From Australia he came; to USA he’s going. Guess who he is?

From Australia he came; to USA he’s going. Who is he?

He is Adam Rayan Dula, my 4-year-old grandson. He came to Singapore from Sydney 11 days ago and he is leaving for North Carolina, USA, early tomorrow morning (11 December 2017) to meet his American grandparents and relatives.  They met him when he was just a three-month-old baby.

Some of Adam’s Singapore relatives were at the Changi Airport on the evening of Adam’s arrival: Especially extremely eager to see him is his cousin 3½-year-old Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran.

The last time Adam came to Singapore was in February this year (2017). Adam and his parents, Munirah Shaik Kadir and her husband, Allen Dula, came to Singapore enroute to Italy where Munirah, a PhD candidate in a Sydney university, made her presentation in an international educators’ conference in the city of Florence.

So far in Singapore, Adam is having great fun, the greatest being his 4th Birthday celebration. However, his birthday celebration story and photos will be featured later in a separate article.

Adam’s happiest moments were when he meets his cousin, 3½-year-old Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran. They played together, laughed and hugged as close companions.

At my home, the cousins enjoy the evening with great fun when Iffah’s father, Muhammad Imran, after assembling the set, plays with them.

Adam has lots of activities to do at home, even helping in watering Iffah’s Garden.

Adam loves outdoor activities:  Iffah simply wonders at the energy of her cousin who did more than two complete rounds while his father struggles to keep up with him.

Outings with his Atuk (Grandfather), Uncle Imran and Nani (Grandmother). Aunty Shuhaila even took her daughter, Iffah, and us to watch a show – “Let’s rock with Alvinnn!!!” – at the Bedok Mall.

Adam also went to school – for three days. In December, all students enjoy a month of school holidays. But, a pre-school, Bright Beginnings Learning Centre, located at 38 Siglap Drive, conducted a number of holiday programmes. Adam participated in one of them that focuses on making authentic Christmas gifts. “We recommended this programme for Adam because we thought it would be apt for him to work on the gifts as he is heading out to the USA next week,” said Ms Suriani Suhaimi, the school’s Director.

Ms Suriani Suhaimi has all praise for Adam. She said: “Adam was an active participant in all the activities in the programme. He showed autonomy and took pride in his masterpieces. He cooperated well with the facilitator and the other multi-racial participants in the programme.”

She added: “When asked to whom he would like to give the scrub he had made, his reply was ‘My Nani’.” (Adam calls his maternal grandmother “Nani” which means “Grandmother” in Hindi, an Indian language.)

At the Bright Beginnings Learning Centre: “Adam was an active participant in all the activities in the programme,” says the school’s director. On the right, bottom, is the scrub done by Adam and which he is going to bring it to show it to his American grandparents.

A big “Thank you” to Teacher Suriani (left) and Teacher Sharon.

Uncle Hamid and family (wife Aunty Suriani and Nani Nab) visit Adam at Atuk’s home.

After exhausting themselves exercising, muscle-man Uncle Hamid and Adam went to sleep not for 4 hours but 4 seconds.

Adam had also an opportunity to visit the 5-storey Tampines Regional Library in the “Our Tampines Hub”, a 6-storey grand building in the Tampines area. The Hub contains six swimming pools on the top storey of the building, a football field, an Eco-Community Garden, a running track on the 5th storey, and many other recreational and social facilities.

The trip was organised by the Malay Activities Executive Committee (MAEC) of the Siglap Community Centre, whose Chairman, Mr Yacob Hussain, brought along his daughter and 10-year-son, Muhammad Yasir Yuuta, who Adam took a liking for him, calling him “Abang” (Elder brother).

During the talk on children’s books by one of the librarians, Ms Tabitha, Adam participated the most, answering questions posed by her and reacting to her stories.

Visit to the “Our Tampines Hub” with some members of the Briskwalk Gang.

At the Library Talk and the Eco-Community Garden…

After a quick reading the Wresting Tournament guidelines, Adam wrestles with 10-year-old Muhammad Yasir Yuuta, son of Mr Yacob Hussain, Chairman of MAEC Siglap, whose wife is Japanese. The match was a draw, the judges suspected that the older wrestler gave way, and they shook hands and sat at a corner waiting for a sukiyaki lunch.

After the library talk and a guided tour of the various sections of the library and a hearty lunch, MAEC gave each family some gifts for our participation.

Adam also had the opportunity to be invited to the homes of his relatives – Uncle Imran Shaik Kadir and Nani Jaiton Mastan.

At Uncle Imran’s and Aunty Shuhaila’s home, Adam had great fun playing with his cousin, Nur Iffah’s toys.

Nani Jai’s invitation: Adam at Nani Jai’s her husband, Dada Norman’s home, where Grandfather Karim and his wife, Nenek Kamariah, have gathered to welcome Adam.

Adam’s American relatives are eagerly waiting to see him – he will be there for about 1½ months before he returns to Singapore for a week enroute back to Sydney. For now, it’s over to Adam’s grandparents, Fred and Lib; Adam’s aunt, Alson; uncle, Page, and grand-aunt, Judd, to “enjoy” Adam.

