Madame Blossom's Book of Poems

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Answering Ex Muslim's 16 questions

Questions posted on the website for ex muslims in singapore - that also makes me ponder and want to answer for myself.  Bismillaah. 

16 Questions Ex-Muslims Have For Muslims In Singapore

[1] Censoring others
If someone insulted Islam or Allah or the Prophet, what would your response be? If you could just shut someone up to prevent him from insulting or critiquing Islam, would you?  >> Say, 'salam' and leave.  (Q:25:63)

[2] Critique of Islam
What about the critique of Islam? Is that permitted or should that not be allowed? Are there questions that cannot or should not be asked, pertaining to Islam? If so, what are they? And why can’t those questions be asked? Does critique and honest curiosity count as intolerance and hatred towards Muslims and Islam?  >> Permitted.  Ponder, seek knowledge, think.  (Q:30:8)

[3] Misconceptions about Islam
What are some questions that you think non-Muslims in Singapore might have about Muslims in Singapore? Do you think that ex-Muslims are mistaken in the way that they have perceived Islam? Or how about non-Muslims, in what ways do you think that non-Muslims have false assumptions about Islam?  >> People make false assumptions about Islam when they look for answers in people, rather than trying to find the answers themselves, directly from God's Words (the Quran), first and foremost.

[4] Being Offended
Is an offence taken or given? Who is responsible as in the case of Charlie Hebdo for the retaliatory actions of the murderers of the editors?  >>  The people who commit the actions are responsible for them.   

[5] Apostasy of a family member
If someone in your family chose to leave Islam, would you still consider him family? Will he be treated the same, or differently? If differently, how so? Why?  >>  Yes, still a family till we leave this world.  Until then, we will make doa that Allaah brings peace in our minds and guides us all, forgive our sins and let us finally die as Muslims, and that we may meet again in Jannatul Firdaus.   Allaah is Most Merciful.

[6] Friendships with Ex-Muslims
If your friend chooses to leave Islam, do you think it is possible for you to still continue being friends with him? How so?  >> yes of course, as per normal.  Just like how I'm now friends with other non Muslims. 

[7] Equality of gender in Islam
Would you say that Islam in Singapore treats women equally? Even though in Islam it clearly states in the Quran that a woman will receive half the inheritance of her male sibling, among other things, and that sharia dictates that a woman’s testimony is only half the value of that of a man’s?  >> Yes, the Creator, The Merciful is fair and the Creator knows His creations best.  Each of us have a role to play.   You earn some, you learn some.  On the other hand, in a marriage, women has a right over the husband's money - but the husband has no right over the wife's money - it's her own and not her responsibility to feed her family.  

[8] Consequences of Muslim apostasy in general
If a Muslim leaves Islam in a country where sharia is the law, is it right, or necessary, to kill him, as stated according to sharia law?  >> What is syaria law?  Are you referring to something decided by a government of a country, by a people.  in the Quran though, there is no compulsion in religion (Q:2:256)

[9] Relevance of the Quran
What are the verses in the Quran today that no longer have any relevance in today’s society? Since some verses are said to be only contextually and historically relevant and that a lot of the context then, it does not apply now. How many percent of the Quran is irrelevant today?   >> 100% still relevant.    In the Quran there are many stories, lessons, examples, advice, instructions and restrictions.    All of it helps a person live this life with purpose and some guidance on how to act and react. 

[10] Emulating the Prophet
What are the practices of the prophet that should not be emulated? Is fondling a girl and underage marriage allowed or even to be recommended or is that no longer recommended? Is slavery in Islam condoned, if it was still permissible today?
*Sahih Bukhari 3:38:504 *Sahih Bukhari 7:62:16 *Sahih Bukhari 7:62:17

>> Nobody can emulate every single thing about the prophet's SAW actions.  Some are exclusive to him SAW, as a prophet.   What is 'underaged' marriage?  My late grandaunt was married at 12 years old - was that underaged?  currently in rural Indonesia it is common and normal for girls to be married at 14, 15 years old.  Is this 'underaged' in Singapore 2021 context based on common age of marriage?  Slavery is discouraged if it was permissible, therefore the freeing of a slave is a great act of charity and a means of atonements.  

