Singapore – From my eyes I

Those who know me personally, know quite well that I love and respect Singapore a lot. Although I am not a citizen myself, I find myself defending Singapore every where I go and with every one I speak to.

I first visited Singapore in 1995 as a tourist and while travelling back from Singapore I made a little innocent wish of being able to visit Singapore again. I never knew that I will get married to someone 4 years later who lives in here. I moved here in 2009 after I got married and 8 years later, its become home now. Yes, I love pakistan but I respect singapore deeply.

In this post I will only speak about cultural and religious freedom that I have here.

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Singapore is a multi cultural country with people of all religions living with harmony. It’s main languages are English, Chinese, Malay Bhasa and Tamil and the citizens comprise mainly  of Chinese, Malay and Indian origin. The main religions here are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism and there people from all religions are allowed to practice their own religion in their own way as long as they do not interfere in any one else’s practices.

I have spent a chunk of my childhood in UAE and some time in UK for my studies. Although I have never really faced serious bullying in my life directed particularly towards me but I have been called ‘Bloody Paki’ and treated as an inferior muslim for being a pakistani Muslim rather than being an Arab. But a lot of people might be unaware but I’m protected by law in Singapore against such discriminations. No one can call me names due to the way I look (the color of my eyes, my hair or my height can’t be commented upon), I can roam around in shalwar kameez the whole day without being worried about someone being judgemental,  I can sue someone if their dog touches me (yes, this muslim sensitivity against dogs is highly regarded), halal food is readily available and I can even pray publicly in a park without being stared at. Also, the Muslim laws of marriage and inheritance are being looked upon by the Sharia courts of law.

And the best thing about living in Singapore is that we have lots of public holidays too: 2 each for each of the 4 main religions which also ensures that we do not have to worry about going to work on Eid day 🙂

* the beautiful picture of Sultan Masjid is not mine but taken off the Internet. Sultan Masjid might be the most famous masjid of Singapore as it’s a popular tourist destination but there are lots an lots of masjids and some of them very beautiful and majestic in terms of their architecture. The Islamic schools (medrasaa) are in abundance too masha Allah.

 

 

 

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Confused?

I find it really interesting when I read some of the questions by Muslims all around the world like, “Is nail polish allowed?” or “Can I wear heels?” or “Can I get my eye brows done?” and the best of all, “Can the color of my hijab/jilbab/abaya be other than black?”

Oh well, arent we making our lives too difficult? Is Islam really supposed to be so confusing and difficult to practice?

I wouldnt say that questions like these do not bother me. After all I am a hijabi woman and I end up questioning my modesty pretty much every day. Islam teaches us one basic rule of thumb when it comes to questions like these: Muslim women are supposed to adorn themselves only for their husbands and for no one else. In addition to that, women should always look like women and not men. Ah, this makes life so much easier. On the contrary, it doesnt. We all know that being decked up with make up and jewelry is hardly practical while making chapatis. You see it gets really hot in the kitchen and it after all aint very comfortable to be wearing well fitted clothes when you can instead be lazing around in ur old PJs once you are done with your household chores. So, I am one of those lucky women who actually dont get dressed up for their husbands and get away with it by saying, “its too hot.” Now u cant blame me because it actually is always really hot and humid in singapore…so hot that most people prefer to remain half naked! So now that I dont adorn myself for my husband, what do I do wen I go out? Simple, not wear heels which make too much noise or wear so much perfume so as not to attract gazes from the opposite gender. I do not wear gothic make up and nor do I wear flourescent colored hijabs. And yes, I do get my eye brows done…remember, I am supposed to look like a woman, not a man! I remain simple but simplicity does not mean I have to look hideous. A little make up wont make me the most gorgeous woman in singapore, neither would a delicate bracelet make men think of me as sex goddess!

PS: I am not a scholar and am not trying to be one either. The above is simply my opinion which I have made over the years by reading various texts. My opinion might be wrong and might even change over time. If you intend to follow any of what I have written, please do not blame me on the Day of Qayamah 😀

Why, oh why? [Women and Masjid (Pakistani Perspective)]

Growing up in a family like mine, I never realy felt any biases against myself due to my gender. I had the same curfew time and went to the same educational institutes like my brother. I learned to drive pretty much the same time and interesting both of us were taught to offer salah by our grandfather too. In fact, a lot of the times it was my brother who thought I always got the advantage, being a girl, and got away with a lot of things and now wen I think back, I cant really deny that completely 😛

But as I grew older and started going to Pakistan more often (and then later lived there), I realized, things were ‘culturally’ very different from what I had been taught at home and from what I had learned from books. I am not saying that Islam really differs too much between the two genders, but the difference is way too visible in the predominantly so-called Islamic State. You know, as it is said, if you want to understand Islam, look at Islam itself and not Muslims. This saying started to become a reality for me.

