Seminar Series | Sharing Sessions | Special Events



  • 19-01-2001
    The Humanistic Tradition in Islam
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee


  • 30-03-2002
    Historical Imagination in Islam
    by Syed Khairuddin Aljunied
  • 04-11-2002
    Rethinking Culture
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee & Nur Amali Ibrahim


  • 17-08-2003
    Our Religious Fantasies? Some Aspects of Religious Orientations and Dominant Discourses in Contemporary
    Malay Society

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib


  • 24-01-2004
    Groups and Conceptions of Religion
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

  • 28-02-2004
    Series on Social Thought #1:

    Paper 1: Tradition, Modernity & Authenticity:
    An Introduction to Key Ideas of Hasan Hanafi

    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

    Paper 2: Religion, Liberation & Reforms:
    An Introduction to Key Ideas of Asghar Ali Engineer

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 01-05-2004
    To Give or Not to Give? Discourses on Organ Transplant
    by Idris Rashid Surattee Khan
  • 27-08-2004
    Deviant Conver(sa)tions and
    the Need for Self-Reflection: A Mild Polemic

    by Nur Amali Ibrahim
  • 12-11-2004
    Educating Muslim Public: Prospects for Change
    by Ulil-Abshar Abdalla [Liberal Islam Network, Indonesia]



  • 27-04-2006
    Teologi Kontemporer dan Perubahan Sosial
    by Dr. Abdul Munir Mulkhan [Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga, Indonesia]
  • 03-06-2006
    Book Launch: The Making of Progressive Religion [details]
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 28-07-2006
    "Blessed Are You Who Are Poor":
    Making Sense of Religion Today

    by Rev. Fr. Bruno Saint Girons [Paris Foreign Mission]
  • September 2006
    Islam, Religion & Progress
    [in collaboration with National Library Board]
    Click here for details


  • 08-01-2007
    Justice, Civil Society and Interreligious Solidarity
    by Fr. Thomas Michel [Secretary for Interreligious Dialogue, Society of Jesus, Rome]

    Seminar with Fr. Thomas Michel
  • 02-02-2007
    The Future of Madrasah Education in Singapore
    by Dr. Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman [National University of Singapore]
  • 23-03-2007
    Why Progressive Islam?
    by Ahmad Gaus AF [LibforAll Foundation]
  • 26-05-2007
    Akar-Akar Klasik Liberalisme Islam
    by Dr. Lutfhi Assyaukanie [Universitas Paramadina]
  • 06-06-2007
    The State of Islamic Reform Today
    by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer [Institute of Islamic Studies, Mumbai]
  • 08-06-2007
    Inteligentsia dan Sasterawan Melayu Singapura:
    Pandangan Kritis Dalaman

    by Cikgu Mohamed Latiff Mohamed

    Session with Cikgu Mohd Latiff Mohd at Hj. Esah Cafe


  • 12-01-2008
    BILANG PUISI: Antara Eja dan Lafaz
    [in collaboration with National Library Board]
    Click here for details

    Bilang Puisi - Rafaat Hj. Hamzah reciting his poetry
  • 27-02-2008
    Membina Tradisi Islam Progresif
    [Developing a Progressive Islamic Tradition]

    by Ahmad Suwaedy [Wahid Institute, Jakarta]

    Session with Ahmad Suwaedy (Executive Director,
    The Wahid Institute, Jakarta)

  • 27-06-2008
    Missed Opportunities:
    [A Case Study of the Deportations of Transnational
    Civil Society Activities During the IMF-World Bank
    2006 Meetings in Singapore]

    by Roderick Chia, MSc. International Relations, RSIS

    Session with Roderick Chia


  • July-November 2008
    Siri Wacana dan Pemikir Islam Kontemporari
    [supported by Malay Heritage Centre]
    Click here for details
  • 23-08-2008
    Youth, Progressive Thought, and Social Transformation
    with Raja Juli Antoni [Maarif Institute], Novriantoni Kahar [Liberal Islam Network], Ahmad Suwaedy [Wahid Institute] and Al-Mustaqeem Mahmod Radhi
    [Middle Eastern Graduates Center]
    (supported by Malay Heritage Centre)
  • 08-11-2008
    Christian-Muslim Relations in Singapore -
    Signs of Promise & Issues of Concern

    by See Guat Kwee
    MA in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations,
    Hartford Seminary, USA


  • 05-06-2009
    Modern Religiosities: A Comparative Study of American
    Evangelicalism and the Contemporary Da'wah Movement
    in Malaysia

    by Zalman Putra Ahmad Ali
    MA in Religious Studies, Hartford Seminary, USA
  • 10-06-2009
    Discussing Gender Issues in Islam
    by Dr. Amina Wadud
  • 22-11-2009
    Intellectualism and Social Movements Among Youths
    by Pradana Boy ZTF [Jaringan Intelektual Muda Muhamadiyah]

    Session with Pradana Boy ZTF



  • 03-01-2010
    Waqf, Inheritance and Law in Contemporary Muslim Societies
    by Prof. Michael Gilsenan
    New York University
  • 11-01-2010
    In Memoriam Lecture: Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
    Scholar-Activist in Dissenting, Advocating and Teaching

    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 26-03-2010
    Peacebuilding and Social Integration
    by Achmad Ubaidillah & Rachmat Imron Hidayat
    [Centre for Pesantren Studies, Bogor]
  • 08-10-2010
    Malay-Muslim Religious Discourse in Singapore: The Assertions of Religious Elites and Dakwah Activists in the Public Sphere
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee


  • 20-05-2011
    (Un)Veiling Practices: Competiting Perspectives on the Hijab
    by Ust. Saif ur-Rahman, Dr. Suriani Suratman & Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
    (in collaboration with Leftwrite Center)
  • 27-06-2011
    AIDS as a Humanitarian Crisis: Muslim Responses
    by Ahmad Shams Madyan [Indonesian Interfaith Action on AIDS - INTERNA]
  • 30-09-2011
    Peranan Sastera dalam Mengembangkan Pemikiran dan Gagasan Progresif
    by Fahd Djibran




  • 12-12-2003
    Impediments to the Growth of Intellectual Culture
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 26-12-2003
    The Muslim Orientalists
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 20-02-2004
    Rethinking the Notion of Ghayb
    by Mohd. Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi
  • 28-05-2004
    Tantangan Kebudayaan: Bicara Atas Wacana Kebudayaan
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 14-10-2005
    Pergerakan Intelektual Dunia Islam Kontemporari:
    Persaingan Idea dan Cabarannya

    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 21-10-2005
    Should the Shari'ah Be Restored?
    by Syed Ad'ha Aljunied
  • 17-02-2006
    Pembomohan dan Kebertahanannya
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 24-02-2006
    Malays and the Magical Orientation
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 07-04-2006
    Transvestites Unplugged:
    Does the Malay Society in Singapore Regard It as a Deviance?

    by Hidayah Amin
  • 18-08-2006
    The Outcome of Income in Singapore Malay Families
    by Mohd. Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi
  • 25-08-2006
    Religion of the Pulpit:
    An Analysis of Friday Sermons, 2000 - 2005

    by Muhd. Shahril B Shaik Abdullah
  • Siri Bacaan Ramadhan 2006

    Tentang Keagamaan Feudalistik -
    Dari Lembaran Sejarah Silam ke Catatan Kritis Masakini

    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

    'Membumikan Langit' - Teologi dalam Persoalan
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 29-12-2006
    Understanding Pain: Methods and Consequences
    by Nur Amali Ibrahim


  • 26-01-2007
    Fazlur Rahman: Perintis Tafsir Kontekstual
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 16-02-2007
    Setting the Agenda for Progress:
    Muslim Youth in Science, Research and Technology

    by Farhan Ali
  • 04-05-2007
    Teras dan Terap Pluralisme
    by Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
    Merumuskan Teologi Islam Pluralis

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib

  • 11-05-2007
    Islamic Legal Education at the International Islamic University, Malaysia (IIUM):
    Some Suggestions for Improvement

    by Alfian Kuchit
  • 18-05-2007
    Zikr Puisi Rafaat Hamzah
    by Rafaat Hamzah
  • 25-05-2007
    Two Nails in the World: Ideas of Power in
    Contemporary Java

    by Suryakenchana Omar
  • 22-06-2007
    Toward a Critical Media Literacy:
    Moving Beyond Analysis and Evaluation

    by Muhd. Shahril B Shaik Abdullah
  • 03-08-2007
    Generasi Muda dalam Organisasi Islam di Indonesia
    by Nur Amali Ibrahim
  • 17-08-2007
    Female Pressure: The Pain of Pleasure
    by Rosnidar Arshad
  • 02-11-2007
    Socio-Economic Liberalism in Indonesia: Pro and Contra
    by Lutfhi Assyaukanie [Liberal Islam Network]

