Singtel Ad in Mosques: Still there

This is an update from a previous post, regarding Singtel’s ad in mosques.

Apparently now they’ve changed the ad a bit, obviously in observance of the upcoming Hari Raya. Here’s what it looks like now.

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Caption reads: “Celebrate happiness together. Connect with your beloved family this Hari Raya with Singtel.” The Qur’anic verse on the right now had been replaced with a hadith.

While it is relatively better, considering one of the ladies in the ad is properly covered up, the other is still not.

Nevertheless, my biggest annoyance is still: What is an advertisement from Singtel doing in my mosque? And I wonder who exactly profits from these billboards cropping up all over Singapore’s mosques.

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Why is Singtel in My Mosque?

I’ve got nothing against mobile carriers, except for their exhorbitant data plans and multi-year contracts. I accede that due to the need to stay connected in today’s world, you pretty much can’t live without them.

Except, when you want to find peace and solace in The One.

Today, while walking by the Sultan Mosque, imagine the horror of finding a Singtel banner. Inside the mosque premise.

singtel

Center caption translates into:

“Because togetherness is the key of familiness.

Bring the family together all the time with Singtel mobile and broadband plans.”

Then, as if to “legitimize” the placement of the ad in a place of worship, the right-hand caption reads a verse from surah al-Hujurat (49:13):

“O men, behold! We have created you all out of a male and female, and have made you into nations and tribe, so that you might come to know one another.”

There are various layers of issues which the ad highlights:

1. For a start, the issue of aurah in mosques. It is one thing if a visitor who not know the etiquette find herself walking inside the praying area unveiled. Or a girl in school uniform going in and out, but veiled while performing the prayers.

But an ad that’s slated to be standing there for months, should at least be made with religious sensitivity and consideration.

2. The citation of religious texts to sell a product, is at the very least insensitive. Other instances of the same practice by medicated product salespeople shouldn’t be ignored too. While the latter may seem to have more credibility as the products were clearly mentioned in hadith texts (such as nigella sativa aka habbah al-saudaa’), the line needs to be drawn clearly. Especially since many fatwas of the ulama’ on the issues pertaining directly to health request the opinions of medical experts.

However, selling broadband and mobile plans, Singtel should steer clear of trying to even influence consumers through usage of religious texts. Weren’t they advised on this?

3. Selling ad space in mosques? Really, this is not like some small bulletin board or a community notice board for the congregation. This is outright buy-and-sell of ad space, akin to newspaper ads, TV ads, even bus/train ads. Even more so, I know many people who wouldn’t even place an ad on their car if it is deemed ‘uncool’ or go against their image. At least they have a some sense of principle.

What about the mosques’ image? Highest bidder wins?

But I guess it’s better than the previous banner of the exact same space, which actually featured non-Syariah compliant Prudential insurace ad. In fact, to my knowledge, Prudential doesn’t have any Syariah-compliant products in Singapore.

Hopefully one day I won’t see the golden dome being painted with M1’s logo.

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