SINGAPORE - Pioneers in the Muslim community here, who helped shape a compassionate community and carve out a reasonable and inclusive common ground in multicultural Singapore, deserve to be honoured for their contributions, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said.
On Friday night, he paid tribute to a generation of movers and shakers - from politicians to religious leaders - in a speech at an annual Hari Raya gathering hosted by him .
"Our pioneers faced many daunting challenges but ... they never wavered in their faith in creating a better life and a stronger community." he said.
"They found solutions which at times were at odds with the community, but have now proven to be wise. They provided substance to our identity as a Singaporean Muslim. They believed in the goodness that resides in all of us, and patiently paved the way for constructive ideas, norms and policies to take root in our community."
Pioneers also helped build the community's religious institutions, developing madrasahs (religious schools) and expanding the roles of mosques here.
The late Ahmad Zuhri Mutammin, a founder and first president of the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas), will be honoured by having the madrasah that he helped form named after him. Madrasah Al-Irsyad in Toa Payoh will be renamed Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri as tribute to his contributions, said Dr Yaacob.
Another pioneer who deserves to be honoured is Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak, who saw the country through the tumultuous years of self-government, merger, separation and independence, he said.
Ideas on how to pay tribute to him are in the works and will be announced soon.
And with the nation turning 50 next year, there are also plans to publish a book documenting the lives and contributions of 50 pioneers in the Malay/Muslim community.
On Friday, Dr Yaacob also had good news to share about mosques - institutions central to the community. Longer term leases will be given to three of the six mosques currently on Temporary Occupation Licences, renewable every two to three years. These are the Ahmad Ibrahim Mosque in Sembawang, the Tentera Di Raja mosque in Clementi and the Petempatan Melayu Sembawang Mosque.