The Sufi and the Bearded Man
An unusual, unheard tale of a female, Muslim saint who traveled from the Middle East to seek knowledge and spread Islam in the island-state of Singapore, Siti Maryam's shrine in Singapore was recently bull-dozed despite protests from her followers.
The remains of her shrine are now displayed in an unorthodox gallery in Singapore, exhibited under the name of The Sufi and the Bearded Man: Re-membering a Keramat in Contemporary Singapore.
This is the keramat of a 19th century sufi traveler from the Middle East who lives on in contemporary Singapore through her miracles and her mausoleum which has recently been transformed to scavenged fragments. Re-membering the keramat (a term used by devotees to refer to both the miracle-worker and her shrine) has involved a two-year long project of collaborating with an intermediary of the Sufi and custodian of the masoleum referred to by fellow devotees as "the bearded man". These conversations culminated in the keramat and its life-worlds entering a museum, a transition that is animated by the display of photographic evidence, material remains or artifacts, anecdotal histories and related documents. Considering alternative ways to recount and understand heritage, The Sufi and the Bearded Man, calls attention to Islamicate culture, lesser-heard narratives and esotericism in Singapore.
The gallery, displaying remains from the shrine, is open to the public now. For more information, contact the museum at National University of Singapore.