A qualitative study that involved a representative group of asatizah (religious leaders and teachers) in Singapore found that they embraced secularism as a political ideology, largely due to its utilitarian and pragmatic values. However, a majority of them remain sceptical about the reconcilability of secularism with Islam. This scepticism stemmed from the asatizah’s understanding that the Prophet and the Rightly Guided Caliphs who succeeded him were both religious and political leaders, hence setting the example and precedence, for an Islamic polity to be governed by Islamic laws. Further, they acknowledged that Islam’s characteristic as a perfect and holistic religion meant that it provided guidance on all dimensions of life including political governance. This study is significant because it can be one indicator of the thinking and views of the larger body of asatizah who are the primary influencers of Islamic life in Singapore. This article looks at the resources within Islamic tradition and scholarship to respond to issues that surfaced in the study which have a bearing on the reconcilability of secularism in Singapore with Islam. It also discusses Singapore’s model of secularism and how its unique characteristics have attracted the asatizah to embrace it for pragmatic benefits in providing a conducive socio-political context for Islam to be practised as a minority religion.
Source: Creative Commons
Interreligious Relations / Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Last updated on 24/07/2020