(To view photos of the article about Adam’s previous visit to Singapore, go to: https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/adams-days-in-singapore-and-italy/ )

Shaik Kadir
10 December 2017

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Wishing SIYLEP participants all the best in their aspirations towards greater leadership roles

Wishing SIYLEP participants all the best in their aspirations towards greater leadership roles

Ratna Widya Iswara, and Alicia Beverly Weley who is Miss Earth Indonesia (Air) 2017 as well as Miss Inter-Continental Indonesia 2017, were among 20 youths between the ages of 22 and 27 who were on a three-day homestay stint with Singaporean families.

Alicia Beverly Weley who is Miss Earth Indonesia (Air) 2017 as well as Miss Inter-Continental Indonesia 2017 and Ratna Widya Iswara, who became our foster children, are from the Singapore-Indonesia Youth Leaders Exchange Programme.

The youths, comprising 10 boys and 10 girls, were in Singapore under the Singapore-Indonesia Youth Leaders Exchange Programme (SIYLEP), aimed at fostering friendship between them and the youth leaders of Singapore.

“The main part of the 7-day programme was visits to institutions of learning where they met up with youth leaders and exchanged ideas and experiences. Corporate and cultural visits were also in the programme,” explained Mr Desmond Yew, Homestay Director, SSEAYP International Singapore.

“This exchange leadership programme is the first, and we hope it would be a yearly affair with Singapore youths too being reciprocally invited by Indonesia,” said Desmond.

The youths were taken by 10 Singapore families to stay for two nights in their homes.
When hosting these youths from neighbouring countries for the homestay stint, we are not only extending our friendship to the countries from where they come but we are also helping the youths to develop broadmindedness and equip them with knowledge and experiences of our local home environment and of our multi-racial, multi-cultural harmonious setting.

Outings – a great way to increase knowledge

As much of the outings was already included in the official programme organised by the National Youth Council, we took six youths (those hosted by Mr Desmond Yew, Ms Sri Zuraida and me to Little India where we visited Mustaffa Centre, drank Indian teh tarik at a nearby restaurant, explored the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Hindu temple) and went to Tekka Market where Alicia bought a sari set as she would be going to Sri Lanka soon, in December, to take part in the Inter-Continental Beauty Pageant.

A walk at Clarke Quay…

In Little India: A visit to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple after some shopping at Mustaffa Centre.

A train ride from Tekka (Circle Line) MRT Station to Tanah Merah (East-West Line) MRT Station: A long and enjoyable experience for the Indonesian youths.

Three birthday celebrations in a row – wow, how lucky she is!

She? Who’s she?

Oh! I should have told earlier. She’s my dear wife, Khairon Mastan. Age? I did ask her how young she is this year, but she didn’t want to tell me. It’s secret, she said.

First, there were 5

Writer SK’s family: Muhammad Imran, Shuhaila, little Nur Iffah and SK celebrating his wife’s (Khairon’s) birthday with a cake they brought for the celebration.

First, there were just five, all my family members: The birthday girl and me, and my son, Imran, his wife, Shuhaila and their daughter, Nur Iffah. It was a surprise – Shuhaila and Imran came out of my kitchen with a cake, like magic, and placed it on the table for the birthday girl to blow the lighted candles but our granddaughter extinguished the flames with just one powerful blow. That was on Wednesday, 15 Nov – Khairon’s Great Day.

Then, there were 2 Indonesian youths

First, there were two Indonesian foster children, Ratna Widya Iswara (with headscarf) and Alicia Beverly Weley, who celebrated Khairon’s birthday without a cake.

A day later, on 16 Nov, the two Indonesian girls – Ratna and Alicia – who came for a 3-day homestay with us, celebrated Khairon’s birthday without a cake. Eh! Must there be a cake? With candles on top of that – in the age of electricity? The cake, if it’s so important, would be better if it’s sugarless, now that Singapore is Number 1 in diabetes and we won’t mind coming last in this “health issue” race and get a wooden or clay medal or no medal at all.

Then, there were 4 Indonesian youths

Two more Indonesian youths, both boys – Muhammad Indra Ramadhan and Faiz Rabbani – joined us to celebrate the birthday on Thursday evening, 16 Nov. The visitors were accompanied by Mr Yacob Hussain and Mdm Sri Zuraida. Sri and her 9-year old son, Muhammad Hazrul Malik, came an hour later with a surprise – a cake, sponsored by Sri and Yacob.

Faiz Rabbani and Muhammad Indra Ramadhan with their foster parent, Mdm Sri Zuraida, and Mr Yacob Hussain together with Ratna and Alicia celebrating Khairon’s birthday.

Faiz is standing second from right while Indra is seventh from right. In the oval photo, Yacob is taking food to serve Sri who is seated on his left.

There was a variety of food, even chapati, to relish. Imran’s wife and daughter too joined us.

Then, there were 6 Indonesian youths

On Friday afternoon, 17 Nov, another two youths, both girls – Jerni Rinova Panjaitan and Jesika Rozella – visited us. They were the foster children of Mr Desmond Yew. That evening a third surprise greeted Khairon and all others. Yacob’s wife, Mdm Keiko Soeda, a Japanese, came with a cake to surprise Khairon. Their 10-year old son, Muhammad Yasir Yuuta and their 16-year old daughter, Zahrah Yuko, came along. My son, Imran, and his family too were present, so was Sri.

Holding SK’s shoulder is Mr Desmond Yew, foster parent of the additional two Indonesian youths, Jesika Rozella (on Iffah’s left) and Jerni Rinova Panjaitan (third from Iffah).

Cake-cutting, birthday song and doa, clapping and cheers enlivened the occasion. And it looks like health-conscious Keiko (wearing black headscarf) does not want to get tempted by the cake in the “cake-cutting” photo.

Some in the group must have eaten more than one slice of the cake. Now, tell us frankly with your fingers – how many slices of the cake did you eat?

It was a cheerful celebration, a grand birthday bash, the third celebration with cake within a week. “I really enjoyed the birthday cheers and the birthday wishes and doa. I thank everyone, especially the sponsors of the three cakes. Wow! How lucky I am this year!” remarked my wife with glee.

Keiko, impressed with the youths’ cheerfulness and dynamisms, remarked: “International exchanges provide different perspectives on many practical issues that could broaden the mind. For this reason, I want my son, Yasir, and daughter, Zahrah, to be involved in such activities. This made me take them here to be with the youths. Interacting with them provides a brilliant opportunity to widen their friendship.”

She added: “I also feel that through this kind of interaction, Yuuta and Yuko would be potential homestay hosts in the future.”

An evening of fun

All the six visitors together with their foster parents enjoyed the time spent at my home, the last evening of the guests’ stay in Singapore. Jesika and Iffah entertained us with songs and dances. It was a fun evening full of laughter.

Having fun chatting and photo-taking…

Little Iffah being interviewed by Jesika and Yasir …

Jesika singing her favourite song…

Iffah entertaining the guests with two songs, “Chan mali chan” and “Rasa sayang”, performed two dances and played games with  the “kakaks”…

“Let’s take a group photo,” Desmond suggested, and he raised his handphone. “Everybody smile…”

As time approached for the other four youths to leave for their foster parents’ homes, Mr Yacob Hussain, Deputy President of SSEAYP International Singapore who was with us enjoying the evening’s fun, requested each of us, both the youths and their foster parents, to say a few words about their stay in Singapore for “tomorrow we part”. Every one did, except little Iffah, who was too sad to say anything.

In summary, Mr Yacob said: “Bilateral youth leadership programmes between countries, like this Singapore-Indonesia Youth Leaders Exchange Programme, in which there is much interacting, engaging and socialising, is important in laying the foundation in many aspects of leadership.”

He added: “Hopefully, the number of youths in this programme would increase as the experience gained would be meaningful and beneficial to them in facing future challenges.”

Familiarising with books and articles written by host

After viewing through the articles and books written by SK, SK’s foster children were complimented with copies of his Islamic books as they want to read more about Islam. (The 164-page Third Edition “Splendours of Islam” was published by The Muslim Converts’ Association Singapore and the 200-page Second Edition “Islam Explained” was published by Marshall Cavendish International.)

What is homestay if the homestay guests do not spend time at home with the foster-parents and learn about their food and lifestyle. Ratna and Alicia did. They looked through the album of my past homestay youths, the books I have written and the 12 volumes of my articles that have been published in various local and overseas journals. “Your writings have inspired me to write, and when I return to Indonesia, I would want write,” said Ratna. Indeed, I’m happy that Ratna has been motivated to write in her spare time.

Some youths from other homestay families

In such homestay programmes, the foster parents would sometimes happen to bump into each other at some places of interest when we take them out or meet at the airport. Here are some photos of the other homestay youth leaders.

A nice skyline of the city from the vicinity of the Gardens by the Bay: Mr Michael Ho Peng Choy with his foster children (from left) Yan and Tetan. At Sentosa: Mdm Yurlina Yusuf with her foster children (from left), Indah, Yossy and Emmi.

Hosts Mr Zakaria Shariff and his wife, Mdm Hadijah, with their three children (from left) Ulan, Khanis and Anggun at the Civil Service College to fetch their foster children.
The oval photo shows Mr Muhammed Agus Othman with four of his foster children (from left) Deny, Muklis, Gabe and Ramadani.

Sadness of parting

In the morning of the third day, my wife and I sent off Ratna and Alicia to the airport where we met the others for a final get-together. The reunion at the airport was all happiness and sadness.

Some of the Indonesian youth leaders and their foster parents at Changi Airport to bid farewell to their foster children.

Happy and sad moments for the youths for soon they would leave their foster parents.

All the Indonesian youth leaders and all the Singapore foster parents could not keep the youths in Singapore for another day again (to be read in Humpty Dumpty rhythm).

The last hugs and goodbyes before departure: Host Khairon with her foster children, Alicia Beverly Weley (left) and Ratna Widya Iswara.

At the Departure gate, there were handshakes, hugs and salam, and, as always in such sending-off situation, the parting was overwhelmed with sadness.

We enjoyed hosting these youths and likewise they enjoyed their stay with us. And this is our happiness.

Messages from my foster children

When we returned from the airport we saw Alicia’s and Ratna’s messages which they had left on our table moments before we left for the airport.

Message from Alicia

Alicia’s farewell note…

Alicia’s unedited message is reproduced below:

“I was so impressed! A small country that gives
big positive impacts to its people. Every corner of the
city is clean and very structured. Smart city, smart people!

Alicia Weley
Miss Inter-Continental
Indonesia 2017
SIYLEP 2017”

Message from Ratna

Ratna’s farewell note…

Ratna’s message is longer. Her unedited message is reproduced below:

“I like Singapore a lot. The people are kind, friendly, nice, especially
foster parents. Mr and Mrs Shaik Kadir, thank you so much
for your warm hospitality. I feel like home.

