Monday, 11 November 2013

'Tu dung' or Not 'tu dung'?


Update 26 Jan 2014: World Hijab Day ceases operations in Singapore

The celebration of World Hijab Day (WHD) yesterday turned out to be a controversial affair in Singapore with the country's representative declaring having to "cease operations" today.

Singapore's WHD ambassador Seri Fatmawati Hambali posted a final status update on the officialSingapore WHD Facebook pagetoday, citing difficulties such as continued pressure and scrutiny from the Singapore government.

Her statement specifically highlighted the difficulty the Singapore WHD group faced  "during ground research and meet ups", and of "members of the group receiving threats that being involved may jeopardise their livelihood and affect their families".

related: World Hijab Day

read more

WORLD HIJAB DAY SINGAPORE FACEBOOK PAGE SHUT DOWN BY THE AUTHORITIES

Salams everyone. I would like to finally introduce myself. I am Seri Fatmawati Hambali, Ambassador of World Hijab Day Singapore. It is with regret and sadness that we announce World Hijab Day Singapore (WHDS) will cease its operations today.

WHDS had tried to showcase the beauty of the hijab. We were confident that every Singaporean would celebrate the diversity that marks our society. We wanted to bring the joy and celebration that the occasion deserves.

But it is not to be.



PM Lee on tudung issue: Government will continue to evolve position gradually, carefully
Yahoo Newsroom - PM Lee's snap of the participants at the dialogue regarding the Tudung issue. (Photo from PM Lee's Facebook page)

Singapore's position on Muslim women being allowed to wear tudungs with uniforms and for front-line government jobs will evolve “gradually and carefully”, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In a Facebook post after a dialogue he had on Saturday evening with ministers, members of parliament, community and religious leaders, PM Lee said he “fully appreciate(s) their desire” for Muslim women in uniform to be able to wear a tudung (Muslim head scarf, also known as a hijab).

“But a larger issue is at stake: the sort of society we aspire to be,” he wrote. “I am also mindful how crucial it is for us to strengthen our cohesion, and maintain the relaxed confidence and trust that benefits us all, especially the minorities.”

read more

Religious leaders confident tudung issue will be given appropriate attention

Singapore's highest Islamic authority Mufti said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong understands that the tudung is an important issue for Muslims.

The Prime Minister held his first dialogue session on Saturday with the Malay-Muslim community on the issue.

During the dialogue session, Singapore's Mufti Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram said the Prime Minister understood the natural desire and aspiration of a Muslim, which is to be allowed to practice his or her religious obligations as much as possible.

related: Tudung issue is about what sort of society S'pore wants to build: PM Lee

read more

PM Lee holds dialogue on tudung issue, says change must be gradual


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with participants of a two-hour dialogue over the tudung. The Government's position on the tudung is not static, but Singapore cannot take actions precipitously that can have unintended consequences, said Mr Lee after the dialogue with over 100 leaders and representatives from the Malay community. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

The Government's position on the tudung is not static, but Singapore cannot take actions precipitously that can have unintended consequences, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after a two-hour dialogue with over 100 leaders and representatives from the Malay community over the Muslim headscarf.

He reiterated the Government's stance in remarks made after the dialogue at the Old Police Academy, which is that it must balance the needs of all communities in Singapore to keep the country multi-racial and multi-religious.

"If we are going to have anything happen which can change the status quo, we want to make sure that the change takes place gradually and for the better. We do not want to make precipitous moves, which can lead to either a push back from other communities, which can lead to further demands from the other communities, which can lead to a weakening of our multi-racial ties, which will mean a much unhappier society," he said.

read more

How people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public
An important issue in the Muslim world is how women should dress in public. A recent survey from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research conducted in seven Muslim-majority countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey), finds that most people prefer that a woman completely cover her hair, but not necessarily her face. Only in Turkey and Lebanon do more than one-in-four think it is appropriate for a woman to not cover her head at all in public.

The survey treated the question of women’s dress as a visual preference. Each respondent was given a card depicting six styles of women’s headdress and asked to choose the woman most appropriately outfitted for a public place. Although no labels were included on the card, the styles ranged from a fully-hooded burqa (woman #1) and niqab (#2) to the less conservative hijab (women #4 and #5). There was also the option of a woman wearing no head covering of any type.

Overall, most respondents say woman #4, whose hair and ears are completely covered by a white hijab, is the most appropriately dressed for public. This includes 57% in Tunisia, 52% in Egypt, 46% in Turkey and 44% in Iraq. In Iraq and Egypt, woman #3, whose hair and ears are covered by a more conservative black hijab, is the second most popular choice.

related: Singapore Hijab Movement


MUFTI APOLOGIZED TO PM LEE, ANGERED MUSLIMS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT IN THE WRONG – TUDUNG ISSUE

After the closed-door dialogue between PM Lee Hsien Loong and the Malay Muslim leaders about the tudung/hijab issue, Mufti apologized for the abusive language used by Malay Muslim netizens on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in the public service.

These were Mufti Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s words:
I sincerely apologise on behalf of some of the Malay community who might get carried away by their emotions in expressing their thoughts. They might not understand how difficult it is to solve the issue. I regret that their usage of language is inappropriate”.
Let’s reflect. In my opinion, a simple apology can make a big difference in many situations. The absence of the words “I’M SORRY” and/or “I APOLOGIZE” can be hurtful and damaging in our human relationships especially when we are in conflict with each other. Maybe they are just words, but they are also words that communicate a desire to be right with each other.


PM Lee meets MPs over headscarf issue
"PM stressed that his aim was to create an environment where Muslims and other faiths can practise their religions freely and peacefully. But he also explained why we must manage and balance the diverse needs of our multi-racial and multi-religious society. Hence the need for accommodation and compromise by all parties," Dr Yaacob wrote

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, together with six Malay-Muslims MPs. Three MPs were unable to attend.

Currently, Muslim women in public-sector professions that require uniforms, such as nursing, cannot don the hijab. The police force and military service also do not allow the wearing or display of conspicuous religious symbols on uniforms or faces.

Last month, a polytechnic lecturer asked at a forum why nurses were barred from wearing the tudung. The Suara Musyawarah committee, tasked to collect feedback on Malay/Muslim community concerns, also raised the issue in July.

read more

Singapore PM meets Muslim MPs over headscarf debate
PM Singapura jumpa wakil rakyat Melayu bincang isu hijab
PM Singapura jumpa wakil rakyat Melayu bincang isu hijab

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (pic) yesterday met Malay-Muslim Members of Parliament from the ruling People's Action Party over the issue of allowing the wearing of the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, among Muslim women in the public sector.

The Straits Times reported that several groups in the city-state have recently called for Muslim women in public sector professions that require a uniform, to be allowed to wear the hijab. The republic's Minister for Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said Lee wanted to create a conducive environment for people of all faiths to practise their religions freely.

"But he also explained why we must manage and balance the diverse needs of our multi-racial and multi-religious society. Hence the need for accommodation and compromise by all parties," Yaacob was quoted as saying in a Facebook posting, as reported by The Straits Times.

