October 11, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7126

Official In Organization Of Islamic Cooperation: The Muslims Must Learn From Singapore's Economic Achievements – And From Its Appointment Of A Muslim Woman As President

October 11, 2017
The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 7126

In a September 23, 2017 article on the Yemeni website shurannews, 'Adel Al-Bakili, who is in charge of aid to Yemen on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, addressed Singapore's recent appointment of a Muslim woman, Halimah Yacob, as its president. Al-Bakili praised Singapore for appointing officials based on their qualifications and regardless of their gender, religion and ethnicity, while contrasting this with the situation in Arab countries, where, he said, such appointments are compromised by foreign considerations. Al-Bakili also praised Singapore for being a significant economic player on the world stage despite its small size, attributing this to the cleverness of its people and its successful management of its affairs. He stated that the Quranic verse "the land will be inherited by My righteous servants" (21:105) applies not only to Muslims but also to non-Muslims, for the latter are responsible for much of the world's progress in many domains, while Muslim clerics occupy themselves with petty matters instead of leading the Muslims towards integration into the modern world.

The following are excerpts from Al-Bakili's article.[1]

"No one in Singapore said... that it is unacceptable for a Muslim woman to be appointed president of the country because its Muslims constitute a minority of only 14%. What determines this in Singapore is the constitution, not some coordinator of tribal affairs or the mufti... Accordingly, Halimah Yacob, a Muslim woman, is president of a country that, according to the Davos Forum, leads the world in quality of education.

"Halimah Yacob's father is from India and her mother is Malay [in origin], and her husband is from miserable Yemen – but all this has nothing to do with the criteria for receiving a leadership position in a country [Singapore] where what prevails is the values of citizenship, not [the values] of Chinese majority. Religion is [an expression of] morality and of connection with Allah, not a political trump card; patriotism is positive, productive activity, not a strident [slogan], and positions are given [to people] in accordance with their capabilities, not as a reward.

"The population of Singapore is like that of Libya, or smaller, but Singapore's per-capita income is three times higher than that of Italy and 13 times higher than that of Libya. Its GNP is greater than the total GNP of three-fourths of the world's failed countries put together. Singapore has no oil and no [Ibrahim] Jadhran to cut off its oil supply,[2] but it does have petro-sense that never runs out and is not subject to OPEC production quotas.

"Prior to its independence, or before it was weaned [from its relationship with Malaysia], Singapore was a burden to Malaysia, which neglected it and let it suffer as a political orphan. But this neglect became not a curse for Singapore, but a blessing, and those who shed tears [for Singapore when Malaysia forced separation on it] realized [quickly] how to wipe the sweat [from their brows] again and again so as to transform a small country at the geographical margin [of the map] into one that makes history.

"Allah says [in the Quran, in Verse 105 of] Surat Al-Anbiya, 'The land will be inherited by My righteous servants.' The word 'righteous' in no way refers to the heroes of the black comedy of fatwas that focus on [petty matters] – from banning women from using the Internet without being chaperoned by a male relative to condemning entering the bathroom right foot first, as if our problem is how to enter the bathroom, not how to integrate into this world and how to reconcile with this era, with all its elements. These righteous men needn't even be Muslims, since it is [non-Muslims] who have provided us with all cultural products – which neither began with airplanes and cellphones nor ended with chicken pox vaccinations and stem-cell diabetes treatment. Without them – without those who do not recite the two shahadas[3] [i.e., non-Muslims] – we would not have benefited from oil besides [using it] to treat eczema in camels – and even that only provided that we hadn't [first] died out from tuberculosis, cholera, and the influenza of backwardness."


[1], September 23, 2017.

[2] Ibrahim Jadhran was commander of Libya's Petroleum Facilities Guard; in 2012, after the revolution, he took control of several ports in the east of the country and called for an autonomous region to be established there. After his troops attempted and failed to export oil independently of the country's main regime in Tripoli, he reached an agreement with the regime for reopening several ports that had been shut down.

[3] The Two Testimonies of Faith recited by Muslims: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

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