To cater to the growing complexity and scope of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's (Muis) work, two deputy muftis will be appointed to support Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, Singapore's highest Islamic authority.
From May 1, Dr Nazirudin Nasir, 42, Muis' senior director for religious policy and development, will be appointed as deputy mufti. The second deputy mufti position will be filled at a later date, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday.
Pointing to how developments in technology have changed the way people seek religious advice, and how the complexion of society is evolving with the entry of diverse immigrants, Mr Masagos said Muis needs to strengthen itself in order to help its religious institutions rally and uplift the community.
"It is important for Muis to both be attractive to talent as well as to groom talent from within. A robust leadership renewal plan is hence vital for Muis to remain dynamic and vibrant," he said at Muis' annual workplan seminar, held at its Braddell Road premises.
He added that he is confident Dr Nazirudin, who holds a PhD in theology from the University of Oxford and helped Muis develop policy in fatwa development and asatizah (religious teacher) training, will be able to support the Mufti.
At the seminar, Mr Masagos also laid out plans to strengthen social cohesion and better support under-served communities.
More support will be given to low-income families, who received $16.5 million last year from zakat, the annual tithe paid by Muslims to the needy. This figure has seen a steady increase over the past decade, said Mr Masagos.
Muis' Empowerment Partnership Scheme, which provides families with opportunities to upgrade their skills, will be enhanced to provide more customised assistance for zakat beneficiaries by tapping community networks. A pilot run of the scheme will start in the second quarter of this year.
Muis will also work with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide more support for the incarcerated and their families.
In addition, it will look at how resources in the community can be mobilised to support the elderly, especially those living alone, said Mr Masagos. "Muis also recognises that our seniors have a wealth of experience and can continue to make significant contributions to the community."
Muis will explore how to engage seniors in activities such as its existing mosque befriending scheme, and how to provide customised religious content for the elderly.
Mr Masagos also gave an update on Muis' support for madrasahs. Between 2016 and 2018, $1.1 million in financial assistance was given out under the Progress Fund Madrasah Assistance Scheme, or Promas, which recognises academic excellence among needy students.
Muis said the development of the Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah's new Toa Payoh campus is on track and will be ready for the new school term next year.
The organisation will develop resources to equip community leaders, religious teachers and madrasah students with the knowledge and skills to deal with contemporary inter-faith issues.
Yesterday, Mr Masagos also launched a book titled Striving With Confidence, Serving With Compassion. It looks at the history of Muis since it was set up as a statutory body in 1968.