It's good to be a Muslim (or at least a half-Muslim) in Singapore.
During the fasting month of Ramadan, which began a few days ago, I can eat freely in public. If I wish, I can even join friends for a drink in the evening.
Perhaps if I had more (practising) Muslim friends the peer pressure on me to conform may be greater? Until then, I continue to enjoy the unfettered virtues of secularism offered by the Republic.
Like me, my co-religionists in Singapore can choose to fast or feast depending on their own personal inclination.
Unfortunately, the noose of religiosity is slowly tightening among our neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia. The freedom of choice is moving away from an individual's conscience to a blind enforcement of collective social values.
The Malaysian state of Selangor has now empowered mosque officials to detain and arrest Muslims caught drinking alcohol in public or eating, drinking and smoking during Ramadan. In Indonesia, under pressure from Islamic groups the police have dropped a plan to monitor Friday sermons despite evidence that some preach hatred and violence.
Let's be clear, religious clerics in the form of Imams have just been handed judicial powers by the Malaysian state of Selangor!
If Malaysia continues on this path then it is only a matter of time before a Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Discouragement of Vice (a la Saudi Arabia) comes into being.
The month of Ramadan is perhaps the greatest expression of the importance of secularism in a multi-religious society like Singapore.
Singapore's legal framework must continue to ensure that civil liberties of all citizens are protected. This is especially crucial in light of the increasing religiosity that pervades the countries surrounding our Little Red Dot.
In due course, I will answer to Allah why I violated His edicts.
Until that day, I am not prepared to justify my behaviour to someone who feels they can appropriate God's role in this material world – no matter how long their beard.Imran Ahmed is a Singaporean freelance writer. He writes frequently on subjects of relevance to Muslims in today's society. He writes on his blog, The Grand Moofti Speaks. This article first appeared on his blog on August 30, 2009.