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


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

(9) More work needed to promote interfaith ties

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

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

(6) Quit smoking in the spirit of Islam

(5) 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

(3) Muslim pilgrimage and offerings go on despite limits

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

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

Thank you.

Shaik Kadir
15 October 2017

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The Islamic headscarf connection: A modesty badge for the Muslim woman in hijab

The Islamic headscarf connection: A modesty badge for the Muslim woman in


Singaporeans of all racial and religious groups congratulate and salute Madam Halimah Yacob on her appointment recently as the President of Singapore. They are honoured to have her as Singapore’s first female president.

And indeed Singapore Muslims are proud that she wears the hijab (Islamic dress-code). The hijab is worn to conform to Islamic guidance for decency, modesty and Islamic values.

President Halimah Yacob was a unionist, politician and Speaker of Parliament. TV screenshot photo on the right shows Mdm Halimah taking her oath of office on 14 September and the other photo, from World Bulletin, 19 September 2017, is captioned: “Singapore’s first woman president — and the first to wear a headscarf — Halimah Yacob, hails from Singapore’s Malay minority, the first to come from that group in 47 years.”

As more and more Muslim women become educated all over the world, more and more of them use the hijab, it’s most prominent part being the headscarf or tudung in Malay.

Youngest doctor in the world: “Iqbal El-Assaad is a Palestinian Muslim woman who was set by the Guinness World Records as the youngest doctor in the World.” She started her medical education at Cornell University’s Qatar branch, when she was just 14 years old and graduated with an Honours Bachelor degree in Medicine in 2013 when she was 20.

AirAsia pilots in hijab (AirAsia Inflight Magazine Travel 3 Sixty, August 2017 issue), and popular Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza who started wearing the hijab upon her marriage in 2006. Siti was listed as among the world’s top 500 influential Muslims. (AsiaOne, 6 October 2015)

In Singapore it is common to see tertiary students, school teachers, civil servants, professionals and entrepreneurs wearing the tudung, worn in various and varied style.

Singaporean Shereen Williams, 35, was made an honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her community work in Wales where she resides now with her Welsh husband. (“S’porean honoured for community work in Wales”, The Straits Times, 10 July 2017) The photo on the right shows Miss Noorul Wasima, 23, a student at the National Institute of Education (NIE), being awarded the Best Trainee Teacher Award at the Most Inspiring Tamil Teacher’s Award ceremony on 2 September 2017.(“Tamil Teachers lauded at award ceremony”, The Straits Times, 3 September 2017.) The photo in the middle, bottom, shows Ms Noor Syafizah Mahadi, 20, a student of the Singapore Polytechnic. She is a lifesaver who donated her bone marrow to a patient living overseas through the local Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP). (The Straits Times, 16 September 2017) (Photos: Page-shots of The Straits Times)

Singapore Professor Jackie Y. Ying, 50, a Chinese convert to Islam, who is the executive director of the Institute of Bio-engineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), was awarded the Mustafa Prize in the Top Scientific Achievement category in Teheran, Iran, in 2015. The young lady in the bottom photo is her 15-year-old daughter, Chan Hsi-Min. (The Straits Times, 25 December 2015, and Berita Minggu, 10 January 2016.) (Photos: Page-shots of The Straits Times and Berita Minggu)

The Muslim woman is taught that the earlier in her life she starts wearing Islamically-approved attire (hijab), the better it is for her well-being both in the worldly and spiritual sense. So, often, she begins wearing hijab upon reaching puberty as advised by Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him. There are also references on hijab for both men and women in the Qur’an, especially in Chapter 24, Verses 30-31.

Still, the Qur’an (Word of God) does not specifically make it a command for Muslim women to cover the hair, unlike the command to perform solat (Islamic prayers performed five times a day) and the month-long fast in Ramadan which are obligatory. But, Muslims hold to the term “hijab” which means “conceal” or “hide from view”. The term refers to the way a Muslim woman dresses to hide the bosom and any part of the body that attracts male strangers, with the addition of using the headscarf to hide the hair and neck.  Thus, using the headscarf, according to some Muslim women, is a personal choice for a total hijab. One could just ask: “Being a Muslim, if I wear mini-skirts and plunging neck-line blouses, other Muslims can easily see that I am in the wrong in the Islamic sense; but if I wear the hijab and in addition the headscarf, would other Muslims see me as Islamically wrong because I wear the headscarf which is not a clear-cut command in the Qur’an?”

