The Singapore Ulama

Religious Agency in the Context of a Strong State

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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There is a common perception that Muslim religious leaders (ulama) in Singapore do not play any political role for the local Muslim community. Due to the seemingly close relationship between the government and grassroots Muslim organisations it is unsurprising that many presume that the activities of organisations such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS) are closely monitored by the government. As a result of this environment, the ulama in Singapore do not enter into the political arena. This article argues that the very act of keeping religion out of formal political life in Singapore is a conscious position taken by the local ulama and that in itself is a form of politics. Choosing not to do something is a political choice.




In 2001, local cells of the regional terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were uncovered and its members were detained. For a summary of ideological counter-terrorism ideological efforts by the government, Muslim organisations and Muslim community, refer to Hassan and Mostarom (2011).


Published in 2004, this book was produced in light of the discussions that took place at the Convention of Ulama PERGAS in 2003.


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