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Just sharing – Booklet on avoiding extremism (The Straits Times (Singapore), 5 April 2008)

April 5, 2008
Booklet on avoiding extremism
TWO terrorism researchers have come up with a booklet that they hope can make a big difference, by teaching Muslims how to avoid falling under the spell of those who propagate extremist views.

Authors Muhammad Haniff Hassan, 39, and Mohamed Ali, 34, are associate research fellows at the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Both have studied the works of militants who try to recruit young Muslims.

The booklet launched yesterday, Don’t Be Extreme In Your Religion, alerts Muslims to the dangers of erroneous teachings – such as that armed jihad is a must for every Muslim.

Said Ustaz Haniff: ‘We want to empower the community with tips on how they can identify extremist ideas, react, and protect themselves and their loved ones.’

He said that some people might be hesitant about informing the Mufti’s office or the authorities about those who spread extreme ideas.

‘We tell them it is okay, religiously and rationally, to come forward because it is for the community’s good. The tip-off about the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) network here came from a concerned Muslim member of the community,’ he said.

The authorities crippled the JI network in 2001 and 2002, arresting about 30 men for planning attacks here. But the terror threat remains, with four young radicals detained here since last year.

Ustaz Mohamed added that as long as radicals continue to try to win Muslims over to their views, religious scholars had a duty to counter their arguments.

The 20-page booklet was written over four months and is supported by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and Perdaus, the Singapore Adult Religious Students Association.

About 6,000 copies in English and Malay will be distributed at mosques here, and there are plans for online and Tamil versions too.

The booklets also carry images of ordinary people hurt by terror acts and Quranic verses that urge moderation.

It warns against the portrayal of issues such as the unjust treatment of Muslims in a way that arouses strong emotions, or a call to pious Muslims to disobey non-Muslim governments.

Last year, both ustaz also wrote a booklet on the proper understanding of jihad.

About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at www.haniff.sg

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