Most Muslim women, depending on their individual level of knowledge of Islam, religious awareness, social opportunities, or from the time they performed the Haj (pilgrimage in Mecca) or Umrah (minor pilgrimage), would begin to wear the headscarf at some point in time of their adult life.

International sportswomen in hijab…

Hijab-clad Muslim women who participate in international sporting events, even in the Olympics, are allowed to wear appropriate hijab sportswear. The first athlete to take part in the Olympics wearing a hijab was sprinter Ruqaya Al-Ghasara of Bahrain in 2004. Then, in 2008, in the Beijing Olympics, 12 of them wore Islamic garbs. Since then, Muslim sportswomen in hijab has become commonplace.

US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad: “Sports is something you can do in a hijab.”

US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, an African-American Muslim woman, (above) in an entry on the Women’s Media Center, said: “Sports is something you can do in a hijab. You shouldn’t let your faith compromise how athletically gifted you become.”

More international sportswomen in hijab…

Hijab for any specific sport is no longer a concern in today’s context. Enterprises have come up with suitable hijab for Muslim sportswomen in almost all sports.

Malay Muslim participants at the Mass Zumba Exercise 2017 for all Singaporeans on 24 September 2017 at the “Our Tampines Hub”: “Wearing the hijab is no deterrent to our daily routine or doing exercises, even such as in this vigorous Zumba,” says Mdm Khairon Mastan, a participant seen in the top photo on the right wearing blue blouse with a stripe.

Mdm Khairon Mastan and her friends.

More friends of Mdm Khairon Mastan.

Mdm Khairon Mastan with her daughter-in-law, Shuhaila Sidik (in grey tudung) and Shuhaila’s sister, Rashima, both school-teachers. The child with Mdm Khairon in the photo on the left is her 3-year-old granddaughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, while the child in the photo on the right is her 4-year-old grandson, Adam Rayan Dula.  The tudung-clad girl is Mdm Rashima’s 9-year-old daughter, Arinal M Zuhal.

There are numerous highly educated Caucasian converts who cover their heads. Among those who are seen with the hijab and involved in speaking for Muslim understanding are:

• Ms Lauren Booth, English broadcaster and journalist.  She is the sister-in-law of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

• Ms Kristiane Backer, British, was one of the very first presenters on MTV (Europe) in the early 1990s. As she reached the height of her success, she realised that something very important was missing. In her famous book, “From MTV to Mecca”,  she relates the story of her conversion to Islam.

• Ms Yvonne Ridley, British journalist and war correspondent, (below) was captured in 2001 by the Taliban in Afghanistan. She converted to Islam soon after her release.

In 2008, Ms Yvonne Ridley (above) was voted the “most recognisable woman in the Islamic world” by Islam Online.

• Dr Myriam François-Cerrah, British, is a research associate at the Centre of Islamic Studies, University of London.

• Dr Ingrid Mattson, Canadian, is professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary, USA.

• Dr Susan Carland, Australian. She teaches gender politics and sociology at Monash University, Melbourne.

Converts to Islam: Top photos, from left:  Ms Lauren Booth, Ms Kristiane Backer and Dr Myriam Francois Cerrah, and bottom photos, from left: Dr Ingrid Mattson and Dr Susan Carland.

You may see these Caucasian women speaking in conferences, TV forums and interviews on Islamic issues from postings on the Youtube. (Just type their names on Youtube search and you will be able to get to the videos.)

Converts to Islam from all over the world love wearing the hijab. One of them, a Japanese convert, Mdm Keiko Soeda, said: “More people are realising the reason behind the use of the hijab. When we value certain things, we love them. This is just the case with the hijab.  Many people are starting to realise this.”

