In 2012, hateful caricatures of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was published by the Charlie Hebdo tabloid in France. These drawings sent shockwaves across the Muslim community globally. Saddened by the hate expressed towards the Muslim community, a senior in my university approached me, suggesting that we should conduct a sit in protest in campus. “Nope, that’s not right”, I thought to myself. How can we use hate to counter hate? Only love and kindness can do that. So I began the youth driven interfaith initiative called Roses of Peace in 2012. With the help of friends and youth volunteers from the various universities in Singapore, we decided to give out 3,000 roses attached to greeting cards carrying sayings from different religions such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
What I did as an one off event soon became an annual affair as highly driven youth volunteers came back to me and said, “We want to do this again next year!” Then I realised – hey, youths care! We care about appreciating our friends, neighbours and community. Youths want to make a difference by building bridges to ensure a cohesive society. Since then, Roses of Peace has grown to be a nationwide interfaith initiative where we have distributed over 50,000 roses with interfaith messages, recorded over 4,000 “Peace Pledges” and have engaged over 3,000 youth volunteers since our founding.
Little did I imagine this to be the beginning of a journey of a thousand miles. Deeper involvement with youths and the interfaith scene opened my eyes to numerous ground realities. If a simple rose could make a difference in someone’s day, imagine the difference every individual can make with a simple act of kindness.
Founder & President
ABOUT OUR FOUNDER
As an ardent advocate of interfaith harmony, social cohesion and peace building, Irshad founded Roses of Peace in 2012. He saw faith as a positive force that drives individuals and community to do good rather than being barriers of division.
Having been an active youth leader since his student days, Irshad strongly believes that it is at the heart of showing care and compassion, that we will build lasting peace and shape a resilient community. In 2018, he was appointed as a Nominated Member of Parliament. He also serves as a member on the Facebook Community Leadership Global Advisory Board and on the Mosque Management Board of Masjid Abdul Gafoor (Singapore) and on the Panel of Community Advisors for Honour (Singapore).
He also advises and serves as an ambassador for several organisations in Singapore and across the globe, including REACH Singapore, OnePeople.sg, Singapore Kindness Movement and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). In recognition of his exemplary contributions to the community, Mohamed Irshad has been awarded the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Award and the MUIS Youth Inspiring Award in 2018.