Spread info on Islam in coherent way: official

National 2 minutes, 34 seconds


PEOPLE who understand their religon well should help others by sharing the knowledge in a comprehensible manner.

“We need people who understand (their) religion to make arguments and not just to issue statements; statements are good, but (they should) actually go online (because) young people (nowadays are mostly) online,” said US Department of State’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities Shaarik Zafar yesterday.

“Sometimes I come across a good statement, (sometimes they are) about 22 pages long but who’s going to read it? If we are worried about our younger people, we have to communicate in a manner they can understand, using the Internet or anything related,” he added.

Zafar was delivering a talk to some 50 students at the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA).

According to him, as the future of the country, students have the duty to speak up and explain to the public about what their religion is about and what it is not.

“You have the credibility (to do so) as you are not a secular country, you are a religious country (and therefore), you have to listen to your professors and study hard,” he said.

During his talk, Zafar also emphasised the roles of communities in making societies work better.

“We learnt that sometimes best ideas do not come from the government but it comes from the community; this is why it is important for governments to talk to them and not only to talk to the elites but also the (general public),” he said.

Recalling his past experience, Zafar said that in 2007, when the liquid restriction rules was introduced in his country, it was by talking with the community that the discrimination against Muslims can be prevented during security checks in the airport.

By talking with the community, Zafar said that security officials could be trained to understand Muslims and their way of life. It is because of this knowledge that Muslims were allowed to bring back gallons of Zam Zam water home after performing their Haj — one of the customs — using flasks of any kind of water on the condition that they were put inside the luggage.

“No complaints received after that; but that was not my idea, it was from the Muslim community and it improves our security as our men can go around looking for truly threatening behaviours instead of pouring the (Zam Zam) water – which was not a threat at all,” he said.

Zafar added that the same can be done to terrorists who claimed that Islam justified violence againt women and killing the innocents although the US government said “no” to such justification, the rejection must be heard from the community itself.

“If I said no, some people will believe me, but I am just a government official, it must be members of the (Muslim) community who condemn (such justification); not to blame them, but they are (far) more credible than me to (address) such,” he said.

“Because, if Muslim leaders say that, and as well with others who are credible, (the message could be) more powerful,” he added.

The Brunei Times