The Colonial Era

1906 - 1942

The struggle to make sense of colonial rule and achieve independence from colonial governments across the world brought about various ideologies that greatly influenced Malay society from the beginning of the 20th century. These ideas encouraged Malays and other Muslims in Singapore to embrace modernisation and social development as well as generate improvement in the local economy. The many books and papers written during this era raised awareness amongst the Malays regarding issues such as morality, education and westernisation.  

Kampong Glam played a vital part in the intellectual history of Malay society in Singapore and the region. Printing presses operating out of Kampong Glam published Islamic religious texts during this period. The earliest works published were religious, before expanding into other genres.

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Al-Imam Magazine, 1906

Al-Imam (The Religious Leader) Magazine officially marked the emergence of Islamic literature in Singapore. Among its editors were Kiyai Abbas Bin Mohd Taha along with other notable scholars such as Syed Shaikh Al-Hadi and Sheikh Tahir Jalaluddin. It is a magazine of great importance in Malaya as well as in the region with a particularly strong following in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). 

The magazine reflected the spirit of nationalism among Muslim communities back then. Through the magazine, Muslim scholars highlighted that there is no separation between the teachings of Islam and the progress of its followers. It thus facilitated the growth of Islamic nationhood among sections of the Muslim community, emphasizing the importance of loyalty to the homeland while stressing the need to maintain responsibility towards fellow Muslims globally. It was intended to be a platform to “remind the forgetful, to arouse the slumber, to guide those that have been led astray and as a voice for the wise.” 

The publication of Al-Imam only lasted for a couple of years, however. Due to budget constraints, this magazine ended its publication in 1908.

Buah Kulliyah Al-Attas Pada Mentahqiqkan Masalah Khilafiyah Dengan Nas Dan Qiyas, 1932

This era saw scholars actively engaging in a respectful exchange of ideas through their writings. Buah Kulliyah Al-Attas (Kulliyah Al-Attas’ Solution) is an excellent example of a literary form of academic debate in which its author, Kiyai Muhammad Fadhlullah Suhaimi, refuted the views of another writer, Hassan A. Bandung.

In his works the Pembela Islam (Defenders of Islam) and Soal-Jawab (Question & Answer), Hassan A. Bandung presented a way of thinking that did not sit well with the Kaum Tua (traditionalists). Kiyai Fadhlullah Suhaimi’s Buah Kulliyah Al-Attas (Solutions from the Al-Attas’ Discourse) was written in response to this – defending the stand of the Kaum Tua school of thought while refuting Hassan A. Bandung’s views, which itself were influenced by Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim.

The book highlighted problems that arose from within Malay society due to differences in opinions between the Kaum Tua and Kaum Muda (reformists). Among the issues discussed were those pertaining to the Prophet’s Night Journey (Isra’) and Ascent into Heaven (Mi’raj), the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w birthday (Mawlid), the ruling with regards to beating of the percussions in the mosque and the implications of marriage at a young age. Its content was mostly based on notes from Kiyai Fadhlullah’s lectures, which were compiled and published by his students.

Kitab Tarikh al-Islami pada menyatakan perjalanan Saiyidul Anam, 1939

This book is a collection of Kiyai Muhammad Fadhlullah Suhaimi’s lectures on the life of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (pbuh), published by Melaka Latifiah Press (Singapura).

The Genuine Islam, 1936

In 1936, the first English journal was published in Singapore. The journal aimed at portraying Islam as a way of life and was published monthly throughout 1936. A fascinating interview of Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique with George Bernard Shaw was included in the journal. In the interview, the much-respected playwright and political activist expressed his views on Islam:

 “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capability to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age.”

“To them (the medieval ecclesiastics) Muhammad was Anti-Christ. I have studied him – the wonderful man, and in my opinion, far from being an Anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.”

Hadis Arbain Nawawi - Terjemahan Dalam Tiga Bahasa, 1938

Kiyai Ahmad Zuhri Mutamim was a highly respected figure and actively contributed his time to organizations like Pergas and MUIS. His biggest contribution to the Muslim community would be his writings, most of which were published by Royal Press. Hadis Arbain Nawawi (Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith) is the definitive book on hadith discussing forty hadith as compiled by Imam Nawawi and has been translated into three languages – Javanese, Baweanese, and Malay. The Javanese translation was done by Kiyai Ahmad Zuhri himself.

 

 

 

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4. Fiqh Minoriti Muslim (Publications of Asatizah’s Writings), 2008

The Beginners’ Manual on Islam; written by the late Ustaz Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail was amongst the earliest publication of Pergas by a local Ustaz.

