SINGAPORE - The Muslim community has made strides in education and career prospects over the last 50 years, and it can be further boosted if volunteering and community work are strengthened, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Aug 22).
Speaking to reporters after the Eiduladha prayers at Sengkang's Masjid Al-Mawaddah, he talked about how this can be done through better cooperation between three key Malay/Muslim organisations that were mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday.
These are the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), self-help group Mendaki and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (Mesra).
"By and large, many in the Muslim community have come forward to contribute to the community... We believe if (the different organisations) work together, align, they can provide better services," Mr Masagos said.
Earlier in the day, the Mufti of Singapore, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, delivered a sermon to a congregation of about 4,500 Muslims at the mosque celebrating Hari Raya Haji, also known as Eid al-Adha or the feast of sacrifice.
It marks the end of the haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
In his sermon, Dr Fatris paid tribute to members of the community who have made sacrifices for their family, society, religion and country.
For instance, many would not hesitate to help by donating or even opening up their homes to those in need when they read about calls for assistance on social media.
A key feature of Hari Raya Haji is the korban ritual – the sacrificial slaughter of livestock. Mr Masagos told reporters that the ritual demonstrates the spirit of gratitude and giving that Muslims should have in Singapore, as meat from the livestock is distributed to the needy.
Singapore received 3,700 sheep from Australia for the korban rituals this year. The price for each animal was set at $485 - the same as last year.
Masjid Al-Mawaddah is one of the 26 korban centres this year. Some 163 sheep were sacrificed during the korban ritual at the mosque.
President Halimah Yacob, who was accompanied by her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, helped distribute gift hampers to 20 beneficiaries at the mosque.
The beneficiaries are part of a new scheme to help low-income families that was launched by the mosque in collaboration with Sengkang South Citizens' Consultative Committee in June.
Called Project Gold, the scheme matches donations from individuals and corporations to low-income families under Al-Mawaddah Mosque's financial assistance scheme.
About $80,000 has been raised from donors for the scheme, which currently has about 60 beneficiaries.
This year's haj quota for Singaporeans was increased from 800 to 900 thanks to the completion of construction work in Mecca.
Mr Masagos said that Singapore will continue asking Saudi Arabia to give Singaporeans as large a quota for the haj as possible, bearing in mind concerns of safety and security.
Other organisations also marked Hari Raya Haji by giving back to the community.
At Jamiyah Singapore Halfway House in Pasir Panjang, for instance, 100 beneficiaries were presented with a special Korban package by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and Education Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, consisting of vouchers, food rations and a box of meat.