Muslims’ New Year 1439 is here: Enhance peace and harmony with prayers and resolutions

Muslims’ New Year 1439 is here: Let’s enhance peace, harmony, compassion and righteous living  

Salam Maal Hijrah (Happy New Year) 1439H.

The Muslim New Year 1439 begins today – Friday, 22 September 2017. Let us hope and pray that our lives and righteousness will be better during 1439H than in 1438H.

The Islamic New Year 1439H is on 22 September this year (2017) and begins in the evening (at 7:02 pm) of 21 September 2017.

As the Islamic day begins after sundown of the previous day, the ushering in of the New Year will be this Thursday (21 September) evening after 7:02 pm (exact time of the sundown) with special prayers.

In the mosques, Muslims would gather about an hour before sundown to recite collective dua (supplications) for the end of the Muslim year 1438. Then, after performing the congregational maghrib obligatory prayer (fourth prayer of the day), which begins in Singapore at 7:02 pm on that day, the congregation will read certain chapters of the Qur’an and recite the 1439 New Year dua.

During the recitation of the dua (supplication), Muslims, dressed modestly, open their palms to receive God’s Blessings.

On Friday, the Friday prayer sermon will focus on the Hijrah (betterment of life) and throughout the day and in the month of Muharram (first month of the Hijrah year), religious lectures will be held in the mosques and other locations on the Hijrah theme and of new year’s resolutions, pursuit and endeavour of Singaporean Muslims and also pray for the well-being of the Islamic ummah (Muslims throughout the world).

The Muslim New Year has an “H” after the indication of the year. For example, for the year 1439H, the “H” stands for “Hijrah” which means migration or a journey undertaken to a friendly, desirable and congenial place. In the case of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), he undertook the Hijrah from Mecca, the place of his birth and receipt of prophethood, to Yathrib some 350 km away in the year 622 of the Common Era (CE).

The Prophet emigrated to Yathrib upon learning of a plot by the opponents of Islam to assassinate him. One night, he and his closest Companion, Abu Bakr, left Mecca where he was persecuted for 13 years for his preaching of Islam which the pagan Meccans felt went against the practices of the pagan belief of worshipping idols, killing of female babies (infanticide) and taking women as mere chattels and given no rights, among other negative issues.

When the Prophet reached his destination, a large group of people were waiting for him, many with tambourines, to welcome him, and the moment they sighted him, they started the welcoming song, Ala al-Badru Alayna. This Islamic song (nasheed) has become so famous that even Mr Yusuf Islam (British singer, formerly Cat Steven) has recorded the song and sings it.

Yathrib was soon renamed Medinatul Nabi (City of the Prophet) or simply “Medina” (The City).

The Islamic calendar starts from this date of the Hijrah (migration of Prophet Muhammad, PBUH), which coincides with the Gregorian date of 16 July 622. That means, today Friday, 1 Muharram (coinciding with 22 September 2017), the Hijrah took place 1438 years ago of the Hijrah calendar or 1395 years of the Gregorian calendar. (The Islamic year is shorter by 11 days from the English year and as no leap year is allowed, any Muslim festival, like Hari Raya Aidilfitri, goes through all the months of the Gregorian calendar over a period of 33 years.)

The Hijrah is significant in the life of Muslims because it highlights the accomplishment of a goal by way of a change in strategy or lifestyle. It signifies growth, progress and success.

Muslims ought to take lessons from the significance of the Hijrah to better their lives by way of education, hard work and practising proper teachings of Islam as well as embracing compassion towards people of any race or creed.


May the year 1439H bring Allah’s Blessings to all Muslims and all mankind to live peacefully and harmoniously, resisting evil and wrongdoing, and our lives and righteousness be better during 1439H than in 1438H.  Ameen.

[Detailed explanation of this event is given in my recent books, “Allah: Understanding God in Islam” (2016) and “Islam Explained – Essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about Islam” (2nd Edition, 2017)].

Shaik Kadir
20 September 2017 (Updated: 22 September 2017)

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Congratulations President Halimah!

Congratulations President Halimah!

