Relics For Clerics

I opened the newspaper today and read an article on the upcoming Maulidur Rasul celebrations/event that will be organized at the National Stadium.It was the same event that caught my attention yesterday,as there was a small advert given to me.It will showcase the collaboration of a local mosque and an organization spearheaded by a local Ustadz.I have mixed feelings when I read through the itinerary of the program on the aforementioned date.There will be a selawat recitation session by ex Singapore national footballers.And they’ve been practicing for this event.There will also be a mini honorary procession of some sort for local and Indonesian clerics,who had been invited for this special event.The news report mentioned that there could be around 30 Indonesian clerics that had been specially invited to grace the occassion.

It has caught my attention that somehow,faces of our local scholars/religious teachers/clerics have been grazing the pages of our local newspaper very often.It’s not a bad thing,as it gives a face to the names we often hear about.But,our Berita Harian this days is akin to being an advertisement paper,for mosques or organizations to fill up with events.Being prominent is the buzzword.The bigger the size of the advert.The more name worthy the preacher is.The more filled event.In a nutshell,it is all a big public relations campaign,to attract the masses.I definitely hope that I am not viewed as a cold shower,but I am just trying to highlight a worrying trend.Our efforts of introducing the religion to the masses has led to a generic influx of ustadz.Now,almost everyone associated with a mosque or Muslim body can be accredited with the title of an ustadz.I know,cause I do have associates and prospects with such an accolade attached to their monikers.

Something feels wrong to me.My mum attends a religious class at a neighbour’s house,where an accredited MUIS ustadz will come and give his lessons.I like to ask my mum on the essence of the lessons,and my mum will sigh with resignation.There was nothing noteworthy to be discussed.A 24 year old ustadz who is more familiar with being a youth counsellor at our local mosques,is entrusted with the job.My mum mentioned that these days,the young ustadzs like to project themselves as all knowing,with a tinge of non humility.Something along the lines of wanting to sound matured beyond their years but without the relevant experiences.I understand what she meant by that,because it’s hard to digest religious advice on parenting from someone who is not even married with kids.That’s roughly the gist of her weekly lessons.And to be payed around $300 a month,teaching such stuffs,is not deserving for me.The scope of religious knowledge shared was limited and rather basic,yet payments are required.But such is the reality of the world.Especially in the context of our community,where anyone with a little more religious knowledge is revered.

My points to ponder is this.

1.My brother in law,who had visited various countries,like for example India and lived in their mosques there noted just how humble their people are.Example was how,a very deeply respected cleric,someone who’s status in India was akin to our Mufti,was seen cleaning the toilet of a local mosque there in the early morning whilst the rest of the jemaah slept.It was my brother in law who caught him doing so,and he was surprised at such humility.But of course,in Singapore,we do not need such deeds cause we have an attendant/noja doing all the practical works.In Singapore,the context are different.Or is it?I truly wonder if any individuals filling up the committee boards and teaching panels in mosques can do such arduos tasks,of cleaning the toilets of their own mosques.

I adhere to that school of thoughts that there are 3 types of leadership.

1.Leaders people follow out of fear.(eg Bush & Saddam)

2.Leaders people follow out of respect.(eg Gandhi & Lincoln)

3.Leaders people follow and die for out of love.(eg Prophet Muhammad)

I love leaders from the last type.And I believe that the cleric in India falls under this category also.They do the things that don’t matter to the big wigs.


ps:Sometimes,we suffer from that thing called “superiority complex”.


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