Singapore is famous and internationally loved for its gorgeous white tarmac roads lined with palm trees. The country remains highly homogeneous and is mostly composed of ethnic Chinese and Malaysians of the Indian subcontinent, who were brought to the island by various groups such as European seafaring exploits or overland trading expeditions.
In this article, we like to write about one of the common talismans in Singaporean society today – that is the so called Islamic taweez. We are not going to claim whether they actually cure sickness, but we need to appreciate that as a part of our daily lives, talismans are equally used for blessings and general protection from harm. When we see a talisman, we surely think of something supernatural and mystical. However, the properties of these talismans are quite ordinary if we are attentive.
In Singapore, Islamic taweez were made famous by the Singapore Tourism Board inspired its YouthTickett blog. It was followed by many government bodies. In 2015, a Facebook page called “Taweez and Tights Singapore” was created by the Singapore Tourism Board. The page has attracted over 36,000 likes. Since then, taweez have been featured in local stores including T.J. Maxx and Urban Outfitters. Taweez were made famous in the 2013 film “The Legend of Bhima” by director Andrew Lau. The taweez worn by characters in the film are made out of a piece of cloth.
Even though taweez is auspicious, it is having practical implications on its wearer. Through an array of states and Islamic literature, comes a large number of practices like Balochi Ta’awaz zimaar etc. Taweez can also be referred to as life saver. It is used in many Islamic rituals and ceremonies. These include Bara’at, Nabi-e-Mobarak Dargah, etc. Taweez is also used for decoration of the roof of houses and some are added at the entrance of mosque for the special occasions. like sehri, Eid and so on. It is also used in ritual of laying the first stone for a house for some ceremonies or as an addition to other Islamic works like Tashahud, Dua’s etc.
The Malays, Indonesian and Singaporeans love taweez, which exhibit exquisite workmanship. They exist in Malaysia , Singapore, Indonesia and arguably also other Arab Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and other Arab societies. Their popularity is also growing in India and China as well. In Malaysia, the taweez are made of various materials like wood, brass and copper. All taweez are usually made in small shops. The profit they make is not proportionate to the cost of materials used, because they do it all by themselves. The income is about RM3,000 per taweez. Buyer beware: Beware of cheap sellers who may not have the skills to make a good taweez. Some people also use falsified materials for making taweez.
The taweez are maqam, a traditional amulet used by indigenous Malaysians and Siamese in their belief system. The talismans work as elements of self-protection; the belief system is quintessentially Malaysian – i.e., Islam. Some have replaced the native symbols with symbols that are “Islamic”, while some stick with traditional symbols but change their setting like an amulet accessory to one that is in use by a large community to keep good fortune and protection going forward. There are different types of taweez, from traditional and modern designs. The most common is the “Singapore” taweez design, which is worn as an amulet to ward off evil influences. Traditionally, it was worn around the neck as a necklace, but now the taweez is worn on the chest or wrist. The market of taweez in this small Asian country will grow in the next several years due to the economic crisis from this year.