Sunday 22 March 2015

Punggol mosque to open in time for Ramadan

Yaacob pays tribute to Mr Lee's role in creation of Mosque Building Fund
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 21 Mar 2015

IN THREE months' time, Muslim residents in Punggol will get a mosque near their home when the Al-Islah Mosque opens in time for the fasting month.

It is the 24th mosque to be built under the Mosque Building Fund, which turns 40 this year.

Yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim highlighted the role former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew played in giving the idea for the fund, which was formed in 1975.

"We're grateful to him for allowing us to use the CPF system to collect money from Muslim workers to build our new-generation mosques," he said after visiting the mosque. "With that support we've been able to build 24 mosques." Muslim workers' contributions to the mosque fund are deducted by the Central Provident Fund Board when it deducts CPF contributions from their pay.

During Singapore's urbanisation after independence, many settlements had to make way for flats and industrial estates, and several mosques and prayer houses were similarly cleared. While the Government recognised the need for new mosques, it could not build or fund them.

At a meeting with Malay leaders in 1974, Mr Lee suggested setting up a fund to which every Muslim worker would make a small monthly contribution. Said Dr Yaacob: "He gave us a wonderful idea which you can never find anywhere else in this world where, using a government system, a minority community can raise funds almost automatically to build 24 mosques."

Mosque committee chairman Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah said the community has been very supportive, and the Al-Islah Mosque has raised $4.5 million for interior furnishings and operating costs.

He said the mosque will hold a tour for nearby residents when it opens in June.

The mosque has room for 4,000 worshippers, with facilities that reflect Punggol's young residential profile. These include areas for students, children and parents. "With better customisation to the needs of the community, we can better fulfil the demands of the Malay-Muslim community," said Dr Yaacob.

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