Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lonely Muslim

UPDATE: Lee Kuan Yew's remarks deeply offensive to Malays

Today, I read an article on Lee Kuan Yew's honest opinion from his book "Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going" which brings me to yet another chapter of heartache in this foreign land:

Lee Kuan Yew urges Muslims to 'be less strict'
(Click link for full article)

"I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration -- friends, intermarriages and so on..." he stated.

I strongly disagree with this. It's a very third world mentality coming from the man that made Temasek into one of the world's most expensive island to get by.

Case in point, my late great grandmother came from Mainland China. My aunt married a Chinese man whom fathered my 3 cousins. In addition, one of my cousins is dating a Chinese girl for 7 years. But then they're all Malaysians so I'm not sure if this applies to Singapore.

From *my* humble observation, since I first set foot on Singapore, Muslims here are already 'less strict' than from where I come from. I am neither holier nor more pious than the next Muslim in the mosque but (no offense meant) I do see tattoos everywhere, public consumption during the fasting month and nobody would care, and their dietry laws do not go hand in hand with the Holy scriptures. Alcohol consumption among Muslims isn't a shock factor. So I don't see how Muslims in Singapore can be less strict than they already have, and I'm not quite sure where these problems come from. Then again, I have only been here not more than 3 years and a half. I did not live long enough to see the rapid growth glitched by a wrench that is Islam.

In fact I went through a culture shock and even got involved in an argument because of the openly racist humour that I didn't quite agree with. Being the only Muslim in my social circle at that time, I can get overly sensitive.

I believe that his main issue is with the conversion of faith. Apostasy in Islam is almost miniscule when it comes to intermarriage - the spouse is usually the one to convert to Islam in order to tie the knot.

"People get educated, the bright ones rise, they marry equally well-educated spouses. The result is their children are likely to be smarter than the children of those who are gardeners," he said.

Tracking back my family tree, my late grandfather was an uneducated construction labourer with 9 children. Miraculously, without any taxidermy avant-garde cross-breeding, my 9 aunts and uncles grow up to be successful, educated people. Again, what do I know? I don't run a 1st world country.

With all that said, I can't entirely point fingers to Kuan Yew alone. Muslims at this day and age are our own downfall. How can we bring back the glorious days of Islam pre-Crusade period when all we do is squabble and agitate at the slightest provocation? Extremists with misguided jihad for terrorism only display the exact opposite of what Islam is about.

I would die for Islam but I won't blow myself up to make a point. That's suicide, man. No amount of virgins in heaven would welcome you in the afterlife for that :P

Up to this day all these bad news on Islam are self-inflicted, and they overshadow the good. So please, brothers and sisters. Before we lable the stigma as Islamophobia, let us all do our part in portraying the true teachings from the Holy Qur'an. To end my entry, a quote from a hadith:

"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded."

Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38"

Peace be upon you.

22 comments:

Norly Azman said...

Zid,

I couldn't agree more with that. Maybe you should consider to be a freelance columnist after this?

Zid said...

Hahah, thanks Norly. It's a very personal thing to me - having this blog is important for me to be able to voice out my opinion without censorship.

But if I was offered a column I wouldn't decline, so long as my point of view is understood and appreciated.

azhar said...

i second too your statement Zid..

most people didnt understand Islam..

and judge on their own.. becoming Islamphobia..

Islam is about peace and way of life.
The Terrorism and extremist are the fanatics..they are wrong..

Jihad is not blow yourself and kill innocents,,that is against Islam teaching..

Islam have rules and reasons behind it.

most people against it because they dont want to think believe and understand..

for eg..women need to cover themselves in hijab because,, yourself your dignity your aurat is something special to your husband..noot to show your body around to other people,, thus would make you special to your husband... and to prevent pre-martial sex...sex oriented mentality among people..

think of the bright side..

please understand Islam.

ICe said...

agree with u zid.

not am I going to an fundamentalist or extremist whatever, but I don't see why we cannot mix with others, even in my industry field.

then again, I don't agree with the malay papers saying LKY is nyanyok already. they should think to reply his articles rather than attack his personality.

Zid said...

Azhar & ICe,
It's really hard to portray a good light when even in Malaysia we are embarrassing ourselves with our politics. We tarnish our own reputation and we've only got ourselves to blame.
It's not the teachings, it's the people who act foolishly under the guise of Islam :(

Hanie said...

When you think about it, the definition of Islam itself is about moderation. There's a concept within the religion that emphasize balance in our practice and everyday lives. So being less 'strict'..? does it mean being less of a Muslim? sometimes I wonder.

I do agree that it's not the teachings, it's the people. I think we've come to value the rituals more than the meanings behind the rituals in the religion when Islam is not just a set of rules and rituals - it's practically a way of life. Once people, or WE ourselves can understand that than maybe this religion won't be misunderstood too much. Seeking knowledge be it of religion or the world is a continuous process!

and speaking of terrorists (whose acts I DON'T condone regardless of who they are), this is an interesting article

http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/not-all-terrorists-are-muslims/

..and interestingly there's no promise of 72 virgins for men in heaven written anywhere in the Quran. Sorry Zid!! mwehehehehehehh.

Anonymous said...

Eloquently put, Hanie.
And you too, Zid.

-Chee

kiyaa said...

''Apostasy in Islam is almost miniscule when it comes to intermarriage - the spouse is usually the one to convert to Islam in order to tie the knot.''
I'm not sure what you're getting at here-If you are saying that there is no problem because apostasy is miniscule, this seems like a circular argument. It's undeniable that the Islamic imposing law for conversion upon marriage leads to this.

