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  • 6 Singaporean Island Getaways without a Passport

    Itching for a getaway or a day trip over the long weekend? With Phase 2 in effect, you can island-hop without a passport right here in Singapore! Did you know that Singapore has 63 islands, including natural and man-made islands? These gorgeous islands have plenty of activities and attractions that you can enjoy while still maintaining safe distancing. Fun fact: Did you know that Singapore used to own Christmas Island that we now know belongs to Australia? We have more places to explore in Singapore than we think! Why not be a tourist in your own country during this period to satisfy your wanderlust? Here are 5 offshore islands you can visit over the weekends without a passport. via GIPHY   Lazarus Island and Pulau Seringat Image Source: Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services Looking to have a serene and romantic beach getaway on an island that is NOT Sentosa? Lazarus Island is exactly what you are looking for. Known as Singapore’s best island escape, Lazarus Island overlooks a beautiful lagoon with white sands that are perfect for an unforgettable day out. You can take a romantic stroll and dip your toes in the sand or swim in the glittering turquoise waters. This 800-meter stretch of beach is perfect for a picnic with your loved ones and to celebrate any special occasions. Plus, you can be assured that you are safe distancing at this beach as the island is usually not plagued by crowds. To get to Lazarus Island and Pulau Seringat, take an $18 round-trip ferry from Marina South Pier to St John’s Island. Upon disembarkation at St John’s Island, turn left to walk across the causeway connecting these islands.   St John’s Island Image Source: Singapore Press Holdings If you are planning to visit Lazarus Island, you might as well explore St John’s Island as the ferry will disembark here. This island has a very interesting history that history buffs would appreciate. St John’s Island was once a quarantine station for cholera patients, lepers, and unwell immigrants that were headed to Singapore during a period where cholera was spreading throughout the archipelago. Visiting the island during this period of Phase 2 would perhaps make you think a bit more about how Singapore has grappled with diseases over the years. Don’t let its history put a damper on your mood – St John’s Island now offers a nice slice of nature with one of the cleanest lagoons for swimming out of all the other offshore islands. You can take a relaxing dip around the shores or go snorkeling to explore the marine life with its colorful corals. You can also go on a trekking route where you can catch a breath-taking skyline view of our mainland. You will find even more amenities on this island than Lazarus Islands such as chalets or bungalows that you can rent to stay overnight. These chalets come with a kitchen and the campsites come with basic cooking amenities that are perfect if you want to have a barbeque party. To get to St John’s Island, take an $18 round-trip ferry ride from Marina South Pier to the island. For children, the round-trip ferry ticket will cost $12.   Coney Island Image Source: Sim Ding En at Wonderwall.sg Did you know that Punggol has its little island called Coney Island? Coney Island is located beside the Punggol Waterway and it was launched as part of the up and coming Watertown Punggol. It was planned to be developed into a commercial and residential area with a beach facing the Johor Strait. Fortunately for us, Coney Island has not been developed to be an urban jungle and still sports a remote and rustic ambiance. You can rent a bicycle from Punggol Jetty or Punggol Point and cycle your way from Punggol Waterway to Coney Island. Admire the scenic waterside view as you cycle on the promenade, you might even catch a glimpse of a wild otter if you are lucky. Birdwatchers, rejoice! There are plenty of brightly colored birds to admire at the natural forested walkways as you make your way to Coney Island. Once you reach the island, explore its hidden beach and the Lorong Halus wetland! Aside from cycling there, you can take Bus 84 from Punggol Interchange and alight at the northern end of Punggol Road. You can also take a taxi or drive to this northern end. From the northern end, walk across the walkway from Punggol Promenade Nature Walk to Coney Island. Opening Hours: Open daily; 7 am – 7 pm (Daily)   Pulau Ubin Image Source: NParks The most popular offshore island aside from Sentosa is Pulau Ubin. Pulau Ubin, which is Malay for “Granite Island” pays tribute to its history where granite quarries used to operate there back then. Here, you will be rewarded with a rustic version of Singapore where you will be surrounded by the lush greenery, mangrove swamps, a tranquil sea, and one of the last remaining kampungs in Singapore. Rent a bicycle and cycle to Chek Jawa Wetlands to admire the rural floral and fauna which includes a beach, mangroves, and the forest. Climb up the seven-story high Jejawi Tower to admire the jungle from above. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of hornbills and other wild animals. You can try out various biking trails such as the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, Free Ride Skills Park, and Dirt Skills Park, or try hiking at Pulau Ubin’s Puaka Hill. If you are headed to the island over the weekend, make sure to try out Maleh Café, a Muslim-owned establishment, near the Pulau Ubin jetty which is only available over the weekends! To get to Pulau Ubin, take a $6 round-trip bumboat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to the island.    Kusu Island Image Source: lifeguide.sg Also known as Tortoise Island, Kusu Island is a popular site of pilgrimage as it housed the famous Da Ba Gong temple and three keramats (gravesite of saints). Two major pilgrimages are made to these sites every year. Did you know about the old legend of Kusu Island? The legend goes that there was a giant tortoise that miraculously turned into an island to save a Malay and Chinese men who were shipwrecked. To show their gratitude, it was said that these men built a temple and a shrine in honor of the tortoise. You will also find tons of tortoise statues around the island. Make sure to visit the tortoise sanctuary where you can watch these reptiles in action! There is also a beach and lagoons that you can dip your feet or swim in. Kusu Island is a place where multiple cultures and religions meet, making it a rich heritage site that you should visit at least once! To get to Kusu Island, take an $18 round-trip ferry from Marina South Pier to Kusu Island. The ferry will have a stopover at St John’s island first before it heads to Kusu Island. Image Source: Singapore Island Cruise and Ferry Services Who says you can't travel and satisfy your wanderlust in Singapore? There is more to Singapore than our busy cityscape and the glitzy Sentosa Island! Have an enjoyable getaway or a day trip at one of these offshore islands and experience the many tranquil beaches, glittering lagoons, rich culture and heritage that they have to offer! But make sure to always wear a mask when you are out and about, and remember to practice safe distancing! If you are planning to explore these islands, use this Singapore travel guide to island-hop without a passport! So switch your busy office for the beach instead over the long weekend! via GIPHY...

