Singapore’s Respect for Suharto

As usual, I have been attending Friday prayer here in Singapore in the nearest mosque from where I am in afternoon. For the past few weeks, I have been staying in school till noon since I have got Ed’s class of “Institutional Analysis and Design” from 9-12. Attending the prayer and listening to the sermon by (most of the time) Malay Singaporean preachers are two different things.

The former is a must. But doing something a must might entail some sort of feeling being forced. So one of the ways to avoid being forced in attending every Friday prayer, which should be enlightening, is by listening to the sermon. Not all mosques have enlightening preachers. But in Singapore, it is hardly easy to find good ones.

Most of the sermons are about things we already know that “we have to respect our parents”, “we have to follow what Prophet Muhammad said and did”, and other similar things. I am not definitely going against the teachings. What I always pity here is that it looks that what is preached here in Singapore has nothing to do with our social life as Muslims.

I believe that Islam as brought up by the Prophet has a lot to do with Muslim’s social relations as equally important as to do with their personal upbringing. When we believe that one of Islam’s values is to uphold justice, there should be a lot to discuss in the sermons by reflecting what is happening in Singapore.

I remember how Mr. YEOH Lam Keong once said in the School’s seminar that the poverty gap in the country has been not only widening but “more complicated than that”. If we want to look into it further, Singapore’s development as a multiethnic entity ridden with the more complicated gap should lay out how its social compact deal with it.

Meaning, if seen from the multiethnic perspective, those in the bottom of the gap would most probably be the Malays i.e. the Muslims. I understand very well that things like this would be very sensitive to discuss in the little red dot country-authoritarian as Garry Rodan would term it. That is why no question about it was raised during the seminar.

But at the sermons? No doubt. The voice of the sermons is the voice of the government. This is what is called by our Professor, Suzaina, as the bureaucratized Islam.

And regarding Suharto’s death, I am “amazed” by how Singapore has paid high respect to the defunct former President. Right from the beginning, channelnewsasia reported 24 hours on the death, and The Strait Times ran a coverage of pages on Suharto. Why amazed? Because Suharto was like a “Singapore Idol” here in the country.

Therefore, yesterday I was again amazed that right after we finished the Friday prayer with “salaam”, the imam quickly announced to the jamaah that “Let’s do the virtual prayer (shalat ghaib) for the former Presiden of Indonesia, Suharto”. Seven shafs were full of the jamaah doing the prayer. Incredible! I was right away wondering if that happens in Indonesia, how jamaah would react.

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