Assalamu’alaikum (peace be upon ya’ll) 🙂
If you thought I was one of those trolls that was gonna go off ignorantly trashing a group of people… sorry to disappoint you 😛 Whether you’re a Muslim or not, I hope you keep reading. MS.FAT’s on a mission to stick it where it hurts…we’re done biting our tongues.
All the views expressed in this post are my own, based on my own observations and experiences. Any mistakes with regards to the teachings of Islam mentioned are my own. I am not a scholar and am not qualified to give any rulings. I’m still learning, and I would definitely want teachers and scholars who are more learned than me in Islam to kindly contact me to point out any errors that I have made. Please read the entire post before commenting.
This post is a bit long, but please bear with us and continue reading 🙂
Time to Rant
This post is pretty much a rant. A rant about the hypocrisy of people, specifically us Muslims. It’s a disease which has spread all across the globe, and has successfully polluted the minds of not only the bystanders, but also the people of the same beliefs. We hope this post will clear up at least some of the scum that has been accumulating on the image of Islam inshaa’Allah (God willing).
Just a Few Things to Note…
Before I share a recent experience with all of you, let’s just explain the meaning of some common terminology and clear up a few common misconceptions.
“Islam” literally means submission; submission to the One God.
A “Muslim” is someone who submits; submits to the One God.
Some people claim Islam is a new/invented way of life, or have the misconception that it is a cult and that Muslims are basically anti-everything besides the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, if we set our emotions aside and just take a careful look at history and the textual evidences, submission to the Creator alone without any partners associated has been the message of all the Prophets and Messengers that have been sent throughout time, beginning with Adam, and continuing on with others like Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Nuh (Noah), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and finally to the last Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The final revelation, the “Qur’an”, has not been changed at all since the time it was revealed over 1400 years ago, it is not authored by any human, and it is a confirmation of all the previous scriptures that has come before it, including the Psalms, the Torah and the Gospel.
“He has sent down upon you, (O Muhammad), the Book (the Qur’an) in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.”
Surah ‘Ali-Imran Ayah 3
“Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms].”
Surah An-Nisa Ayah 163
A tenet of our faith as Muslims is to believe in all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) as well as all the original unchanged versions of the previous books that were revealed. We can’t be Muslims if we don’t.
Anyway, this is a separate discussion in it of itself, so we shall not digress 😛
Muslim ≠ Malay
Ever since I can remember, people have had this misconception. All Muslims aren’t Malay, and vice versa. Maybe this confusion arose when the category of race “Malay/Muslim” was created. Not sure why such a category was created though.
Earlier this year I received my results for one of the major national examinations. Alhamdulillah (all praise and thanks are due to God) I did well, scoring straight As. There was a little more who-ha since I was attending an Islamic school, often seen as a low-standard (or no standard) school meant for those poor souls who aren’t able to attend the regular national schools because they’ve unfortunately been born into a family of extremists who practise their radicalism to a certain extent. Somehow all that adds up to meaning that kids from there will never excel in their studies. The grades I received happened to prove that theory wrong, and thus attracted the media.
So boom, you had a picture of a ninja in the newspaper (I don the face veil).
FUN FACT: Ninjas came about 1000 years after the final revelation, so ninjas look like us, not vice versa. They stole our fashion :P. Just sayin.
Bold move, the newspaper earned my respect (which was kinda lost when they misquoted me in one of the interviews, unfortunately. A really bad translation error, perhaps?). After some weeks, the buzz died down and it was off to the next level of education for me.
A month or two ago, my name was submitted for the Anugerah Mendaki, which is an award to “to reward and recognise Muslim students who have done exceptionally well academically in the national examinations and who are in the top 10% of the national cohort.” It’s a one-off cash award plus a certificate.
Mendaki “(Council for the Development of Singapore Malay/Muslim Community) is a pioneer Self-Help Group formed in 1982 dedicated to empower the community through excellence in education, in the context of a multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore.”
Early August I received a letter saying that I’d be receiving the award during the ceremony in September. It was quite a surprise since usually only those with a Malay ethnic background receive awards/scholarships/bursaries from Mendaki, and I have friends and relatives who have sought monetary aid from Mendaki but were turned down because they weren’t Malay. An improvement from all the previous racial discrimination, it seemed.
