PARLIAMENT:Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

Imam makes it a habit to make friends from other faiths

(From left) Venerable Phra Goh Chun Kiang, Ustaz Muslim Amad, Master Chung Kwang Tong, Mr Shivanand Rai, Father Samuel Lim, Dr Pritpal Singh and Zoroastrian priest Ervad Zeus Percy Khambatta, members of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Youths,
(From left) Venerable Phra Goh Chun Kiang, Ustaz Muslim Amad, Master Chung Kwang Tong, Mr Shivanand Rai, Father Samuel Lim, Dr Pritpal Singh and Zoroastrian priest Ervad Zeus Percy Khambatta, members of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Youths, comprising 30 to 40 young people from 10 different religions.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

As an imam and course coordinator at the Al-Muttaqin Mosque in Ang Mo Kio, Ustaz Muslim Amad spends most of his time with the Muslim community.

But he also has many friends from other faiths and makes the effort to meet young leaders from other religions regularly to organise joint activities.

His interest in learning more about different cultures and faiths was sparked as a student at then Madrasah Al-Irsyad, when he had few non-Muslim friends.

For Racial Harmony Day, his class was in charge of showcasing Indian culture and Ustaz Muslim, 25, still recalls taking oil lamps and copies of Tamil-language daily Tamil Murasu to school to share with his friends.

His fondness for Chinese horror flicks also led him to read up about Chinese culture.

In 2012, Ustaz Muslim discovered the Harmony Centre, which promotes inter-faith understanding, and jumped at the chance to join as a docent.

Four years later, he is still a regular at the centre at An-Nahdhah Mosque in Bishan and takes visitors for tours around it.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday cited him as an example of young and upcoming asatizah, or religious teachers, who play a role in guiding the community and imparting values such as integrity, respect for human dignity and compassion.

Ustaz Muslim has spent hours in open conversation with fellow Singaporeans from other faiths.

His key message to other youth out there? "Listen more, talk less. Learn to share about your religion with confidence. Be good to all, regardless of race, language or religion."

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline 'Imam makes it a habit to make friends from other faiths'. Print Edition | Subscribe