    Session with Lutfhi Assyaukanie (Coordinator,
    Liberal Islam Network)


  • 14-03-2008
    "We Need a Contemporary Religious Discourse on Global Poverty": A Personal Reflection
    by Alfian Kuchit
  • 20-06-2008
    The Secular State and Religious Politics in Singapore
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • Ramadhan Sharing Sessions 2008

    The F.A.I.T.H.ful Youth
    by Muhammed Shahril Shaik Abdullah

    Pemikiran Kritis: Penyuluh Arah Era Globalisasi
    by Rosnidar Arshad

    AMAN Research Fellowship Programme -
    Presentation cum Sharing Session:
    'Making Sense of Conflict in Poso, Is Religion to be Blamed?'

    by Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah
    Representative, Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN)
    (co-organised with RIMA)


    Ms Rubiyanti sharing on conflict resolution

    Critical Reading of Tiga Serangkai
    by Abbas Khan
  • 19-12-2008
    On W.E.B. Du Bois' Concept of Talented Tenth for Black Americans
    by Mohd. Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi

    Rafiz discussing Abdul Ghafar Khan's ideas


  • 02-01-2009
    Terrorising Islam: The Politics of "Moderation"
    by Muhammad Fadli Muhammad Fawzi
  • 02-04-2009
    Introduction to Sociology of Knowledge
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 09-04-2009
    TEXT & IDEOLOGY: Critical Readings of Sejarah Melayu
    and Tajusalatin in Sociology of Knowledgee

    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 30-04-2009
    LITERATURE & IDEOLOGY: A Critique of Sastra Islam
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 07-05-2009
    Ideology and Academia:
    Critical Surveys on the Development of Malay Studies

    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

    Left Suppressed: Absent History of Workers' Dissent in
    Early Singapore's Independence
    [in commemoration of Labour Day]
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 14-05-2009
    Straight('s) Thinking on Homosexuality Issue
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • Ramadhan Series 2009

    Jalur Pemikiran Melayu Masakini
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

    Rethinking Muslim Law

    by Hanna Taufiq Siraj

    Searching for Alternative Religious Thought:
    Tension and Promise

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 02-10-2009
    The Task of Educative Enlightenment and Cultural Transformation
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 09-10-2009
    Malay Intellectuals and Their Ideas of Progress
    by Annaliza Bakri
  • 16-10-2009
    Ideology, Patronage and Translation in Malaysia:
    Malay Supremacy and UMNO Politics in the Malay Translation
    of Syed Hussein Alatas' The Myth of the Lazy Natives

    by Nazry Bahrawi
  • 23-10-2009
    Sustainable Relevance and Service to the Community:
    Reflecting on 20 years of service to the community

    by Suryakenchana Omar
  • 30-10-2009
    Impediments for Change for the Lower Class:
    A Psychological Perspective

    by Zul Ikmal
  • 06-11-2009
    Activism in Singapore: Some Observations
    in the Context of Malay/Muslim Community

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 20-11-2009
    Food Aid and Food Security: A Necessary Evil?
    by Nur Azha Putra
  • 27-11-2009
    Racialization amongst Singapore Malay Bikers:
    A Discursive Approach

    by Mastura Bte Manap
  • 04-12-2009
    Public Relations shaping Public Opinion:
    A Systematic Propaganda

    by Hani Mohamed
  • 11-12-2009
    Worthless Birth in an Ageing Society
    by Rafiz Hapipi
  • 18-12-2009
    An Introduction to Liberalism and the Emergence of the New Class
    by Mohamed Irwan Taib


  • 08-01-2010
    In Commemoration of Abdurrahman Wahid [1940-2009]:
    Gus Dur and Progressive Traditionalism in Contemporary Indonesian Islam

