Dec 11, 2006

Mosques should stimulate economic growth: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR : Muslims in Malaysia were called to use mosques not only as a place for worship but a point to stimulate economic growth among the Muslim communities, a top minister has said.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Muslims should think of ways and means to develop the more than 10,000 network of mosques in the country to spur economic activity, official Bernama news agency reported Sunday.

"The mosques and surau could be developed into a network of well managed retail outlets to sell quality and halal products," Najib said, according to Bernama.

Speaking to a group of mosque leaders, he said among the businesses which entrepreneurs could start at mosques' were restaurants, bakeries, hair salons, tailors, stationery shops, Muslim pawn shops and microcredit centres.

"As the businesses have ample market, they will definitely open up more businesses and job opportunities as well as generate good profit to the mosques and the local Muslim community," Najb said.

He said that a flourishing business centre at mosques would add "dimension and image" and could attract Muslim youths to mosques.

"It will do a world of good if the mosques could also be an effective community service centre."

Malaysia's 26 million-strong population is made up of some 60 percent of Muslim ethnic Malays and sizeable minority Chinese and Indian communities.

The government has been promoting a progressive concept of Islam known as Islam Hadhari which gives equal importance to science and technology and economic advancement.

- AFP/ir

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