Your writing inspires me a lot.

Singapore is also famous for its high-tech and high-touch innovation.
The MRT, (ANZ?) ATM machine? (the one that can pay anything in a
machine) the integrated library, many trees and good air.)

I also like the way 3Ps (people, private and public) are connected
To create a smart nation. I hope Indonesia can follow the
good things.

However, during my time here I still found rubbish on the
Street which shocks me. Before I came here, I thought
Singapore is 100% clean, that’s what I expect. But I
think it is okay, maybe some people still need to be aware
about cleanliness everywhere.

So again, thank you so much Bapak and Ibu in Singapore
May Allah bless you always and grant you with good
health, and barokah rezeki. Thank you and see you.

Ratna Widya Iswara
SIYLEP 2017”

Further training in Riau

From Singapore, the youths flew to Jakarta and the following day left for Riau (Sumatra) where they spent a few days for further leadership training which ended yesterday.

One of Desmond’s foster child, Jerni Rinova Panjaitan, sent a beautiful photo of the group taken in Riau, shown below.

Photo from Riau: A beautiful group shot for remembrance of the end of their leadership training programme.

On behalf of all the other foster parents, I wish all the 20 youths all the best in their future endeavours. We hope many of them would come back to Singapore in the future to relish in Singapore’s gorgeous atmosphere and meet up with their foster families.

Shaik Kadir
25 November 2017

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The Bugis – were they pirates turned traders?

The Bugis – were they pirates

turned traders?

Schoolboy Ibrahim is a Bugis. His classmates taunted and annoyed him, saying he was a pirate. That happened after a lesson on the history of Bugis. Later, he himself learned that Bugis Street was well-known for its nightly parties of transwomen. And when he was already an adult, he found out that many people were still unsure who the Bugis were and where they came from.

“Seeing the lack of understanding of the Bugis community in Singapore, I took it upon myself to enlighten the public about the Bugis,” said Mr Ibrahim Arif, 71, author of “The Bugis in Singapore”.

Mr Ibrahim with the writer of this article who interviewed him on his book on the evening of 19 November (2017) at One KM. The second photo shows the front cover of Mr Ibrahim’s book.

The Bugis people is an ethnic group from South Sulawesi, the third largest island of Indonesia. In 1823, the Bugis population in Singapore totalled 1,851, the majority of them were traders and planters, according to Mr Ibrahim’s book.

Mr Ibrahim’s father, Ariff Bin Daing Mangati, was a Bugis from South Sulawesi while his Singapore-born mother was a Bugis descended from the Kalimantan Bugis community.

The 68-page book, published by the author in October 2017, is supported by the National Heritage Board. It was launched at the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) or Taman Warisan Melayu on 14 October 2017.

The book launch, held in conjunction with the exhibition of Bugis artefacts from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, was officiated by Ibu Noor Lizah Nurdin, wife of the Riau Governor.

Mr Ibrahim, a freelance motivation speaker and event organiser and who has previously published “The Past Malay Entrepreneurs”, said: “The second objective of writing the Bugis book is to share the role of the Bugis in developing Singapore as a business hub and promoting Singapore to the world.”

Mr Ibrahim Ariff (in blue batik shirt), who organised the “Bazaar Kasih Sayang”, is standing beside Ms Tin Pei Ling, Member of Parliament in MacPherson SMC and Marine Parade GRC who officiated in the opening of the event in September last year (2016). The second photo shows Mr Ibrahim’s friends who were invited for the opening ceremony of the event.

The book supplements the current MHC exhibition, titled “Sirri na Pesse” (Honour and Pride) of the Bugis, which runs from October 14 to June 24 2018. The exhibition showcases more than 40 artefacts that relate to the history and culture of the Bugis people.

“Bugis” is famous in Singapore. There is a condominium called Kampong Bugis, a train station, Bugis MRT Station, a large mall, Bugis Junction, a shopping area in Bugis Street and a hotel named Village Hotel Bugis.

“The Bugis is a respected group of people and historically for centuries revered as fierce warriors in Southeast Asia,” says a reader of the article, “Were the Bugis really pirates? Here are 5 things we found out” by Mayo Martin at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/lifestyle/bugis-malay-heritage-centre-exhibition-9308398)

Mr Ibrahim’s book talks about everything to do with Bugis – culture, cuisine, diaspora, entrepreneurs, and a host of other topics, including, of course, the author’s own ancestry and lineage to the Bugis community.

Shaik Kadir
20 November 2017

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Special celebrations Singaporeans relish and cherish

Special celebrations Singaporeans

relish and cherish

“According to a study of 232 countries by the Pew Research Centre based in Washington, Singapore is the most religiously diverse country in the world. If there was an Olympics for religious diversity, we would have won the gold medal,” says Mr Mohammad Alami Musa, Head of Studies in Inter-religious Relations in Plural Societies (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies) as given in an opinion piece, “Inter-faith dialogue in Singapore must go deeper”, published in The Straits Times of 27 October 2017.

Yes, Singaporeans are people of various races, cultures and faiths and they live together harmoniously.

