Muslim community has weathered pandemic well: President Halimah Yacob

President Halimah Yacob said the pandemic has strengthened the community's solidarity and resolve to support the needy. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Muslim community has done well in facing the pandemic, through which they have learnt to prepare for uncertainty and disruption, as well as bounce back from setbacks, said President Halimah Yacob on Monday (May 2).

"As we enter the endemic stage and face the future, there will be new challenges but I'm sure that given how far we have come, we are up to any challenge," she added in a video message ahead of Tuesday's Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations.

It is the first time in two years that people will be able to go all out with Hari Raya celebrations after a month of fasting, as size limits on social gatherings were completely lifted on April 26.

In her message posted on social media, Madam Halimah said the pandemic has strengthened the community's solidarity and resolve to support the needy.

Individuals pitched in alongside organisations such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), mosques and other Malay/Muslim groups to help those who needed it, she added.

The President highlighted the efforts of Mr Asanul Fariq Sani and his wife Norhasyimah Awaludin, who were nominated for The Straits Times' Singaporean of the Year award last year for their efforts in helping others despite their own livelihoods being affected by the pandemic.

The couple, who were operating a school canteen stall which had to close during the circuit breaker period, started out by delivering food to a few households in need.

They eventually turned the space outside their Tampines flat into a "kindness corner" for people to help themselves to free groceries.

Mr Asanul Fariq Sani and his wife Norhasyimah Awaludin, with their sons (from left) Muhammad Nabil Putra, Hilman 'Aqil Zulikram Putra, Irfan Danial Putra and Hamzah Lutfil Putra at the "kindness corner" outside their Tampines flat. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"Such acts of charity brought us closer to the true meaning of our faith," Madam Halimah said.

Despite the challenges the community faced - such as strict limits on prayers at mosques to prevent the virus' spread - it remained cohesive and strong, she added.

"We responded to the restrictions peacefully and continued to practise our faith with deep conviction," Madam Halimah added. "We also continued to forge strong bonds of understanding and trust with the other religious communities and helped strengthen religious harmony and social cohesion."

Although people were economically affected by job losses or pay cuts, many used the downturn to reskill and upskill in preparation for better jobs in growth sectors, she added.

"We remained nimble and adaptable throughout and never let Covid-19 beat us. Now that we are opening our borders and easing the restrictions, many sectors are recruiting and providing good job opportunities."

The President expressed her gratitude to the Muslim community for doing its part in combating the pandemic, as well as Muis and community leaders for their role in guiding and supporting their congregants.

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