1. We automatically changed our race when we became Muslim.
"So you can speak Malay too?"
"OMG, you can speak Chinese???"
"I don't get it... so you're half-Malay and half-Chinese?"
"Are you going to change your name to Siti bte...?"
I'm Chinese, my parents are Chinese, my grandparents are Chinese, and my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents are Chinese. Becoming a muslim did not suddenly transform one of my ancestors to Malay and neither did it give me a sudden gift to speak Malay out of the blue (although I do wish I had such a gift for languages).
2. We're no longer Chinese because we can't eat pork.
Yes I get it that most of our Chinese dishes have pork in them. But linking the fact that we no longer eat pork to losing our 'chinese-ness' is akin to saying that our 'chinese DNA' is somehow located in a pig. Thanks but no thanks.
By the way, chicken bak kut teh is just as nice. So is deng deng (the chicken version of bakkwa).
3. We definitely converted because of our muslim partner/fiance/husband.
Well I don't blame you if you think that way, because it is quite a common case where we were introduced to Islam through them. BUT it does not mean we lack a brain and the ability to think for ourselves, because after all, we were not forced to convert. Contrary to popular belief, many of us actually do go to read up on Islam before we actually took the step to convert. Please do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT start preaching to us as if we did not consider all the 'repercussions' of our conversion. We do appreciate the concern, but at the same time we do not wish for you to look... uninformed.
I also apologize beforehand if you meet me and make such an assumption- It is inevitable that I might roll my eyes uncontrollably. It's not directed at you, just at the fact that it has happened virtually EVERY SINGLE TIME I tell someone I am muslim.
4. We are okay with polygamy since our husbands are allowed to marry up to 4 wives.
I get this a LOT. Frankly I'm really tired of this question, because I'm getting attacked front left right and back with it. Islam is the ONLY religion to dictate that the men should marry just one, if he cannot see himself to be just to more than one wife. Plus what our husbands choose to do will not affect you in any way. It's between them and us.
Having said this, won't you ask yourself why we have chosen to subjugate ourselves to Islam despite such obligations? Doesn't it say so much more about the authenticity of the message of Islam?
5. Women are oppressed in Islam! We'll have to stay in the kitchen and serve tea forever.
How about, men are oppressed in Islam because they have to slog and earn money to provide for their wives while their wives get to earn their keep? Just because men and women have different roles does not mean one is superior over the other. And we women definitely do not feel at all oppressed one little bit, so stop harping over it. We are not brainwashed, nor have we been possessed to become meek, subservient wives.
6. Once you're in, you can't get out. They'll punish you. That's why there're so few people converting out of Islam.
No, you'll just get yourself a lengthy counseling session. Because this is Singapore, not ISIS.
Many times though, there is still a social stigma linked to converting (as do all other religions), especially prevalent amongst the older, more traditional generation. But for us converts whose parents and relatives mostly do not share our joy in us becoming muslim, converting out of it is easy-peasy, as we'd be seen as going back to 'normal'. But- Nauzubillah- I am shivering at the thought that I was this close to continue being non-muslim, and the thought of ever converting out of Islam. I pray I die a Muslim, insha'Allah!!
7. We believe non-muslims go to hell.
Actually, we'd be the ones to go to hell for ever assuming that about you. Go read this post, it'll give you a better picture.
8. We might become terrorists one day.
Yeah, the probability is as high as you becoming one, too. It's the same thing when the word 'expat' is given only to you if you're caucasian, and 'immigrant' if you're Asian, or African, or Indian etc. A crazy christian terrorist, therefore, will be called a 'crazy man', whereas the word 'terrorist' will only be reserved for muslims. Stop following mainstream media and open your eyes to the rest of the terrorist attacks by other non-muslim groups that these propogandic media conveniently leaves out.