She’s the  symbol of  our multiracial, multicultural, multi-religious nation and national endeavour

We Singaporeans congratulate and salute President Halimah Yacob, 63, for being Singapore’s first woman president. We are proud to have her as our president who is humble and possesses great capability and commitment in her responsibilities.

Mdm Halimah Yacob taking her presidential oath to serve Singapore as President for a six-year term.

Sworn in today as Singapore’s eighth president, she is the first woman and second Malay to be the head of state of Singapore. She makes history, and her story, as our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during his speech at the Singapore Presidential Election 2017: Swearing-in 1-hour ceremony this evening (14 September, from 6 pm), is the story of Singapore – she grew up from a poor family to become Singapore’s Head of State. Likewise, Singapore had experienced hard times but developed from 1965 to become what it is today, a prosperous and harmonious multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

President Halimah Yacob delivering her maiden presidential speech at the Swearing-in 1-hour ceremony this evening from 6 pm (14 September 2017).

President Halimah’s journey to the presidency is interesting. Here’s her journey as given in The Straits Times (12 Sep):

• Aug 23 1954: Born in her family home in Queen Street, the youngest of five children.

• 1962: Her father dies. As a child, she helps her mother, who sells nasi padang from a pushcart plying Shenton Way before getting a hawker stall licence

• Late 1960s: Attends Singapore Chinese Girls’ School; one of the few Malay pupils there.

• 1970s: Goes to Tanjong Katong Girls’ School and the University of Singapore where she graduates with a law degree.

• 1978: Joins the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) as a legal officer. She spends more than 30 years there, eventually becoming deputy secretary-general.

• June 1980: Marries her university sweetheart Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, a businessman. They have five children.

• 2001: Enters politics at the urging of then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, and goes on to contest and win in four general elections. She was most recently a Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

• 2011: Becomes Minister of State at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

• 2013: Appointed Singapore’s first female Speaker of Parliament.

As reported in The Straits Times, President Halimah had, a couple of days ago, said: “My promise is to really serve everyone. I will serve with great vigour, with a lot of hard work, with the same passion and commitment that I have served … for last the four decades.”

She had also said: “I would like to encourage Singaporeans to work together with me so that we can work together for a united Singapore and a much stronger Singapore. This is a journey that we must take together.”

In her maiden speech as Head of State after her oath-taking, President Halimah said: “I have seen how much we can achieve by working together. Now, as President, my duty is to unite the people, to overcome the many challenges ahead of us, together. I pledge to continue this journey of service to our country. I call on all Singaporeans to join me in this endeavour. Our goal must be to leave behind a better Singapore for future Singaporeans.”

In her first public event as Singapore’s President, Mdm Halimah Yacob visited the Centre for Adults of the Association for Persons with Special Needs (ASPN) yesterday (15 September 2017).

Ms Nor Ain Saleha Hamid, writing her comments with regard to this blog article (see below), says: “Congratulations to us Singaporeans in having the first female President who embodies our values. She is a Malay but of mixed parentage of Indian & Chinese. Married an Arab husband. She’s Muslim and English educated. A high flier in her career, yet a mother to five!  Look forward to her huge contribution to Singapore. InsyaAllah, MasyaAllah, Alhamdulillah (Praise God).”

Indeed, we Singaporeans will work together with the President and the Government for our country’s peace, prosperity, progress and harmony.

Shaik Kadir
14 September 2017/16 September 2017
(Photos of President Halimah Yacob in this article are photo-shots of the photos in the recent issues of The Straits Times as well as TV screen-shots of the live telecast by Mediacorp of the President’s Swearing-in ceremony.)

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3 Jap students experience family lifestyle in Aug

3 Jap students experience family lifestyle in Aug

It is always interesting and informative to visit countries outside your own country to enjoy their sights and sounds as well as their heritage places, and also, if opportunity prevails, to stay in their peoples’ homes to learn about their local cultural and religious practices.

Such an opportunity came to three Japanese girls recently (in August 2017) from two different student exchange programs. My wife, Khairon Mastan, and I received them to our home for the homestay stint.

Our daughter and son, both married, have a child each. Our son has his own home while our daughter, with her husband and son, is away in Sydney studying for her PhD. So, we have a spare room in our HDB flat for guests.

