Common questions that Muslims in Singapore get


muslims in singaporeMuslims in Singapore

As Singaporeans, we’re blessed to be born and bred in a multicultural society. And living with so many different people here, we’re bound to have a bunch of questions about those from other cultures. 

As a Singaporean Muslim, I’ve gotten my fair share of inquiries about the various aspects of the Islamic lifestyle, namely about our diet and dressing. So for the benefit of those who don’t know, here are 10 of the most commonly-asked questions that Muslims get – answered once and for all.

Be sure to check out our other Muslim-related articles here:


1. Why can’t Muslims eat pork?


pork

We all know it’s explicitly stated in the Quran, but the main thing that really drives us to avoid it is the fact that it’s widely regarded as an impure and unhealthy form of meat. 

That mindset stems from the fact that pigs roll around in the mud and chomp on its own faeces. Abstaining from it doesn’t just mean the meat – it also extends to the processed stuff like gelatin, which can be found in things like sweets and gummies. 

hi-chew gelatinImagine my disappointment after finding out that sweets like Hi-Chew contained gelatin

Sure, seeking proper Halal food here will take a little effort. But no matter how hungry we are, most of us would agree that we simply will not touch pork with a ten-foot pole.


2. Why can’t Muslims drink alcohol?


alcohol

Anyone would want a way to let loose and have fun. Drinking is one of them, but for Muslims, this habit is simply out of the question.

Alcohol’s lumped together with things like drugs and glue under the bigger umbrella called “intoxicants”. The core issue here is that these things will lower our inhibitions and make us forgetful of Allah and our prayers – so think of the prohibition as a form of preventive measure to avoid further negative consequences.


3. So what makes Halal food Halal?


muslims in singapore halal

As a Muslim, finding a place to eat with your non-Muslim friends is one of the hardest feats we have to navigate through. All too often, we’ve had one friend saying “Eh, no pork no lard – that means you can eat here, right?” without them realising that there’s more to it than that.

Essentially, we can only dine at Halal-certified places, which procure the meat from places that slaughter the animals the Islamic way. The whole process minimises the amount of pain the animal feels as it’s happening, and it involves reciting a blessing before using a sharp instrument to cut the animal’s neck.

halal food

So the next time you’re out and about, it pays to keep an eye out for the restaurants with a Halal-certified sign pasted at the door or window.


4. Why do Muslim girls have to cover up/wear a hijab?


muslims singapore hijabImage credit: @hidayatrafii

Muslims regardless of gender get this question. Simply put, both men and women are both required to cover their aurat (intimate parts) in public. The key difference here is that the man’s aurat starts from the navel and ends at the knees, whereas for ladies, it’s her entire body save for her face and hands – hence the hijab to cover the head.

hijabImage credit: @happyvibesofficial

However, things aren’t so clear-cut these days. A common misconception is that ladies are forced to wear the hijab by their families or society in general, but that actually isn’t true in most cases. Ask your hijabi friends, and you’ll find that most of them chose to wear it out of their own volition.

In that same vein, Muslim ladies who don’t wear the hijab would also have their reasons, and would actively embrace their faith through other ways such as conversations and behaviour.


5. Does a non-Muslim person marrying a Muslim have to convert to Islam?


muslim weddingImage credit: simplifai

This question usually pops up when we witness a Muslim person marrying a non-Muslim. And while we’ve seen our fair share of intercultural marriages here, the answer’s still a little hazy sometimes.

To clear it up – they technically don’t have to convert. A marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim can still be registered with the Registry of Marriages under civil law. But in most cases, the non-Muslim party would be highly encouraged to convert to Islam to ensure this union is most holy in the eyes of Allah.


6. Why can’t Muslims touch a dog?


dog haram

No matter how adorable a good doggo is, Muslims would actively avoid having any physical contact with them. It’s not because keeping a dog is haram (forbidden), but rather, it’s due to the fact that their saliva is seen as unhygienic and dirty.

That being said, Muslims are generally advised not to keep a dog unless necessary, like as a guide dog. Dogs naturally tend to lick humans out of affection, so we’d want to evade that as much as possible. Unfortunately, many people tend to misinterpret this and it’s resulted in numerous cases of dog abuse – which is, in no way, acceptable in Islam.


7. Why do you guys have a fasting month?


muslims in singapore iftarImage credit: Lee Hsien Loong

The practice of fasting from dawn to dusk can be pretty baffling for many people, especially when you see your usually-chipper friends slumped over their desks during lunch. 

But more than just staving off from any food and water (yes, no liquid intakes as well), it’s also a time for self-improvement and spiritual reflection. It’s the best time to cement your relationship with God, and is a reminder of what it’s like to be poor and starving. 


8. Why do only Muslim men go for Friday prayers?


friday prayersImage credit: Masjid Sultan Singapore

Not a lot of us actually know the answer to this. We don’t really stop to think too much about it, and simply accept it the way it is.

Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find that it boils down to tradition. Friday’s a dedicated day for worship, and given that men are typically the breadwinners of the family, they’re required to attend. Conversely, it’s optional for women since they’re usually occupied with their household role. 

But we don’t give much thought about this anymore. These days, Muslims gather every Friday afternoon for this special prayer to simply to show devotion to Allah with their fellow brothers and sisters. 


9. Does everyone have to go for pilgrimage?


hajjThe Ka’bah, dubbed the House of God, is the holiest site in Islam and is the direction in which Muslims face while praying.
Image credit: @moahedin2020

Any person, Muslim or not, would know that heading to Mecca for their pilgrimage would require a ton of money. 

The short answer: yes, all Muslims should do this at least once in their lives. It’s one of the main ways a Muslim can practise their religion. But of course, this is only provided they are physically and financially capable of making the trip down. 


10. What happens when someone converts out of Islam?


Converting out of Islam is one of those things you’d talk about in hushed whispers. “Confirm they kena from their family members,” people would say. “In other countries they’ll be dead already.”

Finding someone who has converted out is pretty rare, but it does happen. In Singapore, this is still considered a sin, but there’s no punishment for doing so. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) themselves have stated that the punishments don’t apply since the sin is only between them and Allah, and not with the society they’re living in. 

Legally, it’s a simple process – they’ll need to take an oath at the Supreme Court and meet up with MUIS to remove their names from the database. But the main consequence people fear are the societal ones – it’s the reactions from family and friends. It’s why some of them don’t actively act on it, even though they don’t resonate with the religion anymore.


Answering commonly-asked questions that Muslims in Singapore get


As Muslims in Singapore, we get tons of questions about the way we live our lives. And that’s not surprising – when people from different cultures and lifestyles are squeezed into this tiny red dot, we’d naturally become curious about it.

And hopefully, this article has given you a deeper insight into our lifestyle beyond just the things we do and don’t do.