For the first time, a woman has been appointed as a full member of the Fatwa Committee, which issues religious guidance to Muslims in Singapore.
Dr Rohana Ithnin, 56 and an ustazah, was appointed for a three-year term by President Halimah Yacob, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Rohana, who has taught at several madrasahs, now heads Jamiyah Education Centre and is a council member of religious scholars association Pergas.
She studied at St Francis Girls' School until her A levels before attending Al-Azhar University in Cairo and Jakarta State Islamic University.
She recently completed her doctorate in Islamic studies at Universitas Ibn Khaldun in Indonesia, Muis said.
On her appointment, Dr Rohana said there are many qualified asatizah, and that she would step up her reading and research "so that the approach we take can be more proactive and suited to today's context".
President Halimah described Dr Rohana's appointment as a progressive and inclusive one.
"The Fatwa Committee has an important role in guiding Singapore Muslims to contextualise their religious obligations," she said, noting that female scholars have also contributed to its discussions in the past.
"I am confident that the committee will benefit from Rohana's deep experience as a community leader in the madrasah sector," she added in a Facebook post.
The Fatwa Committee is chaired by Mufti Fatris Bakaram, and the new committee has four full members and 21 associate members, three of them women.
Dr Rohana is the only new full member appointed. Senior religious leaders Ustaz Ali Mohamed, Ustaz Hasbi Hassan and Ustaz Fathurrahman Dawoed were re-appointed as full members. Another 11 new associate members were also appointed to the committee.
In the past three years, the committee has issued 14 fatwas on matters such as the human milk bank, joint tenancy and lasting power of attorney.