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Singapore leaders pay tribute to Ustaz Ibrahim

Singapore leaders have paid tribute to the late Ustaz Ibrahim Kassim, who is a prominent senior Malay religious teacher.

SINGAPORE: Singapore leaders have paid tribute to the late Ustaz Ibrahim Kassim, who is a prominent senior Malay religious teacher.

They included Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.

Ustaz Ibrahim, who held many important positions in the Muslim community, died of pneumonia aged 88 at 2.15am on Thursday.

His body was brought to the Al Khair Mosque in Teck Whye for a final prayer before burial.

Ustaz Ibrahim had contributed greatly to the development of socio-religious life of the Malay-Muslim community.

He was also fluent in six languages -- English, Malay, Arabic, Tamil, Urdu and Mandarin -- making him a bridge in various capacities.

In his condolence letter to the family, Prime Minister Lee noted that Ustaz Ibrahim championed moderate Islam and "did much to promote racial and religious harmony in Singapore".

Mr Lee said his death "is a great loss to all of us".

He said Ustaz Ibrahim was a respected religious teacher who made valuable contributions to the Muslim community and Singapore.

Ustaz Ibrahim worked closely with the government and the Muslim community to counter radical Islamic ideologies propagated by extremist terrorists.

He was a strong supporter of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, serving as a counsellor for more than a decade.

Mr Lee said Ustaz Ibrahim also recognised the importance of strengthening Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society, and regularly spoke up in favour of tolerance and mutual respect.

He added that Ustaz Ibrahim made a special effort to attend his dialogue with the Malay-Muslim leaders on the tudung issue in January, even though he was ill.

He was also touched that Ustaz Ibrahim subsequently wrote to him to support what he had said about the tudung issue, and to reaffirm his commitment to serving the community despite his health.

Mr Lee said he met Ustaz Ibrahim again at the Pioneer Generation tribute party in February.

He was frail, but in good spirits.

Like others of that special generation, Ustaz Ibrahim overcame difficult circumstances to help build a cohesive, multi-racial society.

Mr Lee said Ustaz Ibrahim inspired many with his commitment to the community and to Singapore.

In his Facebook post, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean hailed Ustaz Ibrahim as having "made many important contributions" for the community.

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information, said: "His contributions really are immense -- from ROMM (Registry of Muslim Marriages) to Syariah Court, to running classes for his students.

“But more important are his contributions to the RRG (Religious Rehabilitation Group) -- he recognises that this phenomenon has to be tackled, and if the religious elites do not step forward, then who else is able to do so?

“So I see that as an important contribution at the national level, because he recognises that we have to bring peace and harmony to wherever we are, and he believes strongly in that.

“I think that is a very important contribution for me, because he is really one of those icons. One of the pioneer generation who recognises that Singapore needs to exist as a multi-racial, multi-religious society." 

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