  • Our Collective Responsibility Towards Refugees | Mohamad’s Ramadan

    At a time when many are losing their livelihoods due to Covid-19 measures, some of the hardest hit are those who were already in financially and socially vulnerable positions. Refugees and internally displaced people are facing increasing uncertainty and instability. A little support from each of us can go a long way in providing for basic needs. Families like Mohamad’s whose lives have been disrupted by conflict, separated from family, community and a means for a livelihood, are able to meet basic needs through necessary cash support. UNHCR supports thousands of families living in displacement. This year’s Ramadan campaign will focus on funding to provide shelter, food, clean water and cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs, namely orphans, female headed households, and the elderly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. “This year more than ever, your contributions are critical to saving lives." - Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.   This Ramadan #EveryGiftCounts https://bit.ly/HalalTripRMDN...

  • How To Celebrate Eid Al-Fitr This Year In 2020: 12 Things To Note

    How to celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year? Here are 12 things to note for this year's Eid al-Fitr celebration in 2020. 1. When is Eid al-Fitr 2020 Image Credit: Rumman Amin on Unsplash Eid al Fitr is the 1st day of the month of Shawwal. The 10th month in the Islamic calendar (the month after Ramadan). Some regions will depend on the sighting of the moon to decide on the 1st of Shawwal and some will decide on it based on calculations.  For most regions, Eid al Fitr 2020 will be on the 24th of May. Some regions may celebrate Eid on the 23rd May or the 25th May. A very small number may even celebrate on the 26th May. It is best to check with your closest Mosque to find out about the day of Eid. 2. Pay Sadaqa-ul-Fitr Image Credit: Bayu on Unsplash Ensure you have paid Sadaqat-ul-fitr for you and all your dependents before the Eid Salat. Check with the local Mosque on the amount to be paid per person. Amounts recommended in some countries: Singapore: S$5.10 (normal rate) and S$7.50 (higher rate) per head Malaysia: RM7 UK: £4 per person. Narrated Nafi (RA): “Ibn `Umar (RA) said, "The Prophet (SAW) made incumbent on every male or female, free man or slave, the payment of one Sa' of dates or barley as Sadaqat-ul-Fitr (or said Sadaqa-Ramadan)."  The people then substituted half Sa' of wheat for that. Ibn `Umar (RA) used to give dates (as Sadaqat-ul-Fitr). Once there was scarcity of dates in Medina and Ibn `Umar gave barley.  'And Ibn `Umar used to give Sadaqat-ul- Fitr for every young and old person. He even used to give on behalf of my children. Ibn `Umar used to give Sadaqat-ul-Fitr to those who had been officially appointed for its collection. People used to give Sadaqat-ul-Fitr (even) a day or two before the Eid. (Sahih-al-Bukhari) Narrated Ibn `Umar (RA): The Prophet (SAW) ordered the people to pay Zakat-ul-Fitr before going to the Eid prayer. (Sahih-al-Bukhari) It was narrated that Ibn Abbas (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) enjoined Zakatul-Fitr as a purification for the fasting person from idle talk and obscenities, and to feed the poor. Whoever pays it before the (Eid) prayer, it is an accepted Zakah, and whoever pays it after the prayer, it is (ordinary) charity.  (Sunan Ibn Majah) 3. Reciting the Takbir Image Credit: Falaq Lazuardi on Unsplash Recite Takbir individually and with family from Maghrib time of the day before Eid day until before the Eid Salat. اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ  لَا إلَهَ إلَّا اللَّهُ وَاَللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ  اللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ وَلِلَّهِ الْحَمْد 4. Praying Voluntary Prayers during the Night of Eid Image Credit: Masjid Pogung Dalangan on Unsplash Narrated from Abu Umamah (RA): That the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever spends the nights of the two ‘Eid in praying voluntary prayers, seeking reward from Allah, his heart will not die on the Day when hearts will die.