In the tail end of Ramadan 2018, an anecdote of inter-religious goodwill and amicability emerged on Facebook to bring some cheer amidst the Trump-Kim summit news cycle.
According to the viral Facebook post by Noor Mastura, a Sikh woman recently organized an event at Sikh temple Gurudwara Sahib Katong that had 100 Muslim migrant workers over to break their fast. It’s also part of the Sikh practice of “langar”, or free kitchen, where a free vegetarian meal is served to all guests, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religion.
The Sikh hosts wanted to make ensure everything went perfectly for their Muslim guests and went all out in their preparations. Fresh chapattis and desserts were made, dates were bought, and adequate volunteers were called in so that everyone breaking their fast would be having a hot meal at the same time.
“The Sikhs did it with pure joy and sincerity,” said Mastura, who noted how they had smiles on their faces while sweating it out during the preparation of chapati. “The Sikhs were more concerned that the Muslims broke their fast in time even if it meant playing the Azan in the temple”.
Having the Muslim evening prayer call ringing out in a Sikh temple was no bother to the hosts, and they even brought speakers in to play it out loud to signify the time to break fast. The dedication to making their Muslim guests feel comfortable even extended to letting them hold their Maghrib prayers in the temple. Even more remarkable was the level of respect the Sikh volunteers displayed during said prayers.
“By then, the workers were already starting the Maghrib prayer. At this point, all the Sikhs stood up – and stood still,” wrote Mastura. “And the most amazing bit? They didn’t move until the prayer was over to respect and honor it. “
The utmost purity in the generosity and deference shown struck a huge chord among Singaporeans and beyond, with over 8,000 likes and 4,000 shares on Mastura’s post. It is, after all, a hopeful note of humanity during the hectic events that have taken place here in the past week.
“I would love to insert my opinion of how I think my religious community can learn from them. But right now, I am just going to end this post here so we can all take a moment to absorb how beautiful, open, compassionate and loving our Singaporean Sikhs are.”
“What a Muslim learnt last night from Singaporean Sikhs.
Context : My girlfriend (a Sikh) organised an iftar cum Langar for 100 Muslim migrant workers in Gurudwara Sahib Katong – a Sikh temple.
1. Langar is the term used in Sikhism for the community kitchen in a Gurdwara where a free meal is served to all the visitors, without distinction of religion, caste, gender, economic status or ethnicity. The free meal is always vegetarian.
2. The Sikhs wanted to make sure everything was perfect for the Muslims.
-They cooked all the meals, made chapattis fresh because most migrant workers eat rice, bought dates, made desserts, prepared the seating arrangements and ensured there were enough volunteers to serve the food at the same time so every person who broke his fast would be eating a nice and hot meal.
3. The Sikhs did it with pure joy and sincerity.
-It wasn’t easy work. I helped out in the chapatti corner – turning it back and forth and I was practically dying. Sweat was trickling from my neck and all the way to my ankles. I looked at my fellow Sikhs around me – and they too were heavily perspiring while flipping the dough but they continued with smiles on their face.
4. The Sikhs were more concerned that the Muslims broke their fast in time even if it meant playing the Azan in the temple.
– When the workers finally arrived, everyone was served within minutes. My girlfriend who organised the Langar actually brought speakers and at 7.14pm – the prayer call of Muslims around the world, rang loud and clear in a Sikh temple in Singapore.
5. The Sikhs honoured their Muslim brothers.
-After eating, the workers immediately organised themselves and wanted to pray.
I don’t know if they asked the temple management for permission because it certainly wasn’t in the plan my girlfriend had.
So I went up to one of the ICs and wanted to make sure they were not uncomfortable with the Muslims praying there – and he simply brushed it off and said not at all.
By then, the workers were already starting the Maghrib prayer. At this point, all the Sikhs stood up – and stood still.
And the most amazing bit? They didn’t move until the prayer was over to respect and honour it. 😭
I would love to insert my opinion of how I think my religious community can learn from them. But right now, I am just going to end this post here so we can all take a moment to absorb how beautiful, open, compassionate and loving our Singaporean Sikhs are.
Edit: Btw, people are assuming I organised this. I did NOT. My girlfriend did. And her request to remain anonymous speaks volumes of her pure heart and intentions. “