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6 - Religious Education, Dominant Religious Orientations and Their Impact

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2023

Norshahril Saat
Affiliation:
ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute
Azhar Ibrahim
Affiliation:
National University of Singapore
Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman
Affiliation:
National University of Singapore
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Summary

Introduction

Dominant religious discourse on Islam promoted and propagated by asatizah in Singapore reflects competing modes of religious thought or perspectives which reveal the extent to which they are able to contextualize religious thought and traditions to the needs of the community and its adaptation to the changing condition of society and its institutions. Though certainly not conclusive, the nature of religious studies education received by graduates in various institutions of learning abroad cannot be overlooked or negated in conditioning their religious outlook and orientations, though these are also by no means static.

Operating in groups that continually compete, align and conflict with one another on issues relating to Islam, the asatizah’s perspectives and outlook on Islam are also impacted by other factors including the state’s approach to managing Islam, policies and laws regulating religion in the public sphere, the orientation of dominant groups within the asatizah fraternity, ideological interests for standing and support vis-a-vis the state and the community, the continuing influence of Islamic studies programmes and their intellectual affiliation as well as the influence of religious teachings through new media platforms, among others. These interact with the impact of the dominant nature of Islamic studies education in the formal institutions of learning they have attended throughout the course of their religious education. What they prioritize as significant and give strong attention to at the expense of others that are marginalized, overlooked or negated are functions of their mode of religious thought. The level of abstraction and conceptualization of issues selected, the presence or absence of counter concepts, the nature of their response to and extent of engagement with competing views also manifest in the salient traits of their religious orientations. Given that the asatizah fraternity, especially the dominant groups within it, exerts wide influence on the community and generally command its respect, how and what they think about Islam bear direct implications on its attitudes and responses to the challenges of socio-economic change which has impacted basic social institutions and inevitably the well-being of the larger society.

These dimensions have not, however, been given adequate or critical attention in dominant discourse on asatizah where the overriding focus since 2000 or so has been on the need to adjust religious teachings to challenges affecting the security of the nation.

Type
Chapter
Information
Reaching for the Crescent
Aspirations of Singapore Islamic Studies Graduates and the Challenges
, pp. 151 - 190
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
First published in: 2023

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