These are the only words I can tell you to be resident in Singapore while practicing your Islamic prayer: shalat, fasting, iftar, Friday prayer, Idhul Fitri, you name it. I have been visited Singapore five times, yet this time I have a chance to stay here for quite a long time. I have a semester scholarship exchange in National University of Singapore (NUS) during Fall Semester 2011/2012.
My first month studying here is simply challenging for me. First, because it is NUS–high academic expectation and activities. Second, because it is fasting month for Muslim.
Fasting and Eating in Singapore
Alhamdulillah that I am residing at University Town in NUS, a brand new complex for living and learning. They are really accommodating. They provide a special Muslim Counter in the dining hall that provide hall food. It opens at 5 AM local time for Iftar during the fasting month. In addition, they also have separate kitchen and dining ware for halal food to avoid contamination from non-halal food. Isn’t that great?
It is totally different if you have your meals outside. You have to manage and protect yourself from non-halal food. Try to check halal certificate shown in the restaurant or food stall where you want to eat. It means the company guarantee that their food contains no pork, no lard, and treated in Islamic way. If you are not sure, they are more than happy to answer your question. Malay or Indonesian food are almost always halal. Although they have no certificate, Indian and Japanese food are usually halal, since they rarely provide pork in their menu. I do not recommend Chinese food. They are delicious, I admit–I am a fan of Indonesian Chinese food, yet they are also big fan of pork. It works the same in Western food, unless they have the certificate.
This is my personal experience in U.S. to identify pork in a certain food, since they very rarely to have Halal certificate. When I find food which smells and tastes sooooo good, I am suspicious. Hahahaha…no offense. I will then ask to the cook whether they mix it with pork or lard before I order or eat it. And I am right, because they almost always “yes”. I now even remember the smell of pork and try to avoid it. ;p
Praying in Singapore
First, keep up with the local prayer schedule. Check on website that provide worldwide prayer schedule and direction of qibla, so you will not miss any prayer. I recommend IslamicFinder.org, since it can find the schedule for thousands cities worldwide. it also provides computer program to remind you with Athan five times a day (configurable). If you have smartphone, you can download the mobile program. Try to find the similar programs for athan and qibla in AppStore or Android Market. It reaaaallly helps, especially when your phone is equipped with GPS. I am gonna tell you why in a second.
It is quite hard to find Mosque or Musollah in Singapore, although not as much as in U.S., since there are more Malay/Middle East/Muslim Indian population here. Try to find the nearest Mosque when you go outside. Plan your travel and manage it with the prayer schedule, check the nearest mosque online here or in Google Map or in selected printed map available in MRT Information Service in the stations. If you cannot find it, try to pray everywhere. I mean it. Overview your location, find qibla with (digital) compass (built-in GPS in smartphone find qibla accurately), take ablution in nearest restroom, and pray peacefully in a clean area. I recommend the areas that are rarely visited by people, such as emergency staircase landing, library corner, nursery room, grasses, etc. That is why be ready with your mukena and your prayer mat if you are in travel. Be aware, sometimes, people do not really like it. Up to you, as long as you do not disturb public or private property, you have rights to practice your religion, right? That is my logic. Well, sometimes Singapore government has different opinion and CCTV is every where. Hahaha.
If you are hard to find area to pray in public places (mall, airport, campus, etc), try to find a Malay officer (someone with name tag), and ask him/her where they usually pray in that place or where you can find the nearest mosque. They are more than happy to help their Muslim relatives. In campus, try to find Muslim society that provide the similar information. This link is for NUS Muslim Society.
I hope you find this information useful. 😀