Last week, me and my husband were invited to Singapore for the International Conference on Communities of Success
. I was also personally invited to speak by Darul Arqam in collaboration with the Muslim Women Association of Singapore (PPIS) on the topic of “Islam: The Religion that Honors Women”.
Let me share a reflection about this amazing trip. Since day one of the trip the organizers made us feel like we are at home and as if we were family not strangers. They appointed a special liaison person for both me and my husband. My special liaison was named Khairunnisa. Her name means The Best of Women! And my husband’s liaison was brother Nazim. They both were with us at every step of the trip, even providing us with things we needed before we asked. They were truly selfless and so giving of their time and truly appreciate their kindness and generosity.
The first day, we had a private breakfast with the Minister of Muslim Affairs, Mr. Masagos Zulkifli. The breakfast included all the distinguished guest speakers of the conference, which included the Mufti of Singapore, the former Ambassador of South Africa Mr. Ibrahim Rasool, the General Secretary of Darul Ifta of Azhar Dr. Amr Alwardani, Professor Mona Siddiqui and the former Grand Mufti of Bosnia Dr. Mustapha Ceric. I really enjoyed meeting them and getting to know each one of them. I also enjoyed getting introduced to the beautiful culinary culture of Singapore. It was diverse and you felt like there was something special adopted from many of the East Asian countries. It was very healthy and delicious.
On the day of my speech I had the pleasure to meet with members of the board of the Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS)and Darul Arqam (meaning the House of Arqam) and I learned of their wonderful service to the community. After my speech, I had the chance to hear so many personal stories from members of the audience which really touched me. Subhannallah, usually I am not the best at public speeches and if I speak in public I prefer to talk in front of a womens-only audience. But despite that this speech was in front of well over 300 people and before a mixed audience, I comfortably made it through my one hour talk with ease because the organizers were so warm and welcoming.
I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet and spend some time with the President of the Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) Ms. Hazlina Abdul Halim. She is very charming, kind and well informed of the needs of the women in the Singaporean community. Their organization serves not only the Muslim women community there but also they open their services to Singaporean women in the larger community as well.
We also visited and toured the office of the Singapore Muslim Convert Association called Darul Arqam and had lunch with the entire board and other wonderful staff members such as the President of Darul Arqam Mr. Adam and also Ustaza Bushra. They called the association the same name of the Companion of the Prophet (saws) named Arqam ibn Al-Arqam who offered his house to the early Muslims as a meeting space and a safe place for the Muslim converts in early Mecca.
I was so impressed to see how diverse the people of Singapore are regarding religious groups. Singapore is the most religiously diverse place in the world. And they are extremely peaceful! After the enjoyable time I had at the event and after the wonderful question and answer session, we were personally invited to a private dinner with Minister Zulkifli and his family. They were so kind and generous and I truly wished we could spend more time with them and to get to know them more. They gifted us a traditional Chinese moon cake offered once a year which was very special.
Our memorable trip ended with such kindness and care that has no parallel to it. Members of the Office of the Mufti of Singapore (MUIS), led by the Deputy Mufti Dr. Muhammad Hannan, met us at the airport and gave us the most wonderful escort and send off that a person could receive. Their care and concern to ensure we left in good spirits and with the best support reminded me of how a loving family would see their family member off to the airport.
This trip was short but sweet! It’s memory makes me want to truly return and spend more time with all of these wonderful people. May Allah reward them for making our stay in Singapore comfortable and memorable.