Muslims to give more to mosque building fund

(From left) Darul Ghufran Mosque chairman Abdul Matin Mirza Abdul Majid, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim and Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar looking at a
(From left) Darul Ghufran Mosque chairman Abdul Matin Mirza Abdul Majid, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim and Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar looking at a model of Darul Ghufran Mosque at Muis' Workplan Seminar yesterday. The mosque in Tampines is scheduled to be renovated this year.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

$6m rise in annual contributions to support mosque upgrading and Mendaki schemes

Muslims will each have to pay $1 to $10 more in monthly contributions to the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF) from June 1.

This is expected to increase annual contributions to the fund by $6 million, bringing the net contribution annually to $26.2 million.

First introduced in 1975, the MBMF funds the construction and upgrading of mosques in Singapore. It also supports educational and social programmes by self-help group Mendaki and religious education initiatives for Muslims.

Under the revision, contributions will become more progressive, with four tiers introduced for those earning $4,000 to $10,000 monthly.

Those earning between $4,000 and $6,000 a month will pay $19.50, a $3.50 increase each month. Those earning more than $10,000 a month will contribute an additional $10, bringing their monthly total to $26.

Workers earning $1,000 or less a month will contribute $1 more, bringing their monthly contribution $3. Those earning $1,000 to $2,000 a month will pay $4.50 instead of $3.50 before.

  • New initiatives

  • From now until 2018, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or Muis, will be introducing new initiatives as well as enhancements to its current programmes as part of its fifth three-year plan.

    Aimed at better addressing the social and religious needs of the Muslim community, these include:

    •The expansion of religious education programmes, such as a greater presence on social media and additions to its Adult Islamic Learning programme to tackle emerging issues such as diversity of thought in the Muslim community.

    •The release of annual publications by the Office of the Mufti, featuring compilations and analysis of fatwa, or religious edicts, on areas such as medical science, food and Islamic finance.

    •The first Conference on Fatwa in Contemporary Societies, to be held here in the third quarter of this year, aimed at enhancing discourse on fatwa development on contemporary issues.

    •Career bridging programmes for madrasah students to allow them to more easily pursue jobs beyond the social and religious sectors.

    •Enhanced service for recipients of zakat, the annual tithe contributed by Muslims, including ensuring that all social development officers have at least a certificate in social service by 2018 and enhanced client profiling to better serve beneficiaries.

    •Greater inter-faith efforts such as volunteering by non-Muslim students at mosques during Ramadan and holding mosque open houses for non-Muslim visitors.

    •The introduction of mobile applications to identify halal-certified eating establishments.

    Zhaki Abdullah

"This will go a long way to improving the socio-religious life of our community," said Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's (Muis) Workplan Seminar held at the Singapore Islamic Hub in Braddell Road.

The previous revision of contribution rates to the fund, which all Muslim working adults contribute to, was made in 2009.

Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Maricar said that with rising construction costs, the current contribution rates will not be able to support the construction and upgrading of mosques. He cited the examples of Muhajirin Mosque in Toa Payoh, the first to be built under the Mosque Building Fund at a cost of $1.2 million when it was completed in 1976, and Al-Islah Mosque in Punggol, which was completed last year at a cost of $16.5 million.

"Some of our earlier mosques are in a state of disrepair and need to be rebuilt and equipped with new facilities," said Mr Abdul Razak.

There are currently 69 mosques in Singapore, 24 of which were built using the fund. Two new ones, Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands and Maarof Mosque in Jurong West, are expected to be completed by the year end. Another mosque in Tampines North is expected to start construction in 2018.

The increased contributions to the fund will also help to enhance madrasah education here, allowing new initiatives to be introduced. These include the International Baccalaureate programme for Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah, expected to be introduced in 2019.

It also represents a boost in funding for Mendaki, which has been dipping into its reserves since 2013.

Mr Abdul Razak said that of those who opted to give more to the fund, 75 per cent earned less than $2,000.

While the revisions are necessary, an eye is being kept on making sure that the increases are affordable for lower-wage workers.

"We don't want to increase the burden on our community," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

Muslims interviewed at the seminar were glad that the fund would continue to support the upgrading of mosques and creation of more prayer spaces for the community.

"Now, more Muslims can pray more easily," said Mr Mohamed Jaafar, secretary of the Singapore Tenkasi Muslim Welfare Society.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Muslims to give more to mosque building fund'. Print Edition | Subscribe