Later in 2008, Pergas collaborated with Pustaka Nasional to publish 3 books written by local asatizah, namely Fiqh Minoriti Muslim (Fiqh for the Muslim Minority), Menunggak Nilai, Melurus Faham (Upholding the traditions, enhancing the understanding) and 40 Hadis seruan Nabi Muhammad SAW kepada umatnya (40 Hadis from the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.)

Apart from these books, the book by Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Bin Hassan – Istilah-Istilah Ilmu Tasauf (The Terminology in the Science of Tasauf) – was published back in 2011.

12. Wasat Online, 2015

A platform that serves in publishing the writings and research papers with the concept of moderation in Islam as the main theme. It was published online and later printed into a book.

11. Footprints of Muslim Scholars’ Heritage in Singapore, 2014

A bibliography of the past luminous scholars from our Beacons of the Ummah series were collated. This is in conjunction with the Footprints of Muslim Scholars’ Heritage in Singapore Exhibition.

This effort was expanded in 2019 with the publication of the 100 Years Bibliography of the Asatizah.

This reference is vital in ensuring the contributions of asatizah in the field of writing is well documented and assist researchers to find resources for their writings.

10. Launch of the Syed Ahmad Semait Reference Library (SASRL), 2013

SASRL was established as a center of reference on the writings on Islam. It specializes in the collection of the thesis written by local asatizah.

9. Publication of Pergas Institute of Islamic Religious Studies (IPIP), 2012

An effort, which focuses on publishing religious textbooks that were written and compiled by asatizah. The textbooks are used for IPIP students in particular and have served of benefit the local madrasah students, and as well as the Muslim community in Singapore. Examples of publications include the review and a contextualize understanding to Pengetahuan Islam (Islamic Revealed Knowledge), Ulum Al-Quran (Sciences of the Quran) and Ulum Al-Hadith (Sciences of Hadith books).

8. Beacons of the Ummah: Tracing the Footsteps of Islamic Religious Leaders, 2011

A publication that narrates the biography of Singapore Muslim scholars and academician which aims in providing the inspiration for the Malay Muslim community. 

Currently three such series have been published in Malay Language with two series translated into the English language.

7. Jurnal Dakwah, 2010

A journal that features studies on Islam and the Singapore Muslim community. Started in 2010, it is the only local Islamic journal available thus far and has reached its 6th edition.

6. Moderation in Islam in the Context of the Muslim Community in Singapore, 2004

A significant publication that encompasses the Moderation in Islam framework based on the Singapore context. The views presented in this book are supported by the scholars and asatizah present at the Konvensyen Ulama (Muslim Scholar’s Convention) which was held in 2004.

5. Istilah Tasauf (Publications of Asatizah’s Writings), 2002

The Beginners’ Manual on Islam; written by the late Ustaz Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail was amongst the earliest publication of Pergas by a local Ustaz.

Later in 2008, Pergas collaborated with Pustaka Nasional to publish 3 books written by local asatizah, namely Fiqh Minoriti Muslim (Fiqh for the Muslim Minority), Menunggak Nilai, Melurus Faham (Upholding the traditions, enhancing the understanding) and 40 Hadis seruan Nabi Muhammad SAW kepada umatnya (40 Hadis from the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.)

Apart from these books, the book by Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Bin Hassan – Istilah-Istilah Ilmu Tasauf (The Terminology in the Science of Tasauf) – was published back in 2011.

3. Beginners manual (Publications of Asatizah’s Writings), 2002

The Beginners’ Manual on Islam; written by the late Ustaz Zhulkeflee Hj Ismail was amongst the earliest publication of Pergas by a local Ustaz.

Later in 2008, Pergas collaborated with Pustaka Nasional to publish 3 books written by local asatizah, namely Fiqh Minoriti Muslim (Fiqh for the Muslim Minority), Menunggak Nilai, Melurus Faham (Upholding the traditions, enhancing the understanding) and 40 Hadis seruan Nabi Muhammad SAW kepada umatnya (40 Hadis from the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.)

Apart from these books, the book by Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Bin Hassan – Istilah-Istilah Ilmu Tasauf (The Terminology in the Science of Tasauf) – was published back in 2011.

2. Ar-Risalah Magazine, 1997

Started in 1997, Ar-Risalah (the Message), the triannual magazine featuring thematic articles by local asatizah. To date, the magazine has published more than 25 issues.

1. Sinar Magazine, 1981

The earliest magazine published by Pergas called Sinar (Ray).

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