Opinion: "Peaceful and Progressive" Muslims in Singapore Contribute to Multicultural Society

August 7, 2004

Source: Sinchew-i.com/The Straits Times


On August 7, 2004 The Straits Times ran an opinion piece by Mohammad Guntor Sadali, a member of Singapore's Muslim community. He writes, "[S]o far, [a backlash against Muslims] has not happened in Singapore...Muslims in Singapore uphold multiracialism and believe deeply in religious tolerance. They are willing to adapt themselves to changes. In fact, in the short history of Singapore, Muslims here have made a number of important and significant decisions to this effect. In the early 1970s, we had to make a very painful decision to allow some mosques to give way to development. We felt it was necessary as we recognised it to be crucial for our future as a nation. Then, recognising the multiracial nature of our society, mosques here agreed to turn down the sound of the azan (call to prayer) and turned their speakers inward...Muslims in Singapore were among the first to accept payment of zakat fitrah (tithe) in the form of cash, instead of rice, which is still the tradition practised by many Muslims elsewhere...We were also among the pioneers in using mathematical calculations or hisab, to determine the first day of Ramadan or the start of the fasting month and the first day of Syawal or Hari Raya Puasa, instead of physically sighting the moon. These are some of the steps Muslim Singaporeans have taken to adapt to changing needs. They initially appeared to be un-Islamic or compromising, but were later proven to be forward-looking and rational decisions...Muslim Singaporeans cannot be lumped together with other people elsewhere, who claim to be Muslims but use Islam as a cover to act irrationally, violently and inhumanely. We Muslim Singaporeans are a peaceful and progressive lot."