The Association is registered as a Society and as a Charity under the Singapore laws. It was formed in 1998 to serve the growing Shia Ithna Asheri muslim community in Singapore. It aims to promote the understanding of true Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). The Prophet urged his followers that after him they should continue to hold firmly to two precious things to avoid being misguided – the Holy Quraan and his pure household. Activities of the Association are in most cases conducted jointly with our brethren from the Muslim Youth Assembly. Lectures and prayer sessions are held on all important religious occasions including the birth and death anniversaries of the Prophet and Imams. Other activities range from regular classes for children to discussion sessions (eg:tafseer of Al-Qur’an) as well as social work such as participation in blood donation drives. Volunteers from the Assembly also provide assistance in burial arrangements and funeral prayers on a death in the community.
Attendances, religious fervour and spiritual upliftment are at their peak during the holy months of Ramadan and Muharram. These serve as important boosters that rejuvenate and reinforce our beliefs and practices every year.
Why these activities ?
Why take time out from our busy schedules to learn and practise Islam? The simple answer is: our worldview and the desire to lead a meaningful, successful life. Definitions of success differ depending on one’s worldview. Why are we here ? What happens after death ? For us, Islam sets the tone by providing a clear worldview , i.e., that this life is just a short journey and our aim is to provide as much as we can for the eternal life after death by following the right path.
This does not imply that one shuns the worldly pursuits but it does mean that one pursues them in an ethical and balanced way without ignoring one’s obligations towards the Creator, the family and rest of the society. And if someone’s priorities appear to tilt towards the spiritual, it should not come as a surprise. The pious one who has intense love for the Creator finds nothing more satisfying than seeking His pleasure. Others, who have not reached such heights , can also relate to such prioratisation on the basis of familiar and much appreciated concepts of our modern society such as meritocracy and maximising returns. To illustrate, if one has limited funds and several projects competing to use them, one will allocate them , based on merit, to the project which promises the best return. For a muslim, common sense tells him that his limited capital (duration of his life in this world) will produce best returns when used in a way that earns the pleasure of Allah, the Creator, the Lord of the Worlds. Money made by excessive material pursuits can be enjoyed at best for 90 or 100 years of this life. Good deeds, charity, prayers bestow not only inner peace and prosperity in this world but also rewards for hereafter that last forever. So, it comes down to choosing between 100 years and forever. Can the decision be simpler ? Yet, without true knowledge and conviction, how many will get it right?
Role of the Association:
Besides individual efforts, we need the synergies from co-operative endeavours as part of an association in order to effectively face the many modern day challenges . We live in a world where the all-pervasive communication technologies from TV to cinema to internet to MRT billboards bombard us daily with glorification of things that are bad for us. These viruses of vanities and depravities make gradual, invisible inroads into our unsuspecting psyche. We need as many effective tools as we can get to counter them and stay on the right path. Our individual activities at home such as the five daily prayers provide invaluable protection. Islam also provides us with some excellent opportunities to supplement these with collective activities. Why not make full use of them. How many of us have had this feeling that some of the more stubborn viruses are threatening to gain an upper hand in our lives ….. and then, to our relief, find that a powerful dose of anti-virus comes to the rescue in the form of the holy month of Ramadan …
The holy month of Ramadan:
A month of blessings with days of fasting and nights of prayers. As we pray together at the Ahlulbayt Centre late into the nights of qadr ( nights of power ), the only thoughts that tempt us are those of seeking the pleasure of, and nearness to, our Creator . Yesterday, like many, we may have craved one or more of the famous 6 “C’s” ( condos, clubs, cars…). This night though, deep in prayers, the C’s of this temporary world suddenly seem very insignificant, quite irrelevant, relatively worthless!. The only C that now matters is the one in the Creator, the One, the Everlasting ! A month when efforts to fight against our base desires and bring out the best in our character ( also called the greater Jihad ) become the focus of our lives . At the end of the month we gather for a large celebration (Hari Raya , Eid ul Fitr ) , to once again seek Allah’s forgiveness and thank Him for this opportunity to seek His blessings . As we greet each other and especially our elders on this day, we also ask them to forgive us … thus hoping to restart life with a clean slate vis-à-vis God as well as our fellow-beings.
Muharram – the month of immense passion and learning:
Months go by and new viruses arrive on the scene . Shia Islam protects us with a second powerful booster . As soon as the moon of the month of Muharrum is sighted, a deep transformation comes about in shias ….. off goes the TV , out come the black clothes and the conscience that prods us to do good deeds. And night after night, all roads seem to lead to the Imambargah and Hussainyeh, and you get to meet the whole community including those you may not have seen since the previous Muharram. The trigger is the remembrance of severe atrocities against Imam Husain (a.s.) , the grandson of the Prophet, and his family and companions committed more than fourteen hundred years ago. Lectures and majalis (gatherings) are held at several places in Singapore including the ones in Urdu, Malay and English organised by the Association and the Assembly.