She added: “We are not oppressed or forced to wear the hijab as some non-Muslims think.  We choose to wear the hijab on our own choice. Even western converts and highly educated Muslim women love to wear the hijab because of its Islamic value and to follow the ideals of Islam.”

Japanese converts: Photo on the left shows Mdm Keiko Soeda (Japanese convert) with Mdm Khairon Mastan (Singaporean Indian Muslim), and that on the right shows Mdm Keiko Soeda (extreme left) with her Japanese friends. Mdm Soeda says: “We took this photo with my Japanese friends right after our tea gathering at Arab Street near the Sultan Mosque.”

Singapore Chinese converts: Photo on the right shows, from left, Nur Sumaiya Tan with her baby, Janice Ee, Joyce Ee, Mrs Ridzuan Wu and Mdm Salmiah Sayadi, who teaches Islamic prayers to female converts, at the Muslim Converts’ Association Singapore (also known as Darul Arqam). The photo on the left shows the two Ee sisters and Mdm Iman Wong.

Muslims of European countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Chechnya.

More photos of Muslims of  European countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Muslims in China. Photo on the right shows a view of Chinese Muslim women performing their Islamic prayers (positioning in straight rows, shoulder to shoulder) in a mosque with Chinese architecture.

Singaporean Muslims in Sydney: Main photo shows Ms Munirah Shaik Kadir (standing at extreme right), a final-year PhD candidate in Sydney, and her friends at the Muslim Women’s Welfare of Australia’s Annual Ramadan Dinner in June 2017. Attached Internet photo shows Australian Dr Susan Carland, who lives in Melbourne, giving a talk on her conversion to Islam at a different venue.

Muslim women heed Islam’s advice on modesty in different ways based on their respective cultural background. In Inner Mongolia, for example, almost all the Chinese Muslim women in a social gathering were wearing identical hat-like white headgear (when the writer of this article had an occasion to visit them).

Some women in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan cover the whole body, including the face, but this is a tradition of certain communities, not a universal instruction from the Qur’an. Islam does not instruct that all Muslim women in the world must wear white head-cover or wear black robes or cover their faces.

The full-face veils such as the niqab, which has just a slit for the eyes, and the burqa, which has a mesh screen over the eyes, are not specifically mentioned in the Qur’an. Muslim scholars say they are, in fact, cultural origin, dating back before the advent of Islam. Women, even men, in desert regions, such as in Africa, the middle-east and the Indian sub-continent, cover their faces from fine dust and dust-storms. But, the costume of any race or culture or fashion choice can be worn as long as it fulfils the requirement of the Islamic dress code of decency and modesty.

There are also Muslim women who do not wear the tudung but that does not mean that they are less Muslim. They may perform their daily solat (prayers) with head-covering and fast in Ramadan. Although they do not wear the tudung in public, they may be modestly dressed, wearing long-sleeved blouses and long pants as well as the baju kurung or Punjabi suit. They wear the tudung when they go for terawih prayers in Ramadan and when they attend Islamic functions or read the Qur’an to show respect.

Qur’an reading: It is respectful for Muslims to read the Qur’an wearing the tudung.

Westerners speaking about their journeys to Islam.

Muslim women who had been asked why they wear the hijab had given various reasons that include:
• “There is no compulsion in Islam to wear the tudung, yet, you see more and more women are wearing the hijab nowadays. This happens because of Islamic awareness or awakening. As more Muslim women become educated, they learn more about Islam from the Qur’an. They read about Islam and attend lectures on Islam. Therefore, they understand Islam better that those Muslims who had never attended Islamic courses.”

• “I dress the way I do for religious reasons. People will accept you for what you are, what you stand for and the contributions you make.”

• “Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was always depicted in paintings in hijab – covering her head and her body. And Mary is mentioned in the Qur’an in high esteem as a woman “Above the women of all nations.” (Qur’an, 3:42)”

• “The hijab provides the Muslim woman the right to keep her body sacred and not made to be exploited and gawked at by men, even in advertisements. One such advertisement of a car shows a half-naked woman leaning against the car with the words ‘Test drive me’. Thus, Islam’s advice to women to observe modesty is actually to provide status and respect to them.”