Related Article: PM Singapura jumpa wakil rakyat Melayu bincang isu hijab

read more

PM discusses govt response to calls for Muslim workers to freely don hijab

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday met People's Action Party (PAP) Malay-Muslim Members of Parliament to discuss the Government's response to recent calls for Muslim women to freely don the hijab or headscarf in all workplaces.

The MPs were glad Mr Lee understood that the hijab issue was important to many Muslims, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim later said in a Facebook post.

"PM stressed that his aim was to create an environment where Muslims and other faiths can practise their religions freely and peacefully. But he also explained why we must manage and balance the diverse needs of our multi-racial and multi-religious society. Hence the need for accommodation and compromise by all parties," Dr Yaacob wrote

read more

DPM Teo responds to calls on hijab, explains need to maintain social harmony
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Government has responded to mounting calls that it allow Muslim women to don the hijab or head scarf in all workplaces, saying that it understands those views but has a responsibility to balance the varied needs of different communities with what is necessary to maintain social harmony in Singapore.

"Government understands these community perspectives, but the Government also has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements, and keep in mind what we need to maintain overall social harmony," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in a statement on Tuesday.

There are certain public sector professions that require uniforms which do not include the hijab. Those in the Police force and military service also cannot wear or display conspicuous religious symbols on their uniforms or faces.


DPM Teo Chee Hean's comments on the hijab issue

Dr Yaacob and the Malay/Muslim MPs have raised the hijab issue on a number of occasions, along with other issues which the community sees as important.

We support the aspirations Minister Yaacob had expressed in his statement last week.

Government understands these community perspectives, but the Government also has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements, and keep in mind what we need to maintain overall social harmony.

read more

Allowing hijab problematic for some jobs: Yaacob
Allowing hijab problematic for some jobs: Yaacob
Minister urges members of Malay-Muslim community to be patient and says they will continue discussions

Wearing a Muslim headscarf at the workplace would be “very problematic” for some professions that require their staff to be in uniform, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

Weighing in on the issue for the first time since a debate began in September, Dr Yaacob said in a note on his Facebook page that many employers here have exercised flexibility on the practice. However, he pointed out that police officers and Singapore Armed Forces servicemen are not allowed to wear or display religious symbols on their uniforms or faces.

“Nor do we allow Muslim police women officers to wear the hijab on duty,” Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, wrote. “But when they are out of uniform, they are free to wear the hijab, as indeed many do going to and from work.”

related:
Hijab issue: Govt must ‘balance community requirements’
PM Lee meets with MPs about hijab issue

read more

Dr Yaacob welcomes PERGAS’ statement on hijab issue 
Dr Yaacob welcomes PERGAS’ statement on hijab issue
Minister praises group’s leadership for “guiding our community to remain calm”

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim today (Nov 8) said he welcomes Islamic non-governmental organisation PERGAS’ commitment to work together and find “practical solutions” for the hijab issue

In a Facebook post, Dr Yaacob commended PERGAS’s leadership for “adopting a rational approach and guiding our community to remain calm”.

“I’m glad that we agreed at the dialogue to move forward on this issue with goodwill and understanding the importance of balancing the diverse needs in our multi-racial and multi-religious society,” he said.

read more

PERGAS’s reponse to the tudung issue for female Muslims at the workplace

Pergas recognises that some efforts undertaken by the Minister and MPs on issues faced by the Malay-Muslim community have shown development and progress. However at the same time, Pergas strongly feels that the attempt to resolve the tudung issue is still unsatisfactory.

Pergas acknowledges the government’s viewpoint on the tudung as announced on 5 November 2013. However as an association representing the Islamic scholars and religious teachers in Singapore, Pergas truly hopes the policy would be continuously reassessed and reviewed to fit the aspirations of the local Muslim community who believe that the wearing of tudung has never hindered any kind of integration among Singaporeans. In fact, it contributes by enhancing Singapore’s image as a country that is inclusive and harmonious.

Therefore, Pergas would like to reiterate that its position on this issue remains unchanged, which is the tudung is an important religious obligation and one which symbolises a woman’s dignity and decency. Pergas is concerned to hear the grievances of fellow Muslims who face difficulties in fulfilling the religious obligation in covering the aurat due to the tudung restriction in some workplaces.

read more

My thoughts on the Hijab issue

Recently, the hijab issue has garnered renewed attention in mainstream and social media. The PAP Malay MPs and I are aware of this concern as it has been raised in our discussions with our community. We have discussed the matter with PM and my Cabinet colleagues.

This issue is important to many Muslim Singaporeans. But that doesn’t mean that we should use abusive and disrespectful language in discussing it. Personal attacks on former Mufti Shaikh Syed Isa Semait and current Mufti Dr Fatris Bakaram are completely uncalled for. They will not bring the discussions forward, much less solve any problems. Such behaviour reflects badly on those who engage in it. Let us always treat each other with due respect, whether in our own Muslim community or when engaging those belonging to other faiths.

Singaporeans enjoy freedom of religion. Everyone has the right to practise his or her respective faith. This right also entails a responsibility – to promote mutual respect and understanding among different religious groups, and to preserve the common space that all groups share.

read more

Workers' Party "straddling both sides of the fence" on hijab issue: Indranee 

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah has criticised the Workers' Party (WP) for not taking a clear position on the hijab issue

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, she said they may sound sympathetic but actually "straddle both sides of the fence and merely calls for public dialogue".

"This does little to help resolve a delicate and difficult national issue and runs the danger of encouraging groups, including those from other communities, to take rhetorical positions and make public demands which they may then find difficult to move from," she said.

She was critical of what the WP and National Solidarity Party, who both issued statements last week, said amid growing calls to let uniform officers and nurses don the tudung or hijab.

related: Indranee Rajah heartened by constructive dialogue on hijab issue


read more 

Senior Minister of State criticises Workers’ Party on Hijab Issue

Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, criticises the Workers’ Party for its statement on the hijab issue.

Without any rephrasing any of her words, the below quote is taken from Ms Indranee’s facebook status update posted on Wednesday,

Also not defending either parties and for the benefit of our readers to decide for themselves, we have attached below the stances of the three political parties to see if the statement made by Ms Indranee for both National Solidarity Party and Workers’ Party is any vastly different from the stance made by the People’s Action party.


People’s Action Party: My thoughts on the Hijab issue
Workers’ Party: Current hijab discussion should not be politicised
National Solidarity Party: Statement on the hijab issue
Singapore Democratic Party: SDP's position on hijab 11 years ago still stands

read more
Use legitimate ways to push hijab issue: MP Zaqy Mohamad 
Mr Zaqy said the anonymous online petition was an example of an exercise to create a “false groundswell of support”, and is not the way to engage on public issues or develop active citizenry. ST FILE PHOTO

The way in which some have tried to push for the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in the workplace was criticised by Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad on Tuesday.

His comments came after an online petition was posted by an anonymous person on Oct 12 on campaigning site avaaz.org.

