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Monday, September 12, 2005

Tudung and madrasah

I had lunch with three young Muslim women yesterday. It was purely coincidental that we sat near one another. After we were done eating, we were just sitting there, chilling.

So I popped the question that I'd wanted to ask for a long time:

"Why is it that some Muslim women don't wear tudungs (headscarves)?"

(I prefaced my question with "Please don't be offended or embarrassed by what I'm going to ask you.")

They thought about it, then replied that it was a matter of personal choice and not something that is dictated by the Quran or Prophet Mohammed. If the family is open-minded about these things, then a tudung is not compulsory attire.

Their answer sounded very similar to one that I'd heard before. But back then, I'd heard it from a non-Muslim. Hearing the same explanation from a Muslim gives it some sort of authority.

They talked among themselves for a while, then one of them mentioned, without any prompting from anyone, that she wouldn't want to put her children in a madrasah (Muslim religious school).

Why? "Because they have to take about 14 subjects during the 'O' Levels."

(I am unable to verify if this number is correct.)

My reaction was: "Wow! 14 subjects???" At the 'O' Levels, the average number of subjects that a 16-year-old student takes is eight (English, second language, two Maths, two Sciences, two Humanities) (at least back in my day). If the other six subjects required in the madrasah are of the same level of difficulty, then that's a lot of time and effort expended on studies!

Again, I heard this from a Muslim directly. And now, I have a clearer understanding about the contemporary Singaporean (and young and female) Muslim's views on these two issues.

One more thing: Please don't ask me for their identities.


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Anonymous said...

Well,you are asking the wrong persons. If you have any question/s regarding a Religion (in this case Islam)pleease ask the highest authority that will answer you with appropriate answers. Do visit and they will be delighted to answer you. Don't play with fire huh young man.

Yuhui said...

Abonymous - I was getting an opinion from a non-expert precisely because I wanted a layman's perspective.

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