Muslims urged to continue to mix with those of other faiths

Over 50 residents and grassroots and community leaders of various ethnic and religious backgrounds in East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC marked the start of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at Al-Taqua Mosque yesterday. Students from Woodlands Seco
Worshippers gathered for Aidilfitri prayers at Sultan Mosque yesterday morning. All 70 mosques in Singapore held Aidilfitri prayers, marking the end of Ramadan and a day of victory after a month of fasting. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Over 50 residents and grassroots and community leaders of various ethnic and religious backgrounds in East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC marked the start of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at Al-Taqua Mosque yesterday. Students from Woodlands Seco
Students from Woodlands Secondary School performing a Malay dance during the Istana Open House yesterday. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Over 50 residents and grassroots and community leaders of various ethnic and religious backgrounds in East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC marked the start of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at Al-Taqua Mosque yesterday. Students from Woodlands Seco
Over 50 residents and grassroots and community leaders of various ethnic and religious backgrounds in East Coast GRC and Fengshan SMC marked the start of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations at Al-Taqua Mosque yesterday. PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION

Masagos highlights how community has come of age, stresses importance of contributing to larger society

The Muslim community should continue to look for ways to mix with people of other faiths and work together in common spaces, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after the Aidilfitri prayers in Sultan Mosque, he talked about how younger Muslims are visiting other places of worship, such as churches and temples.

"I think this is a coming of age of our community, where we are more confident of interacting with one another, without believing that this interaction will cause problems to ourselves," said Mr Masagos, when asked about the Hari Raya Aidilfitri sermon delivered by Mufti Fatris Bakaram earlier that morning.

Dr Fatris spoke of the growing number of Muslims actively engaging in interfaith dialogues and visiting different places of worship.

He said: "We are not easily influenced by opinions which state that our children should not visit the houses of worship of other faiths because it weakens their conviction."

In his sermon - delivered to a congregation of more than 5,000 people - Singapore's highest Islamic authority added: "We aspire to develop a generation of Muslims who are well-versed and appreciative of their faith, who are confident in their belief wherever they are."

Mr Masagos also highlighted the importance of Muslims having more confidence in their faith and in themselves, as "all over the world, this is being challenged".

Some call for Muslims to isolate themselves from the vagaries of the world, and from interacting with others as it taints their purity, noted Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

"We don't agree with that," he stressed. "We believe that because we are good Muslims, we must contribute to the larger society, whoever they are."

All 70 mosques in Singapore conducted Aidilfitri prayers, marking the end of Ramadan and a day of victory after a month of fasting.

In his sermon, read by imams in all other mosques here yesterday, Dr Fatris also urged "caution in our intent to express gratitude and nurture spirituality".

"If our practice of spirituality causes us to distance ourselves from society and to avoid any affiliation with their affairs, then I believe such an approach signifies that we have deviated from the true goal of spirituality that our Prophet had intended," the Mufti said.

 
 
 

He called for a strengthening of knowledge and understanding of faith as the "most sensible course of action", adding that there is room for improvement, particularly among the younger generation.

President Halimah Yacob and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, also joined the prayers at Sultan Mosque yesterday.

The President told reporters she hopes the spirit of Ramadan can continue beyond the month, and that "all of us will imbibe the spirit of looking out for each other, helping each other, not hurting each other, so that we become a truly compassionate society".

Ramadan and Hari Raya have always held special significance for her, she said, as they remind her of her late mother.

Her mother, whom she would buy baju kurungs for, died three years ago.

Hari Raya has become even more significant for another reason - she welcomed her first grandchild on June 9, and said she will visit her granddaughter after prayers.

"What is important also for me when it comes to Ramadan and Hari Raya, is that it's an opportunity for us to get closer together, both as family members as well as part of the community," she said.



ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Celebrating Hari Raya with the President

It was an occasion for a wefie for these worshippers, who met President Halimah Yacob at Sultan Mosque yesterday morning. They were among over 5,000 people performing Aidilfitri prayers at the mosque, with President Halimah doing so for the first time as head of state. Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who was also present, said after prayers that the Muslim community should continue to look for ways to mix with people of other faiths and work together in common spaces, adding it is "important to increase confidence in our faith as well as in ourselves" as this is being challenged around the world. President Halimah said she hopes the spirit of Ramadan will extend beyond the month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2018, with the headline 'Muslims urged to continue to mix with those of other faiths'. Print Edition | Subscribe