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Mariah Mah a retired Singaporean educator in her 70's , has been working tirelessly in the past 20 years to improve the lives of Muslims in China. She has been greatly involved in the Singapore Muslim outreach to poor Muslims in China. She was named by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world in 2009 and has also been cited in a book published by The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding by Edmund A. Walsh from School of Foreign Service Georgetown University - USA. She is the Honorary Chairman of Xiji Welfare Charity Centre (China) a government registered NGO in China's poorest region known as XIHAIGU (one of the world’s poorest regions as recorded by UNESCO). As a result of the numerous charity projects initiated which benefitted and improve the lives of hundreds of farmers in the region SisterAlso awared Honorary Citizen of Xiji County,Ningxia Province China . Charity projects include distribution of zakat , sadakah, iftar ramadan,sponsoring of poor Muslims to go on Hajj, subsidising orphans education and livelhood,and implementing water projects in arid areas.
Mariah dedicates her life to humanitarian work. A Muslim by birth, her avid interest in Islam as a religion for humanity was reawakened after her pre-university education. She decided to pursue a degree in Islamic studies at the University of Malaya. After graduation , she became a teacher and continued in the profession for 35 years. While attending university, sister Mariah learnt Arabic language , Islamic history, hadiths, Qur’an tafsir ,Islamic philosophy and law. Amazed at the great legacy that Islam had given the world at a time when Europe was still in the Dark Ages, she decided to spend her life learning and sharing Islam ic values to as many people as possible , especailly to non Muslims who often misundertand Islam to be a religion of the Malays, Arabs and that of the Hui minority in China when in fact it is Divine Guidance revelaed to Prophets throughout the ages since the creation of Man . She remains true to her goal today, which has inspired the multipler humanitarian projects that she carries out in China.
Mariah shows her dedication to improving education standards of Muslims in China by sponsoring the salaries of madrasah teachers , giving out bursaries to 200 students each year to enable them to pursue tertiary education as that would help to break the vicious poverty circle among indigent farmers. She has also set up literacy education centre s where poor village children are offered basic literacy as well Qur’an reading.
Sister Mariah and her brother, Jaafar in 1994 conceptualised the first China Muslim Silaturrahim tours and invited local tour partners in Singapore to participate in such discovery tours to explore and understand Chinese Muslim civilisation . Silaturrahim Tours, are charity-oriented, and non-profit .It is a niche service to Muslims who would like to tour China on holiday and network with Muslims in China. Unlike most tour agencies, Mariah ensures that every last bit of profit from the operations is put into the charities to help the underprivileged Muslims in China.
Apart from Tours Sister Mariah also organises community services for students who want to get a taste of village life . Right now she is working with undergrads from SMU, NTU nad NUS.
Kindly refer to page 142 of the publication - The 500 most influential Muslims in the world 2009.