Mar 26, 2010
The Blogger Ustaz who talks like a friend
Ustaz Yusri is one of the few Islamic religious teachers here who blog regularly to reach out to the Muslim community. — ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
HE HAS a long list of credentials but to many young Singaporean Muslims, Ustaz Mohammad Yusri Yubhi Md Yusoff is better known as the ‘Blogger Ustaz’.
Unlike many hit blogs, abahyasir.com does not contain juicy gossip or celebrity updates.
But faithful readers keep going back to lap up his riveting tales about the troubled people he has come across, his experiences as a religious teacher and the advice that he dishes out.
Since February 2008, his blog has received about 50,000 viewers with a daily rate of about 100. A quick survey shows that most of the readers are young adults and teenagers.
Ustaz Yusri is among the few Islamic religious teachers here who are using the Internet to reach out to the Muslim community.
He blogs on topics which are close to people’s hearts such as parenting and marriages. Sometimes, he adds a spicy topic, such as homosexuality and polygamy, which never fails to hook his readers.
Says the 35-year-old: ‘I come across many different cases in my line of work and I thought it was such a waste if I don’t share them with others. At least, people can learn from the experiences of others.’
When he started blogging in 2004, it never occurred to him to use the blog to discuss religious issues. Like others, he blogged about his family outings and posted pictures of his three children, now aged one to seven, growing up.
It was only later that he realised the Internet could help him reach out to a wider audience than the one he has while teaching at the mosque.
Today, apart from his Singaporean fans, his blog also attracts readers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and even the United States and the United Kingdom.
While the response has been very encouraging, Ustaz Yusri says, it is a struggle to keep up with e-mail correspondence.
The executive officer at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) receives a steady flow of e-mails from readers asking for religious advice.
‘Sometimes, they send me very long e-mails about their problems with their in-laws or about their marriages which are about to fail. They just want to pour out their woes to somebody who is willing to listen,’ says Ustaz Yusri, who is married to a housewife.
‘Many are just shy about coming forward to talk about their personal problems. And e-mailing is just a lot more convenient,’ he says.
As the only boy of five children, he was sent by his Kelantanese parents to a madrasah here when he turned seven, in the hope that he would become a religious teacher one day. His father is a retired senior clerk while his mother is a housewife.
He did well in Madrasah Aljunied, continued his secondary education at a madrasah in Kelantan and went on to do his degree in Islamic theology at the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Egypt.
Upon returning to Singapore, he joined the Al-Falah Mosque in Cairnhill Place as a religious officer. He became the mosque’s executive imam after five years.
During his 10 years at the mosque, many Muslims came to know him as the cool ustaz who did not chide unveiled women who came to the mosque to pray.
Recently, news of him sending his seven-year-old daughter to a mainstream primary school, instead of a madrasah, raised eyebrows and made many Singaporean Muslim parents see a kindred spirit in him.
Although he left Al-Falah mosque to join Muis early this year, many of his fans hope that he will still continue to blog.
Says private tutor Hannah Rahmat, 33, who reads his blog regularly: ‘It’s so hard to find an ustaz who writes and talks like a friend than a preachy religious teacher. That’s why we think he is special.’
*Artikel di atas dipetik daripada akhbar The Straits Times, Singapura pada tarikh 26 Mac 2010.