Different context to jihad in today's society: Singapore Islamic scholar

Ustaz Yusri Yubhi Yusof is a member of the Religious Rehabilitation Group and was sharing his experience as a counselor at the Al Islah Mosque. (PHOTO: Yahoo Singapore / Safhras Khan)

There is a need for the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore to better understand the meaning of jihad, especially in today’s context.

This was the point stressed by Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) member Ustaz Mohd Yusri Yubhi Md Yusoff during a talk on jihad at the Al-Islah mosque on Friday (14 April). He gave a mini-sermon on the subject following a Friday prayer session at the mosque in Punggol.

In Islam, the term jihad – which linguistically means “struggle” – can refer to both a believer’s personal spiritual struggle for self-improvement or the physical struggle against enemies of the faith.

Speaking to a congregation of about 20 people, Ustaz Yusri, who is also the executive director of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas), shared his experience in helping to counsel Muslims who were suspected of, or directly involved in, terrorism activities here.

He had, for example, counselled two individuals who were suspected to be involved in Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) activities. The 42-year-old Islamic scholar has also counselled three men who were linked with the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist group and, in total, has taken part in more than 60 counseling sessions involving suspected radicals in Singapore.

The talk was part of an ongoing effort by both the RRG – a voluntary group of Islamic scholars and teachers – and Singapore Islamic Council (Muis) to educate the public on the dangers of extremism.

Jihad ‘not just about armed struggle’

Speaking in Malay, Ustaz Yusri pointed out that in the Quran jihad is not solely defined as picking up arms and going to war, and that there are different aspects of the term.

“In fact, even though the term jihad is repeated 41 times in the Quran, most of the references were made to a broader aspect of things and not just a war. Even controlling our desires and trying our best to be a better person is considered to be a jihad,” he said.

He also noted that even when an armed jihad is called upon, there are rules which must be followed. He said that according to the Quran, it is wrong if children and the elderly are killed during a jihad.

“It is also wrong to destroy any place of worship, like a church or a temple. It is also against the ethics and laws of jihad to destroy food plantations and plants,” he stressed while lambasting ISIS for their actions, especially in destroying places of worship.

During the sharing session, Ustaz Yusri also asked if there is a need for Muslims to participate in jihad in today’s context.

“In fact, what we need to do today is to produce more Muslims who are able to contribute to the growth of our country – which itself is a jihad where we can showcase the greatness of Muslims to the world,” he said.