“In the last 50 years, there has not been a single religious conflict in Singapore. But this is not the situation in the world today. Pew Research Centre has shown that the number of religious-based conflicts faced by many countries has gone up,” continues Mr Mohammad of the Muis Council. Muis, abbreviation for Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, is the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.

“As a Muslim, I know more about Islam if I know more about other religions,” Mr Mohammad adds. Indeed Singapore Muslims ought to know some facts, at least about the special days of people of other faiths. Similarly, people of other faiths ought to have some knowledge about Islam and other religions of Singaporeans.

In this short article, only the celebrations and commemorations of four main religions are given – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Taoism. Such knowledge will make us understand the meaning and significance of these special celebratory days and motivate Singapore’s multi-racial, multi-cultural people to come closer to each other to uphold peace and harmony among us.

Visiting friends during their festive celebrations is among the social activities that foster friendship and enhance harmony.

(1) Translated, the title of the writer’s article in the Malay national newspaper, Berita Harian (of 26 Sep 2009), goes “Eating together (with friends) enhances value of harmony”.
(2) The captions says: Family of the writer (wife, Khairon; and daughter, Munirah) with two guests (who are Munirah’s Chinese friends), Ms Karen Teo (left) and Ms Karen Dawn Yap, who came to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

The article begins with the celebrations of Muslims.

MUSLIM CELEBRATIONS

The major celebrations/commemorations of Muslims are:

Islamic New Year
The Islamic New Year falls on the first day of the first month, Muharram, of the Islamic calendar. For example, this year, 2017, the Muslim Year is 1439H (“H” stands for Hijrah or migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina) coincided with 22 September 2017.

As the Islamic day begins after sundown of the previous day, the ushering in of the New Year 1439H was on the evening of 21 September after 7:02 pm (exact time of the sundown on 21 September 2017).

In the mosques, Muslims gathered about an hour before sundown to recite collective dua (supplications) for the end of the Muslim year 1438H. Then, after performing the congregational maghrib obligatory prayer (fourth prayer of the day), which began in Singapore at 7:02 pm on that day, the congregation read certain chapters of the Qur’an and recited the 1439H New Year dua.

The Islamic calendar starts from the Hijrah (migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina). The migration took place because the Prophet was persecuted in Mecca for his preaching of Islam. The Hijrah coincides with the Gregorian date of 16 July 622.
The Hijrah is significant in the life of Muslims because it highlights the accomplishment of a goal by way of a change in strategy or lifestyle. It signifies growth, progress and success. Muslims take lessons from the significance of the Hijrah to better their lives by way of education, hard work and practising proper teachings of Islam as well as embracing compassion and friendship towards people of any race or creed.

Birthday of Prophet Muhammad 
Known as “Mawlid Nabi”, Prophet Muhammad’s birthday falls on 12th of the third month (Rabi’ul Awal) on the Islamic calendar. (This date is not fixed on the English (Gregorian) calendar as the Islamic year is shorter by 11 days and so advances by 11 days in each English year.) Muslims mark this day by attending lectures, remembering the life of the Prophet and learning about his exemplary character in the pursuit to emulate those examples.

Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice)  
Also spelt as Aidiladha, the day (in Zulhijjah, the twelfth month, marks the culmination of the pilgrimage in Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, called the Haj. The pilgrimage is the Fifth Pillar of Islam and all Muslims aspire to perform it at least once in their lifetime, if they can afford it.
Aidiladha, also referred to as Hari Raya Haji, starts publicly with morning prayers in the mosques. After that, livestock such as sheep are sacrificed at designated places and the meat is donated to the poor and needy.

Ramadan fasting
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims fast the whole of Ramadan as fasting in this month is the third of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims abstain from food, drink (and smoking for those who smoke), and seek to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds like giving to charity. This reminds Muslims of the values of patience, sacrifice and humility. In the evening after the Ishak prayer (final prayer of the day), Muslims perform the special Ramadan night prayers, called terawih prayers, in the mosque or at home.

Eid ul-Fitri (Festival of Charity)
On this day (first Shawal, tenth month), also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Muslims celebrate the end of the fasting month (Ramadan) with special morning prayers at the mosque. It is customary for Muslims to spend the day by visiting relatives and friends while seeking forgiveness from each other, greeting one another with such phrases as “Assalamu-alaikum (Peace be upon you). Selamat Hari Raya (Happy festive day). Ma’af zahir dan batin. (Forgive me if I have offended you knowingly or unknowingly)” Muslims also give charity to the needy and give monetary gifts to the elderly and children in packets, and enjoying festive goodies at home and in the homes they visit.

Road decorations in Geylang Serai for Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

CHRISTIAN CELEBRATIONS

The major celebrations/prayers of Christians are:

Christmas
A season of love and giving, Christmas (on 25 December) commemorates the birth of Jesus and is widely celebrated with exchanging of gifts, decoration of Christmas trees, displaying of nativity scenes and mistletoes, and going for church services and festive parties.

Christmas decorations at Orchard Road.

Good Friday
On this day, Christians commemorate the passion and suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross, or crucifixion.

CHINESE/TAOISTS CELEBRATIONS

The major celebrations/commemorations of Chinese/Taoists are:

Chinese New Year
Also known as the Spring Festival, and popularly referred to as the Lunar New Year because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar; it uses both the moon phase and the solar year.
In preparing to celebrate Chinese New Year, it is traditional for every family to thoroughly clean the house to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck, happiness and longevity. Usually, Chinese families gather for the annual reunion dinner on the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day. Monetary gifts are given to the elderly and the young in red paper envelopes.