For the next few weeks I was getting calls from Mendaki staff regarding my acceptance of the award and other logistical matters. The ceremony was to fall on Saturday, 13th September 2pm to around 5pm. The timing clashed with my tuition class so I called them up requesting if I could leave right after receiving my award, since in the letter they stated award recipients weren’t allowed to leave until the end of the event. They then informed me that my name has been selected to meet the GOH/MP at the end of the event, so they told me to inform them if I really couldn’t stay. I requested my teacher to reschedule the class, which he did Alhamdulillah. It wasn’t very easy to do, mind you, considering everybody’s work/school schedules combined.
I wasn’t really excited about meeting the MP, but I thought it may be a good opportunity for me to express the challenges I face with regards to obtaining an education here, since my attire is important to me but is incompatible with the national institutes as well as the madrasahs.
Last Monday, the 8th of September, they called me again, this time asking if I was comfortable with taking part in an interview which would be filmed and screened on the day of the ceremony, as well as an interview with one of the Malay local newspapers. After some hesitation, I agreed, but made it clear that this time I don’t want any translation/misquoting problems with the Malay newspaper. They assured me it would be fine, and told me to come down to their headquarters on Tuesday.
Eventually the video-shoot was changed to Wednesday, and between Monday and Wednesday I’ve had about 8 phone calls from them about changing the timing, what I should bring, what the questions are, how the local newspaper won’t be interviewing me anymore etc. S wanted to accompany me, so she had to take time off work as well due to the timing of the video-shoot.
Wednesday came and S and I went down to Mendaki headquarters from work and class respectively, and reached on time Alhamdulillah. We were taken up to the pantry to wait, so S and I went over the questions they were going to ask during the interview while we waited for my turn. A few minutes went by and one of their staff members came. We greeted each other then she gestured for us to sit down again. She started by saying that they are going to be doing a television video-shoot (I was like huh, TV? Anyway.) so would I be OK with removing my face veil. I replied in the negative. Then she said, she’s very sorry but they won’t record my interview on video since it’s a very sensitive issue. S and I looked at her like
I asked her what exactly the problem was, and she replied that it’s just very sensitive and yeah they won’t be able to videotape me. S requested her to explain a bit more as she was unable to understand what the issue was. The lady then said that during the ceremony there are not only going to be Muslims, but those who aren’t Muslim as well (sorry, I don’t like using the term “non-Muslim”. It doesn’t sound nice.) S replied saying that it’s actually the Muslims who have a problem with the ninja style because so far all those of different beliefs whom we have met haven’t caused any problem.
(For me, my friends and teachers who aren’t Muslim have been very supportive and understanding, not only about the way I dress but about the entire way of life that I try to lead. On the contrary, my Muslim friends and relatives were the ones who gave me a hard time, and that hurts more. Whenever I read the following ayah, roughly translated as “verse”, in the Qur’an, I can’t help but agree…
“…and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant.”
Surah Al-Ma’idah Ayah 82
My biggest supporters, and to some extent cheerleaders, were actually my Christian friends and teachers. May Allah reward them for their help and sincerity 🙂 )
The lady agreed, saying how unfortunate that is. S asked “didn’t you all know that she dressed in this way?” The lady said no, then I said that the local newspaper had printed my picture before and they didn’t have a problem with it. She replied that they were unaware of that. I was a bit confused; they didn’t want to play a video which had my ninja face in it, but they were OK with me going up on stage? The lady said yes, there is no problem, I’d be able to go up on stage and receive the award, and no worries, the GOH will be notified that there will be no shaking of hands with the Muslim women, and that I have the option of shaking hands with him.
She also said she had no problem with recording the audio of my interview and using it for their radio-show, or videotaping my interview to be played on the television screen at the reception for the public to see (the headquarters is located in some ulu place…I highly doubt anyone really goes there. It was empty when we went.). S and I declined, saying if they aren’t going to do the main video-shoot which we had come down for, then there’s really no need for any other. Whether or not they interview me doesn’t make a difference to us. After that, we just left.