[11] Islam, a religion of peace
Is Islam a religion of peace? If so, why do Muslims around the world act in a non-peaceful manner when they find something offensive. Numerous Bangladeshi bloggers have been hacked to death on the streets for blasphemy. A fatwa calling for the death of blasphemers was imposed by Ayatollah Khomeini to Salman Rushdie in 1989. Theo Van Gogh, the film producer of Submission(2004) was killed as a response for his role in making the film, that criticized Islam’s treatment of women.  >> This is akin to asking: if Singapore is a peaceful country, why is there still murders and thefts and harrasment in Singapore?  Did the government teach the citizens so? Are Singaporeans gangsters and murderers?  

[12] Other Muslim denominations in Singapore
How do you view Shi’ah’s in Singapore and the other Muslim denominations? Are they to blame for anything or everything bad that has happened in Islam?  >> what??  why??  People create sects, but by God - Muslims are only Muslims. Muslims are those who believe and worship One God, believe in the Day of Judgement, and do good deeds. 

[13] Implementation of Sharia Law
If possible, should you want for the full extent of Sharia law in Singapore, given that the Sharia is supposedly the highest standard of ruling in any society, after all, it was decided by Allah?   >> What constitutes the FULL extent of sharia law?  If it includes that - even if a leader's child, commits a robbery, they'd be subjected to the same punishment.  That if a person is caught in the act of indecency, by one who was spying on him, then the accusation is invalid.  If a person accuses a woman of adultery, that they must have discovered not by spying, and have 4 witnesses who actually saw them in the act.  and if after accusing, the person cannot produce the 4 witnesses, then the accuser himself would be flogged.   - all this included?   Sadly, there is no known country leaders known to me, that can carry out the FULL extent.   Plus Singapore is not a Muslim country. 

[14] Refusal of Sharia Law
What would it mean if a Muslim refuses sharia law, does that make him a hypocrite? Does that make him a non-Muslim? >> No, especially when the person is only a housewife and does not run the country. 

[15] The correct brand of Islam
Who is practicing the right brand of Islam? It is always said that anything that doesn’t seem right in Islam is due to misinterpretation. Any unfair punishment or unequal treatment is said to be a wrong interpretation of the doer’s part. So who is actually interpreting it correctly then?   >> Only God can interpret correctly - people always try their best to interpret them, but in the end - God will judge.  And as long as one is sincere in his actions and has tried his best, Allaah is Most Merciful.  

[16] Are you happy that we are happy after leaving Islam? If not why is that so? Why are you sad when we’re happy. We are happy for you, why can’t you be happy for us?  >>  If you have a child, who wants to play on a busy road and he says he will be happy running around, or else, he will throw tantrums and be so sad and angry, would you be happy to let the child go and play on the road?  Why can't you be happy for him, if he said he will be happy?   This is a delicate situation for the believers (and especially the parents who love their children, it pains them lah, when they are afraid of what will happen to you on Judgement Day).  Some of them don't know how to react to this.  Some other parents, maybe can only do our best to try and be an examplary Muslim, and until the day they return or we die, pray to Allaah for guidance and Mercy and leave our affairs to Allaah.   Allaah is Most Merciful. 

May we all be guided, and may we all have peace. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Singapore Malaysia borders opening situation - in times of COVID19

 Believe me, I am as expectant as everyone else, for Singapore to open it's borders with Malaysia, to establish the VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lane), that will allow me to visit my family and friends in Malaysia.

My Malaysian family and friends said to me, after Singapore opened up VTL to eight more countries, 'how could Singapore, have not included it's neighbour?'

In the Quran, there is the story of Moses, who thought that he was the most knowledgeable person, and God directed him to a person more knowledgeable. He asked that knowledgeable man, if he could follow and learn from him.   The knowledgeable man said, Moses would not have patience with him. He would not have the patience, when he does not have a full grasp of the situation.

The people complaining about the Singapore-Malaysia borders situation truly reminded me of this.    

So in order for us to have patience about this situation, we should try to understand it -  why it is not an easy thing for Singapore to open it's borders to our closest and beloved neighbour, Malaysia.