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)   5. Wake up for Fajr Image Credit: Arun Anoop on Unsplash حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ Guard your Salah (obligatory regular prayers) especially the middle Salah and stand up with true devotion to Allah (Qur’an 2:238) Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "The first of man's deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat. If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and a loser. If any shortcoming is found in the obligatory Salat, the Glorious and Exalted Rubb will command to see whether His slave has offered any voluntary Salat so that the obligatory Salat may be made up by it. Then the rest of his actions will be treated in the same manner." (Sunan-at-Tirmidhi) 6. Take a Shower 7. Wear your Best Garments 8. Put on Perfume It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: ‘This day is an ‘Eid (festival) which Allah has ordained for the Muslims. Whoever comes to Friday (prayer), let him take a bath and if he has perfume then let him put some on. And upon you (I urge to use) is the tooth stick.” (Sunan Ibn Majah) 9. Eat Something before the Eid Prayers Photo by Mona Mok on Unsplash Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Messenger (SAW) never proceeded (for the prayer) on the Day of `Id-ul-Fitr unless he had eaten some dates. Anas also narrated: The Prophet (SAW) used to eat odd number of dates. (Sahih-al-Bukhari) 10. Performing Eid Prayer at Home Image Credit: Jeremy Yap on Unsplash This year is different and most of us will be performing Eid prayers at home with family. How to perform Eid prayer at home: Appoint someone in the family to lead the prayers It was narrated from Abu Sa'eed (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: "when there are three people let one of them lead the prayer, and the one who is most entitled to lead the prayer is the one who has most knowledge of the Qur'an." (Sunan an-Nasa'i) There is no Azan or Iqamah for Eid prayers Two Rakats prayer with a certain number of additional Takbeers in each Rakat The exact number of additional Takbeer may slightly vary depending on the Madhab you follow. This is the guidelines from Singapore Mufti's office: Recommended Surahs to be recited It was narrated from An-Nu'man bin Bashir that: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) used to recite on the two 'Eids and on Friday: ‏سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى  (Glorify the Name of Your Lord, the Most High) and هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ‏ (Has there come to you the narration of The Overwhelming?) Sometimes the two ('Eid and Jumu'ah) occurred on the same day, and he would recite them (these two Surahs). (Sunan an-Nasa'i) Khutbah after prayers is not compulsory as in Friday prayers. Many Mosques are live streaming Khutbah that you could listen to. It was narrated that Abdullah bin Sa’ib (RA)said: “I attended the ‘Eid prayer with the Messenger of Allah (SAW). He led us in offering the ‘Eid prayer, then he said: ‘I have finished the prayer. Whoever wants to sit (and listen to) the sermon, then let him sit, and whoever wants to leave, then let him leave.’” (Sunan-Ibn Majah) 11. Giving Gifts Image Credit: Kari Shea on Unsplash Abu Hurayra (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said, "Give gifts and you will love one another." (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad) Aishah (RA) narrated: "The Prophet (SAW) would accept gifts and he would give something in return." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)   12.  Call Up your Parents, Sibling, Uncles, Aunts…. Image Credit: Taylor Grote on Unsplash Narrated Abu Huraira (RA): The Prophet (SAW) said, "Allah created His creation, and when He had finished it, the womb, got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, "What is the matter?' On that, it said, 'I seek refuge with you from those who sever the ties of Kith and kin.' On that Allah said, 'Will you be satisfied if I bestow My favors on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favors from him who severs your ties?' On that it said, 'Yes, O my Lord!' Then Allah said, 'That is for you.' " Abu Huraira (RA) added: If you wish, you can recite: "Would you then if you were given the authority. do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship. (47. 22) (Sahih-al-Bukhari) Narrated Anas bin Malik (RA): I heard Allah's Messenger (SAW) saying, "whoever desires an expansion in his sustenance and age, should keep good relations with his Kith and kin." (Sahih-al-Bukhari)   May Allah accept your fasting and all the good deeds....