It aimed to garner 20,000 signatures, but received only 12,405 before being taken down recently.

related:
Online hijab petition draws ire of MP Zaqy Mohamad
Use legitimate ways to push tudung issue: MP
WP calls for public dialogue on hijab issue
PM Lee meets Malay-Muslim MPs to discuss hijab issue
Tudung issue: DPM Teo explains need to maintain social harmony

read more

Muslims in Singapore need to accommodate too: Zulkifli 
Former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin shares his views on race and religion in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of IPS)

Yahoo Newsroom - Former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin shares his views on race and religion in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of IPS)

Muslims in Singapore need to make greater efforts to compromise and integrate themselves better when it comes to practicing their religious beliefs. They should not expect others to accommodate them all the time. 

Former Nominated Member of Parliament Zulkifli Baharudin, who serves as Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Algeria and Uzbekistan, voiced this view in response to a question about discrimination against Muslims at the workplace from a participant at a forum on Wednesday morning.

He was one of four panellists invited there to speak on the findings of a recently-concluded IPS-OnePeople.sg study on race and religion in Singapore. 

read more

Mufti criticises online vitriol over tudung issue

ABUSIVE language by netizens on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in the public service was criticised by Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram yesterday, as he came out in defence of his predecessor.

Singapore's highest Islamic authority said in a Facebook post that he had pondered for three days whether to weigh in on the issue. He eventually did, out of concern over the "phenomenon of abusive and disrespectful language from some social media users".

"I am worried that it will be a culture that becomes entrenched in the community if it is not reproached and dealt with," he added.

Related:
Use legitimate ways to push tudung issue: MPPM Lee meets MPs over headscarf issue

read more

NSP calls for survey on hijab issue 
http://nsp.sg/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hijab.jpg
The National Solidarity Party (NSP) has joined the hijab debate, saying it supported the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in “all places of work and study”

In a statement released yesterday, NSP Secretary-General Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss said the Government’s concern about the impact of the hijab issue on social harmony is “understandable”, and suggested that an official survey be commissioned to gauge how the other communities feel about Muslim women wearing the hijab in Government professions, where it is currently not allowed.

“It is especially important to have empirical evidence to support any decision on this issue, because it has economic impact for Malay-Muslim families. Prohibiting the wearing of the hijab in certain public sector professions means a restriction of job opportunities for Muslim women who desire to wear the hijab,” Ms Chong-Aruldoss said.

read more

Workers' Party calls for public dialogue on hijab issue
In a statement on Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap (above) said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community among the various communities and with the elected government. FILE PHOTO: NADZRI EUNOS

The Workers' Party (WP) has called for public dialogue to achieve a "workable consensus" on the issue of uniformed public officers wearing the hijab or Muslim headscarf, adding that these discussions should also involve the heads of the uniformed professions.

In a statement on Wednesday, Aljunied GRC MP Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap said the WP believes the current debate on the hijab should not be politicised and a workable consensus was best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community. among the various communities and with the elected government.

"The discussions should be carried on with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies," said Mr Faisal in the party's first comment on the debate over the hijab.

read more

Current hijab discussion should not be politicised; Dialogue with uniformed professions urged

WP is committed to the ideal of a multi-racial and multi-cultural Singapore where citizens of all faiths and races have the right to practice their religion as fully as possible in harmony with all the communities. We value diversity in unity, and believe that the understanding and embracing of diversity will allow Singapore to become a more inclusive and integrated society.

Therefore, as a principle, WP recognises the genuine desire and aspirations of Muslim Singaporeans who seek a change in government policy to allow the wearing of the hijab in the public sector’s uniformed professions.

WP observes that over the years, Singaporeans have grown accustomed to working Muslim women who choose to don the hijab in government offices, as nurses in some private hospitals, in schools as teachers and even as participants at National Day parades. We recognise that good relations exist among our communities in Singapore, and believe that this will decide how far each group can practice their religion in an environment of tolerance and mutual respect.

read more

Discussions over hjiab issue should not be politicised: Workers' Party
Cover photo used in the Facebook page of Singapore Hijab Movement. (Facebook Screengrab)

The Workers' Party has weighed in on the issue of traditional head garb worn by Muslim women in the public sector, calling for discussions not to be "politicised".

In a statement on Wednesday evening, it said it believes that a "workable consensus is best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community, among our communities, and with the government elected by the people".

It called for debate to be held with "an open mind", and that discussions should include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies.

read more

Current Hijab Discussion Should Not Be Politicised: Workers Party

The Workers Party says the hijab issue should not be politicsed, while urging for dialogue with the uniformed professions.

Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap, said: "WP believes that a workable consensus is best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community, among our communities, and with the government elected by the people.

"The discussions should be held with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies.



Should the “hijab” be such a complex issue?

Over a decade since Muslim girls were suspended for wearing their hijabs (headscarves) to school, Singapore has yet to definitely and conclusively wrap up the hijab issue. (Getty Image)
Over a decade since Muslim girls were suspended for wearing their hijabs (headscarves) to school, Singapore has yet to definitely and conclusively wrap up the hijab issue

Despite the many voices that called for dialogue then, the issue was laid to rest until a recent forum when a polytechnic lecturer asked why nurses were not allowed to wear the traditional Muslim headscarf at work revived the debate.

The collective voice from the Muslim community now seems to be stronger. A decade is a long time for dissatisfaction to boil over.

Beneath some of the hurtful words and comments around the issue lies a deep sense of frustration with the status quo.

read more

Why Not The Tudung?

Since when in living memory had we an occasion when the PAP openly and rationally solicited the comments and views of the opposition parties except when it served its own political purpose and objective? IMO, the tudung issue is created by as well as being the direct responsibility of the govt of the day to tackle, so why indeed should the WP be obliged to at this point express an opinion knowing full well that the PAP cronies and lackeys are just laying in wait to pounce on their views and turn it into more political capital against the WP?

The taunts of PAP MPs Indranee Rajah and Hri Kumar bore all the hallmarks of the proverbial spider’s invitation to the fly, to come into its parlour, except for the complete lack of grace and civility and churlish manner in which the PAP MPs had chosen to couch their ‘invitation’ to the WP.

Obviously, the PAP is not liking it one bit when the opposition parties nudged it to resolve the issue in a rational manner. The LHL govt is simply not prepared nor equipped to open up the Pandora box that would inevitably draw in members of other religions, for in their eyes that would be upsetting the apple cart. The Sikhs’ ubiquitous turban headgear being easily the most convenient comparison in the ‘like for like’ demand for equal treatment by the Muslim community, and to which the govt has truly no clever way to explain away apart from using the ‘tradition’ argument.

read more

Hijab: Compulsion or choice?

One of the most common and heated debates between Muslims: Do Muslim women really need to wear hijab? Is it in the Qur’an?

Where I come from, wearing a hijab represents your piety. Most non-hijabi women in my country are referred to as religion-iliterate and have no right to speak of Islam if they had their hair showing, and those who do wear hijab are considered religious. Modesty to them only means what you wear, not how you act.

