flee to non-Muslim, infidel Europe instead of their fellow believers’ territories? Other than the countries abutting Syria and Iraq, why is it that even Canada and USA, separated by the huge Atlantic ocean, are opening their doors while 50+ Muslim countries elsewhere on planet Earth keep their doors unopen?
Back to what triggered my unease. Is Minister Masagos’ position, that it is “the West that have caused the eternal misery of the Palestinians and the war victims of Iraq and Syria”, the position his PAP government on the issue?
How does such a position help our fellow Singaporean Muslim compatriots understand what is happening out there – and, yes, help support the religious harmony amongst Singaporeans, the majority of whom have elected a government that is supportive of how ‘the West’ is dealing with the ISIS threat?
We Singaporeans deserve a clarification, do we not?