Malay-Muslims have responded well to Covid-19 challenges: Masagos

He praises community for showing unity, resilience, compassion during difficult time

Mr Masagos (in pink) and emcee Khairudin Saharom interacting with guests at the Hari Raya get-together for more than 100 community and religious leaders. The event was held via Zoom.
Musicians Ramli Sarip (left) and Addy Rasidi performing during Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli’s Hari Raya get-together yesterday. The minister commended the Malay-Muslim community for continuing to give back while dealing with Covid-19 challenges. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
Musicians Ramli Sarip (left) and Addy Rasidi performing during Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli's Hari Raya get-together yesterday. The minister commended the Malay-Muslim community for continuing to give back while dealing with
Mr Masagos (in pink) and emcee Khairudin Saharom interacting with guests at the Hari Raya get-together for more than 100 community and religious leaders. The event was held via Zoom.PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

By responding with unity, resilience and compassion to disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Malay-Muslim community here has demonstrated how it is a community of success, said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, yesterday.

Mr Masagos was speaking at his annual Hari Raya get-together for more than 100 community and religious leaders, which was held virtually via videoconferencing platform Zoom and featured a musical performance by singer Ramli Sarip.

The minister also announced a new wakaf, or Islamic endowment fund, to support the community.

He said that challenges for Malay-Muslims here have been multi-fold amid the pandemic.

He noted how members of the community have had to make adjustments to cope with changes, such as the closure of mosques, the disallowing of congregational prayers, the postponement of the Haj pilgrimage, and the inability to visit loved ones during Hari Raya celebrations.

"We made difficult adjustments to our social and religious norms to contain the spread of Covid-19, to pull our weight like everyone in our country to keep Singapore safe.

"We also pulled together community resources to provide holistic support to the vulnerable among us," said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

"It was not easy to adapt to this uncertain situation, but I am glad that we have stayed united, compassionate and civic-minded.

"I want to put on record how proud I am of the way our community has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic thus far."

During the recent eight-week circuit breaker period that began on April 7, when most Singaporeans had to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Malay-Muslim community continued to give back and support one another, said Mr Masagos.

He highlighted how Muslims donated to the OurMasjid.sg portal to sustain mosques and their staff.

PROUD OF COMMUNITY'S RESPONSE

We made difficult adjustments to our social and religious norms to contain the spread of Covid-19, to pull our weight like everyone in our country to keep Singapore safe.

We also pulled together community resources to provide holistic support to the vulnerable among us.

It was not easy to adapt to this uncertain situation, but I am glad that we have stayed united, compassionate and civic-minded.

I want to put on record how proud I am of the way our community has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic thus far.

MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

He also noted how the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry worked with businesses, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), and other organisations to cook and distribute food for 20,000 front-liners and needy families on a daily basis.

This ground-up effort of providing these meals, called the SGUnited Buka Puasa and held during the fasting month of Ramadan, raised $3 million, he added.

Yesterday, Mr Masagos also announced a new endowment fund that will serve to fund the community's institutions and its programmes, as well as to help develop religious teachers here.

Dubbed the Wakaf Masyarakat Singapura (Singapore Community Wakaf), the fund will be managed by Muis and will help fulfil the financial needs of community members and institutions who fall through the cracks, he said.

"I have asked Muis to set up the Singapore Community Wakaf, which aims to financially support our religious institutions, asatizah (Islamic religious teachers) development and community programmes, whose needs are not systematically funded by platforms such as the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund and zakat collections," said Mr Masagos, referring to the annual Muslim alms giving.

Traditionally, wakaf is defined as the permanent dedication by a Muslim of any property for any purpose defined by Muslim law as religious and charitable, but the concept has evolved to be similar to a trust fund, where money is invested and the returns are used to help the community.

In a factsheet yesterday, Muis said there are currently 91 of such wakaf that it looks after, with a total asset value of more than $800 million.

The council added that in recent years, more than $3 million is disbursed from these investments annually, where 85 per cent of these funds are given out yearly to local beneficiaries, while the remaining goes to the poor and the needy overseas.

The Wakaf Masyarakat Singapura will serve to consolidate funds from some of the wakaf that Muis manages, as well as assets from mosques and contributions from society.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2020, with the headline 'Malay-Muslims have responded well to Covid-19 challenges: Masagos'. Subscribe