• “In Islam, every woman is given the opportunity to attain the highest level of piety at all times. There is no restriction as to the colour, fashion or cultural origin of the dress. As a Muslim woman can be of any race – Indian, Arab, Malay, Thai, European, African, Chinese, American or Filipino – she can observe the Islamic dress code in any way she desires or in her cultural dress. In Singapore, Muslim women love to wear the baju kurung, a Malay traditional attire, with long blouse and sarung with the addition of the tudung.”

• “The dress code of Islam is actually a liberating force for women. Definitely, wearing Islamic dress, which includes the headdress, does not deter our thinking ability or our intellectual capability. The Muslim woman observes the Islamic dress code to obey God in observing modesty and to uplift and maintain her spiritual purity.”

• “A Muslim woman in hijab is simply obeying the commands of God to attain and enhance her spiritual purity by covering her whole body except the face and hands.”

• “A Muslim woman observes the Islamic dress code to earn the love of God, safeguard her modesty as well as promote decency in the society.”

• “Since I wore the tudung (headscarf), many good things happened to me. When I wear the tudung I am more respected. When my waiting male fans in Shanghai saw me wearing the tudung, they hesitated and asked me first whether they could embrace me. Of course, I said, ‘No’.” (Nur Shahila Amir Hamzah, popular singer, who started wearing the tudung after returning from Umrah, a minor pilgrimage in Mecca, as reported in Berita Harian.)

• “Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times.” (Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman and youngest Nobel Peace Laureate when asked about her hijab by journalists, as reported in Haute Hijab.)

• “The hijab does not prevent a Muslim woman from acquiring knowledge or from contributing to the betterment of human society.”

World Hijab Day (WHD) is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013. The event takes place in 140 countries worldwide with the purpose to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab. Organizers hope World Hijab Day will “create a more peaceful world where global citizens respect each other,” the Express reported. “WHD focuses on fighting bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice against Muslim women.”

My granddaughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, trying out the hijab.

A blog, The Islamic Garden, under “Requirements of the Muslim woman’s dress”, mentions that anyone can wear a headscarf – gypsies, fashion models and certain non-Muslim communities. But it takes much more than that to fulfil the conditions of the Islamic dress-code. The hijab is an entire way of dressing and behaving in accordance with Islamic teachings to obey the commands of God.”

Indeed it is, thus what is really important is for the Muslim woman (as this article’s focus is the woman’s hijab, though the Qur’an provides advices on both men and women), is her righteousness and modesty. The Islamic dress code for a woman is a total package that deals not only with clothing but also with her speech, manners, behaviour, demeanour and attitude. What is required for the person in hijab is not seclusion from society but  contribution to society, even in a small neighbourly or community way,  towards its peace, harmony and progress.

Shaik Kadir
1 October 2017

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Muslims’ New Year 1439 is here: Enhance peace and harmony with prayers and resolutions

Muslims’ New Year 1439 is here: Let’s enhance peace, harmony, compassion and righteous living  

Salam Maal Hijrah (Happy New Year) 1439H.

The Muslim New Year 1439 begins today – Friday, 22 September 2017. Let us hope and pray that our lives and righteousness will be better during 1439H than in 1438H.

The Islamic New Year 1439H is on 22 September this year (2017) and begins in the evening (at 7:02 pm) of 21 September 2017.

As the Islamic day begins after sundown of the previous day, the ushering in of the New Year will be this Thursday (21 September) evening after 7:02 pm (exact time of the sundown) with special prayers.

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

During the recitation of the dua (supplication), Muslims, dressed modestly, open their palms to receive God’s Blessings.

On Friday, the Friday prayer sermon will focus on the Hijrah (betterment of life) and throughout the day and in the month of Muharram (first month of the Hijrah year), religious lectures will be held in the mosques and other locations on the Hijrah theme and of new year’s resolutions, pursuit and endeavour of Singaporean Muslims and also pray for the well-being of the Islamic ummah (Muslims throughout the world).

The Muslim New Year has an “H” after the indication of the year. For example, for the year 1439H, the “H” stands for “Hijrah” which means migration or a journey undertaken to a friendly, desirable and congenial place. In the case of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), he undertook the Hijrah from Mecca, the place of his birth and receipt of prophethood, to Yathrib some 350 km away in the year 622 of the Common Era (CE).