I think Lee Kuan Yew is wrong in the way he delivers the message: To ask Muslims to be less strict is like asking a lemon to be less sour-it's possible but it won't be much of a lemon.
If he stated examples and facts in his book to his claim ''they are distinct and separate'', it would be better to argue on his point of view. Unfortunately I haven't read it. Haha.

On the other hand, it's nice that at least 90% of Singaporeans even want to be politically correct.(Referring to the Non-Chinese PM poll) Hahah.I wonder why LKY is so skeptical of the poll result though.

Unfortunately I personally do think that any organised monotheistic religion has the effect of dividing people into different groups-It is difficult to discard the ''This is US, that is THEM'' mentality. Although, as far as I know, Singapore seems to be a secular country, so I don't know what all this fuss about Muslims holding back progress is all about.

Zid said...

Kiyaa,

In the topic of inter-marriage between Muslim, I reckon LKY is saying why does it always has to be the other religion converting to Islam instead of the other way around - which resulted in a lot of difficulties in society, according to him.

It's a rare case of having a Muslim renouncing their faith for the sake of marriage is what I meant.

Zid said...

Hanie,

I'm a suicidal lover though. Terrorist of louuurve LOL

Hanie said...

"To ask Muslims to be less strict is like asking a lemon to be less sour-it's possible but it won't be much of a lemon. " <--- this is a good point. It's like saying one has to be 'less Muslim' or not at all.

It's kinda like telling someone 'I don't have a problem with you personally, but I'd just like you to be LESS you.'

@Zid - kau memang. hari2 tembak hapless women with your love gun. oops that comes out wrong XD XD

Zaljiah said...

Zid,
LKY is entitled to his opinion just as we are to ours. Perhaps we should look back and ponder why such opinion is cast. He may be referring to one section of society that is bugging him. Mahathir, too is no different. He lures brickbats due to his vocal expressiveness. I, for one, have no love for people of my own religion who 'cakap tak serupa bikin' like being in unkempt state and telling others to adhere to the dress code. And for that too, I am no believer of most of the self-appointed motivators on our national TV. Just my 2-cents worth

Anonymous said...

OF course he is right, his real father is was Einstien.

Anonymous said...

Islam has many dietary rules. To be socially integrated, these rules are a hindrance. The way forward is for the other party to adhere to the rules. There is no other way. Friendship can still grow in spite of the rules, just that it is limited by the rules.

I understand the need to set apart for God; to remain clean and acceptable before Him. One must question if these dietary rituals can make you holier. The answer is no. It's not the food that is clean or unclean, or there is alcohol or not, it is far more important to God that your motives are genuine and you spread the love and bless many by your actions. As a result of your love and actions to bless others and the less fortunate, they too want to be like you and be on your side. You judge the tree by the fruits it produces. I'm not asking a Muslim to eat pork or get drunk, but neither should you be too rigid and lose sight of the fact that you have to integrate. Cheers!
KLi

Anonymous said...

well said bro!

Anonymous said...

Islam is a way of life........it teaches you what to do in every aspect of life.... Even in going to toilet.... To eat and drink.
It covers every aspect of life...... Even to relations to your neighbors which Islam put as the utmost importance. It strongly encourages interaction and integration.......
Dietary rules....... It's easy don't eat or drink wats ur suppose not to eat ....... Simple...... Do you need to drink to integrate....... Does the abstainance from pork n alcohol makes us holier???? It is just the commandment from God who knows wats best for us....
I wonder if God came to us and commanded us Do Not Eat this ....... do we say No.....I know wats good for myself

Anonymous said...

I am a Singaporean living in the US. I reside in a affluent town that is predominantly Jewish. Kosher restaurants and kosher products in the supermarkets that cater to Jewish people are not uncommon here. There are no less than 5 synagogues in this small town, and they are always filled on Saturdays. But no one would say Jewish Americans are not integrated in this society.

But when Singapore Muslims are observant in their religious practices, they are faulted for being rigid. Rubbish - the Muslims should be proud of their religious identity. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

Abdullah Munawar said...

Assalamu Alaikum, Well said.

ande lai said...

From my personal opinion our Muslim brothers are very open and social. There isn't a need to be westerners, we shoud all keep our culture intact.

A Singapore Chinese.

Zid said...

I respect opinions and everyone is entitled to it. I believe in order for community to live in harmony, there are bounds in which we ought to limit and delimit ourselves so that we won't step on each other's toes.

Dietary laws does not automatically make us holier or more pious neither that land would crack up blazing fire if one doesn't adhere to it. Those are rules set my the Almighty for the faithfuls and as a test for the believers to follow bounds set by Islam.

The bounds act as a guide, a way of life to avoid harm onto oneself both physical and spiritual.

To my readers, dietary rules alone do not make up Islam. There are far more crucial values in its teachings rather than "Food 101".

All I'm saying is, let us be respectful and tolerant towards everyone's beliefs and not ridicule.

Bless thee.

Anonymous said...

The topic is integration. Food and drink is the way to the heart. Of course there are other activities as well. But food and drink is on top of the list of activities that we can do together to integrate. I'm not saying we cannot integrate, but just limited by it. I'm not saying for the sake of stirring emotions here. I do have Muslim friends, good friends, and some times food get in the way and limits the opportunity to exchange. I would say the same for vegetarians too. But I have high respect for vegetarians because it is a noble thing to do. I apologize if I have offended some of the readers. Peace be with you always.
KLi

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr LKY shd further explain what he means by "less strict". As it is I can't see anything that is truly Islamic (clearly prevented in Quran) that can prevent integration..

Food? Why? Must you eat pork or drink alcohol to integrate? Solat? Fasting? Go for haj? Give charity?

Islam is pretty universal. Sometimes people misunderstood cultural norm as Islamic.. that cud be the real cause of all misunderstandings.

Malaysian Muslim..