Old School Preaching Just Doesn’t Work Anymore


By: B Goode

The case of the Muslim preacher who gave an inflammatory sermon against the Christians and the Jews has, rightly so, caused much consternation and debate across the country. And by country I meant the internet. Even Home Minister Shanmugam has asked for the debate to end as the case is under Police investigations.

But since PM Lee has said that he doesn’t appreciate `yes men’, I am going to say no to him.

From what I’ve heard from my Muslim friends, the type of inflammatory sermon as displayed by the Muslim preacher was prevalent in the early days up to the early eighties when MUIS started to distribute prepared texts for Friday sermons.

During those days, attacking the so called `enemies’ of Islam came with the territory. In Khawspeak, it was `common but not uncommon also’. It was the remnant of the sermons conducted by the first Muslim preachers and Imams who set foot on this region; the Arabs. Their local successors followed suit and soon it became sort of the standard in Friday sermons.

In fact, even now, Friday sermons in the Middle-east and in most parts of Malaysia and Indonesia are still peppered and embellished with phrases such as `victory against the Christians and the Jews’. It came as I said, with the territory because it was part and parcel of the fear-tactics employed by the old preachers in order to get Muslims to comply with Islamic laws. Don’t do this or you will go to hell. Do this and you will go to hell. Hell is hot. Hell is….hellish!

“But Hell has Hellboy, bro!” – says the nerd.

“But all my friends will be in hell, bro!” – says me.

And those words would be shouted out loud. As my friend said, it was more to wake the congregation up from slumber. I mean, who doesn’t snooze during sermons be it in Church, Temples, Mosques or Parliament?

But ever since MUIS started to distribute prepared texts to all Mosques to be read during Friday sermons, those kind of fearmongering subsided. Now it is all about heaven and love. Don’t do this and you will go to heaven. Do this and you will go to heaven. Heaven is….heavenly!

“But I will have no friends in heaven, bro!” – says me.

It is the kind of message more palatable and acceptable to the increasingly progressive Muslim community in Singapore. It might put you to sleep but it is better than to cause you to hate your non-Muslim neighbours.

So that kind of old school sermons that has gotten the preacher in trouble has got no place in a modern progressive society. Something that many have missed in the heat of the discussion is that, the video was recorded and a complaint was lodged by a Muslim.

For what’s worth, that is a good sign that even the Muslim community in Singapore will not tolerate such inflammatory and divisive teachings.

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