Long Article – The Contextualisation of Islam in a Secular State: A Study of Singapore


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.

Long Article – Al-Wala’ (Loyalty) to Government in the Context of Muslim Minority in Singapore

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 […]

My book chapter – Reconciling Islam and Pacifism: A Traditionalist Approach

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.  

My article – Refuting Islamic State (IS) Jihad Propaganda With the Story of Uwais Al-Qarni

  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 […]

My article – Towards a Common Balanced Standpoint on Apostasy for Singapore’s Asatizah Community

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 […]

A Rebuttal of Al-Qaeda and IS’s Theological Justification of Suicide Bombing

  Muhammad Haniff Hassan (2017), “A Rebuttal of Al-Qaeda and IS’s Theological Justification of Suicide Bombing”, Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis, vol. 9, no. 7, July. Click here to download or read. Included in the file an article, Abrogation and the Verse of Sword: Countering Extremists’ Justification of Violence, by Mahfuh Halimi, as supplementary reading.  

My article – The Danger of Takfir (Excommunication): Exposing IS’ Takfiri Ideology

  Muhammad Hassan (2017), “The Danger of Takfir (Excommunication): Exposing IS’ Takfiri Ideology”, Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 9, issue 4, April. Click here for the article. Click here for the complete issue of Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, vol. 9, issue 4, April.  

My article – Sexuality Education in Islam: Between Apprehension and Permissiveness

(This article was translated from Malay titled Beberapa Pandangan Mengenai Pendidikan Seks. This English version was first published in Wasat no. 11/October 2016. Click here.) (c) Muhammad Haniff Hassan, 2016 Islam is a religion of fitrah because it comes from Allah, the Creator of mankind and the whole universe. It seeks to guide Man in all aspects […]