Soon, I found out there is not a single masjid nearby where women could go to pray if they wanted to. Funny. Yes, I am a Hanafi and I always knew that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) encouraged women to pray at home but did that mean women are not allowed into the masjid at all? I started digging for answers and interestingly, I found a hadith which says:

Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Do not prevent your women from attending the masjid, even though their houses are better for them” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

Not bad at all! This was all very logical…something I knew already but just didnt know from where it came. Praying at home is better for women but Islamically, men could not prevent women from praying at the masjid. The meaning was straightforward: a masjid is supposd to provide proper facilities for women at masjid and then it is upto the women whether they want to go or not.

Now, talking about fiqh. Hanafis are usually the most strict wen it comes to women praying at the masjid and as it is the predominant fiqh in Pakistan, I really needed to know whether it is something cultural or Hanafis really believe that going to masjid is, in fact, haram for women. I found the following:

Hazrat Aisha (RA) has been reported to have said, “If the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was alive to see what women are doing now, he would surely have prevented them from entering the masjid for prayer just as women of Banu Israel were prevented” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Now the above is simply an opinion by Hazrat Aisha (RA), not a ruling. It is also of common knowledge that Hazrat Omar (RA) prevented women from attending masjid for prayer as part of the law during his reign without making it part of the religion itself. Futher, the fatwa on this matter must be scrutinized far more carefully:

“It is disliked for women to attend congregational prayers in the masjid even for Eid and Juma prayers, and even for old women attending night prayers, according to the more reliable position in Hanafi School, due to the corruption of time.” [Imam al-Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 1/566]

So, again, it is disliked and not considered haram as the common misconception in Pakistan. Further, if you look at the Hanafi rules, you will in fact find various laws regarding how a woman should behave in a masjid if she is having her periods. Now , if according to Pakistani jurists, women are not allowed in the masjid at all, why do we need to talk about wat a women should do if her periods start when she is in the masjid?

And then at times I think, if women are allowed to go freely to markets, lawn exhibitions, fashion shows and social gatherings where men and women intermingle, often (not always obviously) in the most un-Islamic manner, then how can going to masjid be considered haram? Sadly, in a country like Pakistan, even the most religious women often have to miss their prayers because they were either stuck in a traffic jam or were buying essentials at a market. You would be shocked to know that most shopping malls in Pakistan do not even have a prayer room for women and interestingly, most shops remain closed till around 1 in the afternoon.

So what are women supposed to do?

Well, I guess just wat they have been doing so far…prayers can wait!

The Bastards!

No, I am not calling the Pakistani players bastards….I am disappointed and heartbroken but I am done with my wailing and have comforted myself that there can only be one winner, that winner can win by merit or can be gifted that victory but at the end of the day, the winner takes all and yes, I want to be an Indian right now…but, wait, I am supporting Sri Lanka on Saturday because I know they can avenge Indians just like they did in 1996. Oh God, stop me now, I dont want this post to become something I dont want it to become. And yea, I cant help it but I still like the perfect ‘X’ that Afridi makes with his body after every wkt.

So, I shal talk about something else: Dogs! I dont know why I seem to attract them! I mean, why do dogs come and brush their head on my body wen I dont even look at them. Cant you see I am a hijabi woman…who does not hate dogs if they are just being cute and staying away but definitely hates it wen they rub themselves all over my clothes and I have to come back home, feeling disgusted, needing to change before I can even read my namaz! And no, it aint funny, especially on a day wen I am already feeling blue!

900 choohay

I am sure you have all heard this saying, ‘900 chohay kha key billi hajj ko chali.’

This has always intrigued me to a great extent but I almost always refrain from talking about it because it usually ends up in a really nasty debate. But well, isnt my blog the best place for controversies? It has always been so why not start a new one 😉

A friend of mine said to me just yesterday, “If you want to make enemies, try changing something.” Although it was said in a completely different situation, it fits quite well over here too.

We belong to a society where people like to poke their noses into everyone’s affairs, love to interfere and give unwanted/unasked for advices. So obviously when they see you doing something new, they will almost always shower you with not only stares but also offensive and lousy comments. The comments become even more coarse if your attempt is towards becoming a better muslim. And the best way to malign people trying to improve themselves is by reminding them of what wrong things they might have done in the past or they might still be doing, and it all might include the above mentioned saying.

