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

This article is published in Muhammad Haniff Hassan, “Al-Wala’ (Loyalty) to Government in the Context of Muslim Minority in Singapore”, Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices of Singapore Religious Scholars, edited by Muhammad Haniff Hassan and Rohan Gunaratna, Singapore: Pergas, 2021.


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.

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