Muslims in Singapore

Piety, politics and policies

By Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Alexius A. Pereira, Bryan S. Turner

© 2009 – Routledge

140 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415476478
pub: 2009-09-15
US Dollars$158.00

About the Book

This book examines Muslims in Singapore, analysing their habits, practices and dispositions towards everyday life, and also their role within the broader framework of the secularist Singapore state and the cultural dominance of its Chinese elite, who are predominantly Buddhist and Christian. Singapore has a highly unusual approach to issues of religious diversity and multiculturalism, adopting a policy of deliberately ‘managing religions’ - including Islam - in an attempt to achieve orderly and harmonious relations between different racial and religious groups. This has encompassed implicit and explicit policies of containment and ‘enclavement’ of Muslims, and also the more positive policy of ‘upgrading’ Muslims through paternalist strategies of education, training and improvement, including the modernisation of madrassah education in both content and orientation. This book examines how this system has operated in practice, and evaluates its successes and failures. In particular, it explores the attitudes and reactions of Muslims themselves across all spheres of everyday life, including dining and maintaining halal-vigilance; education and dress code; and practices of courtship, sex and marriage. It also considers the impact of wider international developments, including 9/11, fear of terrorism and the associated stigmatization of Muslims; and developments within Southeast Asia such as the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist attacks and the Islamization of Malaysia and Indonesia. This study has more general implications for political strategies and public policies in multicultural societies that are deeply divided along ethno-religious lines.


"[T]his volume is an exemplary and admirable outcome of a ‘master class’ project led by a world class sociologist, Bryan Turner, whose presence in Singapore has certainly benefited the two young local sociologists who co-authored the book… the book successfully weaves theories, concepts and available empirical evidence into a book that is a must-read, firstly, for those interested in the way Muslim societies interact with non-Muslims and the State in an integrated manner, with all its contradictions, and, secondly, at a more generic level, as a useful example/guide to research into the relationship between religion and the modern state." - A.B. Shamsul, National University of Malaysia (UKM); Journal of Islamic Studies (2011)

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures Acknowledgements 1: Introduction: Muslims in Multicultural Singapore 2: Understanding Social Enclaves 3: The Malay-Muslim Community: A Background 4: Social Distancing: Halal Consciousness and Public Dining 5: Religious or Public Education? The Madrasah Dilemma 6: The Body and Piety: the Hijab and Marriage 7: Conclusion: States, Enclaves and Religion References Index

About the Authors

Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and is co-author of Muslims as Minorities: History and Social Realities of Muslims in Singapore (2009, with Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied). Alexius A. Pereira is Assistant Professor of the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, and is the author of State Collaboration and Development Strategies in China (also published by Routledge). Bryan S. Turner was Professor of Sociology in the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore (2005-9), and the Alona Evans Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College, USA, and is currently Professor in the Graduate Center at the City University of New York and Director of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies at the University of Western Sydney Australia. He most recently co-edited Religious Diversity and Civil Society.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of Southeast Asia.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Islam / Rituals & Practice
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Islamic Studies