Disabled Muslims Need More than Du’a to Overcome Mosque Barriers

“How is your situation with attending the mosque?” begins a video by Kuwaiti preacher Mishary Al-Kharaz, before he introduces us to his “friend in Yemen”.The video shows Kamal, a young man with a “handicap”, as he enters a mosque, prays sitting on a chair and then goes up to the second floor after the maghrib prayer to attend a Qur’an memorisation class.All this despite the fact that he walks with difficulty on level flooring, has to crawl up the stairs, and struggles to recite Qur’an … [Read more...]

A Hijabi in Healthcare: The Story of Dr. Lailiyya

The recent debates on Quebec’s Charter of Values and on hijabis in Singaporean workplaces remind me of a woman that I know. Her name is Dr. Lailiyya.She was born in a small town in Java, the youngest girl of twelve children. When she was little, she suffered from polio. Her poor parents were unable to obtain medication for her, so little Lailiyya grew up with a deformed leg. In order for her to be able to attend school, Lailiyya’s brother had to carry her on his back to school and bac … [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 wh … [Read more...]

Victims, Criminals, Heroines: Indonesian Domestic Workers in Singapore

A few months ago, I came across an article about how more Burmese domestic workers in Singapore were running away from exploitative conditions. The caption of the photo told me a lot about how the mainstream media in Singapore (heavily controlled by the government) viewed these domestic workers as as causing a ‘commotion.’ This reminded me of research I had previously done as part of my Master’s thesis on Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore, where I analysed how mainstream media viewed these … [Read more...]

“A Tiny Cut”: Female Circumcision in Southeast Asia

I once asked my mother why boys had to be circumcised, but girls didn’t. Growing up in Singapore in the 1990s, it was more common for boys to be circumcised at the age of 7 or 9, where it resembled more of a rite of passage. They were not allowed to eat certain foods, had to wear a kain sarong for less discomfort, and had to be fanned at night to keep dry. My mother said that it wasn't compulsory for girls, and anyway, the procedure was just "a tiny cut" -- something that she felt was neg … [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 … [Read more...]

Deconstructing Pre-Marriage Advice for Singaporean Muslims

This is my marriage contract, certifying that my husband and I went through a “marriage ceremony peformed under Islamic rites”, and that he had agreed to certain “special conditions” otherwise known as ta’aliq. We didn’t pay much attention to the conditions provided to us by the kadi (judge) from the syariah court, dismissing it as a formality. But this article prompted my husband to promptly tear up the contract.Last week, an organisation dedicated to converts in Singapore was accused of tea … [Read more...]