On the 3rd of October 2010, over 60 youths arrived bright & early on their Sunday at An-Nahdhah Mosque at Bishan. It was for none other than the Young Caliph Seminar organised by Moral Human & Development Society (MHDS). The seminar was targeted at tertiary students and indeed, participants ranged from students studying in polytechnics, junior colleges, higher madrasah & also the Institutes of Technical Education.
Ustaz Hasan Saifouridzal started the event by presenting the paper “Do we need to align ourselves to a Mazhab?”. It was a thoroughly refreshing & engaging presentation that was given in Malay but interspersed with English & peppered with anecdotes & stories about the Prophet SAW and his Companions. He presented the challenging issue in a manner that was clear & concise, explaining the conditions for ijtihad & the prerequisites of a mujtahid. He also spoke on length about the impermissibility of Do-It-Yourself Fiqh, picking & choosing certain rulings for one’s own benefit, but carefully detailed the conditions in which this had to be done, for example performing taqlid to the Hanafi Mazhab during Hajj.
The question and answer session that followed his talk was equally engaging & intellectual. Questions were asked about Shi’ism and also why the majority of Singaporean Muslims are of the Shafi’e mazhab, instead of the others. Ustaz Hasan did well to quell doubts & expounded his answer in a most satisfactory way.
There was a short break as participants and presenters alike enjoyed their breakfast meal. At this juncture, I managed to talk to several of the participants, two of whom were students in ITE Bishan. Atiqah, 18, and Zana, 19, had decided to attend the seminar together. They were attracted “because the seminar was about finding identity” and had wanted to find out more. Another youth that I managed to speak to was Rashid, 19, from Singapore Polytechnic. He had attended previous talks by Ustaz Hasan Saifouridzal and had enjoyed them, therefore deciding to come for the seminar when he found out the Ustaz was going to be presenting. Being a youth himself, he also thought he could benefit from a seminar that was targeted at tertiary students, and develop religiously.
After the break, an upcoming Ustaz who recently graduated from the University of Al-Azhar took the stage. With his gentle demeanor, ceaseless smile & easygoing nature, it wasn’t difficult to enjoy listening to him speak. Despite his young age, Ustaz Nuzhan presented a seemingly challenging topic of “Where is Allah?” with ease and confidence. Speaking comfortably in English, Malay & Arabic, he constantly emphasized the importance of inculcating the Muslim identity in combating needless indoctrination by others. He spoke out against the agenda of certain ideologies and reiterated the significance of being conscious of where you take your knowledge.
Throughout his talk, he repeated the line from Surah as-Shura, verse 11 “Laisa kamithlihi shay’un” or “There is nothing whatever like unto Him”, to strengthen the participants’ foundation of the deen.
I managed to have a short chat with Ustaz Nuzhan as the rest prepared for zuhr prayers. He lamented the lack of purpose that was inherent in the Malay/Muslim youth of Singapore, citing the lack of alternative entertainment as a major factor. He hopes to cause a “resurgence of a Muslim identity” and counted on the participants of the seminar to be “trend-setters among their circle of friends and be catalysts of change”.
After zuhr prayers, Ustaz TM Fouzy took over with his brand of ESQ (Emotional Spiritual Quotient), aptly named TMQ. In his presentation, he highlighted the sacrifices that the Prophet SAW and parents have done and advocated service & good manners to parents. He also spoke about ingratitude and how easily Man forget the ni’mah, or gifts that Allah has bestowed on him. It was a highly emotional & spiritual presentation, resulting in sobs from some of the participants.
All in all, it was an exceedingly successful seminar, with quite a handful of the participants hoping for a follow up of the event.
Ameera Begum Aslam