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OPENING REMARKS BY ESA MASOOD, DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MUIS, AT THE MUIS 50 LECTURE “ISLAM’S UNIVERSAL VALUES FOR HUMANITY” ON THURSDAY, 8th NOVEMBER, 8.00 PM, AT GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Grace Fu
Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, our distinguished guest speaker
President of Muis, Hj Alami Musa
CE of Muis, Hj Abdul Razak Maricar
Mufti of Singapore, Sahibusamaha Dr Muhammad Fatris Bakaram
Excellencies, interfaith leaders, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb., may peace be upon you and a very good evening to all.
A very warm welcome to all of you and thank you for honouring us with your presence this evening.
2 It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Eminence Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Vice President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, UAE as our esteemed speaker for this evening’s Muis50 Lecture.
3 Tonight’s lecture marks the end of our two-day International Conference Singapore, a culmination of Muis’ 50th anniversary celebrations.
4 Over the last 50 years, Muis has played a key role in shaping the community’s religious life.With the tireless support of the Singapore Muslim community, Muis has built mosques, supported our madrasahs, administered the community’s assets, and nurtured the religious life of our community. Our vision is a Singaporean Muslim community that is socially inclusive, religiously progressive and radiates blessings to all.
5 Our Muslim community has also been at the forefront of efforts to foster social cohesion.We see mosques involved in ground-up efforts to help the less privileged, including those that involving beneficiaries from various faiths. For example, we have mosques and churches working together to organise blood donation drives for patients in need, regardless of race or religion.Earlier this year, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) donated 2,000 kg of rice to some mosques during Ramadan while the Gurdwara Sahib Katong, a Sikh temple, hosted Muslim migrant workers and allowed them to perform their Maghrib (or evening) prayers within the temple grounds.
6 Similarly, in the spirit of SG Cares, which is the national movement to encourage individuals to give back to society, various mosques organise meal distribution to the needy, and also reach out to welfare homes to bring cheer to the residents. These are small acts, yet they are impactful in demonstrating the universal values of humanity, service and compassion that bind us all together.
7 But there is certainly more we can do. We must continue to work together for the common good, and overcome challenges that could quickly undo what we have painstakingly built up so far.
8 This was thus to motivation for organizing the International Conference Singapore. Allow me to give a short background about the conference.
9 In March 2017, Muis hosted Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the President of the Emirates Fatwa Council and also the President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, UAE, as part of the Muis Distinguished Visitor Programme. At his lecture, His Eminence called for an “Alliance of Virtues” among all communities of faith, to act in solidarity to promote peace and compassion.
10 A year on, in line with Shakyh Abdallah’s call, we are very glad to have partnered the Forum to organise this international conference, with the theme “The Future of Faith: Religious Values in a Plural World.” In yesterday’s keynote speech for the Conference, Shaykh Hamza emphasised that religion should not only be reactive in countering threats. Rather, religion can strengthen community relations, nurture the common good and uplift humanity.
11 Over the past two days, our esteemed scholars and guests discussed the importance of enhancing religious life by contextualising the understanding of religious traditions in line with the changing norms of modern and plural society. Our speakers also discussed how religion can be a force for good, without compromising its principles and traditions. The discussions also called upon the need to build robust religious institutions to address new challenges in new and emerging socio-religious contexts.
12 As a fitting conclusion to this 2 day conference, this evening, we are indeed honoured to have Shaykh Hamza to speak about “Islam’s Universal Values for Humanity”.Shaykh Hamza is often sought for his counsel and expertise in Islamic thought and reform in the world. Shaykh Hamza is also known for his firm commitment to peace through dialogue and positive contributions to humanity. For example, he is one of the signatories of the Amman Message, as well as a “Common Word Between Us and You”, which is an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders calling for peace and understanding, amongst various other international initiatives.
13 Tonight, Shaykh Hamza will speak about how religious values play a critical role in inspiring communities to contend with the challenges of modernity while living in harmony with others. This is especially important in the context of multi-racial and multi-religious societies like Singapore. Racial and religious harmony depends on each and every one of us doing our part to foster social harmony and to treat and accept each other with utmost respect.
14 Following Shaykh’s lecture, we will have some time for Questions and Answers. Moderating this segment will be none other than President of Muis Hj Alami Musa
15 Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me invite Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, as well as Hj Alami Musa on stage please.