Non-hijabi women like myself have received countless condescending comparisons, like associating us with unwrapped candies, giving non-hijabis the perception that we’re dirty. Being an avid student of the Qur’an, I have found myself engaging in many anonymous hate mails telling me I have no right to speak of Islam, or how “disturbed” they are at the fact that I am brave enough to speak of my religion even though I do not wear a hijab. There are too many people that I have encountered who have the “I am more Muslim than you” syndrome. They act like they know Islam much better than I do only because my appearance does not “represent” Islam.

read more

Hijab issue: Whatever their choice, women deserve respect, inclusion

Recent discussions about whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear headscarves at work have focused on the voices of political and community leaders, as well as the needs of communities and the importance of social harmony.

Perhaps it is time to shift our attention, in this question of whether a Muslim woman should wear a headscarf, to the woman herself.

Globally, there is a troubling history of coercion in connection with the headscarf.


read more

Hijab in the Workplace: Why the controversy?

The issue came to prominence in 2002, when four Malay-Muslim parents sent their daughters to school wearing the tudung. The girls were suspended for not adhering to the school uniform, and where schools previously had the leeway to permit amendments to their own uniforms on religious grounds, the issue came under the purview of the Ministry of Education, which enforced stricter regulations on uniforms in the interest of keeping government schools secular. The case sparked a flurry of discussions, arguing both for and against the acceptance of headscarves.

It recently resurfaced when during a forum discussing survey results on racial and religious attitudes, the question came up as to why hospitals did not permit nurses to wear the hijab. Former Nominated Member of Parliament Zulkifli Baharudin responded by saying that while it may be permitted eventually, Muslims should not expect others to always accommodate their religious practices

Subsequently an online petition called for 20,000 signatures to support the cause of hijabs in the workplace, quickly garnering support from thousands who ‘signed’ it. As the petition was reaching its goal, it was suddenly closed and taken down without any notice.

read more

Secular state at centre of hijab debate

Should Muslim women working in “front-line” positions in government departments be permitted to wear the tudung? Last month, participants at a forum on race relations concluded that they should. An online petition was later organised, and although it fell short of its targeted 20,000 signatures, the resulting controversy became quite heated.

At one point, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim even appealed for particpants to refrain from making personal attacks against Singapore’s current and former Muftis.

The debate over the hijab, commonly referred to in Malay as the tudung, certainly raises thorny questions about the limits of public expression of religious conviction.



The hijab issue & social media: Defending dignity by stepping on it?

It will be ironic if there are people who struggle for the right to implement certain Islamic obligations, but in the process ignoring and even conflicting the ethical orders set by Allah. Covering the Aurah is one of the obligations to preserve the human dignity of a believer.

It is inappropriate for us to defend our dignity, and in so doing remain so careless as to step upon the dignity of our brethren.

As the malay proverb goes, “Ular biar mati, tanah jangan lekuk, buluh jangan pukah”, which means that if we wish to settle a certain problem, we must do it in fairness, so that both sides will feel satisfied.

read more

Hijab: Time to Take a Stand
It seems that the pro-hijab campaigners are once again being let down - this time by Facebook, but they managed to overcome it. The group's Facebook page, Singapore Hijab Movement, which got over 26,000 likes in just under a week, was supposedly

related: Politics of the Hijab

read more

Singapore ‘Hijab Movement’ Facebook page mysteriously disappears
Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 11.47.15 AM

The Singapore Hijab Movement Facebook page, which garnered over 26,000 likes in the span of a few weeks, has been removed from Facebook for unknown reasons yesterday.

The Facebook group has called on the Singapore government to loosen its ban on the wearing of the hijab, a Muslim headscarf, for women who work in public sector organizations that require a uniform.

There was every indication that the movement was gathering even more steam prior to the page’s removal. A Google cache of the page showed that the administrator has been sharing quotes pertaining to women’s rights and the hijab issue this week, and these postings have gone viral with hundreds of shares on Facebook.

read more

Internalising our Diversity

In Singapore, the ongoing debate over whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the hijab at the work place shows how much the state is adamant that none of our religions or its devotees stand out too much

“Every community when it presses for its own concerns, must bear in mind how that affects other communities and how others might see it,” Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said last Tuesday

“That is the reality of living in a multi-racial, multi-religious society that we all have to internalise.”

read more

Why Not?

Recently a Facebook page was setup calling for the Singapore government to allow Muslim women to wear the hijab. The Islamic headscarf, also known as the tudung here in the region, is currently not allowed to be wore in public services.

Government leaders have weighed in on the issue, and as expected the answer is a “No”. I know they didn’t actually say “No” but Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says that the Singapore government has to balance all the different community requirements and keep in mind what they need to do to maintain overall social harmony, and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim called for “constructive dialogue” as the way forward.

Let’s be honest; that’s a “No”

read more

Politics of the Hijab
http://www.sgh.com.sg/about-us/newsroom/News-Articles-Reports/Pages/heritage-day.aspx

Old photo of doctor and nurse in Singapore General Hospital - source

The anti-Muslim Singaporean aren't even aware that a few decades ago all nursing staff had headwear - for reasons of hygiene.

read more

'Tu dung' or Not 'tu dung'?

Our nurses used to wear uniforms and headwears like these, including the white shoes. The headwears were worn according to their ranks and seniority, from student nurse, staff nurse right up to the Matron.

So elegant they look, just like Florence Nightingale.

read more

Spotlight on tudung ban and racial harmony

A POLYTECHNIC lecturer asked at a race forum yesterday why nurses were barred from wearing tudungs, sparking a discussion on whether frontline officers here should be allowed to wear the Muslim headscarf and the practices in other countries.

Mr Chong Ching Liang, the first of 11 forum participants to share their thoughts on racial harmony, said nursing students had to remove their Muslim headscarves before going on clinical attachments or starting full-time work in hospitals.

"How much are we as a society willing to tolerate differences that different members of a population bring?" he asked.


read more

S’pore Muslims seek policy change over hijab
The issue was first raised at a forum on race when a polytechnic lecturer asked why nurses were barred from wearing the Muslim headscarf

The Workers Party here wants the hijab issue de-politicsed, while urging for dialogue with the uniformed professions.

Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap, said: “WP believes that a workable consensus is best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community, among our communities, and with the government elected by the people.

“The discussions should be held with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organisations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies.


read more

Excellent article on the hijab

Excellent article even with a cursory reading. Hope to come back later and read it carefully. It is a very long article. I like her conclusions:

1. The best garment is the garment of righteousness
2. Whenever you dress, be sure to cover your bosoms
3. Lengthen your garment

Can't agree more!

read more

HIJAB DEBATE: THOUGHTS FROM 2 CROSS-CULTURAL FRIENDS

I am submitting an article for your consideration. This was penned together with my friend Low Tingting. Both of us are NUS third year. Would be awesome if you could publish it.

