Saturday, 11 February 2017

Darul Arqam's Bookshop Staff & Service Standards

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

If people wonder why Darul Arqam Singapore, the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, is a failure, and why so many converts no longer go there, the following is an example, sent to me by another convert.  The incident occurred on the 02nd February 2017.

She wrote, “So, my mother just told me that she dropped by Darul Arqam’s bookstore last Thursday to look for a book for my little one.  When she asked the female store assistant about Qur’an for children, she was ignored.  My mother approached her a few more times and she was again ignored and snubbed.  This made my mother feel uncomfortable and very unwelcome.

When my mother finally picked out a book on her own and brought it to the counter for payment, she was ignored again.  This time, there were 2 of them at the cashier.  They continued to talk among themselves and ignored my mother who was waiting to pay.  The two shop assistants, both female, were loudly discussing some religious diploma courses they were taking.  After some time, the cashier said. ‘Eh, bayar’, meaning. ‘Eh, payment’.  Then, the female store assistant sniggered and rudely told my mother, ‘There's only Qur’an for adults, not children.’

My mother made payment and left.  My mother thought perhaps because she did not look Malay or was wearing a short skirt, therefore the cold treatment.  She told me how unwelcome she felt and shared that she would not feel comfortable going in there again.  I felt a familiar surge of disgust course through me.  Why?  Because this happens to me too.  A lot.  And I am sick of it.

My mother is not Muslim; she is a Catholic, who ventured into a Muslim Converts’ Association.  Islam teaches mercy and kindness.  Unfortunately, none of that was displayed today.  Is this how Muslims welcome people of other religions?  Does she deserve such treatment because she is ‘orang kafir’ as a lot of the Malay-Muslim community so love to label those who do not share the same religion?  Is this how a Muslim sister treats a fellow non-Muslim sister?  Does wearing a head scarf make one more decent of a human being than my mother who wears none and less cloth on her body?

Pertaining to religious dress, I am not sorry for saying this - If one thinks that wearing a piece of cloth on the head or that certain items of clothing make one feel more superior to or more righteous than others, then best take it off.  Such arrogance is a stench; not to mention a gross misrepresentation of Islam, and is a huge misdeed to the rest of the other Muslims who are striving so hard to make good Islam's image in current day.  It is not just the non-Muslims who have to put up with this type of nonsense, but converts, and even the born-Muslims as well.  The Malay-Muslim community is completely a let-down.”

This is what I say: Darul Arqam is not a convert organisation; it is an ethnic Malay organisation masquerading as a Muslim convert organisation.  It is dominated by ethnic Malay staff and serving ethnic Malay causes.  There is no customer service, people are made to feel like outsiders and converts who do not dress the part, meaning like one of them, are ignored.  And woe-betide our non-Muslim family going there to pick up something for us.  This is not the first time someone sent me this; this is not even the tenth time.  And the people involved in that organisation have no idea how much anger many converts feel about that place.  There is a reason why it is a ghost town.

To date, not only have Darul Arqam not replied to the convert in question, and performed any form of service recovery, they essentially deny it happened.  The excuse used is that the staff may have had a bad day.  What sort of “bad day” involves denigrating people?

As for the Muslim community, there are those who have also brought forth similar stories, and those who understand what this is about.  These are mostly converts.  And then, there are those who think this is an attack upon the Malays, because everything comes back to that victim mentality.  As long as they play the victim, there is no need to address any issue.  And this is what is wrong with the ummah.


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