| Azlan Othman |
MUSLIMS need to be very cautious and not be easily swayed by celebrations which are totally alien to Islam. It is feared that a casual following of this nature will lead to ‘tasyabbuh’ (imitation), and invariably taint the sanctity of the Muslim ‘aqidah’ (belief), Imams said in the Friday sermon yesterday.
In Islam, it is forbidden for Muslims to imitate the ways and practices of other religions in matters of their ‘aqidah’. Imams elaborated that ‘tasyabbuh’ with a group of people refers to the act of imitating their behaviour, including their way of dressing and accessorising, such as taking part in a lion dance show, putting on a Santa Claus outfit, decorating homes with crucifixes, and so on.
All these will definitely give an impact on the ‘aqidah’ of Islam, even though there are some Muslims who brush it off as trivial issues. As a result, it is best to stay clear of this matter.
However, it is not forbidden for Muslims to imitate what is good. In fact, Muslims are encouraged to emulate models of positive and constructive behaviours, as long as they do not undermine the Islamic ‘aqidah’ and violate the decree of Islam.
Imams also said in the context of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, Islam has never restrained its Ummah to make contact with and befriend adherents of other faiths, as long as they do not wage wars with Muslims and indulge in matters that are forbidden or prohibited in Islam.
When interacting with non-Muslims there are certain rules and restrictions that need to be taken into account. In the eagerness to win non-Muslims’ approvals, Muslims are reminded not to debase themselves by doing something which is blasphemous or detrimental to their ‘aqidah’. For the act of performing righteous deeds as commanded by Allah the Almighty cannot be in conflict with the divine law of Islam.
According to the Mufti Fatwa of Brunei Darussalam, followers of other religions who are governed under the rule of an Islamic state are given the liberty to practise their own religions or celebrate their own religious festivals among themselves, with the proviso that these religious ceremonies are not clearly manifested to Muslims, especially on matters pertaining to ‘kufr’ slogans and symbols.
Words of heresy that associate Allah the Almighty with other entities are also to be prohibited from being heard to Muslims. Sometimes the excitement and fervour of the festivities celebrated by the followers of other religions attract and entice some Muslims to participate and join in the merriment.
However, Muslims have to realise that all the other religious festivals held are not just celebrations per se, but more of a commemoration of the history behind the festivals, which are inevitably intertwined with its religion.
During such festivities, there are beliefs or practices which are clearly not appropriate and must be rejected outright by Islam. At times, such beliefs are embedded in the form of entertainment, either for the purpose of enlivening the mood of the celebrations or for a certain religious ritual.
Imams also urged Muslims in Brunei to stand tall and shine as an Islamic Ummah, to preserve the sanctity of Islam, to stay steadfast in the teachings of the religion, be knowledgeable and able to differentiate between ‘hak’ (absolute truth) and ‘batil’ (falsehood), ‘haram’ and ‘harus’, as well as good and evil. And at the same time maintaining harmonious relationship with followers of other religions in the best way possible.
Islam, in this context, does not prohibit its followers from visiting places of non-Muslims at any time.
This gesture is in keeping with the tradition of cementing cordial ties with one another, such as with the family, relatives, friends and neighbours who have not yet received the light of Islam, which is not to affirm and approve of their beliefs and faith.