Thursday, February 2, 2012


Assalamu ‘Alaikum


This city state seems to be coming up often in my life now, bidding me to come and teach today, and to speak also on Islamic finance, mid March God willing. Andrew and the software company for whom I will be teaching tomorrow have put me in this hotel in Marina Bay which is not too far from the Singapore Management University which will be the location of the class. I told Andrew I want to fly kelip-kelip* airways as the airport they operate from in KL is not too far from my home. Uneventful flight except to ponder how come the bag we buy to take into the cabin is always bigger than the permitted size. This seems a collective wishful thinking of all air travellers though the girl selling the cabin bag almost always never tell you that it will never be allowed on board, does she?

It could be the location but I do seem to see more local Malays in Singapore today. There was a very noticeable presence of Singaporean Malays albeit the younger ones in the area I’m staying. I don’t know exactly what it’s called but it’s not far from Stamford Road and the nearest MRT station is Clarke Quay; many shopping complexes, fairly touristy sort of place. It never struck me before but today I felt wistfully sorry looking at the Singaporean Malay young. Not in a condescending way but a sort of belated guilt for leaving them alone to fend for themselves overwhelmed  by the then newer comers to the island. Of course there were pressing political reasons argued by our leaders at the time but I do wonder how the Malaysian Malays seems not an iota guilty at the abandonment of their Singaporean brothers. Of course there must be many upright Singaporean Malays who are not so visible on the streets but what I see on the street seems a lost generation not about to be saved by anyone. Coloured hair, punky dressed, too tight outfits for the girls does not bode well for  their future generations . Of course such lost souls exists also in Malaysia, but in Singapore they seem greater in number with an air of happy permanence with their style.

I have attended post graduate classes with Singaporean  students and I have dealt with Singaporean Malays at the professional level. They project the usual bravado of the hardy race they have become but behind the shimmer I can’t help but feel a nagging unspoken accusation of betrayal by their Malaysian brothers. The next time before we engage in verbal jousts with Singaporean Malays on our respective competitive hardiness; hark, listen and feel for this unspoken sentiment; for we did left a brother in the lurch. Sure the upright ones picked themselves up and shine but how do we answer to the Almighty about the lost, less upright ones. We are not a religion of individualists; we are a religion of Jemaah.* It seems the left thigh no longer feels the pain of the right one.


Kelip-kelip = firefly = oblique reference to the low cost Firefly Airlines that flies from a nearby  airport.
Jemaah = congregation. Religion of jemaah means religion that promotes concern for well being of other members.
The left thigh no longer feels the pain of the right thigh = reference to Malay proverb that says Muslims feel the pain experienced by other Muslims.

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