Religious harmony is nothing to be sniffed at. For decades now, we in Singapore have been lucky compared to pretty much everywhere else in the world. All the religions here respect each other and maintain a fragile peace and balance.
What happens though when a person of a religion attacks his own religious leaders? Well…something like this I suppose.
If you can’t understand it, no worries because Google Translate is all over it!
There are some young asatizah promoting the service of being a terawih priest at home for a fee of $ 85 per night. Each prayer should not exceed 8 people, including the imam. This means, each congregation pays $ 12.10 for terawih prayers using the services of the imam. Apparently, this young asatizah exploited the Covid-19 situation which limited the participation of reciting in the mosque. It is not wrong to seek sustenance through religious services. But not by charging a fee to be a priest. This spoils the sincerity of the prayer: what is the intention of the imam? It also shows the misunderstanding of the congregation who use such services. Terawih prayers can be done alone (not even obligatory) and God looks at sincerity. The beautiful recitation and the status of the imam do not make the prayer more acceptable or get more reward. Prayer is not a transaction and religion should not be considered as something for sale. The act of promoting the services of prayer imams violates religious ethics and sensibilities. This shows the failure to appreciate Islam among those who are educated in the field of religion. It is transactional relsigion like this that destroys the spirituality that is the essence of religion. Religion is not an external performative that can be traded. Although ritual is important, it is not the same as the essence of the religion itself. And let the rituals that connect us with God not be traded.
TLDR? Don’t worry, we get that too.
Basic gist of it is this; Facebook user Mohamed Imran thinks its wrong for Muslim Religious Leaders to charge up to SG$85 to perform terawih prayers (a special kind of prayer) at home. Usually, terawih services are done after evening prayers during Ramadhan, at mosques or communal prayer sites.
Of course, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that’s no longer possible, so Imams have started to offer private services for those willing to hire them.
Imran takes offence at the fact that these Imams are charging for what he thinks should be a free service.
In a sense, he’s right.
When terawih prayers were done in the past, they were always free. In his view, the Imams are exploiting the current situation by charging to perform a service that is optional.
I can see where he’s coming from…but most some Netizens disagree on his views, such this post.
Hana Saemon-Beck makes a pretty good counterargument too, especially from a purely logical point of view. She contends that the money paid is for expenses and is relatively cheap, especially when compared to other religious services. Hana also brings up the point that the service is compulsory, nobody is being coerced into paying.
All very valid reasons, which many responders seem to resonate with.
Most of the other comments are in Malay and are mostly about the same things the English ones are.
Due to the similarities in reasoning for the posts, I’ve decided to just pick one out for translating.
Translated, Nggantheng basically says that charging is fine to cover for the Imam’s transportation and meal. He also says that it’s not up to us to accuse others of using religion to make money. In that case, why not also accuse madrasah teachers, marriage solemnization officers and other religious workers of working for money?
Both sides have very good points to take into account and contemplate. I’m no Muslim scholar and this isn’t an opinion piece so I’ll just keep my thoughts to myself.
What about you? What do you think?