Singapore’s Islamic Studies Graduates: Aspirations and Challenges
BY INVITATION ONLY
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
Social Science Research Thematic Grant (SSRTG)
About the Webinar
Islamic Studies graduates (or asatizah) play a significant role in the community as propagators of religious teachings and values for the moral development and well–being of the individual and society. Most have acquired religious training through the madrasah education before pursuing religious studies in Islamic universities abroad in neighboring countries or in the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia). In the face of more complex problems affecting the community and amid the rise of puritanism and radicalism in the name of Islam, expectations on asatizah to contribute towards alleviating these challenges have become ever more demanding. Dominant discourse on asatizah however reveal persistent concerns with the nature of religious education they have received on their ability to meet the demands of the economy, integrate into the larger society, and contextualize religious teachings acquired from abroad according to the country’s secular and pluralistic society.
Utilizing data obtained from surveys, focus group discussions, and interviews with religious studies undergraduates and graduates, this Webinar discusses these concerns. The educational experiences of religious studies graduates in the various Islamic studies institutions, the predominant mode of religious education that prevail within them, their impact on the religious outlook of these graduates, challenges that confront them upon their return and their genesis, and efforts that have been made to alleviate them will also be discussed. The presentation is based on the SSRTG-MOE grant-funded project titled Singapore’s Islamic Studies Graduates: Their Role and Impact.
About the Speakers
Dr Norshahril Saat is Senior Fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He received his PhD in International, Political and Strategic Studies by the Australian National University (ANU). He is the author of The State, Ulama, and Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia (Amsterdam University Press).
Dr Azhar Ibrahim is Lecturer at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). He obtained his PhD, and MA, from the same Department in 2008 and 2002 respectively. He has authored several books, including those related to the proposed research, such as Contemporary Islamic Discourse in the Malay-Indonesian World: Critical Perspectives.
Associate Professor Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman lectures at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore. Her research and teaching areas include Malay legal history, Muslim law and its administration in Southeast Asia, Muslim marriage and family and the sociology of religion with a focus on Islam and Malay religious orientations. She has published numerous journal articles on reforming madrasahs in Singapore.