Reach out to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, says Minister Yaacob

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim during a media doorstop after Eidulfitri prayers at the Ar-Raudhah Mosque on 6 June, 2016.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim during a media doorstop after Eidulfitri prayers at the Ar-Raudhah Mosque on 6 June, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The shocking terror attacks during this holy month of Ramadan are a grim reminder that Singapore cannot take social harmony and security for granted, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on Wednesday (July 6) as he urged the Muslim community to continue to develop the kind of Islam that embraces Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"As fellow Singaporeans, we have a role to play to preserve the multi-cultural nature of our society. How we practice of Islam here must suit the context," said Dr Yaacob who is also Minister of Communications and Information.

Referring to Monday's (July 4) concerted bombings of holy sites in Saudi Arabia, such as the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, he added that Singapore cannot allow violence and extremism to take root.

He also said those responsible for the attacks "have no respect for Muslim tradition...(and) no respect for Muslims altogether".

He was speaking to reporters after Aidilfitri prayers with 4,000 people at the Ar-Raudhah Mosque in Bukit Batok.

In this year's Aidilfitri sermon, Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram had said that preserving one's faith does not require isolation from others as some quarters have claimed.

Rather, he said, being religious should give Muslims the confidence to interact with those of different faiths.

Sharing his thoughts on the sermon that was delivered at mosques across Singapore on Hari Raya, Dr Yaacob encouraged Singaporean Muslims to continue to reach out to non-Muslims as earlier generations have done.

This was a point also raised by Dr Fatris, who pointed to how early Muslim communities had always interacted with other communities of different religions and races.

"The more they learn and understand their religion, the more confident they were that their religion and their faith will not easily be watered down simply by participating and contributing to the larger society," he said.

Citing the initiatives by some mosques and Islamic organisations that organised programmes for non-Muslims to learn about fasting and the breaking of fast during the month of Ramadan, Dr Fatris said it showed the confidence of the Singaporean Muslim community.

He added that there were also several non-Muslim organisations that worked with Muslim organisations to help the needy.

"With a deep and holistic understanding of Islam, a believer will be able to apply Islam within the context of the environment he or she is in, without compromising his or her religious obligations," he said. "This is an attribute that we have, and will continue to instill in every Muslim in Singapore."