SINGAPORE: Mufti of Singapore Nazirudin Mohd Nasir said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday (Aug 10) that his responsibilities and religious leadership are a complex balancing act that covers many aspects.
“Trust and responsibility towards the community, the country’s leadership. More importantly, towards the religion and God,” he said in an interview in Malay with Berita Mediacorp.
This complex process “has to be carried out in a good and careful manner and that often results in misunderstandings”, said the country’s top Islamic leader.
Dr Nazirudin addressed the controversy over his announcement earlier this year that Hari Raya Puasa would be celebrated in Singapore on May 3. Neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei marked May 2 as the date of the festival.
In his statement then, the religious leader said that the crescent moon – which marks the start of a month for Muslims – for the Islamic month of Syawal, which follows Ramadan, was not visible in Singapore at sunset on the 29th day of the Islamic month of Ramadan.
“Thankfully, I think after the explanation, many accepted the decision,” Dr Nazirudin said in the Berita Mediacorp interview.
When asked how he deals with criticisms such as those he received in response to the Hari Raya Puasa date, he said: “My principle is that if I feel that I’ve done my best and I’ve tried my best to find or made a decision, after consulting the asatizahs and colleagues in the Mufti’s office, I have to be brave and confident to defend the decision.”
People in leadership positions have to be willing to accept criticism, he added.
“If not, we would not be better in our job. But as humans, we have emotions and the language does play a role,” he said.