Now, I would like to ask, if improvement is so loathsome, they how did Hazrat Omar (RA), who was once the greatest enemy of Islam, became one of the most loved companions of the Prophet (SAW), one of the most respected Caliph ever and of the Ashra-e-Mubashira? And to remind you all, Hazrat Omar (RA) was not at all like Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq (RA) who simply just believed whatever the Prophet (SAW) said. He had an inquisitive mind and always asked a lot of questions. An example is the time wen he was contemplating whether intake of alcohol is permissible or not:

“When the prohibition of alcohol was [being] revealed, Hazrat Omar (RA) said, “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement,” thus the verse which is in Baqarah was revealed, “They ask you about alcohol and gambling. Say: In them is great sin…” So Hazrat Omar (RA) was called and it was read to him and he said [again], “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement.” Thereafter the verse in Al-Nisa was revealed: “O you who believe! Do not approach prayer while you are drunk…” Hence, the herald of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) would call out when the prayer was about to commence, “Let no drunken approach the prayer,” and Hazrat Omar (RA) was called [again] and it was read to him. He said, “O Allah! Clarify for us the [matter of] alcohol with a clear statement,” so the verse was revealed, “…so will you not refrain?!” Hazrat Omar (RA) said, “We refrain.” (Al-Trimidhi)

So what will you call Hazrat Omar (RA)? I am sure this does not change your opinion about him as one of the best people to have served Islam. So why are we now so reluctant to accept people who are trying to change themselves in this era? Why do we have to call them terrorists? or brainwashed? or rigid? or mulla? On the other extreme are the people who would always tell you that you arent doing enough. They will tell you, in the most unpleasant manner that you are not covering yourself properly, getting eye brows done is haram or simply even using the Internet is haram (Unique has a great post on this here). Please, can we see them as humans trying hard to fight temptations? And why do we want people to be simply black or white? Why cant there be shades of gray? If things were so easily changed by 180 degrees over night, then why was Qur’an revealed in 23 years? Why were the greatest Muslims, the people who had the biggest motivation, the Prophet (SAW) himself, right in front of their eyes not forced to change themselves over night? Because, changes that happen slowly and steadily with time are more stable, firm and dependable.

So next time you see someone trying to make a positive change in his/her life, try to stay quite if you have nothing good to say. Dont be a demotivating factor if you cant be a motivating one.

Note: Unique has another post which somehow relates to this topic. Although its about a TV show which is about Non-Muslims ‘behaving’ like Muslims, I think its very relevant because most of us, even though born in Muslim families hardly know anything about Islam. So when we, personally, decide to follow Islam, it is pretty much like a Non-Muslim, with a Muslim name, trying to grasp concepts. You may also like to read a post on maqasid which talks about the same program.

Blissful Marriage (5)

Sex

It must be made very clear that extra-marital or pre-marital sex is simply not allowed.

Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this (not only) meets punishment.[25:68]

Having clarified this particular issue, it must be noted in all other references, the Qur’an very explicitly talks about sex with the spouse. And the Qur’an actually talks about sex in a lot more detail than we think. All it does is put certain limitations which are in fact much less than we often impose due to our ‘cultures’ and ‘traditions.’

Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe. [2:223]

So it basically means you can have sex whenever and wherever you feel like rather than the much accepted night time. I have seen a lot of families not giving enough privacy to married couples during the day and making faces if someone desires some privacy apart from night. So if you have a married couple at home, dont just barge in to their rooms, and dont try to be as nosy as you would like to be.

Many people have taken this particular verse as being something which allows anal sex. The Qur’an does not explicitly talk about anal sex. However Tabari states, “The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said, ‘Allah (SWT) is not ashamed of the truth (the Prophet (SAW) said it three times). Do not enter women in their anuses.'” On the other hand, Sahih Bukhari is astoundingly confusing on the matter:

Narrated Nafi’:

Whenever Ibn ‘Umar recited the Qur’an, he would not speak to anyone till he had finished his recitation. Once I held the Qur’an and he recited Surat-al-Baqara from his memory and then stopped at a certain Verse and said, “Do you know in what connection this Verse was revealed? ” I replied, “No.” He said, “It was revealed in such-and-such connection.” Ibn ‘Umar then resumed his recitation. Nafi added regarding the Verse:–“So go to your tilth when or how you will” Ibn ‘Umar said, “It means one should approach his wife in ..” [Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith No. 50]

Now, can you really believe this….it leaves a blank space!!! Being so confusing, I would recommend that you simply follow the commonly held belief that anal sex is haram. At least that will keep you safe.

The only limitation on sex that I have been able to find is about having sex during ‘that’ time of the month.

They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean. But when they have purified themselves, ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place ordained for you by Allah. For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. [2:222]

The ayah again talks about having sex “in any manner, time, or place.” The choice is pretty much your own. This ayah also brings to the spotlight the fact that the act of sex and the resulting secretions are pure and clean. This opens up another aspect of debate: Oral Sex. Interestingly, the Qur’an has nothing to talk about it. However, there are certain ahadith which do talk about foreplay, I am stating one here:

The Prophet (SAW) said, “No one among you should have sex with his wife like animals; rather there should be a messenger between them.” When asked about the messenger, he said, “It means kissing and talking”. (Tahzibu’l-Ihya, vol. 3, p. 110)

And who says sex is not allowed during Ramadan?

Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. [2:187]

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