Speech by Chief Executive of Muis, Mr Esa Masood at 2021 Virtual Muis Buka Puasa

Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb.

Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health, and Minister in-Charge of Muslim Affairs

Excellencies, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps

Hj Mohd Alami Musa, President, Muis

Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Mufti of the Republic of Singapore

Distinguished members of the Muis Council

Community leaders, colleagues from Muis and Friends

A very good evening to all of you.

1. A very warm welcome to the 2021 Virtual Muis Buka Puasa and thank you for taking the time to be with us this evening. Allow me to extend my greeting with a traditional Malay pantun on this blessed month of Ramadan.

Sungguh harum daun pandan
Buah kurma dari Makkah
Bersyukur kita menyambut Ramadan
Bulan suci penuh barakah

2. Dear guests, today we are honoured to have President Halimah Yacob join us as our Guest-of-Honour. Thank you Mdm President for gracing the occasion. Unlike in past years where we could host President to buka puasa at a mosque, we have had to make adjustments this year, but hope this online format is just as meaningful.

3. It has become a tradition each Ramadan for Muis to host a Buka Puasa involving community partners. This is the first time it is being organised on a virtual platform. This year’s theme of “Sharing the Blessings of Ramadan” is very much appropriate given the close ties and collaboration that Muis has with partners in serving the community.

4. Indeed, we had a challenging 2020 with the community going through many adjustments to cope with the pandemic. However, with sound religious guidance from our religious leadership in Muis, supported by our Asatizah fraternity, as well as medical professionals from MHPA, the community supported the changes and sacrifices that needed to be made. This included the closure of mosques, postponement of Haj and many others.

5. With the global spread of COVID-19, Muis also worked closely with MFA as well as the various embassies to support our students abroad, be it in bringing them back home, or for various arrangements to facilitate the taking of exams. I would like to say a special word of thanks to the various Ambassadors and your teams for all the support rendered, thank you.

6. Today is the 11th day of Ramadan, and in just a few days, we would be halfway through the blessed month of Ramadan. Unlike last Ramadan that was spent during the circuit breaker, this year’s Ramadan is certainly more upbeat and joyous with prayers taking place in our mosques, and families and friends able to gather, although still with restrictions. This is possible because of the
various measures put in place at the national level, as well as strong support from the community in also doing their part.

7. Despite the economic stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am glad to share that the Muslim community has stepped up exceptionally in sharing the blessings through Zakat. Despite mosques being closed during Ramadan last year, the community shifted well to electronic payments allowing a total of $52M in Zakat contributions to be collected last year in 2020. This was even more than what was collected in 2019.

8. I am glad to share that these contributions allowed Muis to support many more households in need over the past year who were affected by the effects of the pandemic.

a. Our monthly zakat assistance to families in need increased by 25 per cent from the year before, benefitting 6,594 households.

b. An additional 5,500 families affected by the downturn were supported through the COVID-19 Muis Support Fund, with $2.2M disbursed to this group.

c. A further $3.3M was spent to support Islamic education for low-income families and other empowerment programmes.

d. In total, $27.3M was disbursed to help the poor and needy across various programmes and schemes in Muis.

e. All this was possible due to the strong support and contributions from the community, alhamdulillah.

9. Muis recognizes the importance of working with community partners to support the vulnerable in the community. Through the Social Development Community Funding, mosques, organisations and Social Service Agencies (SSAs) can apply for Zakat funds to run such support programmes. To date, over 20 agencies have tapped on this funding since its launch in 2015. Let me share a few examples:

  • First, 4PM Ramadan on Wheels, which Muis has supported for more than 5 years. This programme supports beneficiaries through the provision of Ramadan hampers and vouchers, home makeovers for selected beneficiaries and positive engagement platforms for both beneficiaries and volunteers.
  • Second, MKAC Support Programmes, which reaches out to Muslim kidney patients through befrienders. It also provides education programmes for their children as well as life skills training.
  • Third, Ain Society Serenity Cancer Care and ClubsKidz Programme, which provide counselling support, workshops, music and art therapy as well as fardu ‘ain and spiritual care for cancer patients.
  • And finally, Youth Inc ITE Mentoring Programme (ITEM), which supports students to develop self-confidence and nurture responsibility towards self, family, and community.

10. I would like to conclude by commending our community partners, our leaders and volunteers from our mosques, as well as volunteers from the Rahmatan-lil-Alamin Foundation for all your efforts and initiatives to reach out and benefit the Muslim community and the wider society.

11. I would also like to thank our Mosque leaders who have been actively adapting to the needs of the community, be it by providing online Islamic learning programmes or supporting the various M3 community projects.

12. In that spirit of unity and selflessness, allow me to offer two more pantun;

Batu gunung berbongkah-bongkah
Bulat seperti bentuk bola
Ramadan bulan penuh barakah
Waktu untuk mendulang pahala

Cantik sungguh si rama rama
Hinggap sebentar di daun pandan
Marilah kita sehati sejiwa
Bersama Meraih Keberkatan Ramadan

13. May all our efforts be rewarded generously in this blessed month, insya-Allah. Finally, I would like wish everyone a blessed Ramadan ahead.

Stay Safe Everyone. 

Thank you.