You know, what I find most interesting from the research is that it seems like the Malays in Singapore prioritise beliefs over practices. In other words, it's ok if you can't pray 5 times a day, go to Mosque every Fri (for guys), etc, but it's not ok if you declare yourself as non-Muslim. For Chinese, it's actually the other way round. As my interviewees and I discussed, we figured that it could be because of the socio-economic position of the Malays in Singapore, which results in them tending to hold onto their identity as Malay-Muslim (if you think about it, from independence till now, most Malays here are still Muslim, whereas for the Chinese, we have changed alot when it comes to religion, e.g. rise of Chinese Christians). It's being Muslim that gives the Malays an identity given their minority status (numerically, politically, economically, socially). As you mentioned, unlike Singapore, Indonesia's majority group is not the Chinese, but Malays. Perhaps being the dominant group may explain why Indonesia Malays are more free to explore their religious identity (exactly like the Chinese here in SG). But with rising Islamization going on in Indonesia, I'm not too sure why there are still alot of Indonesian Malays converting out of Islam, as you said. Do take my words with a pinch of salt. I'm really just guessing. :D Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts anyway, and I truly hope one day, Singapore will come to accept Malays who are not Muslims.
Thanks for asking. I must say the entire research process was wonderful because I learnt alot of issues pertaining to the Malay community through hearing my respondents' experiences. I can't go into details about what my responden...ts mentioned due to ethical issues but what I can say is that none of them had it easy. :( Indeed, like what Suveer said, you'll be outcasted by your family and friends. Even if they eventually come to accept you, it's not without negative experiences like people passing hurtful remarks at you. It's really interesting to me because for the Chinese, we just easily renounce our parents' religions (which is by default our religion also) without thinking about the consequences, but for the Malays, it's an entirely different matter altogether.
I'm a student from NUS from the department of Sociology. I'm interested to do a study on irreligious Malays (Malays who do not profess to adhere to any religion) in Singapore. My research will center around issues of stigma for this group of people (encounters of disapproval, anger when you reveal that you're an atheist/agnostic/free thinker); coping strategies (with family, friends), etc.
It is extremely difficult to find Malay free thinkers, so I hope you can grant me the interview. We can discuss on the monetary reward. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com or PM me if you have any questions about this mini project of mine.
Hello Mesmerist, and welcome to this friendly meeting place where we recognise--like you do as a freethinking atheist--that all the gods are phoney and religions are cunning frauds used to control people;
and how tragic and inexcusable it is that women and minorities have been oppressed these last two thousand years and more.