Ms Yuri Abe and Ms Minami Matsuda stayed with us for three days and two nights while Ms Yui Igarashi stayed for day and a night.

YURI AND MINAMI
Yuri and Minami, together with two other girls and two boys, all 19 years of age, from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, were on a month’s educational exchange programme in Singapore. The homestay stint was part of the programme. The other four students stayed with two other families.

At our home, the girls learned about our Muslim lifestyle, sometimes they even wanted to try eating with their fingers as my wife, Khairon Mastan, and I did. They also watched us doing our daily prayers.

Our guests ate food cooked by my wife for all meals, and went for neighbourhood walks with me, and even sent and fetched my 3-year-old granddaughter who is in Nursery 1. I also took them to the “Our Tampines Hub” and the Marina bay area.
Yuri and Minami were lucky to get the opportunity to attend a Muslim wedding and wear Malay dress.

Some of the photos taken of our guests are shown in the following slides:

Food, glorious food: Ms Yuri Abe (left, top photo) and Ms Minami Matsuda eating home-cooked food with the hosts, Mdm Khairon Mastan and the writer of this article. Mr Yacob Hussain (in red shirt) sent the participants for the homestay to our home and stayed for tea.

Exercise: Yuri and Minami joined the Siglap Community Centre’s Brisk-walking Group. They had some warm-up exercises for the brisk-walk and after that did some cool-down exercises before adjourning for a lontong (rice-cake and vegetables) breakfast. Seen at the table are, from left, Mr Yacob, his wife Madam Keiko Soeda, Minami, Yuri and Madam Khairon.

Marina Bay: Experiencing the sights and sounds of the gorgeous bay just before sundown.

Marina Bay: Viewing the ever-popular laser show at 8 pm and enjoying a night-walk along the Helix Bridge and the Esplanade.

Muslim wedding: Eating spicy briyani rice and renewing friendship while enjoying the vigorous Hindi songs played to entertain guests.

Muslim wedding: A photo-opportunity with the newly-weds when they arrived at 2 pm for the bersanding (sitting on the bridal dais).

Changi Airport: Touring Terminals 1, 2 and 3 of the airport and stopping at “Relay”, a Terminal 1 bookshop, where Yuri and Minami saw the writer’s book, “Islam Explained: Essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about Islam”, priced at $19.99

Knowing neighbourhood: At the huge 6-storey “Our Tampines Hub”, shopping, resting and quenching thirst with cold drinks.

With the writer’s granddaughter: Yuri and Minami took a liking for 3-year-old Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, who is in Nursery 1.

Malay dress: Looking gorgeous in a Malay outfit, the baju kurung.

“Thank you” note: Minami and Yuri appreciating their stay with us.

Mr Imhar Said, International Affairs Director, SSEAYP International Singapore (SIS), said: “The homestay programme for the students from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, administered by SIS, was held this year for the fourth time in Singapore since its inception.”

He added: “For this year’s group of six students, I hope they have had a wonderful homestay. Thanks and salute to all our host families for welcoming them to their homes and giving them a good homestay experience.”

YUI
A day after our National Day, my wife and I hosted Ms Yui Igarashi, for one day and one night.

Yui was on a 2-day 2-night homestay program under the Shelton International College Student Exchange Program.

Mr Desmond Yew, SSEAYP International Singapore Homestay Director, hosted the student for another day and a night.

Mr Yew said: “Yui was already in Singapore for three weeks and the homestay is part of the program to experience home-life to understand people of other races and cultures better. As this is her first time outside Japan, the Singapore homestay is an eye-opener for her. It gave her the opportunity to speak English and experience local family life.”

Some of the photos taken of Yui during her stay with my family are shown in the following slides:

Mr Desmond Yew and Yui at my home.

A short outing for Yui.

 

Yui likes mangoes and Mdm Khairon bought some for her.

Email from Yui on her last day in Singapore.

My wife and I have, on a volunteer basis, been taking various exchange students and youths programmes since 1989 to give the youths the homestay learning experience. The programmes include:

• Ship for South-East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP)
• Iwate Global Seminar Program
• Singapore-Vietnam Youth Exchange Program
• Indonesian Icon Youth Visit
• JENESYS
• Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology
• Shelton International College Student Exchange Program

We must say we enjoyed taking them for the homestay stint just as much as they learn a lot about our family lifestyle.