1. When Singapore opens it's borders to other countries than Malaysia - these people are all arriving by AIR.  Also, there are designated planes, that comes under this program, which means that the number of incoming visitors can be controlled by the number of incoming flights. 

2. This will not be the case, when Singapore opens it's borders to Malaysia.  As it was - Kuala Lumpur to Singapore was the 3rd busiest international AIR route in 2018.  Nearly 4,500,000 incoming persons in that year - via AIR alone (according to Wikipedia).

The number of people coming to Singapore by LAND (JOHOR -> SINGAPORE) based on a 2012 report, was... 127,000,000 annually. 127 MILLION. (Wikipedia)

3. VTL does not mean that the incoming people just go through immigration like we do previously.   With VTL, incoming people must take PCR test upon entry. 

127 million translates to an average of 320,000 people a day - queuing for PCR tests.  The situation at the immigration will be crazy!  Worse than Chinese New year jams!  Singapore immigration must prepare for so many personnel to do this all day long.    If previously, just having to stamp/scan your passport, we sometimes have to queue 1-3 hours, imagine if you also need to take PCR.  

4.  Then you say, if that is so, open the AIR route only.   However, you can already imagine the same people and press complaining - why open to people from Kuala Lumpur only and not opened to your NEXT DOOR neighbour?

5. The government has to prepare for AIR and LAND scenarios, and I'm sure apart from that, they also have to think of how to manage the exponential increase in COVID19 cases in Singapore due to influx of thousands of people into Singapore?  Even currently, while Singapore is slowly adjusting and putting in place the steps to manage positive COVID19 cases in Singapore - the people are already complaining that MOH reaction is slow, they are not efficient blah blah blah.   Do we think we can do a much better job?  Do we think they are superhumans?  

I can see how at this time, Singapore is not ready to manage the kind of numbers, if Singapore were to open it's borders by VTL to Malaysia.   It's almost impossible to apply the PCR for land border crossings.   Perhaps a special arrangement has to be considered for Malaysians, like no PCR test required at all upon entry.  

But if we do this -  will the Singapore health system be ready for the consequences - managing inevitable COVID19 cases increment within Singapore?  

People, it's not an easy decision to make and steps to take.  

Let's have patience and pray for the best.  I'm sure, they are doing their best - there are no ill-intentions here, only precautions. 

I also hope the press, instead of inciting the readers towards negative thoughts, should work with the authorities to educate the public about the possible reasons behind such decisions.  

May God ease our affairs.   I miss you Malaysia. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A message without words

What if I tell you, that we can send and receive some messages without the need for words.

Messages that are transmitted by other than words, carry such deeper meanings, and emotions and awesomeness.   Messages that when transformed into words, or worse, into languages with limited expressions and descriptions, loses it's grandeur, and limits it's meanings. 

We can get these messages if we observe and ponder over them, and pay attention to receiving them.

Allaah tells us, that his ayahs are in the heavens and on earth, it is in everything that we can observe and in those which man have yet to discover.   

I am in awe, just thinking about them and absorbing them all - these signs (ayahs) that are all around us.    I no longer want to try to reduce everything into limited words. 

I want the ayahs to engulf my heart, granting me understanding of God's infinite knowledge and wisdom and intelligence and beauty and power and more.   Aamiin.

a message without words

yet, able to engulf the heart and soul

one that makes you believe,

gives hope and security, and saves your dignity

a message that you see, hear or feel

that you need not try to convey, within you, let it stay

breathe, think, seek and pray.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Wishing upon a star?

 "Wishing upon a star",  "Blow the candle and make a wish",  and some latest terms for a song "talking to the moon"

As I was reading ar ra3d 13:14, the above phrases come to mind - and how fitting it is!

"To Him is the call of truth; and those upon whom they call, apart from Him, answer them nothing, but it is like a man who stretches out his hands to water that it may reach his mouth, and it reaches it not. The prayer of the unbelievers goes only astray."

Yes, people think it sounds romantic and cute(?) saying all those things without logic or with just wishful thinking.  It may sound 'beautiful', because... 

"... and satan makes their acts seem alluring to them". al an3aam 6:43  naudzubillaah.   