The Prophet emigrated to Yathrib upon learning of a plot by the opponents of Islam to assassinate him. One night, he and his closest Companion, Abu Bakr, left Mecca where he was persecuted for 13 years for his preaching of Islam which the pagan Meccans felt went against the practices of the pagan belief of worshipping idols, killing of female babies (infanticide) and taking women as mere chattels and given no rights, among other negative issues.

When the Prophet reached his destination, a large group of people were waiting for him, many with tambourines, to welcome him, and the moment they sighted him, they started the welcoming song, Ala al-Badru Alayna. This Islamic song (nasheed) has become so famous that even Mr Yusuf Islam (British singer, formerly Cat Steven) has recorded the song and sings it.

Yathrib was soon renamed Medinatul Nabi (City of the Prophet) or simply “Medina” (The City).

The Islamic calendar starts from this date of the Hijrah (migration of Prophet Muhammad, PBUH), which coincides with the Gregorian date of 16 July 622. That means, today Friday, 1 Muharram (coinciding with 22 September 2017), the Hijrah took place 1438 years ago of the Hijrah calendar or 1395 years of the Gregorian calendar. (The Islamic year is shorter by 11 days from the English year and as no leap year is allowed, any Muslim festival, like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, goes through all the months of the Gregorian calendar over a period of 33 years.)

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 ought to 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 towards people of any race or creed.

May the year 1439H bring Allah’s Blessings to all Muslims and all mankind to live peacefully and harmoniously, resisting evil and wrongdoing, and our lives and righteousness be better during 1439H than in 1438H.  Ameen.

[Detailed explanation of this event is given in my recent books, “Allah: Understanding God in Islam” (2016) and “Islam Explained – Essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about Islam” (2nd Edition, 2017)].

Shaik Kadir
20 September 2017 (Updated: 22 September 2017)

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Congratulations President Halimah!

Congratulations President Halimah!

She’s the  symbol of  our multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious nation and national endeavour

We Singaporeans congratulate and salute President Halimah Yacob, 63, for being Singapore’s first woman president. We are proud to have her as our president who is humble and possesses great capability and commitment in her responsibilities.

Mdm Halimah Yacob taking her presidential oath to serve Singapore as President for a six-year term.

Sworn in today as Singapore’s eighth president, she is the first woman and second Malay to be the head of state of Singapore. She makes history, and her story, as our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during his speech at the Singapore Presidential Election 2017: Swearing-in 1-hour ceremony this evening (14 September, from 6 pm), is the story of Singapore – she grew up from a poor family to become Singapore’s Head of State. Likewise, Singapore had experienced hard times but developed from 1965 to become what it is today, a prosperous and harmonious multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

President Halimah Yacob delivering her maiden presidential speech at the Swearing-in 1-hour ceremony this evening from 6 pm (14 September 2017).

President Halimah’s journey to the presidency is interesting. Here’s her journey as given in The Straits Times (12 Sep):

• Aug 23 1954: Born in her family home in Queen Street, the youngest of five children.

• 1962: Her father dies. As a child, she helps her mother, who sells nasi padang from a pushcart plying Shenton Way before getting a hawker stall licence

• Late 1960s: Attends Singapore Chinese Girls’ School; one of the few Malay pupils there.

• 1970s: Goes to Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and the University of Singapore where she graduates with a law degree.

• 1978: Joins the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) as a legal officer. She spends more than 30 years there, eventually becoming deputy secretary-general.

• June 1980: Marries her university sweetheart Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, a businessman. They have five children.

• 2001: Enters politics at the urging of then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, and goes on to contest and win in four general elections. She was most recently a Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

• 2011: Becomes Minister of State at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

• 2013: Appointed Singapore’s first female Speaker of Parliament.

As reported in The Straits Times, President Halimah had, a couple of days ago, said: “My promise is to really serve everyone. I will serve with great vigour, with a lot of hard work, with the same passion and commitment that I have served … for last the four decades.”

