I have been keeping watch on the recent developments in the Muslim community pertaining to several important issues like the halal certification matters, MUIS’s flaccid performance on hijab issue, and zero counter measures on Pink Dot SG event this 28 June 2014 which coincidentally falls on the first day of Ramadhan. As a result of the indifference of MUIS towards taking action in the interests of the Muslim community, this has further pushed Muslims into losing faith in the secular fabric of the country.
As Muslims, we are fully aware eating halal and tayyib food is an important as a matter of worship of God where general principle what is lawful and what is good (Tayyib) should be followed. The food service sector is deemed to be the final link in the entire food industry supply chain and as this industry experiences a rapid growth, the duty of ensuring the food is halal has been shifted to restaurant operators and this can be seen through the introduction of halal standard. However, many restaurant operators did not comply with this halal standard and led to halal fraudulent practices. Reports on halal fraudulent decrease the confidence level amongst the Muslims. What’s more saddening is the tacit approach taken by MUIS and its entirely owned Halal consultancy company known as Warees Halal.
When it comes to hijab issue, attempts to resolve the tudung/hijab issue by the MUIS and the government remained unsatisfactory. Religious attires do not contribute to social disharmony and disunity and the wearing of headscarves definitely does not contribute to social disintegration. Since late last year, there has been ongoing debate on how the Government should review its stand of not allowing the tudung for certain uniformed public sector jobs, to fit the community’s aspirations. Tudung is an important religious obligation and one which symbolises a woman’s dignity and decency. There is a growing number of 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. The Muslims in Singapore appreciate the willingness by some government agencies for allowing Muslim women to fulfill this religious obligation. Such flexibility should be extended to all government agencies as it will reflect the government’s effort in promoting multiculturalism, and be made an example for the private sector. In alignment with the principles of individual rights and religious freedom, Muslim women who are wearing the tudung should be given equal opportunities and treatment in their workplace or in finding employment. We heard murmurs from MUIS and PERGAS, but what has been done so far? The hijab issue has been swept under the carpet again.
While Muslims celebrate the coming of blessed month Ramadhan, unfortunately many Muslims will also celebrate with the LGBT during their annual PinkDot party at Hong Lim Park. If Muslims continue to sit back in our state of docility, the PinkDot movement will keep on pushing their agenda. However, this does not mean that Muslims must ostracize the strayed homosexual Muslims. Instead, Muslims should come together and take the steps to make them understand Islam even more, and create the necessary avenue or platform for them to interact with true Muslims who love Allah and strive to make amends to improve themselves. Without such avenue/platform, Muslims are alienating these pro-LGBT supporters and activists from any of our outreach efforts. It will be a tumultuous journey but we pray that the families and friends involved are taking steps in the right direction to help their strayed loved ones. We need help from a group of professionals to help these strayed Muslims, but who do we turn to when every single action needs authorization and clearance from the MUIS and the Government?
After such a long drawn out jihad on these issues with insignificant outcome, it is high time to call for the set up of a new independent ulama body that closely oversees matters of Muslims in Singapore. Something that works like PERGAS but free from government influence and control. Indeed, the Muslim community, has fallen into unIslamic ways and needs clerical leadership in order to return to the fundamentals of the faith.
Authored by Mohd Firdaus Samad