Friday, October 28, 2011

The Friday Sermon

To be honest, I didn't follow thoroughly the Friday sermon this afternoon. This time the khatib was talking about the roles of the Islamic scholars, and that their seemingly esteemed position in the society  is fast spiraling down in society's eyes. 

I have no excuse actually for not following the sermon. It was after all a multimedia sermon, so it was complete with power point presentation of the sermon, supposedly it was easy to follow. 


But I was, this time around, seated closer to the back of the main hall, so I had a tough time reading the points shown on the projector. May be I need new glasses! Honestly I think very highly of a multimedia sermon - I think all mosques should be doing it every time, all the time and at Masjid Saidina Osman, I seldom, if ever, fall asleep, never mind the topics.

Practically the first point of the sermon talked about how at this moment, the society at large is belittling the ulamaks, and that set me thinking hard as to the reasons why, and hence I was drowned in my self-thought (and self-indulgence), rather than listening intently to the sermon itself.

I remember the 80s when I was a student at Monash. I was (reasonably) active as a member of MUIS (Monash Uni Islamic Society) and every year we would invite some prominent personality or organization from Malaysia during the term break.
Religious Centre, Monash University.
A hang-out area for us students in those days,
other than the library and the student union of course!
And during one year we had invited someone from al-Arqam - I have forgotten the name of ustaz and all the sermons he had given to us then, except for one conversation we had with him during one lull period. 

He was lamenting about the situation in Malaysia, about how the society mistreated the scholarly pursuit of the religion. "Ustaz," he was many times asked, "anak saya SPM dapat grade 3. Nak masuk universiti tak boleh. Boleh ustaz ngajar dia supaya dia dapat jadi ustaz?"

"Kurang-kurang jadi orang berguna."

I am sure the youth of today would not have any idea of third grade in SPM.

Or in another situation, the parents would be thinking if his sons aren't good enough to be engineers or lawyers, he would be grateful if they would be religious teachers!

"Allah, dah tak pass universiti baru nak belajar jadi ustaz. So," according to this good ustaz, "how can Islam progress as a society if the religious teachers are those of third graders and drop-outs?"

An ustaz who would know well how to read the quran, but knew little else outside their trade.

I am not trying to belittle the ulamaks, the scholars or the religious teachers. They are doing their parts in this worldly world; the parts that I am lacking as a person, so don't misconstrue with this piece of article. I am only reminiscing the conversation we had in the mid-80s, and thought it is one of the reasons of the predicament that we are facing today.

The good ustaz, then to me, had a very good point. We need straight As students to take up religious studies, but at the same time not limiting to purely religious knowledge only. We need engineers, economist and bankers to be student of religion.  We need professionals in the scholarly pursuit of Islam. Islam is a way of life, hence we need religious scholars who know economics, engineering, medicine, philosophy, finance and other so-called worldly pursuit. We owe it to ourselves to do that, and not only admit weak students into our religious institutions, someone who eventually could not handle a scholarly debate with the society at large.

And the same goes with our tertiary institutions too. We need high quality students to take up teaching posts at our university. We need the best of our students to move on to PhD level and teach the next generation of engineers, doctors and professionals. Only then our universities can prosper, and move to the next level - and we would too as a country.

What say you?

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