She had also said: “I would like to encourage Singaporeans to work together with me so that we can work together for a united Singapore and a much stronger Singapore. This is a journey that we must take together.”

In her maiden speech as Head of State after her oath-taking, President Halimah said: “I have seen how much we can achieve by working together. Now, as President, my duty is to unite the people, to overcome the many challenges ahead of us, together. I pledge to continue this journey of service to our country. I call on all Singaporeans to join me in this endeavour. Our goal must be to leave behind a better Singapore for future Singaporeans.”

In her first public event as Singapore’s President, Mdm Halimah Yacob visited the Centre for Adults of the Association for Persons with Special Needs (ASPN) yesterday (15 September 2017).

Ms Nor Ain Saleha Hamid, writing her comments with regard to this blog article (see below), says: “Congratulations to us Singaporeans in having the first female President who embodies our values. She is a Malay but of mixed parentage of Indian & Chinese. Married an Arab husband. She’s Muslim and English educated. A high flier in her career, yet a mother to five!  Look forward to her huge contribution to Singapore. InsyaAllah, MasyaAllah, Alhamdulillah (Praise God).”

Indeed, we Singaporeans will work together with the President and the Government for our country’s peace, prosperity, progress and harmony.

Shaik Kadir
14 September 2017/16 September 2017
(Photos of President Halimah Yacob in this article are photo-shots of the photos in the recent issues of The Straits Times as well as TV screen-shots of the live telecast by Mediacorp of the President’s Swearing-in ceremony.)

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3 Jap students experience family lifestyle in Aug

3 Jap students experience family lifestyle in Aug

It is always interesting and informative to visit countries outside your own country to enjoy their sights and sounds as well as their heritage places, and also, if opportunity prevails, to stay in their peoples’ homes to learn about their local cultural and religious practices.

Such an opportunity came to three Japanese girls recently (in August 2017) from two different student exchange programs. My wife, Khairon Mastan, and I received them to our home for the homestay stint.

Our daughter and son, both married, have a child each. Our son has his own home while our daughter, with her husband and son, is away in Sydney studying for her PhD. So, we have a spare room in our HDB flat for guests.

Ms Yuri Abe and Ms Minami Matsuda stayed with us for three days and two nights while Ms Yui Igarashi stayed for day and a night.

Yuri and Minami, together with two other girls and two boys, all 19 years of age, from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, were on a month’s educational exchange programme in Singapore. The homestay stint was part of the programme. The other four students stayed with two other families.

At our home, the girls learned about our Muslim lifestyle, sometimes they even wanted to try eating with their fingers as my wife, Khairon Mastan, and I did. They also watched us doing our daily prayers.

Our guests ate food cooked by my wife for all meals, and went for neighbourhood walks with me, and even sent and fetched my 3-year-old granddaughter who is in Nursery 1. I also took them to the “Our Tampines Hub” and the Marina bay area.
Yuri and Minami were lucky to get the opportunity to attend a Muslim wedding and wear Malay dress.

Some of the photos taken of our guests are shown in the following slides:

Food, glorious food: Ms Yuri Abe (left, top photo) and Ms Minami Matsuda eating home-cooked food with the hosts, Mdm Khairon Mastan and the writer of this article. Mr Yacob Hussain (in red shirt) sent the participants for the homestay to our home and stayed for tea.

Exercise: Yuri and Minami joined the Siglap Community Centre’s Brisk-walking Group. They had some warm-up exercises for the brisk-walk and after that did some cool-down exercises before adjourning for a lontong (rice-cake and vegetables) breakfast. Seen at the table are, from left, Mr Yacob, his wife Madam Keiko Soeda, Minami, Yuri and Madam Khairon.

Marina Bay: Experiencing the sights and sounds of the gorgeous bay just before sundown.

Marina Bay: Viewing the ever-popular laser show at 8 pm and enjoying a night-walk along the Helix Bridge and the Esplanade.

Muslim wedding: Eating spicy briyani rice and renewing friendship while enjoying the vigorous Hindi songs played to entertain guests.

Muslim wedding: A photo-opportunity with the newly-weds when they arrived at 2 pm for the bersanding (sitting on the bridal dais).