We don't always agree with TRS but it's a great website to challenge Singaporeans and what we think about the country

Before we go into the merits of our argument, let us talk about the use of the hijab in Singapore's flagship carrier, Singapore Airlines and its affiliates such as Silk Air and Tiger Air. Stewardess who decide to join this career are not allowed to wear the hijab because these companies have decided that uniformity of physical appearance of their staff is paramount. Nevertheless, many local Muslim women enroll themselves to take to the air, realizing their dream of flying

read more

The Hijab: Form vs Substance

I had seen their sisters in one of our hospitals before. They were not banned. Nobody in his right mind would see their head scarves in religious terms. In India where they originate they are seen as Indian. These women are better known for what they do (substance) than how they appear (form)

All the major religions have this challenge: too much form and too little substance.

There is a global Islamic Revival. The older folks especially LKY's generation sense it more acutely when they compare the Muslims of their youth and now. Religious revivals always make people who are not adherents nervous. The process seems to be accelerating as moderates are beating retreat to the advance of rediscovered Islam. Yes, such revivals are never new. They are always presented as returning to the roots, to truth. They are irresistible or why would outsiders fear them otherwise.

related: Realistic about the Hijab

read more

Tudung or Not Tudung?: Hijabis in Singaporean Workplaces

In Singapore, the hijab is more commonly referred to with the Malay word ‘tudung’, which simply means a covering. In October this year, a petition was started on Avaaz.org by a “Syafiqah K.” to allow Muslim women in Singapore to wear tudung (hijab) in the workplace. It aimed to reach 20,000 signatures, but was closed down recently with about 7600 signatures short of its goal. It was originally planned to be sent to several figures in the government.

As of today, the Singapore government has what appears to be an almost arbitrary policy on Muslim women wearing hijab in the workplace. According to political rhetoric, the hijab is not allowed in “front-line positions”  that require daily contact with other Singaporeans, including non-Muslim ones. However, there is no law that details this specifically.

According to my observations, there are professions that involve contact with people (thus appearing to be rather “front-line” for all intents and purposes) and yet allow hijabs. Examples include public transport companies, teachers, doctors (except when in scrubs), and politicians. In the government, for example, hijab is allowed as long as it doesn’t involve the “front-line” (case in point: my sister works in the tax authority wearing a hijab). Examples of professions that totally do not allow hijabs include police, military and navy officers, and nurses. As for private companies, their dress code is left to their own discretion.

read more

A Short Response to DPM Teo and Minister Yaacob (5 Nov 2013)

The DPM’s statement is encouraging, as it shows that our cabinet has acknowledged the Muslim community’s concerns. We should strongly welcome his statement. Minister Yaacob’s post on how he met up with PM Lee is also another good sign.

In the spirit of calls by the government to engage in constructive engagement, i would like to respond briefly to the concerns raised.

1) DPM Teo mentions that the government needs to balance the different communities’ needs. This is more than a fair statement. The questions that should be asked though: Does wearing the hijab (in schools or hospitals or elsewhere) impinge on other communities’ needs? If so, how?

read more

How Does the Hijab Affect Social Harmony?
Let us share a meal together, acknowledging that we are not the same.  Do not discourage people from interacting.  Do not make it difficult for us to be one people. 
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
National Day Rally 2009
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met with various ministers on the hijab issue yesterday. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim shared on his Facebook page:
We have been discussing the hijab issue over the last few weeks. Today my Malay PAP MP colleagues and I met PM. We had a good discussion. We’re glad for PM’s understanding that this issue is important to many Muslims. PM stressed that his aim was to create an environment where Muslims and other faiths can practise their religions freely and peacefully. But he also explained why we must manage and balance the diverse needs of our multi-racial and multi-religious society. Hence the need for accommodation and compromise by all parties.
We agreed that we must all continually work towards better mutual understanding of these diverse needs. Constructive dialogue is the best way forward. This is the Singapore way, and has served everyone well over the years. As I mentioned before, it will take time, but we will find practical solutions if we continue to engage with goodwill.
Likewise, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has commented

read more

Drawing the veil over hijab
(Photo by Shawn Danker)
Madam Speaker, please speak (Photo by Shawn Danker)

The pressure might be mounting but it seems the pro-hijab lobby is being disappointed – again. Top politicians have signalled that there will be no change in policy on the headscarf ban for Muslim women in the frontlines of the public service and those in uniform.

“Government understands these community perspectives, but the Government also has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements, and keep in mind what we need to maintain overall social harmony,” said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in a short statement to the media on Tuesday.

Muslim Affairs Minister Yacob Ibrahim weighed in after that, with the weight of the Prime Minister behind him, in asking for the continuation of the “Singapore way”. Of the meeting he and Malay People’s Action Party MPs had with the PM, he said: “We agreed that we must all continually work towards better mutual understanding of these diverse needs. Constructive dialogue is the best way forward. This is the Singapore way, and has served everyone well over the years. As I mentioned before, it will take time, but we will find practical solutions if we continue to engage with goodwill.”

related:
Grassroots movement or lalang on fire?
20,000 reasons for the G to change its mind on the hijab?

read more

Hardware, Heartware and Headwear

The Face­book group “Love My Coun­try Love My Hijab” is a dis­cus­sion we’ve avoided for too long. It’s time we brought it out into the open and be bold but care­ful in declar­ing what our prin­ci­ples are as a nation.

It seems to me that we parade terms like “mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” and “racial har­mony” while actu­ally mean­ing “tol­er­at­ing in spite of our dif­fer­ences”. It is time we recog­nised our dif­fer­ences and embrace them. Our eth­nic­ity, beliefs and val­ues want to be recog­nised because of what they are. It doesn’t mat­ter if, as some peo­ple have put it, the hijab/tudung issue is a “recent phe­nom­e­non of Islamisation”.

It’s help­ful to know that Sikhism was once con­sid­ered a new reli­gion, hav­ing been estab­lished in 1699. It is in the Sikh Reht Maryada that a Sikh is for­bid­den to cut his/her hair, and must wear hair unshorn. The con­spic­u­ous reli­gious wear­ing of a tur­ban has long been allowed in work­places includ­ing that of mil­i­tary and civil ser­vices, as well as in excep­tion to rules which gov­ern the wear­ing of safety head­gear in motoring.

read more 

Freedom of choice versus rights of choice


The hijab issue is still hot and will not rest for a long time to come. Our constitution has guaranteed everyone, including those other than the four recognized racial groups, the freedom to practice their religion and culture and way of life. I can’t call them the four major racial groups anymore as there are new groupings that are much larger than some of the four recognized groups.

Everyone is free to choose his way of life. Then why should the hijab becomes an issue and the Malays feel oppressed, that their rights to freedom to wear the hijab violated? The anger is real, justified or unjustified is a very subjective thing depending on the basis of one’s interpretation.

No one or organization is allowed to ban the wearing of hijab or any other religious ornaments on religious or racial ground. Is this simple enough to understand?

read more

How does Islam fit into a secular Singapore?

The controversy over the tudung issue in Singapore is one that surrounds around the central issue of, ‘How does Islam fit in a secular society like Singapore?’ Many have argued on several key points:
1 – Politics
2 – Islamaphobia
3 – Religious obligation


This issue, sparked by a Muslimah’s question on the permissibility on the use of the hijab in the nursing profession, resulted in a petition. Clearly, a movement that she herself didn’t expect to have grown into a national movement among the now, divided Muslim community.

Regardless of the narratives that people have shared and not disregarding the merits that have been brought up, I think that Muslims in Singapore need to take several steps back to reflect on this issue as an outsider watching

related: On Muslim Integration

read more

Why I support the Singapore Hijab Movement

Please pardon me for my ignorance. When I first hear about the Singapore Hijab Movement, I didn’t bother. I thought it was a non-issue. I always thought that workplace don’t indiscriminate against Muslim women from wearing the hijab (or tudung). I didn’t know (and didn’t notice) that front-line government officers, nurses and professions that require uniforms do not allow Muslim women to wear the hijab

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that the Government has the responsibility to balance different community requirements with the goal of maintaining social harmony. Every community, when it presses for its own concerns, must bear in mind how that affects other communities and how others might see it.

I agree with DPM Teo. We need to maintain social harmony in a multi-racial Singapore. Which is why, as a Chinese, I support the Singapore Hijab Movement. I don’t think we should discriminate Muslim women just because they choose to wear the hijab. I don’t have any issue with being served by a front line government officer wearing a hijab. I don’t have any issue with a nurse wearing hijab taking care of me when I’m in hospital. I’m sure most Singaporeans feel the same way too. So why is the Government discriminating them?


THE CALL ON HIJABS - SHALL WE START WITH SKIHS TOO?

Salam! With all due respect to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters, there has been considerable amount of argument about how Muslim ladies in the uniformed services should be allowed to wear their tudungs and openly.

I have had the privilege of growing up having Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist friends and family in our homes, community, schools and workplaces.

Not till the latest episode on the hijab issue that I even realised that this was an issue amongst our secular multi-racial and multi religious Singapore.

read more

Sikhs should not be allowed to wear Turbans

First, let me say that I am not an atheist, if that’s going to affect your perception of this piece.

This article is not about Sikhs. This is about the tudung issue. It seems like the most valid point for allowing Muslims to wear tudungs to school and stuff is because Sikhs are allowed to wear their turbans.

So if Sikhs are not allowed to wear their turbans, Muslims are okay with not being allowed to wear their tudungs?

related: Being Muslim is not only about wearing a Hijab

read more

The headscarf is not the issue, freedom is



Recently women’s rights as to wear a hijab or burqa in public spaces have become a matter of discussion in many countries of the world: Turkey is one of them.

In the last weeks, for the first time in the history of the 90 year old Turkish Republic, three female MPs entered the parliament wearing headscarves, and they did not face any reaction from the opposition parties. In this way, a very deep-seated problem was solved through political consensus.

However, a member of parliament who  made a similar attempt in 1999 was confronted  with strong reaction from the opposition, expelled from the parliament hall and this episode caused great tension nationwide.

read more

Reading Dr Yaacob Ibrahim’s statement on hijab gave me a sense of de javu

The reference to “common space” is not something new. When Goh Chok Tong banned the hijab in 2002 and agreed with the girls’ expulsion, he referred to the need for common space.

And like Yaacob’s statement, Goh Chok Tong claimed the ban promotes racial harmony.

How banning the hijab, expelling Muslim girls from school and denying Muslim women of employment promotes racial harmony has however, not been explained. A rational response would have been to recognise diversity. The embrace of our unique characteristics would have better served any attempt to develop racial harmony.

read more

Hijab
simple_dress_can_be_cute_too_by_sharaps-d5tqlib

If you are a Muslim living in this region then chances are you’ve heard of the online petition that wants Muslim women to be allowed to wear the hijab at workplaces in Singapore. A hijab is basically a headscarf worn by Muslim women when in public. In mainstream interpretations of the faith wearing it is a religious duty, and non-compliance is often considered a sin.

If you haven’t seen or heard about the petition you can click here to read more about it and see how many signatures it has garnered. At the time of me writing this, it’s had over 12,000 signatures. It hopes to get 20,000

For many Muslim women, not just at the workplace but in secondary schools and colleges, staying employed (or in the case of schools which require strict adherence to a common uniform, educated) means having to commit the sin of taking the hijab off. Given how people are increasingly religious these days, especially in the Muslim community, the choice can be particularly tough.

read more

Why Some Muslim Women Don’t Wear Hijab

First of all, I’m a believer: I’m a practicing Muslim. Second, I don’t wear hijab. And from here my story starts.

One day, a male friend tagged me on a note in Facebook; it’s about a conversation between a non-Muslim man and an Islamic cleric.

The man asks: “Why does Islam oblige Muslim women to wear hijab?”

read more

Singapore Hijab Movement

First of all, it’s subjective enough that although I am a Muslim, I have not been donning as I should.

But, before either side of the pages start to shoot me down, it will be me to answer to my own choices. Except that my view is actually quite stringent contrary to some. Meaning, I do not believe that just covering yourself from head to toe, for example, the girls who would wear tight thin-clothed clothing and yet donning the hijab, is any different from not covering your body.

Essentially, you’re not supposed to be showing your body and attracting the wrong notion.
But, no, I do not believe in covering every single facet of yourself aka even covering the face. 


read more

Hijab issue as a litmus test

To be sure, the hijab issue has altered the life courses of many Muslim girls in Singapore. In some instances, it has even altered the life courses of entire families.

Since a few decades ago, young girls who have worn the hijab have had to make many decisions at critical junctures of their lives that other Singaporeans are not subjected to. Some parents had gone through great lengths to home-school their girls in order to preserve the Islamic requirement for the hijab, which was not considered a part of the common space in national schools. Others have even migrated with their families to matriculate in more hijab-friendly countries such as Australia, UK and other Asian countries. The fate of the four girls suspended from national schools in the 2002 ‘tudung issue’ is a mere microcosm of a larger social reality.

Denied entry into national schools, some have enrolled in full time madrasahs, even at the expense of spending an extra year for their secondary school education because some madrasahs do not provide the Express stream and those who do have filled their quota. After the O levels, many among those who took the local madrasah route go on to further their dreams in local polytechnics that allow a Muslim girl to observe the hijab, although it again cost them another extra year coupled with higher tuition fees, and arguably a more difficult route to the university compared to the junior colleges.

read more

Let’s be intelligent, polite in hijab debate

As a hijab-wearing working mother, I feel somewhat perplexed by the comments and posts by netizens who champion the idea of allowing women in uniform to wear the hijab

From the religion’s perspective, the intention is noble. But many Muslim women here do view the hijab as optional, made possible largely by our secular society, which does not view non-hijab-wearing Muslim women negatively.

A non-Muslim once asked me why some wear the hijab and others do not. How do I address this without sounding holier-than-thou?


