New Muslim endowment fund for Islamic education

SINGAPORE - The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) will be creating a new Muslim endowment fund beginning with a capital sum of $3 million for the benefit of Islamic education.

This was announced in Parliament today by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.

Over the last two centuries, Muslim pioneer philanthropists have created wakaf, or Muslim endowment. The annual income from these wakaf supports the funding of religious and charitable programmes in perpetuity.

Last year, a total of $3.08 million was disbursed to three main beneficiaries, namely mosques, madrasahs and the poor and needy.

The new Wakaf fund will be creating through consecrating and pooling together shares of Muslim estates which will otherwise form part of the Baitulmal or General Fund.

The Wakaf Disbursement Committee will allocate the disbursement based on the priorities and needs for the year, he said.

Wakaf is typically in the form of immovable properties, as in the case for the existing 99 wakaf properties. Since 1993, no such wakaf has been created.

Dr Yaacob therefore noted that the giving landscape has changed and that MUIS should find an appropriate way to promote and adapt this important Islamic institution to the modern context.

He said that he expects many well-to-do Muslims would like to contribute to the community, and now can do so, as wakaf contributions may also be in the form of cash for investment in low-risk or capital-guaranteed instruments.

He also expressed pleasure that more Muslims nowadays are doing financial planning and drawing up wills in accordance with Islamic inheritance law.

As a form of "planned giving", he suggested that Muslims can pledge up to one third of their estates for the wakaf fund.

The public may also contribute directly to the fund. Further details will be announced by MUIS in due course.

In his speech, Dr Yaacob also highlight that the creation of a new wakaf by Khalid Mosque through the purchase of two properties at Joo Chiat Road and Onan Road is good example of how income from wakaf properties could be channelled to sustain the operations of a mosque.

He expressed confidence that the move to create new wakaf will pave the way to revive the philanthropic spirit in the Muslim community, and said he hopes people will contribute generously to the new wakaf.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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