Road decorations in Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Mid-Autumn Festival
Legend has it that Chang’e, wife of the archer Houyi, flew to the moon after swallowing his pill of immortality. The tale goes that since her ascension, she has been worshipped by the Chinese as a Moon Goddess. The Chinese celebrate by carrying lanterns and enjoying mooncakes while admiring the full moon.

Hungry Ghost Festival
The Taoists believe that the Gates of Hell open on the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. To appease the wondering spirits, they burn hell money, offer food, hold “getai” (road concerts), opera shows and dinner auctions.

Qing Ming Festival
Also known as “All Souls Day”, the festival is observed by the Chinese by paying their respects to their ancestors by sweeping their tombstones, making food offerings and burning joss sticks.

HINDU CELEBRATIONS

The major celebrations/prayers of Hindus are:

Deepavali
Also known as “Festival of Lights”, Deepavali celebrates the triumph of good over evil, the way Lord Krishna destroyed the demon of Narakasura. Hindus celebrate by lighting up oil lamps at home.

Road decorations in Little India for Deepavali celebrations.

Thaipusam
Honouring the Hindu deity Subramanian (Lord Murugan), Thaipusam is a day of prayer and thanksgiving for wishes granted and vows fulfilled.

BUDDHIST CELEBRATIONS

The major celebration/commemoration of Buddhists is:

Vesak Day
On Vesak Day, Buddhists commemorate Buddha’s birth and enlightenment (Nirvana) by performing good deeds, fasting or going on a vegetarian diet.

There are many other celebrations/commemorations, including the Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of Sikhism, and Naw-Ruz (New Day), the first day of the Persian New Year, celebrated by the followers of Baha’i Faith.

The Qur’an instructs Muslims to be friendly with people of all religions and cultures as what is honourable is righteousness: good behaviour, friendliness and compassion. Addressing everybody, irrespective of ethnicity or creed, God says in the Qur’an: “O mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes (races) so that you may know (and be friendly with) each other (not to despise each other). Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most righteous.” (49:13)

Righteousness is the cornerstone of Islam, and Muslims honour it by enhancing peace and harmony in the society.

(Information on the various celebrations/commemorations have largely been taken from the table calendar of the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC). IRCCs serve as important bridges between religions, ethnic and community groups at the local level. They also aim to deepen people’s understanding of the various faiths, beliefs and practices.)

Shaik Kadir
15 November 2017

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Knowledge is the Islamic light  that brightens the path to Heaven

Knowledge is the Islamic light 
that brightens the path to Heaven

In the 1980s, that is just about 35 years ago when the bulky landline table telephone was king, if someone were to tell you that in 25 years’ time your telephone would be so small as a wallet and you could carry it around in your pocket and that you could also use it anywhere, even in moving vehicles, to watch Youtube videos, take still and moving pictures, chit-chats, transfer money, and write notes, just to mention a few features, you would probably think that that person was crazy and his idea was crazy. But by 2005, what’s more today, that “crazy” idea had become reality – all because of knowledge.

Did Islam say anything about the importance of acquiring knowledge? Yes. One Hadith (Sayings of Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him) says: “The acquisition of knowledge is the obligation of every Muslim, male and female.”

Knowledge is the accumulation of learning, research and experiences.

PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE

Islam, as a complete way of life, gives advices and directions indicating the advantages and importance of knowledge in life. It instructs that both worldly knowledge, including skills, and religious knowledge need to be acquired, not either one only, because in Islam both worldly knowledge and religious knowledge complement each other. The pursuit of knowledge refers to basic and further learning as well as research in both worldly and religious matters.

Knowledge, whether discovered or imparted by Muslims or non-Muslims, is universal.
Allah is “He (who has) perfect knowledge of all things.” (2:29) Hence, one of the 99 beautiful names (Asma ul-Husna) of Allah is “All-Knowing.” Throughout the Quran, Allah is described as One Who knows everything. In Chapter 9 alone, the information that Allah knows everything is given in such terms as: “Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (9:60) “Allah is He who hears and knows all things.” (9:98). “Allah is All-Knowing.” (9:110) and “Allah has knowledge of all things.” (9:115).  Since Allah is “All-Knowing,” He instructs people to “Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher….”, urging us to seek all knowledge indiscriminately according to priority and interest.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) advised us: “Acquire knowledge, because he who acquires it in the way of Allah performs an act of piety; who speaks of it praises Allah; who seeks it adores Him; who imparts and dispenses instruction in it bestows alms; who teaches it to the deserving ones performs an act of devotion to Allah.” It is clear from this advice that Islam makes it a religious duty for every Muslim to acquire all knowledge, and teaches it to others to spread knowledge.

