Race, Religion, and the ‘Indian Muslim’ Predicament in Singapore: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Race, Religion, and the ‘Indian Muslim’ Predicament in Singapore

1st Edition

By Torsten Tschacher


242 pages

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Indian Muslims form the largest ethnic minority within Singapore’s otherwise largely Malay Muslim community. Despite its size and historic importance, however, Singaporean Indian Muslims have received little attention by scholarship and have also felt side-lined by Singapore’s Malay-dominated Muslim institutions. Since the 1980s, demands for a better representation of Indian Muslims and access to religious services have intensified, while there has been a concomitant debate over who has the right to speak for Indian Muslims. This book traces the negotiations and contestations over Indian Muslim difference in Singapore and examines the conditions that have given rise to these debates.

Despite considerable differences existing within the putative Indian Muslim community, the way this community is imagined is surprisingly uniform. Through discussions of the importance of ethnic difference for social and religious divisions among Singaporean Indian Muslims, the role of ‘culture’ and ‘race’ in debates about popular religion, the invocation of language and history in negotiations with the wider Malay-Muslim context, and the institutional setting in which contestations of Indian Muslim difference take place, this book argues that these debates emerge from the structural tensions resulting from the intersection of race and religion in the public organization of Islam in Singapore.

Table of Contents



List of Figures

List of Tables

  1. Chapter 1: Introduction
  2. Chapter 2: Histories of a Name: Making the ‘Indian Muslim’
  3. Chapter 3: Alternatives or ‘Sub-communities’? Engaging with Internal Difference
  4. Chapter 4: Dress, Drama, and Divorce: The Clash of Masculinities
  5. Chapter 5: Religion or Culture? Popular Practice and the Perception of Difference
  6. Chapter 6: The Markers of Difference: History, Language, Identity
  7. Chapter 7: The Organisation of Religious Life
  8. Chapter 8: Representing ‘Indian Muslims’: The Politics of Mediation
  9. Chapter 9: Conclusion



About the Author

Torsten Tschacher is Junior-Professor at the Institute for Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin.

About the Series

Routledge Studies on Islam and Muslims in Southeast Asia

This series aims to publish original and cutting-edge contributions from scholars in religious studies, sociology, political science, history, anthropology, economics, psychology, geography and other related disciplines to provide new perspectives on the historical, comparative, and theoretical study of Islam and Muslims in Southeast Asia from the early modern period to the present. Works that are published in the series would fill the gaps in the existing literature, other than offering new conceptual and methodological approaches to studying Islam and Muslims in Southeast Asia. The series gives much emphasis on works that are both reflexive and empirical, written by both junior and senior scholars in the field.

Series editors:

Dr. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied [email protected]

Dr Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir [email protected]


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies