I am a muallaf. Chinese guy who embraced Christianity when I was in Sec Two. Met the love of my life who is a beautiful Malay woman when I was 28. Embraced Islam wholeheartedly when I was 30 and married my lovely wife. Proud to be a Muslim and appreciate the beauty of Malay culture.
I often come across many Singaporeans who now calls me a Malay. In reality I am still a Chinese. I speak fluent Mandarin. Before I take up Islam, I used to eat pork, I drank alcohol. I gambled like crazy during CNY. Now, I stopped all that already. Islam has brought new meaning to my life and I am much happier now.
Oh boy, calling me a Malay, that pisses me off big time. Haven’t they noticed that race and religion are two separate issues? I don’t understand why would people ask me questions like:
“Why do you want to be a Malay?”
“Your family members are still Chinese?”
“You are now a Malaylah, is it?”
“Do you miss pork? Let’s eat bak chor mee now?”
“Must have been terrible for you to fast for a month, right?”
“Really Malay pray 5 times one ah?”
“Do your Islam God accept only Arabic language or you can say prayer in English or Mandarin?”
“Is your boss okay about you going to prayer in many times in a day time?”
“Amazing you can keep a beard when you are Chinese!”
“What happen to your Chinese family line? You have any other siblings to carry on the family name?”
“Do you have to cut kukujiao?”
“So now you have join the rilek clan?”
“How can you eat Malay food high in cholesterol!”
“As long no pork, mean you can eat already lor, right”
In Singapore, Malay and Muslims don’t always come in a package. Not all Malays are Muslims. Muslims can be Indian, Chinese, Caucasian, Eurasian, and the list goes on. I noticed many times the local media and even the Malay community themselves often confused the two terms together.
Perhaps it is the lack of education and awareness about race and religion that made them form such distasteful mental picture of Islam and Malays?
Time to clear these misconceptions- starting from the media. Stop using the term ‘Malay-Muslims’.
Joshua Tan aka Syafiq Abdullah