The religious teachers (Asatizah) are spiritual, thought and community leaders. The Muslim community relies on them as beacons of light to lead our holistic and ethical lives in our world today. They are driven by a deeper calling and respond to this noble call for service and duty for the community. The effort and sacrifices of the early generations of Asatizah goes a long way in co-creating the compassionate and cohesive future of our community, our nation and our global community at large.
To ensure the full recognition of qualified and professional Asatizah, our teachers established the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) in 2004. It was made mandatory in 2017 to enhance the standing of the Asatizah and serve as a credible source of reference for the Singapore Muslim community. Today, the scheme not only recognises Asatizah, it also equips them with the necessary 21st century skillsets to enable them to confidently play their role in building an inclusive nation.
The Certificate in Islam in Context (ICON) was introduced in 2017 as a pre-requisite for the ARS. Building on its success and the intent of strengthening the development of Asatizah in Singapore, all new applicants for the Tier 1 Graduate ARS will have to participate in the expanded programme called the Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS).
The effort to uplift the religious sector to meet the evolving needs of the Singapore Muslim community is multi-pronged. A Committee on Future Asatizah (COFA) has been formed to engage the community in an envisioning exercise on 'Asatizah of the Future'. From March to October 2019, COFA will engage key stakeholders, such as current Asatizah, recent graduates and undergraduates from tertiary Islamic institutions; madrasah students and their parents; academics and industry experts; and the public. Inputs from these engagement sessions will be used to inform policies and programmes for Asatizah workforce development.
Below is an excerpt from Prime Minister Lee's National Day Rally 2019
"Another pillar of our Malay community is religion. Islam is one of the great religions of the world. It is a religion of peace, with almost two billion followers around the globe. Different Muslim communities practise Islam in different ways, depending on their own histories and traditions. In Singapore’s plural society, Islam is practised in a spirit of mutual respect, tolerance and inclusiveness.
Our Asatizah are central to nurturing a progressive Muslim community. Next year, MUIS will launch the Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS). This course is for religious teachers who were educated overseas and returning home. It is meant to train them in the application of what they have learnt overseas to our Singapore context. We also hope to explore new approaches and pedagogies in the teaching and learning of Islam. All this will help us develop a model for our own Islamic college, which will one day train a new generation of Asatizah in Singapore."