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 15-01-2010
    Ortega and Concept of The Mass Man
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 29-01-2010
    An Introduction to and Discussion on the Key Ideas of Paulo Freire
    by Zaki Jalil
  • 05-02-2010
    Social Activism and Historical Amnesia
    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 19-02-2010
    Of Continuities & Change: An Introductory Critical Analysis Of The Economic Strategic Comittee Report
    by Fadli Fawzi
  • 26-02-2010
    Discussion on Nadirah
    by Alfian Sa'at
  • 05-03-2010
    An Introduction to and Discussion on the Key Ideas of Erich Fromm
    by Muhammed Shahril Shaik Abdullah
  • 12-03-2010
    An Introduction to and Discussion on the Key Ideas of Edward Said's Orientalism
    by Fadli Fawzi
  • 19-03-2010
    An Introduction to and Discussion on the Key Ideas of Karl Mannheim
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib and Mohd. Rafiz Mohyi Hapipi
  • 16-04-2010
    Rethinking Contemporary Utopian Studies: Plugging the gaps
    by Nazry Bahrawi
  • 23-04-2010
    An Introduction to the Importance of Philosophical Thought
    by Hafiz Zakaria
  • 05-10-2010
    Perspectives on Islamic Law
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib


  • 19-01-2011
    Toxic Leadership
    by Muhammed Shahril Shaik Abdullah
  • 23-02-2011
    The Desire to Protect: Multiculturalism Beyond Hate Speech - Reworking Singapore’s Multiracial Framework
    by Khairulanwar Zaini
  • 09-03-2011
    Malay Gazing and the Racialisation of Inequality
    by Fadli Fawzi
  • 15-07-2011
    Daya Aktif Melawan Daya Pasif Lewat Seni Berkarya:
    Potensi Kesusasteraan Remaja Dalam Pemberdayaan Anak Bangsa
    [Active Will versus Passive Will through Artistic Works: The Potential of Youth Literatures in Community Empowerment]
    by Muhammad Andi Mohammed Zulkepli
  • Ramadhan Sharing Sessions 2011

    The Humanistic Educational Pedagogy of Al-Jahiz:
    A Contribution of Adab Tradition

    by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 17-08-2011
    Secularizing Islam or Islamizing Secularism?
    Ali Abd al-Raziq on the Separation of State and Religion

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib


Series on Political Economic Thought

  • 18-01-2012

    A Review of David Harvey's
    'A Brief History of Neoliberalism'

    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib


  • 25-01-2012

    A Review of Erik Reinert's
    'How Rich Countries Got Rich...
    and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor

    by Fadli Fawzi

  • 13-02-2012

    A Review of Ha-Joon Chang's
    'Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World'

    by Fadli Fawzi





Series on Gender in Contemporary Islamic Thought

  • 29-02-2012
    A Brief Introduction to Gender Issues in Contemporary Islam
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 14-03-2012
    Who Needs Gender Equality? The Traditionalist Discourse and Present-Day Manifestations
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 28-03-2012
    Challenging Patriarchism: Early Reformist Responses
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib


Series on "Gazing Back: Ideology, Power and (mis)Representation"

  • 24-05-2012
    The Social Construction of Malay Youth Delinquency in Singapore through Television Shows and Newspapers
    by Hazirah Mohamad
  • 31-05-2012
    A Socio-Ecological Observation on the Malay Sub-Ethnic Groups in Contemporary Singapore – A Policy Recommendation
    by Muhammad Nadim Adam
  • 07-06-2012
    Malay-Gazing and the Racialization of Inequality
    by Muhammad Fadli Mohammed Fawzi
  • 05-07-2012
    Representation of Ethnicity in Multiracial Society: Some Insights in the Selected Novels of Isa Kamari
    by Farid Koh
  • 26-07-2012
    Dealing with Stereotypes in Inter-Ethnic Relations in Singapore
    by Farid Hamid
  • 02-08-2012
    Creed and Consent: Islam as an Instrument of Social Control in Singapore
    by Khairulanwar Zaini
  • 07-08-2012
    Place Histories Beyond the CMIO: Perspectives from a Multi-Ethnic Malayo-Muslim Community
    by Dr Imran Tajudeen


  • 21-02-2013
    Brown Skin, White Mask: What Dabashi Can Tell Us About Self-loathing Malays and Self-styled Messiahs
    by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
  • 14-03-2013
    Protesting Patriarchy: bell hooks and the Perennial Struggle Against the Patriarchal System
    by Muhammed Shahril Shaik Abdullah


