The Star, Wednesday April 16, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Imams should use a softer approach for young Muslims to be encouraged to go to mosques, said the Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said imams should be people whom the public respected and looked up to and not feared.
In a lighter vein: Abdullah and Ahmad Zahid sharing a light moment during the launch of the conference for imams at the Federal Territory mosque in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He suggested that state religious departments conduct counselling courses for the officers of mosques.
He pointed out that if the imams were very harsh in their approach and always emphasised on punishment then people, especially the young, might be turned off.
“Why not start from a point of love and compassion and try and understand their problems and get to the bottom of why they are feeling in such a way?” said Abdullah.
“Show love and tell them that Allah loves them and accept repentance. Don’t start with anger,” he said, adding that sermons should be non-political.
Speaking at a conference for imams at the Federal Territory Mosque, Abdullah noted that some imams preferred to cast aside prepared sermons by the state religious departments in favour of their own ones.
“The prepared sermons are actually based on what is going on in society and the problems; so it should not be cast aside unless there is a more suitable and cogent sermon to address the specific needs or problems in a particular area,” he said.
Abdullah said that at times when sermons deviated from the state-prepared line, it caused problems and brought out anger among people, especially when it was related directly to politics.
“We want the Muslims, regardless of their political ideology – be it Umno, PAS, or PKR – to come to the mosques and be respectful to one another,” he said.
“We do not want a situation where people think this is 'their mosque' and that is ‘our mosque’. We want people to feel comfortable in all mosques.”
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in his speech that this was not the time for rhetoric, quarrels and fiery debates.
“Let us stand together and develop the state as planned by the country’s leader and let what we implement be a good example to the world,” he added.