  • Our Collective Responsibility Towards Refugees | Abdullah’s Aspirations

    "This year, the holy month of Ramadan greets us at a time of great global suffering. We are all vulnerable in the face of this pandemic. But it is in the essence of Ramadan that many of us can find solace and hope. At a time where our collective humanity is being tested, let us remember in this holy month our brothers and sisters who need our help." - Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Abdullah and his mother are refugees, survivors, and pillars of strength for each other. Their stories are both an inspiration and a call to action. In challenging times, we strive to maintain practices of generosity, and empathise with those in different circumstances to us. UNHCR supports thousands of families living in displacement. This year’s Ramadan campaign will focus on funding to provide shelter, food, clean water and cash assistance to the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs, namely orphans, female headed households, and the elderly in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. This Ramadan #EveryGiftCounts https://bit.ly/HalalTripRMDN...

  • Our Collective Responsibility Towards Refugees | Aya’s Reflections

    Aya Fadan, Senior Community Based Protection Assistant in Jordan © UNHCR Aya Fadan is a Senior Community Based Protection Assistant for UNHCR in Jordan. These are her reflections from her experiences at UNHCR working directly with refugees. “When I applied to this job, I was thinking of the challenges I might face. I live in a peaceful place and now I will be helping people who are escaping war and seeking asylum. For us, we usually pack whenever we travel for a vacation, or when moving to another house, maybe to a more luxurious one. But we see the other side of travel here in the camp. The people who packed their essential items not knowing where they will go, but just to save their souls and their families. That is what inspires me to support them and be more understanding of their emotional and physical needs.  My role is to support the refugees who have suffered from war and displacement regardless of their differences, and to ease their access to services. I used to provide awareness sessions for refugees in topics like education, health, protection and food-security. I also provided sensitized awareness sessions for women and girls, to raise their knowledge about their rights, self-confidence and respect, empowerment, and the availability of protection services. Me being a female most likely gave other female refugees the confidence to approach me and share their personal sensitive matters. They feel comfortable to talk about their concerns. This also gives me the chance to support them and lead them to the self-development activities that are available in the camp, such as physical well-being, sewing, and education related courses. After five years of experience in this humanitarian field, I feel as a woman responsible to keep on providing the needed assistance, with the same passion that I started with on day one, and to keep on following up on their needs despite the limited available services we might have.”    How can you support UNHCR’s on-the-ground work with refugees? To facilitate the contributions of Muslims all over the world, UNHCR has launched its Refugee Zakat Fund, a trusted, compliant and effective distributor harnessing the power of Zakat to transform the lives of refugees.. Let’s fulfill our responsibility towards refugees.  To learn more and contribute you can visit: https://bit.ly/HalalTripZakat *This article is from CrescentRating-UNHCR’s Joint Publication - Forced Displacement : A Reality For Millions Of Women. You can learn more and download the publication here....



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