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WELCOME REMARKS BY MR ABDUL RAZAK HASSAN MARICAR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF MUIS AT THE SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE HELD ON WEDNESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2018 AT THE GRAND BALLROOM GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister for Environment and Water Resources and Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli
Vice President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
President of Muis, Hj Mohamed Alami Musa
Mufti of Singapore, Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram
Distinguished Speakers, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalamualaikum wr wb
May peace be upon you and a very good morning to everyone. It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the International Conference Singapore (ICS2018), held in conjunction with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore’s 50th anniversary. It is indeed a deep honour that this Conference is graced by our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong. Thank you, Sir.
2 The International Conference Singapore is jointly organised by Muis and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies led by His Eminence Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah. We would like to extend our heartfeIt prayers and well wishes for His Eminence who is unable to be here, due to ill-health. We would like to extend our warm welcome to our esteemed guests from the Forum, respected speakers and our foreign guests. Welcome to Singapore and I hope you will have a fruitful conference and an enjoyable stay in Singapore.
3 For the benefit of our foreign guests, Muis was established in 1968 through an Act of Parliament as a statutory board, responsible for the administration of Muslim religious matters in Singapore. In the last 50 years, Muis has worked relentlessly to shape a community religious life that is suited to our multi-religious and secular context, delivering religious services, building and managing mosques and madrasahs, regulating haj and halal, administering and developing our Islamic endowments or waqafs as well as promoting social cohesion across the different faith communities.
4 Muis strongly believe that religious traditions are founded on powerful values that can guide communities. For the Singapore Muslim community, a key value is the value of rahmah, which means Compassion. It is also the underlying philosophy of Muis’ vision and mission for the last 50 years. Inspired by the Divine’s attribute to care for all of creation unconditionally, we aspire to nurture a community that brings goodness to everyone.
5 This is certainly not unique to the Muslim community. It is a universal value that is enjoined by all religious traditions. Key to achieving a Community that Brings Blessings to All is the role of religious thought leadership, which in Muis’ experience emanates through its various institutions, touching the lives of people across different segments of communities and also different stages of their lives. For example our Islamic education programmes for children through aLIVE (Living Islamic Values Everyday), our Islamic education for adults, sermons at the mosques always place strong emphasis on inclusive and merciful values. The journey of forward-looking religious thought leadership journey is a challenging one. To illustrate this, we have put together a short video which depicts the journey of a Singaporean Muslim in overcoming her internal struggle in understanding the deeper significance of religion that goes beyond rituals, but that upholds compassion and the divine sanctity of human life. For our international guests, this video will give you a local flavor of a glimpse into the typical life of a local Malay/Muslim family in multi-cultural, and multi-religious Singapore.
6 We thought it would be a fitting appetiser for this conference, which is entitled The Future of Faith: Religious Values in a Plural World. The future of faith must be about a common inspiration to do greater good. Religions encourage positive collective behaviours that uphold human dignity and facilitate social upliftment for the overall well-being of human society. In an increasingly plural world, religions can be a powerful unifying force that bring people together.
7 Muis is honoured to have hosted His Eminence Shaykh Bin Bayyah in March 2017 as part of the Muis Distinguished Visitor Programme, where His Eminence called for an “Alliance of Virtues” among all communities of faith to articulate in one voice and to act in solidarity to promote peace and compassion, in a world fraught with challenges. Today’s conference is a response to that call. We hope that this conference will add to the various initiatives like A Common Word in 2012, the Chechnya and Marrakech Conference in 2016, the Fez Plan of Action in 2017 and recently the Washington Declaration for an Alliance of Virtue in 2018.
8 It is apt that Singapore is the venue for this conference as it is regarded as the most religiously diverse nation in the world according to a 2014 Study by US-based Pew Research Centre. Faith communities in Singapore demonstrate strong mutual respect and understanding as well as the spirit of helping and working together. There are already ongoing significant efforts by various faith communities in Singapore and globally. Through this conference, we seek to highlight such efforts that promote goodness in society. Through the rich experiences harnessed over the years, we could explore novel ways of instilling positive values and developing strong institutions to address the emerging challenges for humanity.
9 I would like to conclude by putting on record our gratitude to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for gracing the conference. I would like to also express my deepest appreciation to His Eminence Shaykh Bin Bayyah, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies for being our partner for this conference. Our sincere thanks also to all the scholars, community and faith leaders who have agreed to speak at this conference, all participants as well as those who have contributed to in developing and running this conference.