Shaik Kadir
23 August 2017

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Happy National Day, Singapore: United we stand as one harmonious nation

Happy National Day, Singapore
United we stand as one harmonious nation

Three-year old Nur Iffah Bte Muhammad Imran.

Singaporeans celebrated the nation’s 52nd birthday on 9 August (2017) with the National Day Parade with much pomp and splendour.

The theme of this year’s National Day Parade is the call to all Singaporeans “to take pride in our achievements, and to be confident in our collective future as we overcome all odds together.”

At the Marina Bay floating platform area, this year’s celebration venue, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate the grand annual event and enjoy and the the parade and the skyworks, including the fascinating fireworks.

President Tony Tan, who was there to celebrate the nation’s birthday as head of the state for the last time, was visibly moved as he shook hands with many well-wishers.

Speaking to the media he said: “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as President and also to reach out to Singaporeans…we’ll have a marvellous future. But we have to strive to work on, there is no end to our journey.”

Congratulations to the nation’s birthday included one from 4-year-old Adam Rayan Dula, who is now in Sydney with his Singaporean mother and American father.

Four-year-old Adam Rayan Dula who is in Sydney.

Some photos of the scenes at the National Day Parade, TV screen-shots from Media Corps’ live telecast, are shown here.

Singing our National Anthem and taking our Singapore Pledge.

President Tony Tan taking his leave after the National Day Parade celebration.

Nursery 1 pupil Nur Iffah Imran: “I love Singapore. I love the colours of our Singapore flag.”

We become better, united and harmonious by working together. My wish is that the young generation of today, including little children like my two grandchildren, Adam Rayan Dula and Nur Iffah Imran, would see Singapore as a happy place to live and they themselves continue to strive to make Singapore an even more conducive place to call it their happy home.

Shaik Kadir
9 August 2017

 

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Second Edition of “Islam Explained” in bookstores now

Second Edition of “Islam Explained”
in bookstores now

“Islam Explained” by Shaik Kadir: The 2008 edition (left) and the 2017 edition.

The second edition of “Islam Explained” has already been published (in late July) and is now available in bookstores.

In my blog on 7 July (2017), I mentioned that “the price of the book is not known at this point in time. It would be tagged by the publisher. However, I feel it would not be more than $24.00 per copy.”

Well, the price of the book is roughly $20:00 per copy inclusive of GST.

PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK
“Islam Explained” was first published in 2008 (168 pages) and the second edition in July 2017 (200 pages). The book provides a wide view of Islam, a faith that recognises no racial and cultural barriers. It has spread far and wide across the globe and today, about one in five people in the world is a follower of the Islamic faith.
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd, a member of the Times Publishing Group.

Where to get the book: In major bookstores, like Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, Times Newslink (airport stores) and Select Books.
Price per copy: SGD18.68 excluding GST according to publisher (or roughly $20.00 including GST)

OBJECTIVE OF THE BOOK
The focus on terrorism in the media may have resulted in an inaccurate and biased view of Islam and of Muslims in general. This book, therefore, focuses on the beauty and rationality of Islam and highlights the importance for the world to discover what Islam really is and what it teaches.

The expanded 25-chapter second edition is meant for both the less-knowledgeable Muslims as well as non-Muslims so that they would understand Islam and appreciate its role and mission.

Most Muslims know much about Islam but it is important to have such a “simply written and easy to understand” book to dissipate the message, especially to non-Muslims, that Islam does not condone terrorism or violence. In fact, Islam actually promotes peace and harmony and the vast majority of Muslims adhere to Islam and find peace and happiness in it

It is very important for non-Muslims not to indulge in coffee-shop talks among themselves without knowing much about the truth of Islam and understanding it. Linking Islam and Muslims to terrorism and violence is islamophobia and it is as bad as terrorism and can disunite the society.

ESSENTIAL READING

“Islam Explained”: The copy on the left was published in 2008 while that on the right is the second edition published last month (July) and those 5 stacked-up copies are the author’s complimentary copies provided by the publisher.

