Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hari Raya brings out spirit of giving

By Nity Farhana, TODAY, 29 Jul 2014

Hari Raya brought out the spirit of giving in some, as various efforts were made to help the needy over the holiday on Monday (July 28).

Bangladeshi workers here have been flocking to local mosques not only to break fast together, but also to lend a helping hand.

At Angullia Mosque on Serangoon Road, 50 per cent of its volunteers are Bangladeshi workers, which comes as no surprise since they make up 90 per cent of its congregants. These workers are involved in everything from preparations for breaking fast to cleaning up.

One volunteer, Mr Mohd Minhaz, said: “We try to service all the people here, from giving them seats to showing them the place. And we try to give everybody food.”

The same was observed at En-Naeem Mosque, where 30 per cent of volunteers are foreign workers. Volunteers not only assist in preparations for breaking fast, but also wake up in the wee hours to prepare pre-dawn meals for congregants performing their late-hour prayers.

Meanwhile, 96 children from 35 needy families struggling with drug addiction were given money to buy new sets of baju kurong (Malay traditional outfit).

They were taken on Monday morning to First Lady store in Tanjong Katong Complex, where each child could purchase outfits costing up to S$70. The initiative was fully sponsored by an informal social group called Rock Selenger Kids RSK, and organised by Persatuan Sang Nila Utama, a new association.

Ramadan a reminder to strengthen family ties: Yaacob
By Daud Yusof and Riz Sunawan, Channel NewsAsia, 27 Jul 2014

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim and his parliamentary colleagues wish all Muslims 'Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri'.

In his Hari Raya Message, Dr Yaacob urged the community to have the spirit of inclusiveness and generosity that has brought a life of peace and harmony so that the community can chart a brighter future together for all Singaporeans.

He said the community's heart also goes beyond borders for the innocent victims in Gaza, and it prays for a swift end to the violence. He added that mosques and the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) have embarked on fund-raising initiatives to provide humanitarian aid to the victims.

Dr Yaacob said the month of Ramadan also reminds the community to strengthen family ties, as well as to appreciate the sacrifice, service and love of parents, including Singapore's pioneers.

He said the Government introduced several key programmes - such as the Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield Life - to ease the healthcare costs for pioneers.

These initiatives also serve to recognise their contributions to Singapore's nation-building efforts, including strengthening inter-religious understanding and acceptance so that Singaporeans can enjoy a harmonious life.

"I hope that the spirit of our pioneer generation will continue to burn strongly in our youth, so that we can achieve many peaks of excellence in our community. I am heartened to see many of our youth coming forward and engaging in selfless efforts at helping the less well-off this past Ramadan," said Dr Yaacob. 

Be discerning about reports on conflicts, Mufti tells Muslims
By Kok Xing Hui, TODAY, 29 Jul 2014

Muslims here should be “mindful and concerned” about the plight of fellow Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world due to conflicts, but they must also be critical when reading or watching reports and show discernment even while they display sympathy, said Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram.

Delivering the Eidulfitri sermon on the first day of Hari Raya Puasa at the Sultan Mosque yesterday, Dr Mohamed said: “We must be extremely careful and discerning when we read fatwas and individual opinions that call upon Muslims to kill and commit acts of violence towards others.”

Urging the Muslim community to equip themselves with “sound religious knowledge”, he said: “We will not be gullible and easily swayed by all sorts of claims that are being widely circulated. We will not fall for the manipulated interpretations of the religious texts that these people are making to justify their desires and personal gains.”

Dr Mohamed’s comments come after weeks of continued violence between Israel and Gaza, and in the wake of concerns raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean over Singaporeans getting involved in militant activities in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Teo, speaking in Parliament earlier this month, revealed that a handful of Singaporeans had gone to participate in the conflict in Syria, posing potential security risks to Singapore and threatening social harmony.

Addressing an audience of about 5,000, Dr Mohamed said: “It definitely worries us when we read the news and watch videos of violence and injustice (being) committed. Many aspects of what we see in these videos and what we read about in the reports are against Islamic teachings, because they are propagated by misinterpretations of the teachings; or the actions are in support of a certain agenda.”

Speaking to reporters after the sermon, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said the conflict in the Middle East is an issue that affects not only Muslims, but also people of all religions.

He also said he was glad to see “various communities coming together to see this from a humanitarian point of view (and) how we can work together to bring peace to the region”, noting positive response in the form of fund-raisers to help victims of conflict and nightly prayers.

On Saturday, about 300 people gathered at Hong Lim Park to show solidarity with Gaza.

Dr Yaacob reiterated Singapore’s support of a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict and said he hoped it could be realised as quickly as possible, “so the people there can live in peace as we live in peace”.

Yesterday also marked the launch of the Sultan Mosque’s upgrading plan, with the S$3.45 million refurbishment to start next month.

Visitors will be able to enjoy two new lifts by the fourth quarter of next year. The current ablution areas will be replaced by more spacious ones and the domes refurbished, electrical installations rewired and a new coat of paint given to the entire complex.

The two lifts are aimed at improving accessibility for elderly congregants of one of Singapore’s oldest mosques. The Sultan Mosque was built in 1824 and gazetted as a national monument in 1975.

It has remained largely untouched since it was rebuilt in 1920, apart from the addition of the Annex Building.

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