In the post 9–11 world, Muslims have had to grapple with various challenges, which often involved justifying their faith to others within secular contexts. The matter is more acute, if not existential, for Muslim minority populations. This paper analyzes attempts by the Singaporean Muslim community to deal with a post 9–11 world, through a development of the concept of wasatiyah (justly balanced). It investigates key initiatives by two important players – the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) – that had significant influence in shaping the wasatiyah vision in Singapore. We make two arguments: (1) The wasatiyah discourse represents a longstanding effort by Muslims to contextualize and appropriate traditional Islamic concepts to make them relevant to the contemporary world; and (2) The two approaches adopted by the organizations in question highlight the strengths and weaknesses of initiatives being propagated by state-affiliated and non-state bodies respectively. The study is situated within the literature on religion and politics, counter-ideology and state-Muslim relations.
Long Article – The Model Muslim Minority: Wasatiyah (Justly-Balanced) as a Counter-Ideology Tool in Singapore
Long Article – An Analysis of Bai`ah Al-Mawt (Pledge of Death) in Jihadist Groups’ Practice and Islamic Tradition (CTTA, vol. 14, no. 3, June 2022)
Click here to read or download the article. Synopsis “Dr Muhammad Haniff Hassan examines the notion and practice of Bai`ah Al-Mawt (pledge of death) among contemporary jihadist groups through the lens of Islamic Sunni intellectual tradition and security studies. His work has three important implications for the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) initiatives. The […]
This article was presented as keynote speech at Ulama Convention III 2021 organised by Pergas and published in Muktamar Ulama 2021 Conference Proceedings. The proceedings can be purchased from Pergas. To purchase, contact Pergas at here. The article seeks to elucidate a wasaṭiyah approach to understanding what constitutes theologicalabsolutism in Islamic theology. It begins with […]
Muslim-minority communities throughout the world grapple with the contextualisation of Islam in the modern world. Islamic religious scholars, or the ulama, have to issue jurisprudential rulings in accordance with the social, political and religious contexts in which they operate. In doing so, they simultaneously have to deal with matters pertaining to authority and legitimacy. This paper analyses the contextualisation of Islam in secular states, with specific reference to Singapore. A few arguments will be made. Firstly, the paper will tackle the theological justifications for the contextualisation of Islam, which in the first place makes subsequent discussions possible. At the same time, the paper will highlight the limits of contextualisation. Secondly, the paper will focus on the secular state of Singapore, and the issue of contextualisation in the context of the Muslim minority community there. It is argued that the discourse on contexualisation in Singapore is not novel. We further contend that the socio-political context in Singapore rightly drives the discussion on contextualisation, but suggest areas of contention in such efforts. Even though the state is the most dominant actor in the country, and thus its ideologies and attitudes toward Islam is a key determinant in the faith’s contextualisation, other actors display agency in the process too. This paper is situated within the literature on state-society and state-Islam relations.
Many studies have shown the centrality of the Al-Wala’ Wa Al-Bara’ (WB), a concept which means “Loyalty and Disavowal” in extremist ideology of IS, Al-Qaeda and their likes. Thus, addressing this concept and how it is applied and understood by Muslims is necessary as part of efforts to countering extremist ideology, deradicalising extremist individuals and inoculating general Muslims from the concept’s negative effects. This article seeks to challenge two ideas related to Al-Wala’ Wa Al-Bara’ (WB), and is subscribed to by many Muslims today. This article first challenges the idea that WB is one of the fundamentals of Islamic faith (`aqidah) that must be uncompromisingly adhered to by all Muslims. The second idea which this article challenges is the idea that it is absolutely prohibited in Islam for Muslims to appoint a non-Muslim as state leader and pledge loyalty or obedience to him. Instead, this article argues that WB is a product of human ijtihad (human effort to deduce meanings from Islamic scriptures) and therefore is open to review, rethinking and criticism. As a result, minority Muslims who have been placed in a difficult theological position in political affairs as a result of WB should not hesitate to critically review it. This paper provides the study of a reviewed position by two key institutions – the Association of Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Singapore (PERGAS) and Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) – that represent Muslim scholars in Singapore which view the prohibition as only applicable to a hostile non-Muslim ruler/person, not all of them.
Long Article – The Necessity and Importance of Theological Engagement With Non-Muslims For Singapore Muslim Community
Muhamamad Haniff Hassan, “The Necessity and Importance of Theological Engagement with Non-Muslims for Singapore Muslim Community”, Jurnal Al-Tamaddun, Vol. 15, Issue 2, December, 2020. To download and read, click here or here. Abstract This paper argues the importance and necessity for Singapore Muslims to be actively involved in theological engagement with non-Muslims in the form […]
This book chapter is published in Nassef Manabilang Adiong, Raffaele Mauriello and Deina Abdelkader (eds.) (2018). Islam in International Relations: Politics and Paradigms. New York: Routledge. Click here to access the article. Purchase the book here.
Published in Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 10, no. 10, October 2018, pp. 12-6. Click here. Introduction One of the arguments that was put forth by the so-called Islamic State (IS) to attract Muslim youths […]
My article – Lessons on organisational excellence for da`wah organisations from Prophet Sulaiman a.s.
(This article is translated and improved from the original Malay version in Muhammad Haniff Hassan, Nabi Sulaiman & Budaya Organisasi Cemerlang(bah. 1 dan 2), available here. For original source of this article, click here.) Any da`wah organisation that strives towards the development of a Muslim community of excellence must themselves live by the culture of excellence in order to achieve […]
This article is first published in Wasat, edition no. 18/December 2017. Click here for the original source. Towards a Common Balanced Standpoint on Apostasy for Singapore’s Asatizah Community By Ustaz Muhammad Haniff Hassan (This article is an edited and improved version of a Malay article published by Berita Harian in two parts under titles, “Kesepakatan tangani isu murtad” (19 […]