The controversy over the tudung issue in Singapore is one that surrounds around the central issue of, ‘How does Islam fit in a secular society like Singapore?’
Many have argued on several key points:
1 – Politics
2 – Islamaphobia
3 – Religious obligation
This issue, sparked by a Muslimah’s question on the permissibility on the use of the hijab in the nursing profession, resulted in a petition. Clearly, a movement that she herself didn’t expect to have grown into a national movement among the now, divided Muslim community.
Regardless of the narratives that people have shared and not disregarding the merits that have been brought up, I think that Muslims in Singapore need to take several steps back to reflect on this issue as an outsider watching.
Being thousands of miles away from Singapore, I can honestly say that if I wasn’t a Muslim, I would be turned off at how Muslims in Singapore have decided to protest against the government for their unifying policies.
There is a clear lack of tact, wisdom and grace by the Muslims in managing this issue. When the Muslims decide to ‘attack’ former MUFTI statement, it shows a lack of respect for those who are scholars in the religion, and if the congregation opposes the views of the scholars themselves, who then do we turn to?
Given that Singapore is a policed state, without it, I am sure that unhappy Muslims may decide or would have already taken to the streets to protest against it, causing disruption to public services and if not carefully managed, could stoke another riot.
This would then look no different from the violent protests around the world, be it, in the Middle East or in Bangkok or Indonesia. And since this is a religious issue, it gives the impression that Islam is indeed a violent religion, one which does not hesitate to resort to violent measures should demands for it to observe its religious obligations not be met.
Many would argue against this and insist on their stand and that is perfectly fine with me. I am not saying that women should not wear the hijab, but I am saying that Islam is a beautiful religion that when it decides to manage an issue, it does so without hurting anyone.
I plead with Singaporean Muslims that to resolve this issue, we should turn back to the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah to guide us, instead of letting our emotions cloud our judgement. Let us all be reminded that there are many aspects to Islam that we have learnt, Tauhid and Akhlak, being central as part of the learning process of being a Muslim.
Perhaps, we also need to consider the opinions of the sisters themselves, the ones who are at the core of this issue, because so far, men have been the more vocal ones to air their strong opinions on this matter.