Muslims urged to keep building strong ties with others

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli (third from left) greeting congregants together with (from left) Islamic Religious Council of Singapore president Mohammad Alami Musa, the mosque's chairman Mohamed Salleh Patail, and Mr Mohamed A
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli (third from left) greeting congregants together with (from left) Islamic Religious Council of Singapore president Mohammad Alami Musa, the mosque's chairman Mohamed Salleh Patail, and Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, husband of President Halimah Yacob, after prayers at Sultan Mosque yesterday. All 70 mosques here held Aidilfitri prayers, which mark the end of Ramadan and a day of victory after a month of fasting. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Sultan Mosque packed with worshippers: About 5,000 Muslims took part in Aidilfitri prayers yesterday at Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, which was so packed that many had to make do with makeshift carpets out on the street. In his sermon, Mufti Fatris
Sultan Mosque packed with worshippers: About 5,000 Muslims took part in Aidilfitri prayers yesterday at Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, which was so packed that many had to make do with makeshift carpets out on the street. In his sermon, Mufti Fatris Bakaram encouraged the congregants to cherish and safeguard Singapore's religious diversity. He also said the fasting month of Ramadan helps to bring out and strengthen Islamic values such as discipline and having compassion for the needy. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Masagos calls for maintaining social harmony; Mufti tells congregants to safeguard diversity

The Muslim community should continue to build relationships with people of different races, languages and religions, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, as Muslims everywhere celebrated the end of the holy month of fasting.

Speaking to reporters after Aidilfitri prayers at Sultan Mosque yesterday, he said Muslims in Singapore live in a multi-religious society that has been built over time, and there is a need to maintain social harmony.

"In times of crisis, or acts of terrorism even, this relationship will be tested. When your relationship is strong during (peacetime), I'm sure it will be stronger during a crisis," said Mr Masagos, responding to a question about the Hari Raya Aidilfitri sermon delivered by Mufti Fatris Bakaram earlier.

Dr Fatris had urged the 5,000-strong congregation, including President Halimah Yacob, who was there with her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, to cherish and safeguard religious diversity.

"We have been able to practise our religious values peacefully in this plural society. However, this does not happen by chance," he said, noting that incidents have occurred elsewhere.

Dr Fatris, Singapore's highest Islamic authority, added: "Differences can lead to misunderstanding and mistrust between communities. It can potentially cause discord and disunity. The differences have also incited hatred to the extent that it caused terror and fatalities."

In his sermon, read by imams in all other mosques here, Dr Fatris said Ramadan is a time to strengthen desired Islamic values, such as patience and discipline, while enduring hunger and thirst during the fasting period.

 
 
 

"Ramadan shows us that we can fulfil our religious obligations without forsaking the spirit of achieving progress and goodness in our worldly affairs," he said. "It does not prevent us from contributing to the community. Rather, it inspires the spirit of mercy and compassion."

Responding to the sermon, Mr Masagos said Ramadan encourages empathy for the needy and added that he hopes this would "translate into acts of charity and acts of spreading mercy to everybody".

"If we can practise this message of Islam, I'm quite sure the image of Muslims will be one which is positive for everybody," he said.

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

Dr Fatris also said the holy month has fostered a healthy culture, as people are more aware of the need to practise moderation when breaking fast and prepare healthier dishes. It has also supported having greater responsibility over the environment, with believers encouraged to bring their own containers when getting food at the mosques.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2019, with the headline 'Muslims urged to keep building strong ties with others'. Print Edition | Subscribe