I'm A Muslim. I'm Also A Singaporean Malay Hijabi

I've been following the issue on hijab over these recent days and it only striked me that the hijab ban imposed in Singapore on certain areas (schools, workforce etc.) is really absurd. I'll tell you why. Let's go back to 2002.
"In 2002, a major controversy erupted in Singapore when four Primary One Malay/Muslim students wore the tudung to school along with their uniforms. This was against the Ministry of Education’s no-headscarf rule for public schools. The four girls were eventually suspended from their schools after they refused to abide by the dress code regulations and continued wearing the tudung in class." 
(http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_2013-09-30_123324.html)
I had interest in this case because the school these children were in came from my neighbourhood. My narrow minded thinking then couldn't fathom why their parents would want to insist their children to put on the headscarves when clearly their daughters haven't reached puberty; thus not making it compulsory for them to put on the headscarves.

Now I realise it was only for the best interest of their children. Start from young, it will be easier to don the hijab as they grow older.


Little Hijabis: To Wear Or Not To Wear?

Recently, a series of online shopping sites were brought to my attention: at first glance, they seemed to be the garden-variety online hijab shops. Some even had blanked-out faces – again, nothing that I hadn’t seen before. However upon a closer inspection, I noticed that the hijabi models on the website were smaller than usual – they were little girls.

My immediate reaction was that of uneasiness. Even though in Singapore where I grew up, it is common for parents to dress their pre-pubescent daughters in hijab (as young as just one year old), I only recently found out that it’s not the norm in other countries with Muslim communities. I myself wore it to kindergarten at the age of five, and I remember wearing it during Eid at the age of seven onwards. My mother thought it was harmless and she never forced it on me because she thought it would be better for me to get used to it in the most pleasant way possible

It was only when I travelled to Morocco about five years ago, where I met young girls who were allowed to wear anything they wanted, and it was only after reaching puberty that they would usually wear a hijab when leaving the house. This made sense to me, because even the most oft-cited hadith that provides the guidelines for hijab mentions menstruation, or puberty, as the starting point.


An-NaseeHah : النصيحة

The tudung issue is an old issue but it is an issue that is still with us. Some younger Singaporeans do not know what transpired and unfortunately some of them do not bother to find out. AlhamdulilLah Bro. Zulfikar has posted an outline of his experience.

So I thought that I should cut and paste the posting here and add some bits in from the exchanges that ensued that I thought is important and place it here as Fb Notes.

May it benefit the readers who have not read it yet.

read more

PAP reverts to form

Well the way the govt is conducting itself on the tudung* issue seems to contradict the narrative of a govt willing to listen to the people. Maybe it has decided to return to the Hard Truth of dismissing views or facts that do not support the canon of Hard Truths? Even if these views are articulated by senior PAPpists?

Government leaders yesterday weighed in on the hijab issue, which made its way back into the national spotlight in recent weeks, with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean reiterating that, while the Government understands “community perspectives”, it also “has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements and keep in mind what we need, to maintain overall social harmony”.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong together with Malay Members of Parliament (MPs) from the People’s Action Party over the matter, called for “constructive dialogue” as the way forward. “This is the Singapore way and has served everyone well over the years,” he said on Facebook. (Today 6 Nov)

read more

Hijabs to be incorporated in female police force uniform


A vocal section of the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore has been lobbying for Muslim women to be allowed to wear their headscarves since 2002, when four girls were suspended from classes for trying to wear headscarfs to school.

This resulted in the father of one of the girls taking his daughter to Australia, where he assumed people would be less racist and more tolerant of cultural differences

HALIMAH, HOW LONG MUST MUSLIM WOMEN WAIT FOR YOU TO SPEAK ON THE TUDUNG ISSUE?

There are some (unfortunately Muslims included, especially Muslim feminists) who claim that the hijab is not compulsory for Muslim women. They claim that it is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran. But the Quran is not the only source of Islamic Law. There are other sources which includes Ijma (consensus among the scholars). See this link for full explanation - The Science of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul Fiqh) 

To those who say that the hijab is not compulsory for the Muslim woman, I challenge him or her to quote me any Islamic scholar who is trained in Islamic Jurisprudence who says that is so. Failing which, he or she will just have to admit that his or her source is from a person who is not trained in Islamic Jurisprudence.

(I am not trained in the field of Islamic Jurisprudence either, but I follow closely to the teachings of mainstream Islamic jurists.)

read more

Silent Speaker: The Framing of Halimah Yacob’s Political Promotion

Last week, Singapore saw the election of its first woman Speaker of Parliament, Halimah Yacob. Halimah started her political career by joining the governing party since independence, the People’s Action Party (PAP), in 2001. She represented the electoral division of Jurong as a Member of Parliament and was later appointed a Minister of State for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (now the Ministry of Social and Family Development) in 2011. However, barely a year after being a Minister of State in a portfolio where she would be able to influence the government on issues that she felt strongly about, she resigned and was nominated by the current prime minister for her new position as Speaker a few days later.

I noticed a few interesting aspects of the news coverage of her new position as Speaker of Parliament. First, while the local, mainstream, and largely government-controlled media mentioned her gender as newsworthy (herehere, and here), there was no mention at all of her ethnicity, her religion or the fact that she wears a hijab, even though all the accompanying photos show these elements clearly. While Halimah is not the first Malay to hold this position, she is the first Malay woman, and certainly the first hijabi to do so. (Compare this lack of attention to Amra Babic, the first hijabi mayor of Bosnia, also the first hijab-wearing mayor in Europe). This is possibly due to the legislative restrictions on free speech, which prevent open discussion on issues related to ethnicity and religion. 

However, the lack of attention to her ethnicity and religion is uncharacteristic of Singaporean politics. The electoral division that Halimah represents is known as a Group Representation Constituency, which makes obligatory the inclusion of at least one politician from a minority ethnic group (designed by the PAP, no less). Other policies that demonstrate the salience of race is the ethnic quota for public housing (but not private housing) and the existence of ethnicity-based ‘self-help’ welfare groups that deal with education subsidies and social assistance (one each for the Malays and any MuslimsIndiansChinese, and Eurasians). Race-based policies are also found in education, employment, and immigration, and are popularly found to be increasingly irrelevant in a country where 20 percent of marriages is inter-ethnic

read more

Significance of hijab

One must understand the meaning of hijab. It is not just a simple matter of covering one’s head. The whole point of hijab is to demonstate a woman’s modesty (or to be precise, a Muslim woman’s modesty since non-Muslims do not believe that it is immodest for a woman to reveal one’s hair, ears and neck).

So the first thing in discussing hijab is to understand its significance: to protect and project a Muslim woman’s modesty.

There are other forms or demonstrations of modesty among Muslim women. For example, a Muslim woman should cover her arms, that is, she should not bare her flesh. She should also wear loose-fitting clothes, as form-fitting clothes will highlight her figure and tempt men to lust after her.

read more

Worker’s Party coming into the hijab discussion

WP is calling for a national conversation on the hijab issue after the Malay community met up with Chee Hian and Yaacob. The conclusion on that meeting did not go down too well as nothing changes, not that there must be a change if the situation does not warrant it. While there could be or could not be a national conversation on this issue, or another one sided conversation initiated and led by the WP this round, I would like to draw a few premises that I think could be useful in this free for all talk shop.