In concluding this blog article, I must say I am happy that the publisher had chosen this book to go into second edition. It simply means that the book makes essential reading for Islamic knowledge – knowledge that is necessary for world peace.

Through this book, readers will be able to better understand and appreciate the truth and expectations of Islam and this understanding and appreciation is important for both Muslims and people of other faiths to come together to build a safer and more harmonious society for everyone.

Shaik Kadir
5 August 2017

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Racial Harmony Day: A day to maintain respect, understanding and friendship

Racial Harmony Day: A day to maintain respect, understanding and friendship

Nur Iffah and her friends Elydia (left) and Li Xin, who are in Nursery 1, passing time a day before while eagerly waiting to participate in the Racial Harmony Day celebration on 21 July 2017 for the first time since they entered school.

Sparkle Tots Preschool in Bedok North celebrated Racial Harmony Day on 21 July (2017) with a number of activities for two hours, from 8:00 – 10:00 am.

All students were encouraged to attend school not in their school uniform but in their own cultural attire and to mingle around and get to know one another.

The activities began with the singing of the National Anthem, “Majulah Singapura”, and the taking of the Singapore Pledge at the nearby amphitheatre. Next, the students and their guardians participated in dancing to the beat of songs in the four official languages, with much pomp and pleasure.

After the outdoor activities, there was an interactive talk on racial harmony which was followed by a talk on food wastage. The final activity of the day’s programme was the donation of dried foodstuff by the students’ family, which was collected by an official representative, for charity.

Racial Harmony Day is always, since Singapore’s independence in 1965, celebrated on 21 July each year.

It is a day meant to highlight the importance of having peace and harmony in Singapore that comprises people of many races, cultures and religious beliefs. It is important to be always aware of, and maintain, interracial and interfaith relations through tolerance, respect, and understanding. Singapore has thus far been championing such policy for the prosperity and harmony of the country and its people.

The photos presented in this article focusses on the participation of the writer’s granddaughter, 3-year-old Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, a Nursery 1 student.

Iffah, who is friendly and readily shakes hands with her friends upon meeting them, enthusiastically participated in the interracial and interfaith activities of the day’s programme.

Singing of Singapore’s National Anthem, “Majulah Singapura”…

Students and their guardians dancing to the beat of songs in the four official languages of Singapore.

Iffah and other students of the school…

Iffah and other students of the school.  This particular school conducts four levels of preschool classes – Nursery 1 (N1), Nursery 2 (N2), Kindergarten 1 (K1) and Kindergarten 2 (K2).

Iffah and her classmate Anisah (left) and Raeann, a friend from K2.

Iffah and her classmate friends Elise (left) and Elydia.

Iffah with Teacher Casey (left) and Teacher Pauline.

Iffah donating dried foodstuff for charity.

Relaxing on a pelamin (Malay bridal dais): It’s has been a tiring but indeed an exciting and happy day for Iffah. She is thinking of her 4-year-old cousin, Adam Rayan Dula, who is far away in cold Sydney (now experiencing winter) and is not able to join her in the activities of the Racial Harmony Day.

It is a good policy for Singapore to get students to mingle with their schoolmates from young so as to get familiar with each other’s cultures and religions to maintain peace, harmony and friendship for the benefit of all.

Shaik Kadir
(Nur Iffah’s paternal grandfather, “Atuk”, who accompanied her to celebrate Racial Harmony Day at her school.)
22 July 2017

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“Islam Explained”: It is important for the world to discover what Islam is and what it teaches

“Islam Explained”

It is important for the world to discover what Islam is and what it teaches

Nur Iffah with the 2008 edition of “Islam Explained”.

The book, “Islam Explained”, was published by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd, nine years ago, in 2008. (See photo of the book, above, held by the little girl.)  The little girl is my granddaughter, Nur Iffah Bte Muhammad Imran, who turned three on 3 July 2017. Here are some of her birthday photos:

Nur Iffah’s 3rd birthday celebration (Clockwise from left):  Iffah (1) with her Nursery One classmates, (2) with her two teachers, Teacher Pauline (left) and Teacher Casey, (3) with her classmates enjoying the birthday cake, and (4) with her parents and paternal grandparents.

