SINGAPORE – Ustaz Noor Hakeem Azman, 26, struggled during his first few months working at the Family and Inmates Through-care Assistance Haven Office on a work experience program in July 2020.
But with guidance from his supervisor, he developed a curriculum and produced lesson plans for inmates with the aim of engaging them in thinking and breaking down explanations of religious issues.
He has been offered a full-time position in the office, which reports to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), upon completion of the program in April 2021.
Ustaz Hakeem’s work experience program was part of his studies as one of 56 asatizah, or religious teachers, in the pioneer group of the Graduate Certificate Program in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS ). On Sunday, January 30, a graduation ceremony took place over two sessions at the Asian Civilizations Museum.
Muslim Affairs Minister Masagos Zulkifli, who attended the first session, announced that asatizah who are employed full-time in mosques or full-time madrasas after graduating from PCICS will receive a monthly raise of $100 added to their salary.
The increase is to recognize the time and effort graduates have put into developing themselves through the program and to recognize the value they bring to their asatizah roles.
Mr. Masagos added: “Many of our asatizah, who specialize in Islamic religious sciences, build their careers in the religious sector or in fields that contribute directly to the Muslim community.
“In doing so, we are developing a confident Muslim community.”
Ustaz Hakeem said the biggest sacrifice he had to make during the program was time.
He said: “Juggling time for my family, my studies and my internship has led to me being mentally and physically exhausted. What has kept me going is taking responsibility as a ustaz who would like to give back with compassion and a heart for the community.
The second session of the ceremony later in the afternoon of Sunday brought together the second Minister of Education Maliki Osman, who congratulated the cohort of graduates for adapting to the change due to the global pandemic during the program.
“Your achievement is even more remarkable as you embarked on this journey under the difficult circumstances of an unprecedented pandemic. You had to be agile and adapt to new standards of learning while working, including regularly switching to online options.
“It shows your adaptability and flexibility and always ready to embrace uncertainties.”