SINGAPORE - The end of Ramadan this year comes as Singapore marks an important milestone and the Muslim community has every reason to be confident of a brighter future, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on Thursday.
In his traditional Hari Raya Aidilfitri message to the Muslim community, Dr Yaacob, noted the community had progressed alongside the country and contributed to the nation in the past 50 years.
"We have come a long way since Singapore's independence," he said. "Perils abounded in that turbulent era, but together, we overcame our challenges."
Dr Yaacob, who is Minister for Communications and Information, noted that Singapore as well as the Muslim community have built strong institutions founded on values of integrity, meritocracy, equality of opportunities and multiculturalism.
"Our leaders continue to work hard to ensure that we remain a fair and inclusive society, by empowering Singaporeans and supporting their aspirations."
His message comes as Muslim Singaporeans celebrate the end of the end of Ramadan, during which many displayed greater spiritual devotion and stronger community spirit - in many cases, breaking their dawn-to-dusk fast with fellow neighbours and friends of various faiths.
Dr Yaacob said that though trials lie ahead as Singapore moves past its 50th year, "there is every reason to be sure of a brighter future, as long as we stand together as one united Singapore."
"During Ramadan, our mosques, organisations and homes were opened to all, reflecting the quiet confidence of our community, that we are thankful for what we have, and that we share what we have with everyone else," he added.
"This is the spirit that will carry our community forward into the future, confident that we can navigate the uncertainties together, assured that the future is ours to make, and happy that Singapore remains the best home for our families and community."
Over the course of the past month, people from all walks of life, from imams to cabbies, philanthropists and students to housewives, had chipped in to make this Ramadan special, the minister added.
He was also heartened to see many groups - especially the young - stepping up to help those in need.
In particular, the SG50 Kita committee, which is coordinating the community's celebrations for the Golden Jubilee, organised a Service to the Nation Week during Ramadan.
They brought together mosques, community groups and volunteers to reach out to communities across the island through such activities as sprucing up homes of needy families and distributing porridge to residents.
Added Dr Yaacob: "My parliamentary colleagues and I take this opportunity to enjoin all Singaporeans to come together to chart an even better future, and send our greetings on this joyous occasion."
The Catholic Archdiocese also sent its Hari Raya wishes to Muslims, saying: "The spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving which we share with you as Catholics, is a great delight for all of us."
The message, signed by Archbishop William Goh and Monsignor Philip Heng, Vicar-General (inter-religious relations), paid tribute to the strong ties between Catholic and Muslim leaders, and hoped both sides could foster more robust relations.
"We are edified by your Muslim leaders in actively engaging Catholics and other religions to build greater mutual understanding and respect," they added.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also wishes all Muslims "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri", a statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday evening said.