Muslims in Singapore
Muslims make up 14.3% of Singapore’s 6 million population. Islam’s presence is clearly felt in this bustling city-state, and Muslims are generally free to practice their religion, as are other ‘major religions’.
In Ramadhan when I feel like having iftar (the meal to end a day of fasting) at the mosque, I can head over to any of the 4 mosques close to my apartment. There is a mosque in almost every neighbourhood, and these mosques serve many roles as the centre of activity and education for the Muslim community.
Just recently, Singapore’s first woman president, HE Madam Halimah Yacob came to office. I love it that we have a Hijabi President! Here’s Her Excellency looking cool and dignified in professional-style Muslim headgear:
Islam in Singapore
Islam is overseen and some aspects regulated by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, or MUIS (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura). Also, the administration and redistribution of Islamic Social Finance (Zakat, Waqf), and Halal certification of food and other items are very effectively managed by MUIS.
A little-known fact is that Singapore has one of the most developed and productive Waqf assets (religious endowment) in the world, with Waqf assets in 2015 valued at S$711million! This is huge for our small Muslim population. Our Waqf assets are managed by Warees Investment Holdings, a subsidiary of MUIS, with both asset value and income growing strongly since Warees was incepted 15 years ago.
In addition, Islamic principles are even enshrined in Singapore’s legal system, with the Administration of Muslim Law Act of 1968 (AMLA 1968) providing clarity on specific matters related to Muslim Law such as estate management (Faraidh) and marriage (Nikah) within the Singapore Legal System.
Sadly, Muslims in Singapore have struggled for a long time when it comes to Halal Investments. There has been a distinct lack of Shariah-compliant investments or ‘Islamic investments’, especially for the retail investor or ordinary Muslim Singaporean. Wealthy Muslims may have several options, with fund managers and investment advisors chasing their capital to invest in global Shariah-compliant stocks and funds.
In today’s world, savvy working professionals and or small entrepreneurs are just as aware and keen to engage in investment activity, albeit in smaller denominations.
Where it all began
Back in 2012, my college buddy Abdul Rahman had just set up his own law firm, and was starting to develop an infectious passion for Islamic finance. We decided that we had to take matters into our own hands. Amanah Asset Management was born, with two objectives:
a) to create and increase the demand for Islamic investment among Muslims and ethical investors in Singapore, and
b) to approach and bring in Islamic investment products and providers into Singapore.
We worked on this for 2 years, and although we managed to provide many Singaporeans with Islamic estate management services (Abdul Rahman still focuses on this service as an Islamic finance legal expert. See www.arlc.com.sg), we failed to bring in any new Islamic investment products into Singapore.
Every opportunity we chased ended in rejection. The reason was that Singapore was too small a market for Islamic finance at the mass-market level since there was no mass-Muslim market!
We kept pushing, being undeterred and gave regular free seminars to grow our community of Singaporean Islamic finance enthusiasts. Little did I know at that time that we were setting the foundation of something magical…
Investment Crowdfunding suddenly arrived in the West
We had discovered an incredible and unprecedented opportunity to create an investment platform that breaks all barriers, enabled by technology. Initially, we set up ‘Club Ethis’ as a private halal investments club for Islamic investors, due to the lack of regulatory clarity at that time.
We eventually became a bona fide investment crowdfunding platform – EthisCrowd.com! Here we are published in 2 articles in the National Malay papers Berita Harian when we first launched 3.5 years ago:
Since then we have evolved, expanded, revamped and inshaAllah (god-willing) improved tremendously. From an idea among friends on a mission to help Singapore Muslims invest, we gained rapid traction in the region to become the early leader in Islamic Investment Crowdfunding.
Today, we are an award-winning Real Estate Islamic Crowdfunding platform started by Singapore Muslims for Singapore Muslims! We even won 2 prestigious awards last year for our breakthrough efforts.
These awards help to validate our firm belief in what we do. EthisCrowd.com has attracted significant attention early on mainly because we were such a novelty, as one of the few Islamic Crowdfunding platforms in the world.
This led to proper recognition for our efforts, especially in the strong social impact of the campaigns we were featured which focused on Social Housing development projects in emerging Indonesia.
Moving forward providing Halal Investments
I seek all your sincere prayers and support as we continue to push and build Islamic Crowdfunding platforms. EthisCrowd.com is growing from strength to strength bringing the world to invest in Indonesia, and especially provide Muslims with halal investments.
We need to be especially steadfast and firm in our vision and mission to bring the best Ethical and Islamic investments for Muslims, and for Humanity.