ABIM was honored to be visited by one of the leading scholars and Muslim activist which is Sheikh Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu. He is the Director of Research and Training at Da’wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN). He is also actively giving talk and handling workshop for preparing Muslim youth as a Da’wah activist. His mother is a renown Muslim scholars and ABIM and IIIT had published one of her books in 1996 which was title “Penyakit Dakwah” or “Disease in Da’wah”. The conversation with him is very fruitful in terms of understanding the situation of Muslim in Nigeria and we as Malaysian could learn something or two from them. Indeed, their society also highly influenced by religion especially with the population of Muslims and Christians is almost the same and if without any proper dialogue could lead to religious tension.
He starts with the situation with Muslim first. He said that before anyone who wants to study abroad, he should master the knowledge of Islam and the Muslims situation in their society first. One of the thing that is happening is the division between the literalist and those who have the sufi tendency. A lot of young Muslim that learns at Saudi Arabia coming back with literalist influence and this create tension with scholars and Islamic group that is from Maliki Mazhab. One of the debates were the Maulud celebration. But over the years the debate is slowing when it is learned that several scholars like Ibnu Katsir and Ibnu Hajar Asqalani (which is respected by the literalist) also agree with Maulud celebration. Since then, the Maulud celebration getting bigger into tenth of thousand and bolder until their gathering was done in front of mosque with literalist Imam. This again create unnecessary tension. Sheikh Nuruddeen suggested that this Maulud celebration should not about showing force but as a tools to brings social issues to the upfront. Every 11th of Rabiulawal, the Maulud will organized like a rally to demand from the local government to improve the facilities such as hospitals, schools and water treatment. If this were done, even the literalist and the non-Muslim will join your Maulud rally.
Sheikh also shared about his interaction with Christians leaders. He said that it is important to really frank and open about the internal issues of Muslim instead of trying to paint everything perfect in the Muslim world. The non-Muslim knows about these issues and they want to know our explanation in things like the implementation of hudud, injustice towards women affair and extremism. Our obligation is to explain the differences of opinion and show that Islam is a rational religion.
Lastly, sheikh about 5 principle that should be practiced by every young Muslim in terms of interacting with the modern society. He outlined it with acronym “TREES” which is mean first is “Trusting Reason”. This means that our religion and the obligation is rational and can be reasoned with. The second is “Respecting Differences”. This reflect on the complexity of today society. As a Muslim, we should not force our opinion onto someone else. Use discussion and healthy debate. If the opponent still adamant with their opinion, let them be. There are wisdom in differences of opinion. The third principle is “Emphasizing Social Obligation”. Everything that we try to achieve is for this obligation. It is pointless to spend money and time to create changes but the majority part of the society still did not feel it. This reflects on Islamic organization who only concern with their internal activities but forgetting their surrounding society. The fourth one is “Embracing Maxim”. This is related to respecting differences but in term of identity. Islam purpose may towards uniting ummah under the oneness of God, but we also need to embrace the differences of race, culture and language throughout the world. Islam manage to spread throughout the world, even until now start to being embraced by people in Europe and American continent because of universality of message. The last one is “Setting Priorities” which is there is a lack of it in the Muslim society now. We easily get angered or start hurting each other just for the little things while there is a lot of issues that we can agreed together.
The conversation is very fruitful and sheikh wish that Muslim youth in Malaysia should always be an example to the young Muslim around the world. Malaysia has a lot of opportunities and had gone through many challenges. It is time for Malaysian youth to start thinking globally and leading the Muslim youth in international scene.