Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF)


 

The Mosque Building Fund (MBF) was established in 1975 as a means of gathering funds for the building of mosques in new public housing estates. After the formation of the Mendaki Foundation in 1984, the MBF was integrated with the Mendaki Fund and renamed the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF). Muslims voluntarily contribute to this fund by having a fixed amount deducted from their salary every month through the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Each year, the MBMF collects about S$10 million.

History
In the early 1970s, some Muslims who were being resettled from their villages into Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in Toa Payoh found themselves without a community mosque in their new estate. After several rounds of discussion, Muslim community leaders along with the member of parliament (MP) for Toa Payoh at the time decided to go from door to door to collect funds for a new mosque. However, their progress was slow and they soon found their optimism wavering.

A turning point came when then prime minister Lee Kuan Kew initiated meetings with members of the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), also known as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, as well as Malay MPs at the Istana. The meeting on 10 December 1974 was attended by officials such as then social affairs minister Othman Wok, then MUIS president Buang Siraj and Mufti Syed Isa Semait. Thus was born the concept of having a fund that Muslims could contribute to voluntarily through the CPF.

The idea for the MBF was first introduced in parliament on 21 March 1975, after the proposed amendment of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) to collect donations for the construction of mosques at new housing estates. During the parliamentary debates, Kampong Kembangan MP Mohd Ariff Suradi suggested further uses for the MBF such as the maintenance of mosques, payment of bills and other miscellaneous expenditure. But Othman disagreed, stating that the MBF had the specific purpose of raising money for the purchase of land and the construction of mosques.

The MBF began collecting donations through the CPF in May 1975. Less than two years later, in April 1977, Toa Payoh residents witnessed the inauguration of their new mosque, Masjid Mujahirin. Two sceptics who were critical of the MBF had pledged donations to the mosque if it came to fruition, and each eventually donated a grandfather's clock to the mosque.

Between 1977 and 2009, a total of 23 MBMF-funded mosques were completed. Up till 1994, HDB presided over the design and construction of mosques, but the Mosques Division of MUIS has shouldered the task since then. The division regularly organises design competitions to help it select the appropriate architectural firm to design any new mosque. The tasks of furnishing and maintaining new mosques after completion as well as redeveloping older mosques are often left to each mosque's management board, which is appointed by MUIS.

Contribution Rates
Initially, the minimum monthly contribution was 50 cents per person, regardless of salary level. Due to the increasing cost of construction, the rate was revised to S$1 a month in 1977. After the MBF was merged with the Mendaki Fund, the minimum contribution became S$1.50. This rose to S$2 in 1991 due to an increase in the Mendaki component. In November 1995, higher contribution rates ranging from S$3 to S$5 were introduced for those earning more than S$1,000 a month. These were raised in July 2005 and March 2009. Each contribution is distributed between a mosque building and religious education component and the Mendaki component.

The table below shows the monthly contribution rates for each income group as of 1 March 2009 and how these are allocated.

Total monthly wage
(S$) 

Total monthly contribution
(S$) 

Mosque building & religious education component
(S$) 

Mendaki component
(S$)

1,000 and below 

2.00

1.00

1.00

1,001-2,000 

3.50

2.25

1.25

2,001-3,000 

5.00

3.60

1.40

3,001-4,000 

12.50

8.00

4.50

Above 4,000 

16.00

10.75

5.25


Expanded Use of Funds
On 17 November 2008, the AMLA was amended in parliament to expand the use of the MBMF to include the upgrading of old mosques and the enhancement of education at madrasahs (Islamic schools) such as through improving the curriculum, information technology services and teacher training at the schools. It was also announced that, in line with the expanded usage, monthly contributions to the MBMF would increase by between 50 cents and S$5 in order to raise an additional S$3 million a year.

This decision to increase the contribution rates was mired in controversy, largely due to concerns over the channelling of part of the funds to madrasahs. In order to assure the Muslim community that the funds would only be utilised to finance pertinent projects, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim issued an official statement that the accounts of the MBMF would be subjected to external auditing and the funding outcomes would be closely monitored. MUIS would also make public the financial statements of the Joint Madrasah System after the end of each financial year, as well as publish online the land and construction costs for each MBMF mosque. Similarly, to alleviate public concerns, madrasah fees would be raised to ensure that parents bear a bigger share of the cost of rejuvenating the madrasah education system.

MBMF Mosques
1977
: Muhajirin (Braddell)
1977 : Mujahidin (Queenstown)
1978 : Assyakirin (Jurong; rebuilt in 2002)
1980 : An-Nur (Woodlands)
1980 : Al-Muttaqin (Ang Mo Kio)
1981 : Al-Ansar (Bedok)
1983 : En-Naeem (Hougang)
1986 : Darul Aman (Eunos)
1987 : Al-Mukminin (Jurong East)
1989 : Darul Makmur (Yishun)
1989 : Darussalam (Clementi)
1991 : Al-Amin (Telok Blangah)
1991 : Darul Ghufran (Tampines)
1992 : Kampung Siglap (Marine Parade)
1993 : Ar-Raudhah (Bukit Batok)
1994 : Alkaff Kampung Melayu (Bedok Reservoir)
1997 : Al-Khair (Choa Chu Kang)
1999 : Al-Istiqamah (Upper Serangoon)
1999 : Al-Istighfar (Pasir Ris)
2003 : Al-Iman (Bukit Panjang)
2004 : Assyafaah (Sembawang)
2006 : An-Nahdhah (Bishan)
2009 : Al-Mawaddah (Sengkang)



Author
Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil



References
Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English. (2002). The building of mosques - Mosque Building Fund. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from http://www.postcolonialweb.org/singapore/arts/architecture/acm/fund.html

Feng, Y. (2009, May 15). New mosque aims to attract the young. The Straits Times. Retrieved June 19, 2009, from Factiva database.

Green, A. (2007). Continuing the legacy: 30 years of the Mosque Building Fund in Singapore. Singapore: Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura.
(Call no.: RSING 297.355957 GRE)

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. (2007). Mosque building programme. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from http://www.muis.gov.sg/cms/services/Mosques.aspx?id=281

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. (2009). About MBMF. Retrieved June 19, 2009, from http://www.muis.gov.sg/cms/services/mbf.aspx?id=560#our_MBMF_mosques

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. (2009). Background of the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF). Retrieved June 16, 2009, from
http://www.muis.gov.sg/cms/services/mbf.aspx?id=970

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura. (2009). Changes in MBMF rates. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from http://www.muis.gov.sg/cms/services/mbf.aspx?id=972#Rates_and_Trends

Zakir Hussain. (2008, November 18). Changes to Muslim fund passed. The Straits Times. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from Factiva database.

Zul Othman. (2008, November 18). Spending wisely; MBMF accounts to be externally audited; funding closely. TODAY. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from Factiva database.



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Ethnic Communities
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Mosques--Singapore
Fund raising--Singapore
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Islam
Muslims--Singapore

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