Muslim religious leaders, worshippers have to stand up against extremist views: Yaacob

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim participating in a prayer session at the En-Naeem Mosque on Sept 12, 2016.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim participating in a prayer session at the En-Naeem Mosque on Sept 12, 2016. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - Muslim religious leaders and worshippers have to stand up strongly against extremist views that could undermine the peace of the country, Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said as Muslims in Singapore celebrated Hari Raya Haji on Monday (Sept 12).

"Muslims in Singapore are a part of (the country), and anything that serves to undermine our integration is not welcome here ," he said.

He also emphasised the public's role in alerting the authorities to any extremist idea or information. "At the end of the day, we need to build this as a community, as a nation and not individually."

Occasions such as Hari Raya Haji can be a way for non-Muslims to understand the religion better, said Dr Yaacob, in particular, that the "Islam that we practise in Singapore is the Islam that is integrating with a wider community".

Hari Raya Haji marks the end of the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Dr Yaacob said Singapore's request to the Saudi authorities to raise the haj quota this year has not been granted. The number of Singaporeans allowed to go on the pilgrimage stays at 680.

He was speaking to reporters at En-Naeem Mosque in Hougang, where he attended morning prayers before observing the sacrificial ritual of korban. Despite the death of 121 Irish lambs on a flight to Singapore on Sunday, proceedings went on smoothly yesterday.

A total of 1,867 Australian sheep and 1,583 Irish lambs were transported to 26 mosques islandwide and two Malay/Muslim organisations - the Muhammadiyah Association and Jamiyah - for the ritual.

A total of 180 sheep were sacrificed at the En-Naeem Mosque, with 3kg of meat and a bag of groceries distributed to each needy resident in the neighbourhood.

In a sermon on the practice of Islam in Singapore at the mosque, the Mufti of Singapore, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, told a 3,500-strong congregation that views which state that Muslims cannot live in harmony with non-Muslims cannot be applied in Singapore.

"Such antagonistic opinions can fan the flames of hatred and discomfort in engaging with people of other religions, and will give the wrong impression about Islam and Muslims," he said.

He also expressed support for the recent move to register all Islamic religious teachers under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme.

In his National Day Rally speech last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the scheme has been made compulsory "to ensure that our religious teachers and scholars are reliable guides for the community". About 80 per cent of them have been recognised.

Teacher Suryadi Mohd Bajuri, 34, said the Mufti's expression of support for the recognition scheme was timely and reassuring.

The father of two young children said seeking religious knowledge from a holistic and credible source is crucial for him and his family, especially in the age of social media.

nghuiwen@sph.com.sg