GEMS FROM THE PROPHET

Some of the gems from Prophet Muhammad on the importance and acquisition of knowledge are:
• “The quest of knowledge is a compulsory duty on every Muslim.”
• “A piece of knowledge from wherever gained is like a lost property recovered.”
• “Receive knowledge from whatever the vessel in which it is presented. It will not do you any harm.”
• “Knowledge enables the possessor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament amongst friends and an armour against enemies.”
• “Knowledge gives life to a dead heart, it is a light for the eyes in darkness and gives strength to the body in weakness. By its help, man reaches the ranks of the pious. To think of it is like fasting and its study is like prayer. By its help, Allah is obeyed and worshipped and the Unity of God is understood and faith is strengthened. By its help, ties of blood are maintained and lawful and unlawful things are known.”
• “Knowledge is a treasure-house and its key is enquiry.”
• “Knowledge is the life of Islam and the pillar of belief.
• “The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyr.”
• “With knowledge, the servant of Allah rises to the heights of goodness and to a noble position.”
• “To the student who goes forth in quest of knowledge, Allah will allot a high place in the mansions of bliss; every step he takes is blessed, and every lesson he receives has its rewards.”
• “The seeker of knowledge will be greeted in Heaven with a welcome from the angels.”
• “Him who favours learning and the learned, Allah will favour in the next world.”
• “He who so treads the path of knowledge, Allah will admit him in Heaven, and whoever dies in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will take him as a martyr.”
• “He who leaves his home in search of knowledge, to him Allah shows the way to paradise.”
• “Whoever seeks knowledge and finds it will get two rewards: one of them the reward for desiring it, and the other for attaining it; therefore even if he does not attain it, for him is one reward.”

DIGNITY, HONOUR AND HARMONY

In the book, “Muhammad, the Educator of Mankind,” the author, Afzalur Rahman, says: “Man rises to a higher status through knowledge, demonstrating his superiority to other creations. He wears the crown of dignity and honour through learning, enquiry and study and will lose that status if he leaves it and follows the ways of ignorance. Learning leads to virtue and power, while ignorance, to vice and degradation. Thus the basis of preference according to the Qur’an is learning. It is through learning that man proves the value of himself and also finds proof of the existence of God. In fact, he finds the whole truth and reality of the universe, the value of thought and morality and the nature and value of the forces and mysteries of nature and how to harness them and use them for his own benefit. Thus endless secrets and mysteries of nature and their uses become known to man through learning and research.”

Islam attaches great importance to the acquisition of knowledge and considers it the basis for human development and the key to the growth of civilization and harmony among peoples of the world.  God says in the Qur’an: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. (Qur’an, 49:13)

One must put lots of effort in pursuing education and acquiring knowledge for wisdom, harmony and progress. I myself have put efforts in writing numerous articles and several books for sharing of knowledge.

The following are my books, aimed at sharing knowledge on aspects of Islam with all, Muslims and non-Muslims, with my very first book, published in 1989, being “Read! – The Islamic inspiration on guidance, wisdom and progress”:

(1) “Read!”, published by Pertapis in 1986; and (2) “The Straight Way”, published by Darul Arqam Singapore in 1993 and reprinted annually till 2000.

(1) “The Haj: The annual pilgrimage of Islam” and (2) “Commanding an Islamic Personality” published by Pertapis in 1995 and 2000 respectively.

(1) “Inside Islam” and (2) “Pendekatan Islam”, published by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) in 2004 and 2009 respectively.

(1) “Splendours of Islam”, published by Darul Arqam Singapore in 2000 and reprinted annually and updated in 2004, 2011 and 2016; and (2) “Allah”, published by Partridge Singapore in 2016.

“Islam Explained”, published by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) in 2006 and its Second Version in 2017.

Let us make full use of Allah’s Guidance on the importance of acquiring knowledge and strive to acquire to do so, both religious and worldly knowledge. At the same time, let us also pray as taught by Allah Himself: “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.” (20:114)

Shaik Kadir
11 November 2017

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An eye-opening visit to the Ba’alwie Mosque

An eye-opening visit to the

Ba’alwie Mosque

The Ba’alwie Mosque, at Lewis Road near Bukit Timah Road, is an interesting mosque that provides an area for the exhibition of an impressive collection of ancient copies of the Qur’an and other holy scriptures.

Among those who learned much about Islam from the Imam of the mosque himself is Reverend Song Cheng Hock from the Amazing Grace Presbyterian Church. He was in the group of 21 people who visited the mosque on Saturday, 4 November (2017). In the group, 13 were non-Muslims.

Mr Yacob Hussain, Chairman of the Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC) of the Siglap Community Centre, said that the visit was organised by the Siglap Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) whose Chairman is Dr Daniel Tan.

He added: “Specifically, this trip is to give an opportunity to understand Islam better to the non-Muslim members of the Siglap IRCC, and also to see the collection of  ancient copies of the Qur’an exhibited at the mosque’s museum.”

Mr Syed Hassan Bin Muhammad Al-Attas, the Imam (prayer leader) of the mosque, popularly-known as “Habib Hassan” (“Habib” is the title for a learned Islamic personality in Arabic), personally briefed the visitors on some aspects of Islam, especially the importance of friendship and trust, drawing samples of focus from his own past experiences.

Habib Hassan, prominent amongst inter-faith leaders of Singapore, also elaborated on “bad Muslims” who tarnished the good name of Islam by involving in violence, reiterating the fact that Islam does not condone violence and killings. Pointing out that the Qur’an strongly condemns the killings of the innocent, he quoted a verse that says that if anyone killed a person it is as if he had killed the whole of mankind. [This verse is: “Whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (Qur’an, 5:32)]

A section of the visitors listening to Habib Hassan focussing on certain aspects of Islam.

