Navigating Islam in a Secular State: Muslim Activism in Singapore

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.


Biography:

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.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION

The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd