Walid Jumblatt Abdullah
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The overtly secular state of Singapore has unapologetically maintained an authoritarian approach to governance in the realm of religion. Islam is particularly managed by the state. Muslim activists thus have to meticulously navigate these realities – in addition to being a minority community – in order to maximize their influence in the political system. Significantly, Muslim activists are not a monolith: there exists a multitude of political and theological differences amongst them. This study analyses the following categories of Muslim activists: Islamic religious scholars (ulama), liberal Muslims, and the more conservative-minded individuals. Due to constricting political realities, many activists attempt to align themselves with the state, and call upon the state to be an arbiter in their disagreements with other factions. Though there are activists who challenge the state, these are by far in the minority, and are typically unable to assert their influence in a sustained manner. Since activists work within the system instead of resisting it, they end up strengthening the authoritarian state.
Walid Jumblatt Abdullah is an Assistant Professor at the Public Policy and Global Affairs Program, Nanyang Technological University. He completed his PhD under the Joint Degree Program between National University of Singapore and King’s College, London. He works on relationships between Islam and the state, political Islam, and political parties and elections.