Praising Habib Hassan, Reverend Song said: “He is indeed very knowledgeable on Islam and we have learned much from him. He is a kind and hospitable person and very friendly, possessing a good-humoured personality.”

Habib Hassan has even established a small museum in a section of the mosque to showcase some Islamic artefacts and a collection old copies of the Qur’an printed on materials of those times from different countries. There were also ancient copies of the Torah and the Bible.

The Imam himself took us into this museum area to explain about this valuable ancient scriptural collection.

Ms Suryani as well as the other visitors were amazed at the collection of the ancient copies of the Qur’an, the Torah and the Bible.

Ms Suryani Nasiruddin, who came with her son, Muhd Shukran, 9, to make him meet Habib Hassan and hear him talk about Islam, admitted: “I, too, have learned more about the importance of trust and respect for each other irrespective of race and religion.”

Amazed by the exhibits, she remarked: “I find it interesting to see so many ancient copies of the Qur’an here. I’ve never seen such a good collection. I’ve taken many photos of these Qur’an exhibits to show to my friends.”

Dr Daniel Tan (in white tee-shirt) and others in conversation with Habib Hassan.

When the azan (prayer call) for the Zohor (second prayers of the day) was called out, the Muslims in the group went to take their wudhu (ablution) and then headed into the prayer hall for the Zohor prayer.

The congregation, led by Habib Hassan, stood behind the Imam shoulder to shoulder in straight rows, all facing the Ka’aba in Mecca for unity in the Islamic ummah (world Muslim community) and consciousness and faith in the One God.

The prayer (called solat) took not more than a few minutes while the non-Muslim visitors stood just a few metres away to watch the prayer being performed. [Yes, “performed prayer”, not entirely “said prayer” as various body postures, like standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting, are instituted in the solat, and finally a doa (supplication.) is said as a conclusion to the solat.] The non-Muslim visitors, including Reverend Song, had never seen Muslims at prayer at such close range.

Mr Yacob Hussain (extreme right) and I (Shaik Kadir, writer of this article) with Habib Hassan. I am with Reverend Song in the other photo.

The group was treated to a hearty lunch, and everyone received a goodie-bag containing souvenirs, including a booklet and three pamphlets on aspects of Islam written by the Habib.

And, finally, it’s time to bid farewell to Habib Hassan with a big “Thank you” from all of us. We shall always remember this wonderful visit. “We are overwhelmed by the hospitality shown to us by the Imam of the Ba’alwie Mosque,” says Mr Yacob Hussain.

We thank Habib Hassan for the hospitality accorded to us, and we must admit that we learned much from the visit. We shall cherish it.

Shaik Kadir
4 November 2017

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SK’s general and Islam-related articles for sharing

SK’s

general and Islam-related articles

for sharing

(Earliest 10, from Aug 2012)

Beauties of nature.

Dear readers

I started blogging in August 2012, introduced and guided by two of my close friends who are bloggers themselves, Mr Dick Yip and Mr James Seah. I thank them for initiating me into this sharing platform five years ago.

Since then, I have made more than 130 entries – general articles and Islam-related articles to share the knowledge with both Muslims and non-Muslims in the spirit of togetherness and friendship. What we need is a world where peace and happiness reign among peoples of all races, religions and cultures. As the Qur’an says: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Qur’an, 49:13)

As new entries appear right on top in the blog, appearing in chronological order, so, just to revive the earlier articles, I am presenting the headings and their links of the first TEN articles, placing them in a table for easy reference and connection here:

The first ten articles from 24 Aug 2012 to 8 May 2013 are as follows:

(10) Do good to your parents, show your gratitude to them

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/do-good-to-your-parents-show-your-gratitude-to-them/

(9) More work needed to promote interfaith ties

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/more-work-needed-to-promote-interfaith-ties-3/

(8) Saving Planet Earth (Part 2): Be proactive in helping to keep the environment clean and unpolluted

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/saving-planet-earth-part-2/

Nature’s mangoes (from Singapore roadside mango trees)  and radiant sunset:  We need to live in harmony with nature for our enjoyment and fulfillment in life. Therefore we ought to see that no harm comes to Planet Earth because not only we human beings depend on it for our subsistence but also all other creatures that crawl, walk, swim and fly.

(7) Saving Planet Earth (Part 1): Be responsible in maintaining the eco-balance of our environment

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/saving-planet-earth-part-1/

(6) Quit smoking in the spirit of Islam

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/quit-smoking-in-the-spirit-of-islam/

(5) Prostration in Islam

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/prostration-in-islam/

Gratitude to God:  The prostration is the humblest act in a Muslim prayer session. It is an act of adoration, gratitude and devotion to God. The Muslim, alone or in a congregation, does at least 34 prostrations in his obligatory prayers of each day.

(4) Student and Muslim volunteers to promote peace with roses

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/3-student-and-muslim-volunteers-to-promote-peace-with-roses/

(3) Muslim pilgrimage and offerings go on despite limits

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/2-muslim-pilgrimage-and-offerings-go-on-despite-limits/

(2) Important to promote Christian-Muslim heritage and values

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/important-to-promote-christian-muslim-heritage-and-values/

(1) Spirit in old kampung still relevant in modern living

https://readnreap.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/1-spirit-in-old-kampung-still-relevant-in-modern-living/

Thank you.

Shaik Kadir
15 October 2017

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