Nur Iffah is also looking at “another” book, also entitled “Islam Explained” which looks different. See photo below.

Nur Iffah with the sample cover of the latest edition of “Islam Explained”: “I can read with my eyes closed and even with the book upside down.”

RAMADAN CHALLENGE
Well, as the 2008-edition of “Islam Explained” is almost depleted, the publisher decided to have a second edition for it and contacted me to help in updating and expanding the book.
Though it was already Ramadan and the fasting month is a hectic time for Muslims, I decided to help, taking it as a Ramadan challenge. So, from the second week of Ramadan till a couple of days before Eid ul-Fitri, I did the job – for the sake of dakwah to get people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, know the beauty and logic of Islam so that they would understand that it is a religion that teaches peace, mercy and compassion to all.

BACK-COVER INFORMATION

The blurb on the back cover of the latest edition of the book. It is reproduced below.

The blurb or back-cover information of the new edition goes:
     Islam, a faith that embraces races and cultures, has spread far and wide across the globe and today, about one in five people in the world is a follower of the Islamic faith. Few people have not heard about Islam or interacted with Muslims. But many, including some Muslims, do not know much about Prophet Muhammad and what the Qur’an actually teaches.
     Unfortunately, the focus on terrorism may have resulted in an inaccurate and biased view of Islam and of Muslims in general. Islam is not responsible for those Muslims involved in terrorism and violence; and these Muslims make up only a tiny fraction of the vast majority of practising Muslims who adhere to Islam and find peace and happiness in it. Islam actually promotes peace and harmony. Thus it is important for the world to discover what Islam is and what it teaches.
     This book explores the fundamental beliefs of Islam from its conception to what its adherents need to practise to be righteous and helpful to the peace and progress of one’s country of residence and the wider world. Presented in an elegant and concise way, it explains the different aspects of Islam the in topical form and clarifies misconceptions about the faith. Through this book, readers will be able to better understand and appreciate the truths and expectations of Islam for both Muslims and people of other faiths, to work together to build a safer and more harmonious society for everyone.

SIZE AND THICKNESS
The 2008 edition is 19.5cm x 13cm and has 168 pages while the latest edition has a new chapter, “The Muslim World”, and has 200 pages. It is larger in size, 21.5cm x 14cm, just like my previous book, “Inside Islam: 101 Questions & Answers”, published in 2004 by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd.

The latest edition is bigger and thicker (200 pages) as the information has been updated and expanded.

FROM SYDNEY WITH LOVE

My 3-year 8-month old grandson, Adam Rayan Dula, giving a thumb’s up for the second edition of “Islam Explained” from Sydney. The photo on the right is a screenshot of a handphone video of him saying, “Atuk’s book is good.”

AVAILABLE SOON
This second edition will be published this month (July 2017) and will be available in bookshops soon. (The price of the book is not known at this point in time. It would be tagged by the publisher.  However, I feel it would not be more than $24.00 per copy.)

FIRST TWO TO PLACE ORDER
The first person to place an order for two copies (no payment yet as the price is not known  now) of the second edition book is Mr Munawar Khan, Director of Al-Mustaqim Graveyard Services in Singapore.

Mr Munawar Khan (left) with the author, holding the sample front-and-back cover of the book. Mr Munawar’s contact is: Tel: 96687256, and Email: almustaqim.enquiry@gmail.com

Nur Iffah with Ms Nor Ain Saleha holding the sample of the front-and-back cover of the new “Islam Explained”.

The second person who has placed an order for five copies of the book is Ms Nor Ain Saleha Abdul Hamid, a volunteer with the Health Promotion Board and the Singapore Red Cross Society and a MUIS Befriender.

DEDICATION
The last paragraph of the Introduction to this edition of “Islam Explained” goes: “This book is dedicated to anyone and everyone, irrespective of race, religion or culture, who reads it to know and understand Islam and Muslims better so that together we can leave harmoniously, respecting one another, and working towards making the world a better place to live in.”

Shaik Kadir
7 July 2017

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