SINGAPORE - 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 the Mufti, 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 on Saturday (March 30).
Pointing to how developments in technology have changed how people seek religious advice, and how the complexion of society is evolving with the entry of diverse immigrants, Mr Masagos said that Muis also needs to strengthen itself as it works to strengthen its religious institutions to 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," said Mr Masagos at Muis' annual workplan seminar, held at its Braddell Road premises.
He added that he is confident that Dr Nazirudin, who holds a PhD in theology from the University of Oxford and has helped Muis develop policy in fatwa development and asatizah (religious teacher) training, will be able to support the Mufti, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram.
At the workplan 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.
An area where more will be done is the Muis' Empowerment Partnership Scheme, which provides skills upgrading opportunities to families. It will be enhanced to provide more customised assistance for beneficiaries of zakat 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 the resources in the community can be mobilised to support the elderly, especially those who are living alone, said Mr Masagos. "At the same time, Muis also recognises that our seniors have a wealth of experience, and can continue to make significant contributions to the community."It will explore how seniors can be engaged in activities such as its existing mosque befriending scheme, and also studyhow it can 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 assistancewas given out under the Progress Fund Madrasah Assistance Scheme (Promas), which recognises academic excellence among needy students.
Muis said that the development of the Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah's new campus in Toa Payoh is on track, and will be ready for the new school term in 2020.
Muis will also develop resources and content to equip community leaders, religious teachers and madrasah students with the knowledge and skills to deal with contemporary inter-faith issues.
On Saturday, Mr Masagos also launched a book titled 'Striving with Confidence, Serving with Compassion'. It looks at Muis' past through the lens of itsleaders, stakeholders, and beneficiaries since it was set up as a statutory body in 1968
"It has been a long, but rewarding journey, but more importantly, we should continue to build on what we have achieved, and work together towards a better future for a confident, successful community."