9. We all lost our minds.
Yeah, like suddenly, we became dumb and unable to make rational decisions, because of the fact that we did not consider all the points, especially those mentioned earlier. We get people telling us we're stupid, looking at us piteously because we can no longer show off our hair and have to wear short dresses and skirts. We get people trying to advise us based on the misconceptions mentioned above (seriously I don't mind well-meaning advice, debates, and intense talks on religion, but do not try to convert me by telling me that Muslim women are not allowed to drive, or something along that line). As much as I believe in your ability to think, so should you respect mine as well.
So please, the next time you ever do see a Chinese Muslim in Singapore, please do know that we are as Chinese as the (Singaporean) Chinese can be, and as much as we appreciate your concern, we'd rather you see that we've chosen Islam for the beauty of the Faith rather than for the unfortunate, screwed-up misconceptions which you hold of it.
Wa'alaikumassalam (And peace be with you).
I am currently in a difficult situation whereby my chinese girlfriend is very scared of converting. We love each other a lot but she just can’t see herself as a Muslim. Would it be possible if you give us a hand in this?
Assalamualaikum Sister Meryem,
I have to say it’s beautifully written. I’m kinda feeling the frustration and pain you are going through as my future wife who is a Chinese are currently making plans to convert, the sad part is her family and relatives is the huge obstacle that we have to convince.
Inshallah with God’s grace, our journey will be a smooth one. Truly am happy to come across your article.
I rather opt for the arab race over malay race if people ask me the same thing abt my race…
At least the arab race is the same with our prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him).
Why didnt people ask the same when people baptized and become christain? So u are ang moh now?
I share the joy of a person who tries to be true to herself; seeking the truth unrelentltlessly and standing firm & committed to what she genuiney holds to be true. That my dear friends, is the journey of iman. May the Lord Almightly continue to illuminate our paths during this short journey. And that when we leave this small, stiffling planet, He receives us in his compassion & mercy & celebrate our return ….Ameen
Simply be with Allah, in any initial thoughts, emotions and sense that Allah is with you. The rest shall then be too trival to mention. No matter what degree of predicament. Coz Allah is one god for all life.
One word ” Alhamdullillah! “.
May Allah ease your burden in your journey to jannah.
Salam sis. We basically have the same journey hahaha! May Allah grant us all patience, humility and patience to deal with ignorance that come our way.
That said, there are also family and friends (real ones!) who have been the sweetest ever since I donned the hijab. Alhamdulillah for them
Looking forward to read your next post.
Salams Sister :
I find your article interesting, Alhamdulillah. I being a revert like yourself wish to contact you to invite you to our Chinese speaking teverts sharing session at Darul Arqam, Insya’Allah.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Sis Iman Wong
Assalamualaikum wr wb! Alhamdulillah feeling uber blessed to have stumbled upon your blog! =) May Allah swt reward
you with immense goodness for the work that you are doing! <3
Thanks so much for your beautiful explanation of Islam’s misconceptions people tend to have a big problem with this. While for us Muslim women don’t it’s a shame isn’t it?
Sister don’t you ever worry your self of anyonewho has a problem with your looks as a woman in scarf (Hijab )
It doesn’t matter which corner of the world you come from. As Muslims we are one happy family irrespective of our race, colour, status or background.
I am so proud of you sister.
May Allah bless you and guide the rest of your family Ameen.
And just to add, Malays have this misconception that once a Chinese convert to Muslim, they can’t celebrate Chinese new year.. Chinese new year is…. A New year, it’s not a religious holiday…. Muslim in China celebrate it too
Thank you so much for writing this.
I got ‘I don’t get your race’ quite a bit, my mother is so sure that I will be stoned to death for leaving (Malaysian colleagues have apparently given her all the horror stories of hudod being implemented in rural villages apparently and she thinks this is Islam). How do you go about registering with MUIS that you have changed your religion by the way?
Hahaha. Totally feel you. Some common questions i get besides the ones above:
1. How did your parents feel/react about your conversion? (Ans: hostile)
2. Do you have to go to the mosque on Fridays? (Ans: not compulsory but can go)
3. Are you halal? (Ans: nope i am not, but i eat halal food)
4. Are you a strict muslim? ( ans: define strict??)