Today was the actual award ceremony…don’t get me started. Basically, if you were there, don’t associate what you saw there with Islam. I found it odd that they conducted bag checks. It’s the first time I’ve seen bags being checked, with torches and rods, at an award ceremony
One good thing that came out of this was that I made a new friend. Both she and I were students from the madrasahs during the national exams, and we were both ignored during the meet and greet session with the GOH. We didn’t mind, we enjoyed talking to each other while everyone pretended to be oblivious of our existence. The ending of the ceremony with a quote by Colin Powell was epic though.
Quite a Let Down
This incident is more disappointing than all those times people, Muslims and those who weren’t, called us names like “terrorist”, “ghost”, “ninja”, “monster” and “osama” (imagine this in a thick Singlish accent…”OH-SAH-MAH”. Clearly the uncle who said this to me needs a lesson on gender -.-). It is more disappointing than the times people took our pictures while we were at the traffic light, bus stop, MRT station, walking along the road, and even from 3 storeys above us (of course without our permission. #ohemgeeninja…the tag is courtesy of T. If you guys are really fascinated by how we dress, just come up to us and have a chat, we could also give you our autographs. We’d be more than happy. I’m not kidding. Don’t be a chicken, snap a photo and then run in the other direction 😉 )
First let me express our thoughts on our encounter with Mendaki…
1. The philosophy of the organisation is secular, but it is sad that Muslim individuals who are a part of the organisation, in their professionalism, have adopted all the etiquettes of secularism in their dealings with the people.
Why is there an issue about showing everyone one of the ways Muslim women dress? Denying, hiding or being unhappy with an aspect of our way of life is verging on disbelief and hypocrisy. Commandments and guidelines from the Creator aren’t debatable and are never wrong, even if some individuals may not understand it. There is nothing to be ashamed of or worried about, the righteous female predecessors covered their faces as well, and they were the epitome of modesty. When the ayah about the women’s covering (khimar) was revealed, this is how the women responded:
Narrated A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her):
“May Allah bestow His Mercy on the early emigrant women. When Allah revealed: ‘And to draw their veils all over juyubihinna (i.e. bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) (24:31)’ – they tore their Muruts (a woollen dress, or a waist-binding cloth or an apron) and covered their heads and faces with those torn Muruts.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 6/4758
Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba (may Allah be pleased with her):
`Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) used to say: “When (the Verse): “And to draw their veils all over juyubihinna (24:31),” was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their heads and faces with those cut pieces of cloth.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari 6/4759
Even though there is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether or not the face covering is compulsory, it is evident that it is still a part of the teachings. It is not something the Arabs wore because of the sandstorms (believe it or not, some teachers in the madrasahs tell their students this), nor is it a cultural dress of the Arabs either. One has to have A LOT of guts to come between a woman and her khimar, because essentially you are coming in between her and the Creator.
2. This could have been an opportunity for us to show those with a negative preconceived notion regarding the face veil that the women behind them are educated, independent people too, not “oppressed”, illiterate women forced to wrap themselves up by the men. We shouldn’t be worried about any possible reaction from the guests. If you are the host, you’re running the show and thus are in control of it.
3. It is not like I have been cooped up at home my whole life and the video-shoot is going to be my first ever public appearance. Other Muslim women and I who don the face veil take the public transport every day! Living in Singapore, almost every one of us must have seen a lady dressed in such a way before at least once. Though it may be uncommon here, the face veil is definitely not something new. Who cares if some people find it strange?
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Islam began as something strange and will go back to being strange, so glad tidings to the strangers.’”
Sahih Muslim 145 and Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah 3986
It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”
Sahih Al-Jaami 5045
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.”
Surah An-Nisa Ayah 135
“Indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me. But they have broken up and differed as regards their religion among themselves. (And) they all shall return to Us.”
Surah Al-Anbiya Ayaat 92-93
“‘…And indeed this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so fear Me.’ But the people divided their religion among them into sects – each faction, in what it has, rejoicing. So leave them in their confusion for a time.