Changi Airport: Touring Terminals 1, 2 and 3 of the airport and stopping at “Relay”, a Terminal 1 bookshop, where Yuri and Minami saw the writer’s book, “Islam Explained: Essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about Islam”, priced at $19.99

Knowing neighbourhood: At the huge 6-storey “Our Tampines Hub”, shopping, resting and quenching thirst with cold drinks.

With the writer’s granddaughter: Yuri and Minami took a liking for 3-year-old Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, who is in Nursery 1.

Malay dress: Looking gorgeous in a Malay outfit, the baju kurung.

“Thank you” note: Minami and Yuri appreciating their stay with us.

Mr Imhar Said, International Affairs Director, SSEAYP International Singapore (SIS), said: “The homestay programme for the students from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, administered by SIS, was held this year for the fourth time in Singapore since its inception.”

He added: “For this year’s group of six students, I hope they have had a wonderful homestay. Thanks and salute to all our host families for welcoming them to their homes and giving them a good homestay experience.”

A day after our National Day, my wife and I hosted Ms Yui Igarashi, for one day and one night.

Yui was on a 2-day 2-night homestay program under the Shelton International College Student Exchange Program.

Mr Desmond Yew, SSEAYP International Singapore Homestay Director, hosted the student for another day and a night.

Mr Yew said: “Yui was already in Singapore for three weeks and the homestay is part of the program to experience home-life to understand people of other races and cultures better. As this is her first time outside Japan, the Singapore homestay is an eye-opener for her. It gave her the opportunity to speak English and experience local family life.”

Some of the photos taken of Yui during her stay with my family are shown in the following slides:

Mr Desmond Yew and Yui at my home.

A short outing for Yui.


Yui likes mangoes and Mdm Khairon bought some for her.

Email from Yui on her last day in Singapore.

My wife and I have, on a volunteer basis, been taking various exchange students and youths programmes since 1989 to give the youths the homestay learning experience. The programmes include:

• Ship for South-East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP)
• Iwate Global Seminar Program
• Singapore-Vietnam Youth Exchange Program
• Indonesian Icon Youth Visit
• Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology
• Shelton International College Student Exchange Program

We must say we enjoyed taking them for the homestay stint just as much as they learn a lot about our family lifestyle.

Shaik Kadir
23 August 2017

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Happy National Day, Singapore: United we stand as one harmonious nation

Happy National Day, Singapore
United we stand as one harmonious nation

Three-year old Nur Iffah Bte Muhammad Imran.

Singaporeans celebrated the nation’s 52nd birthday on 9 August (2017) with the National Day Parade with much pomp and splendour.

The theme of this year’s National Day Parade is the call to all Singaporeans “to take pride in our achievements, and to be confident in our collective future as we overcome all odds together.”

At the Marina Bay floating platform area, this year’s celebration venue, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate the grand annual event and enjoy and the the parade and the skyworks, including the fascinating fireworks.

President Tony Tan, who was there to celebrate the nation’s birthday as head of the state for the last time, was visibly moved as he shook hands with many well-wishers.

Speaking to the media he said: “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as President and also to reach out to Singaporeans…we’ll have a marvellous future. But we have to strive to work on, there is no end to our journey.”

Congratulations to the nation’s birthday included one from 4-year-old Adam Rayan Dula, who is now in Sydney with his Singaporean mother and American father.

Four-year-old Adam Rayan Dula who is in Sydney.

Some photos of the scenes at the National Day Parade, TV screen-shots from Media Corps’ live telecast, are shown here.

Singing our National Anthem and taking our Singapore Pledge.

President Tony Tan taking his leave after the National Day Parade celebration.

Nursery 1 pupil Nur Iffah Imran: “I love Singapore. I love the colours of our Singapore flag.”

We become better, united and harmonious by working together. My wish is that the young generation of today, including little children like my two grandchildren, Adam Rayan Dula and Nur Iffah Imran, would see Singapore as a happy place to live and they themselves continue to strive to make Singapore an even more conducive place to call it their happy home.

Shaik Kadir
9 August 2017


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