Monday, 22 January 2018

Muis calls for open discussion the role of Islam in Singapore

Source: Muis website. The discussion areas that Muis is inviting feedback on.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) is taking the occasion of its 50th anniversary to invite the community to discuss how it can stay relevant in the future, amidst a more diverse socioreligious landscape. The Singaporean Muslim community is invited  to take part in this conversation.

"Today we see many ground-up initiatives and new partners offering services and solutions for the community. At the same time, maintaining community resilience continues to be absolutely essential in these challenging times. Is it time for Muis to take a step back and provide more space for the community to find their own way in managing differences and creating more organic bridge-building efforts?" asked Muis on its website.

Muis has three discussion areas as a focus:

- The future of religious life of the Singapore Muslim community

The local community has shifted from being predominantly Sunni and based on the Syafi’i school of law and the Asy’ari school of theology towards a wider range of schools of thought. At the same time religious expression is becoming entwined with sociopolitical interests and ideologies. 

- Islamic education

The quality of asatizah (Islamic religious teachers) is a priority when an unprecedented amount of information is available online and easily shared. Muis has estimated that about 60,000 young people aged between 5-21 are attending structured Islamic education programmes at mosques, Islamic organisations and private providers while an unverified number of people of all ages are attending home-based classes. Another estimated 33,000 adults are also actively attending similar programmes in the form of adult Islamic learning (ADIL) classes and talks at the mosques for adults and structured courses for mature students at private institutions like Pergas, Perdaus or Al-Zuhri.

- The role of mosques in the community and in society

While Singapore's mosques have significantly increased the capabilities of their staff to provide better programmes and services over the last decade, there are still gaps such as in the management of dysfunctional family issues and juvenile delinquency.

In a Facebook post about the MUIS50 Conversation series on 20 January Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore Minister for Communications & Information, the Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs and the Minister in charge of Cyber Security, said he hoped the conversations "would trigger a more open and mature dialogue on contextualising Islam in our multiracial and multireligious Singapore."

"How would increasing diversity impact the religious life of the Muslim community in Singapore? Can we harness our diversity as a source of strength? Are our religious institutions such as Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) well-geared to prepare our community in their religious life for the future? How do we maintain social cohesion and a harmonious and peaceful expression of Islam as we continue to be equal partners in nation building and contribute to the success of Singapore? These were among the questions posed and discussed at the 12th session of the MUIS50 Conversation series on Saturday, 20th January 2018, which I joined," he said.


Members of the Muslim community in Singapore are asked to send comments by email to Muis also welcomes inputs on ways to work together on any other important areas, as well as suggestions on how it can improve its services. The deadline for contributions is 28 February 2018.

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