A Duo of Dialogues: Singapore
One is Chinese by origin, and the other, Bangladeshi. Living on the tiny island-state today, each shares her story on what it was like growing up as Muslims, and how that has helped shape them into the Muslim women that they are now. As told to Patricea Chow-Capodieci.
Twenty-eight year old Nana Adam is an account manager at a company that specialises in advertising, with offices located around the world.
My mother was born in Beijing, China, where she was left behind at the migrant workers’ barracks her parents lived in. A Bugis Muslim man and his Javanese wife adopted her, after which, they were blessed with six children of their own.
My father was born to a Chinese woman from Sarawak and a man of Straits Chinese descent from Malacca—a Baba. He, too, was adopted. A Singaporean Chinese lady who is a Muslim convert and her Malay Muslim husband from Kedah adopted him.
My maternal grandfather was a bilal at a mosque in Pasir Panjang, who taught children how to recite from the Qur’an, read basic Jawi scripts and sing praises of the prophets—he played a big part in helping to guide his children and grandchildren in understanding Islam. My paternal grandparents are moderate Muslims, just like my father.
All this makes me a Muslim Singaporean Chinese female who has a deep understanding of the Malay culture as well as Islam.
My immediate family is very close knit, and I like to spend my free time either with my older brother or fiancé, who is a local Malay Muslim. At the moment, I am preparing for my early-2011 wedding. It will be held at the void deck of our apartment block, typical of Malay weddings in Singapore.
As a child, my friends were confused about my religion because of my race. They tended to forget that I am a Muslim because I do not look Malay [in Singapore, most Muslims are of Malay heritage], and they sometimes spoke to me in Mandarin (which I understand, but cannot speak) or suggest non-halal dining options.
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