Speech by Chief Executive of Muis, Mr Kadir Maideen at Muis Buka Puasa Event

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam

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

Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman

Minister, Prime Minister's Office
Second Minister for Education and
Second Minister for Foreign Affairs

Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim

Minister of State,
Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development
Mr Mohamed Saat,
Muis President

Sohibus Samahah, Dr Nazirudin Mohd Nasir,
Mufti of Singapore
Distinguished members of Muis Council

Respected Mosque, Religious and Community Leaders 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb,

Good evening and a very warm welcome to our Guest-of-Honour, President Tharman, and everyone to this year’s Muis Buka Puasa event. We are truly honoured by Mr President’s gracious presence at this special occasion. This gathering not only marks the breaking of fast but also serves as a reminder of the values of God consciousness, generosity, care and compassion for the community, that lie at the heart of this blessed month.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, each year Muis receives Zakat contributions from the Muslim community, and channels these funds to support numerous underserved groups, encompassing individuals, families, and students through diverse programmes and initiatives. Zakat is a cornerstone of Muslim communities, serving as a vital social equalizer that embodies the principles of generosity and compassion for others inherent in the teachings of Islam. At Muis, we are steadfast in our commitment to fulfil this responsibility and perpetuate this noble endeavor on behalf of the Singapore Muslim community.

Helping More Through Zakat

Zakat remains pivotal in facilitating the sharing and redistribution of wealth to aid the most vulnerable members of our community. In December last year, Muis raised the qualifying per capita household income (PCI) criteria for Muis Zakat Financial Assistance from $400 to $500. This is to ensure that the needs of beneficiaries can be better met with the rising cost of living. This adjustment will extend support to 1,200 new households, offering crucial financial assistance to those in need.

I am also delighted to announce that, in addition to the monthly Zakat assistance, Muis will allocate over $2.6 million of Zakat collected to benefit more than 8,600 recipients through our annual Ramadan Disbursement. The aim of this special Ramadan Disbursement is to spread the joy of giving during the blessed month of Ramadan and ease the burden of families as they usher in the Hari Raya festivities. Some of the recipients from the homes and LEAP Initiative programme are with us today. I thank you for joining us here today and being part of the program to produce the cloth pouch that can be found in the tote bag given to all guests today.

Enhancing Support for Needy Students

In addition to supporting the uplifting of individuals and families, Zakat also plays a crucial role in empowering students, especially from low-income families. Education equips them with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities necessary to achieve academic excellence, pursue meaningful employment and contribute back to their families and the community.

One such initiative involves Muis partnering Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulud (LBKM) to disburse bursaries to needy students. To further bolster our support for students, I am pleased to share that Muis has now increased the funds from $300,000 to $1 million annually, so as to establish bursaries for over 350 additional madrasah students from Zakat and low-income families.

The Muis Madrasah Bursary Scheme, disbursed through Zakat funds, now combines the existing LBKM bursaries and the Progress Fund Madrasah Assistance Scheme (PROMAS). This scheme will now benefit more Zakat and low-income students through school fees subsidies as well as covering essential expenses such as meals, transportation, books, and other school necessities. This new scheme makes it easier for applicants who will only need to submit one application to LBKM, rather than two separate applications previously. To date, LBKM has received a good number of applications and successful applicants will soon receive their bursaries.

Sharing Blessings of Ramadan

Beyond zakat, our community is also blessed with the continuing efforts of the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) to promote and support activities and programmes that project the Rahmatan Lil Alamin or “Blessings to All” spirit. Recently, RLAF launched the “Blessings to All” fundraising project, aiming to extend the blessings of Ramadan to vulnerable families and individuals regardless of race, faith, or background. RLAF seeks to raise $100,000 to provide 4,000 sets of 'Blessings to All' vouchers. This project is carried out with the support of Muis, People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council (PA MESRA), M3@Towns, Harmony Circles and other religious organisations.

In recent months, the Muslim community's commitment to standing in solidarity with those in need, has also transcended geographical boundaries. This demonstration of compassion is exemplified by the remarkable achievement of RLAF raising more than $8 million for the victims of the conflict in Gaza, Palestine. The funds raised are already being utilised to provide essential humanitarian assistance, including healthcare, relief efforts, and shelter provisions, to the communities affected. Notably, these funds were contributed not only by the Muslim community but also Singaporeans from all backgrounds. This act of generosity truly embodies the values of empathy and care that define us as Singaporeans. As announced by Minister Masagos last week, RLAF will also conduct another round of humanitarian fundraising for Gaza next week, from 20 to 26 March 2024.

Strengthening Community Spiritual Resilience

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the sense of community during this blessed month of Ramadan is most evident in mosques. Mosques distribute porridge and prepare food for the breaking of fast, hold congregational Tarawih prayers nightly and open its doors to the community. Notably, the SalamSG initiative, initiated by Muis in 2022 and driven by our mosques, has introduced a comprehensive set of programmes this year to cater to various groups, both young and old. These initiatives, such as the Ramadan Youth Challenge for our young and the Night of Power for all, are designed to enhance the community’s overall experience of Ramadan, strengthening faith and the fostering the community spirit as a whole. Furthermore, we have empowered our mosques to create engaging content via social media platforms, fostering stronger connections and meaningful engagements with the community.

The commendable efforts highlighted above illustrate the confidence of the Muslim community and its readiness to give back to others, especially those in need and in adversity. As we enhance our programmes and services for our community, we hope that these efforts will strengthen the confidence of Muslims in Singapore to be resilient in faith and wise in applying the knowledge and guidance imparted by our esteemed local asatizah and religious scholars. These are all aligned to this year’s SalamSG theme which is, “Build Confidence, Nurture Wisdom.” (Bina Keyakinan, Pupuk Kebijaksanaan).

Before I end, I wish for our Muslim community to have a meaningful and blessed Ramadan this year. And sharing their experience with family, friends and fellow Singaporeans. I also wish for Mr President to have a pleasant evening here with us for the Buka Puasa with Muis leaders, our community partners and zakat beneficiaries. Thank you, Mr President, and thank you also to everyone who has contributed to the successful planning of this event.

Wassalamualaikum wr. wb.