PM lauds Punggol mosque's community programmes

PM Lee and Dr Yaacob pouring out porridge for the iftar at Al-Islah Mosque yesterday. About 350 community and religious leaders, mosque volunteers, and foreign workers who work nearby gathered to break fast with them.
PM Lee and Dr Yaacob pouring out porridge for the iftar at Al-Islah Mosque yesterday. About 350 community and religious leaders, mosque volunteers, and foreign workers who work nearby gathered to break fast with them.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The Al-Islah Mosque in Punggol is only a year old, but it has built close ties with neighbouring institutions and residents.

It partners nearby schools to distribute food to poor families in the neighbourhood. On the third week of each month, it conducts free guided tours around its premises.

Yesterday, about 350 people gathered at the mosque to celebrate iftar, or the breaking of fast, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

At sunset, mosque volunteers, community and religious leaders, and foreign workers who work nearby, had a meal of fruits, dates, curry porridge and rice.

PM Lee, at his first official iftar this Ramadan, applauded Al-Islah's community programmes, such as inviting grassroots leaders and non-Muslim residents to the mosque to break fast with them and learn more about Islam.

ESSENCE OF COHESIVENESS

This is what Singapore is all about. We may be a mosque, a temple or a church, but we are in Singapore. We fulfil the needs of our congregants, but we must also try to integrate ourselves into the wider community.

MINISTER-IN-CHARGE OF MUSLIM AFFAIRS YAACOB IBRAHIM

Relating Mr Lee's remarks to reporters later, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said: "This is what Singapore is all about. We may be a mosque, a temple or a church, but we are in Singapore. We fulfil the needs of our congregants, but we must also try to integrate ourselves into the wider community."

Before the meal, PM Lee was given a tour of the mosque, which was constructed at a cost of $16.5 million from the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund.

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security, said Singapore's Malay-Muslim community is a welcoming one. He cited how leaders of mosques have told him that close to 50 per cent of those who break fast at mosques each day are foreign workers. He added that many of the workers go to the mosques "to help out and donate money".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'PM lauds Punggol mosque's community programmes'. Print Edition | Subscribe