The problem with this modern life is that, everybody is trying to 'fit in' by following what the masses are doing - even if the idea was sparked by an ignorant one.   They do it without any reflection or thought, following blindly.  

And if we question the act, then immediately we would be deemed 'weird' or strange. 

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange. so good tidings for the stranger.
Sahih Muslim

This is a continuous fight against satan's plan to deceive people by making them believe what they do is 'beautiful'.   So let us persevere and stand our ground, don't start or stop doing nonsense. 

"O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper."  3:200

Friday, June 18, 2021

Feedback on The Clear Quran - a translation effort by Talal Itani

 I have a group of sisters who gets together twice a week to recite the Quran and read the translations.    Most of them have been averted from reading the English translations because the English was classic and most find it difficult to understand.   

In my aim to gently introduce and encourage them to at least have a rough idea of what Allaah SWT is saying in the Quran, I tried to find a simple English translation of the Quran - that would not scare them away.    I found on the internet, The Clear Quran, by Talal Itani.    

I read his biography (About ClearQuran - About Talal Itani) - and understood that he is not an Islamic scholar - but for many years learned the Quran through various English translations.   His objective was basically to translate the Quran into simpler English that would be accessible to more modern people.  He explained that he did not intend to do a tafsir on it or give his understanding of it - but only to translate the words and sentences to the best of his knowledge.  

I have the same thoughts and feelings about reading the various English translations of the Quran,  where some translator put more words in brackets, perhaps to ease understanding - however some of them may lead a person to restrict the understanding of the Quranic ayat in only that specific way, the translator thinks.  May Allaah reward ALL of their efforts of trying to let people understand a bit of the message of the Quran.

The Quran itself is a miracle and Allaah is The Most Subtle, very detailed.  Every fallen leaf on this earth, is in a Clear Record.   Nothing is accidental or missed out in the Quran.   If it is there or not there, there is a reason, or if the words may lead to multiple intepretations - there is a hikmah.   Allaah knows best.

So, back to the translation - one of the sisters tried to find out more about the translation and came across a feedback on Quora, which was quite strongly against this translation.  

The feedback on quora regarding this translation - he mentioned 'serious errors' and 'going against Islamic creed and aqidah', then he went on to quote - what I believe is to him, a very good example of a 'great error' - which is 'use the shrine of Abraham as a place of prayer'. 2:125

Other translators have indicated use the place where Abraham stood, as a place of prayer, or 'where Abraham stand'.

Perhaps the person giving feedback, was affected by our common usage of the word shrine - which almost always refers to a grave.   However, that is not so.   If we look up the dictionary, the word shrine simply means a place regarded as holy because of it's associations with divinity or a sacred person, marked by a building or other construction. 

Maybe his choice of word used in this instance, is scaring some people, but it's not utterly wrong.

That ayat does refer to a place where Abraham A.S. stood and we are asked to do 2 rakaat prayer after tawaf there, near the Kaabah.   

So based on only that example, so far.. i don't see him as having greatly deviated. 

Also, if we are in doubt about the translations, we can always refer back to the various translations and the arabic text or corpus, that explains the word.  As he mentioned also, this is not an exegisis or tafsir - it's just a translation from the Arabic, as is.  If we want to find out more - we can read the tafsir or ask a scholar.

AND on top of all that - as in ALL translations, we have to bear in mind, that it is not THE word of Allaah.  This is their translations, to their understandings, in their words - of what Allaah said in Arabic.  

So we always have to read any translations with a pinch of salt.

Update / Sep 2021 

We are almost half way through reading the Quran and Talal Atani's translations.    Perhaps because I have read other translations  (Asad, Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Sahih etc), there are some areas, although the meanings may not be too off, for choice of words, but I do get the feeling of it having less weight.  A matter of personal feel.  

There is one place, where the word Jin is used in Arabic, but he chose to use the word devil, and he used the word Gehenna, to translate Jahannam (Hell), which I personally will read as Jahannam or Hell, in translation.  So far those are the two things that I'm not comfortable with. 

We are continuing with his translation, but I sometimes have the desire that we go back to using the Sahih translations.  We'll see how.