Keep learning to stay relevant, Masagos tells Al-Azhar graduates

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli mingling with some graduates from the class of 2018 at Cairo's Al-Azhar University on Monday.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli mingling with some graduates from the class of 2018 at Cairo's Al-Azhar University on Monday.PHOTO: MUIS

Keep up the hard work and continue developing new skills in order to stay relevant.

This was the message Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli told the latest batch of Singaporean graduates from Egypt's renowned Al-Azhar University at a graduation ceremony in Cairo on Monday.

Al-Azhar, one of the world's oldest universities, is a top destination for those pursuing Islamic studies.

In his first address to the university's graduates since helming the MuslimAffairs portfolio, Mr Masagos emphasised the importance of having a zeal for continuous learning in order for them to stay relevant as religious teachers.

Writing on his Facebook page yesterday, Mr Masagos said he spoke about how the fast-changing nature of the Singapore economy required everyone to continually learn and upgrade.

"I encourage them to develop new skills throughout their lives to stay relevant as asatizah (religious teachers)," he wrote.

"Such skills will complement their religious vocation, and increase their ability to serve the community and beyond."

 
 
 

Mr Masagos also urged them to stay anchored to Islamic values and principles, while bearing in mind the need to contextualise to Singapore's modern, multi-religious society, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a statement yesterday.

Some 60 Singaporean graduates from the class of 2018 completed their tertiary education in various fields, including in Islamic theology, Islamic jurisprudence and Arabic language and literature.

They received their scrolls from Mr Masagos at the ceremony. Acting deputy grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Saleh Abbas, and deputy chief executive of Muis, Dr Albakri Ahmad, also attended the ceremony.

This year's valedictorian was Ms Sali Atikah Abdullah Sani.

She graduated in Islamic jurisprudence and achieved the highest accolade of mumtaz sharaf, which is equivalent to a first-class distinction.

Besides pursuing her studies, Ms Sali Atikah was also active beyond the classroom and found time to volunteer through the Misr El Kheir Foundation, an Egyptian non-profit organisation.

Some of her voluntary efforts included raising funds to help purchase water tanks for villages with no direct access to clean water.

In her valedictorian speech, Ms Sali Atikah urged her fellow graduates to give back to society. "Sharing knowledge and contributing to uplift others only allows us to gain more," she said.

"I believe there will be substantive opportunities for us to give back to our community and society back in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Keep learning to stay relevant, Masagos tells Al-Azhar graduates'. Print Edition | Subscribe