Leaders and members of the interfaith community gathered today at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery (HDG) upon the request of the Imam of Jamae Chulia Mosque who shared his remorse for his act of indiscretion earlier this year.
In January and February 2017, the Imam had made supplications at Friday prayers where he recited an old Arabic text which originated from his village in India. The text that read: “God help us against Jews and Christians” – was not an extract from the Holy Qur’an.
He was reported to the authorities in March 2017 where he was given the opportunity to explain the matter. He later realised that it was a serious indiscretion on his part as the text used was inappropriate and inconsistent to the social norms in Singapore, and could have caused serious repercussions on the interfaith harmony here.
Mr Terence Nunis, 40, who posted the video on his Facebook page of the Imam saying a prayer after his sermon, told Straits Times in March, that the use of the word “fanswurna” – which means “to overcome” or “to grant victory over” – in relation to other religions is problematic. “In this case, the flavour is far from benign and the implicit meaning is more than just being better than them… but to dominate them,” Mr Nunis said.
In the Imam’s open statement of apology to Singaporeans, he fully acknowledged that his insensitivity was not complementary to the ethos and essence of Singapore, which has customarily and carefully embraced and emphasised on harmonious co-existence within an extremely diverse society.
He sought pardon from, and apologise to, all Singaporeans, and acknowledged that he must bear full responsibility for his actions, as part of his duty to all Singaporeans.
His apology is as follow:
To All Singaporeans.
I am filled with great remorse for the inconvenience, tension and trauma that I have caused to this peaceful country.
My actions were not complementary to the ethos and essence of this young yet great nation.
What I did, was done within the limitations of my personal exposure and adaptability. I had recited the additional supplication in Arabic, which was taken from an old text that originated from my village in India. It was not an extract from the Holy Quran.
As a resident here from a foreign land, I should have practised my faith in accordance with, and appropriate to, the social norms and laws of this country. I fully admit that my said actions have no place, wheresoever, in this extremely multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
This episode has educated and enlightened me, and I am deeply thankful to God for this realisation. I am also very relieved that the society has remained calm. I am glad that the Police had given me the full opportunity to explain myself during the investigations.
I fully respect the laws of the land and appreciate the concerns of her people. I am truly sorry that I had offended you, and I must bear full responsibility for my actions, as part of my duty to all Singaporeans and residents.