Mr Lee Hsien Loong,
Prime Minister 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
Members of Parliament,
Mr Mohamed Sa'at Abdul Rahman,
President of Muis
Ustaz Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir,
Mufti of Singapore
Distinguished Speakers, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 May peace be upon you and a very good evening to everyone. It gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone to the inaugural International Conference on the Communities of Success (ICCOS). In the audience this evening, we not only have participants from Singapore, but also international scholars and delegates from different parts of the world.
2 As part of the efforts to keep the Singapore Muslim communities updated with important discourses and latest developments impacting Islam and Muslims, Muis previously hosted the Distinguished Visitors Programme (DVP) and the International Conference Singapore (ICS).
3 These programmes promoted the positive role of religion in a plural world by developing an innovative framework of understanding religious values through a contextual approach that speaks to the needs of the community. They have also deepened cooperation, social cohesion and trust amongst groups in a multicultural society.
4 Riding on the success of these programmes, the idea to convene an international conference to promote the exchange of ideas and best practices on the topic of developing a Community of Success was mooted in 2019. The objective was to share the system and model that has allowed Singaporean Muslims to live prosperously and harmoniously as a Muslim minority community, in a modern secular state.
5 Unfortunately, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plans for the conference were put on hold. Instead, Muis convened two on-line pre-conferences as a build up to the main ICCOS.
6 The first pre-ICCOS conference held in June last year focused on how various Muslim communities around the world have responded with resilience and confidence in their societies to forge ahead through the COVID-19 crisis.
7 The second pre-ICCOS conference in November 2021 discussed the importance of context in interpreting texts and traditions, particularly for minority Muslim communities living in modern and secular states.
Context-setting of ICCOS
8 ICCOS is inspired by the idea of Communities of Success, which is a positive and forward-looking articulation of a vision of Islam and Muslim communities that are compatible with the modern world and actively contribute to contemporary societies. Through ICCOS, we aim to realise and share this vision at the global stage, by serving as a platform for Muslim minority communities around the world to galvanise around a strong narrative of success founded on the notion of “Contributing Citizens, Dynamic Institutions”.
Outlining of ICCOS’ Highlights
9 A key part of the experience in Singapore in building a community of success has been how community leaders and institutions have come together, working together for positive outcomes. We have shared some of this experience with you earlier today, through the Executive Study Programme (ESP) for our international guests as part of ICCOS. They were invited to visit several of Muis’ key partner institutions and initiatives to learn more about collaborative efforts that contribute to the Community of Success. These included:
10 I hope our participants who joined the ESP were able to better understand how these community organisations & programmes work together to contribute to a Community of Success.
11 ICCOS fundamentally seeks to present and discuss positive narratives and characteristics of successful communities and the desired form of socio-religious life, and how Muslim communities can look at Muslim traditions as a guide to lead a thriving and successful life as exemplary citizens.
12 The second part of ICCOS will be held tomorrow. There will be three panel sessions whereby both local and international scholars will discuss narratives and characteristics of Communities of Success, characterised by three Cs – Character, Competency and Citizenry.
13 The first panel on “Nurturing Character for Communities of Success”, will discuss the desired form of socio-religious life, and how Muslim communities could draw inspiration from the Muslim traditions to forge a progressive and forward-looking vision of Islam in contemporary contexts.
14 This will be followed by the panel on “Developing Competent Muslim Communities in Diverse and Modern Contexts”, which will examine the role of institutional reforms in the fields of education and social development that are inspired by religious values and principles and can help towards developing resilient and cohesive communities in plural societies.
15 Finally the last panel on “Enhancing Social Cohesion and Active Citizenry”, will examine meaningful collaborative efforts between government agencies, the private sector and Muslim communities in building robust and resilient institutions that contribute to the strengthening of social cohesion and active citizenry in plural societies and a globalised world.
16 Before I end, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that Muis remains committed to actively engage our partners and stakeholders to come together, so that we can collectively realise this vision to be a Communities of Success. Let us use ICCOS to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and build bodies of knowledge so that we can become successful citizens and communities.
17 One again I would like to extend our warm welcome to our esteemed guests, and I hope that you will have a meaningful conference and a pleasant stay in Singapore. Thank you.