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Interfaith Harmony: Singaporean Buddhists and Hindus Donate Rice to Muslims for Ramadan

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Singapore Buddhist Lodge donated 35 tonnes of rice to mosques in Singapore last month. From straitstimes.com
Singapore Buddhist Lodge donated 35 tonnes of rice to mosques in Singapore last month. From straitstimes.com

Aiming to emphasize and affirm interfaith harmony in multicultural Singapore, Singapore Buddhist Lodge and the Hindu Endowments Board on 3 May donated several tonnes of rice to mosques around the Southeast Asian city-state.

On 3 May, the Hindu Endowments Board donated two tonnes of rice to Abdul Gafoor, An-Nahdhah, Ba’alwie, and Jamae Chulia mosques, and in April Singapore Buddhist Lodge donated 35 tonnes of rice to various mosques, including Ba’alwie Mosque in Singapore’s Bukit Timah neighborhood. 

The rice will be used for making porridge and other evening meals with which needy groups within the local Muslim community will break their 30-day fast during Ramadan. 

“Praise to God, with this rice donation, we will prepare breaking-of-fast food such as porridge,” said, Mujahidin and Al-Amin Mosque executive chairman Muhammad Khairul Jameel Yahya. (The Straits Times)

Ramadan is a religious tradition upheld by Muslims during which they commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Ramadan traditionally takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This year, Ramadan began on 6 May and will end on the evening of 4 June with Eid-ul-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast.

“The month of Ramadan gives everyone, including non-Muslims, an opportunity to slow down and recalibrate our lives and values. It is also a time of extraordinary generosity by the Muslim community,” said Hindu Endowments Board chairman R. Jayachandran. “Hence, it is an appropriate time for the Hindu community to reciprocate the kindness and support which the Muslims extend.” (The Straits Times)

Under a program initiated in 2014 by its former president the late Lee Bock Guan, Singapore Buddhist Lodge has donated almost 153 tonnes of rice to the Muslim community in Singapore. The most recent donation, delivered last month, was distributed to 18 mosques including Mujahidin Mosque in Queenstown. 

The initiative is a warming example of social harmony between different religious groups in a world that is all-too-often witness to religious intolerance and violence against the followers of different faiths, most recently underscored by the deadly attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on 21 April that killed 258 people.

Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli join Muslim faithful in breaking their fast at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah on 7 May. From straitstimes.com
Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli join Muslim faithful in breaking their fast at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah on 7 May. From straitstimes.com

Further emphasizing religious harmony on Tuesday, Singapore’s president Halimah binti Yacob joined Muslim faithful as they broke their fast at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. “I’m deeply encouraged by the presence of other interfaith leaders [here] because that shows that the act of breaking fast is a great platform for us to encourage interfaith harmony and cohesion.” Yacob told The Straits Times newspaper.

She continued: “What we see happening around the world is certainly not encouraging at all. Because of identity politics, people are withdrawing into their own ethnicities and religions. Instead of creating togetherness they are celebrating separateness, and that is not something that we want in Singapore.”

Founded in 1934, Singapore Buddhist Lodge is a Buddhist organization that aims to propagate Buddhism and to engage in charitable undertakings that includes its Family Service Centre and Chinese Free Clinics. Founded in 1968, the Hindu Endowments Board is managed by four major Hindu temples and is heavily involved in inter-religious activities and community service projects.

Although Singapore is predominantly a Buddhist country, with 33.2 per cent of the total population identifying as Buddhists, according to census data for 2015, it is a county of diverse religious traditions that include Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, as well as those with no religious affiliation. The Buddhist community in Singapore is notable for operating a number of free clinics that are open to the public regardless of a patient’s ethnicity or beliefs.

See more

Singapore Buddhist Lodge, Hindu Endowments Board donate rice to mosques for Ramadan (The Straits Times)
President Halimah joins 400 Kampong Glam residents to break fast (The Straits Times)

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