There are two premises that we must strongly guard, ie our secular national ethos and our cultural heritage. In an attempt to deal with a matter like the hijab that could transcend religion and culture, it can be tricky and even sensitive to some. If we can keep the lines of secularity clearly in the picture, we may have to define how far we can and want to go before hitting the OB markers, things may be more manageable. We do not want to allow every other religion to want to have their religious ways in a secular society and environment.

We do not want, as an example, a group that insists on wearing drappy grey and head shaven in the office, male or female. We do not want people who insist that they cannot shave nor cut their hair for both sexes. Let’s keep our society a secular one and let religion be practiced at home or in one’s private space. The common space should be kept secular

related: Hijab is nice

read more

http://elasticbeanstalk-ap-southeast-1-564119966891.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hijab-movement-tear.png

Singapore Hijab Movement


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=536496706432431&set=pcb.536498276432274&type=1&theater


FMSA: The upper hand (which gives)is better than the lower hand (which receives)

Muslims in Singapore need to accommodate too: Zulkifli
Former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin shares his views on race and religion in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of IPS)
Yahoo Newsroom - Former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin shares his views on race and religion in Singapore. Photo courtesy of IPS

Muslims in Singapore need to make greater efforts to compromise and integrate themselves better when it comes to practicing their religious beliefs. They should not expect others to accommodate them all the time.

Former Nominated Member of Parliament Zulkifli Baharudin, who serves as Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Algeria and Uzbekistan, voiced this view in response to a question about discrimination against Muslims at the workplace from a participant at a forum on Wednesday morning.

He was one of four panellists invited there to speak on the findings of a recently-concluded IPS-OnePeople.sg study on race and religion in Singapore

read more

Mufti puts school over scarves
Seven-year-old Nurul Nasihah (R)
Nurul Nasihah (R) has been suspended from school

Singapore's top Islamic figures have urged the parents of four girls to send them to school in a growing row over a ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday that education is more important than wearing the "tudung" - the Singaporean name for the headscarf.

Muis President, Maarof Salleh, said he had consulted Singapore's highest Islamic authority, Mufti Syed Isa Semait

related: Singapore schoolgirls defy headscarf ban

read more 

Muslim girl told to wear 'burkini'
A 13-year-old Muslim girl has been ordered by a German court to wear a bukini to take part in swimming lessons. Bukinis, modelled above in a London shop, allow Muslim women to swim and still cover up
A 13-year-old Muslim girl has been ordered by a German court to wear a bukini to take part in swimming lessons. Bukinis, modelled above in a London shop, allow Muslim women to swim and still cover up

Muslim girl is ordered by German judge to wear a ‘burkini’ at her school swimming class after she refused to take part as it was against her religion
  • 13-year-old Muslim girl felt uncomfortable being close to bare-chested boys
  • She asked to opt out of swimming classes or receive special instruction
  • Court ruled 'social reality of life in Germany came above her religious beliefs'
  • It's a landmark case in Germany which has more than five million Muslims
The girl had complained that she felt 'uncomfortable' going swimming with 'bare chested' boys near her and either wanted to be allowed to skip the lessons or be given special instruction on her own.

read more

A Burqini (or burkini) بوركيني
File:Burqini.jpg

A burqini (or burkini; Arabic: بوركيني‎) swimsuit is a type of swimsuit for women designed by Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti under the company name Ahiida

The suit covers the whole body except the face, the hands and the feet (enough to preserve Muslim modesty), whilst being light enough to enable swimming. It was described as the perfect solution for conservative Muslim women who want to swim but are uncomfortable with revealing bathing suits.

It looks rather like a full-length wetsuit with built-in hood, but somewhat looser and made of swimsuit material instead of neoprene.

In August 2009, a woman in France was prevented from swimming in a public pool wearing a burkini. This was due to a long-standing law requiring swimwear in place of street clothing in public pools, for hygienic reasons, rather than the result of any specific political position on the garment, despite controversy in France over Islamic dress.

read more

Why the fuss over headscarves?
Should Muslim women working in the public sector be allowed to wear traditional head garb?

Should Muslim women working in the public sector be allowed to wear traditional head garb? Big debate 

related: On Muslim Integration

read more

Regardless of Race, Language or Religion
– Fresh Grads: Internalising our Diversity
– [FB] Pergas Singapore: Pergas Response to the Tudung Issue for Female Muslims
– TOC: Hijab issue as a litmus test
– The Independent, SG: Politics of the Hijab
– Blogging for Myself: Realistic about the Hijab
– Icesabel: Singapore Hijab Movement
– The Hayat Shah Chronicles: Hijab
– Where Bears Roam Free: Tudung issue – Secularism vs Islamic viewpoint
– Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: PAP reverts to form
– The Real Singapore: Hijab debate: Thoughts from 2 cross-cultural friends
– Blogging for Myself: The Hijab: Form vs Substance
– Patheos: Tudung or Not Tudung?: Hijabis in Singaporean Workplaces
– HijabSg: A Short Response to DPM Teo and Minister Yaacob
– I on Singapore: How Does the Hijab Affect Social Harmony?


read more

LifestyleNetizens shocked when they saw this man in Suntec City

Facebook user RD Jay shared and posted the photo of a scantily dressed man. He claimed that he spotted the man at Suntec City Tower 4 while he was buying groceries.

Some of the commenters took offence at the shopper’s dressing and wondered why the police was not called.

Do you think this happened in Suntec City? We have our doubts. Let us know.

read more

Netizens express shock at scantily dressed man – but it’s not Suntec City

Facebook user RD Jay who shared the picture in his Facebook is wrong. The picture is not taken in Suntec City but in Shenzhen, China. This is the original post from where the picture was ripped.

read more

What in the world? Man in skimpy attire attracts stares from commuters on train

Stomper IZ shared a video of a man dressed in a colourful crop top, black thongs and knee-high gladiator sandals.

Said the Stomper: "This is unbelievable!"

Some commuters couldn't help staring, while others seemed to be completely oblivious or were just focused on averting their eyes from the "fashionable" guy.

read more

Scantily-Clad Man Spotted Again – This Time on the MRT!

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friends, but this scantily-clad guy clearly prefers his shoes.

He’s been spotted on several occasions now, after he was last seen 2 days ago at a supermarket erm, bending it unlike a certain Beckham.

This time, the man was spotted hanging loose on the MRT .

read more

The wisdom behind the prescription to remove pubic hair and armpit hair

What is the reason for shaving pubic hair and armpit hair? What did they use to shave it with at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)? Is it sufficient just to cut it or must it be shaved?

The Sunnah indicates that it is prescribed to remove pubic hair and armpit hair. Al-Bukhaari (5889) and Muslim (257) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The fitrah is five things – or five things are part of the fitrah – circumcision, shaving the pubes, cutting the nails, plucking the armpit hairs, and trimming the moustache.”

The wisdom behind the prescription of removing the hair from these two places – and Allah knows best – is that removing it helps one to attain a perfect level of cleanliness and prevents what could emanate from them of bad smells if the hair was left without removing it. And there are other reasons and wisdom behind it.

read more