Eminent Islamic scholar calls on key Singapore leaders

Shaykh Abdallah (second from left) met PM Lee (third from left) in the afternoon, with Singapore's Mufti Fatris Bakaram (far right) also present at the meeting.
Shaykh Abdallah (second from left) met PM Lee (third from left) in the afternoon, with Singapore's Mufti Fatris Bakaram (far right) also present at the meeting.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - One of the world's most influential Islamic scholars called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (Mar 16) at the Istana.

Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies which is based in the United Arab Emirates, called on Dr Tan in the morning.

They spoke about the importance of social harmony and reaffirmed multiculturalism as a cornerstone of Singapore's multi-religious, multi-racial society.

Shaykh Abdallah met PM Lee in the afternoon, with Singapore's Mufti Fatris Bakaram also present at the meeting.

The Shaykh, who is from Mauritania and is a strong advocate for multiculturalism and inter-faith understanding, is in Singapore as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) Distinguished Visitor.

He is also among the most respect authorities on Islamic legal matters and fatwas, and will deliver the Muis Lecture on Friday - the highlight of Muis' Distinguished Visitor Programme. This is the fifth time the programme has been held, since it started in 2006.

The programme's aim is to widen and deepen progressive discourse on Islam through discussions and lectures delivered by eminent Muslim statesmen and intellectual leaders such as Shaykh Abdallah, said Muis in a statement.

PM Lee said in a Facebook post: "Inter-faith understanding is crucial to maintaining peace and harmony. We enjoy such peace and harmony in Singapore but we have to keep learning from others, especially when we see so many countries experiencing religious tensions and conflicts."

Mr Lee added: "I hope his experience promoting peace and tolerance through inter-faith dialogues will encourage many more of such acts."

The Shaykh arrived in Singapore on Monday (Mar 13) for a five-day visit.

On Tuesday (Mar 14), he met Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

In a Facebook post, Dr Yaacob said Shaykh Abdallah had shared with him "his views on promoting peace in the Muslim world", adding that he was looking forward to learning from the Shaykh at his lecture.

Meanwhile, at a seminar for asatizahs, or religious leaders, on Wednesday (Mar 15), Shaykh Abdallah spoke about compassion and human dignity and how they were part of Islamic tradition and thought, Muis said.