14 - 17 December 2006
UIN Jakarta / Seruni, Puncak Bogor

'Being Progressive':
1st Meeting of Indonesia-Singapore Progressive Young Activists
[in collaboration with Center for Study of Religion and Culture,
UIN Syarif Hidayatullah, Jakarta]

Being Progessive Workshop at Seruni Hotel, Puncak, Bogor

About the Event
This meeting is a collaborative effort to gather a small group of young Singaporean and Indonesian activists who hold progressive views on Islam
and society. The theme "Being Progressive" entails a commitment to progressive ideals; a consistent and persistent effort to internalize and
actualize the meaning of being progressive in the midst of social change.

To articulate the meaning and position of progressive thought in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Indonesia

2. To develop a framework for collaborative efforts involving progressive young activists and scholars from the region

3. To develop a platform for the dissemination of progressive ideas on Islam and society to the general public

Discussion at Center for Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC), Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta

Workshop Presentations

* Negosiasi Kontekstual Antara 'Being Progressive' dan 'Being Muslim'
oleh Irfan Abu Bakar [Lecturer, Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, UIN Jakarta]

* Ke Mana Dengan Islam? Peta Pemikiran Islam di Singapura
oleh Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib [Coordinator, The Reading Group, Singapore]

* Problem di Seputar Menjadi Muslim Progresif di Indonesia
oleh Ahmad Gaus AF [Director of Publications, Libforall Foundation, Indonesia]

* Sains Sosial Emansipatoris dan Visi Profetis:
Peran Intelligentsia Muslim di Saat Keberlangsungan Dehumanisasi
oleh Azhar Ibrahim Alwee [Lecturer, Asian Languages and Cultures, NIE, Singapore]

* Workshop Resolutions: Membumikan Islam Progresif

Participants of Being Prfogressive Workshop at Center for Study of Religion and Culture (CSRC), Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta

3 February 2007
Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, Singapore

Di Dalam Berkekalan Kebaktian:
An Intellectual Endeavour Par Excellence
Lecture In Memoriam of Prof. Syed Hussein Alatas



* Eulogies by Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim (recited text) and Dr. Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman

Dr Noor Aisha reciting a eulogy in
of Syed Hussein Alatas

* Short Speech by Mr. Idris Rashid Surattee Khan

* In Memoriam Lecture by Mr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee

* Recitation of Poems by Mr. Rafaat Haji Hamzah

Click here for details

22 September 2007
Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, Singapore

Moral Vision and Social Critique:

Selected Essays of Syed Hussein Alatas


* Opening Remarks by Prof. Syed Farid Alatas [Head of Malay Studies Department, NUS]

* Book Discussion with Muhamad Zaki Jalil

Click here for details

14-16 Disember 2007
Kuala Lumpur

Menggagas Makna Progresif
Pertemuan The Reading Group (TRG) dan
Komunite Seni Jalan Telawi (KsJT)

Mengenai Lawatan TRG
Program ini bertujuan mempereratkan jalinan rangkaian dan kerjasama informal antara dua komunitas pemikir dan aktivis seputar isu-isu pemikiran dan gerakan masyarakat.

Meeting with Komunite Seni Jalan Telawi in Kuala Lumpur

Aturcara Lawatan TRG

  • 14 Dec: Hadir Sesi Public Intellectual Forum (PIF) Siri ke-6, anjuran Middle Eastern Graduates Centre (MEGC) -
    'Kebebasan Agama, Bukan Dialog' oleh Lutfhi Assyaukanie
  • 15 Dec: Sesi Diskusi TRG/KSJT 1 -
    'Memaknai Agama Progresif' oleh Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
  • 16 Dec: Sesi Diskusi TRG/KSJT 2 - 'Demokrasi Asia Tenggara
    Selepas 10 Tahun (1997-2007): Pengalaman Malaysia
    ' oleh
    Fathi Aris Omar

3 Mei 2008
Malay Heritage Center
(Istana Kampung Glam), Singapore

Cita Manusia Melayu Baru:
Syarahan Memperingati Almarhum Rustam A. Sani (1944-2008)



3 Mei 2009
Malay Heritage Center
(Istana Kampung Glam), Singapore

in conjunction with
(1-3 Mei 2009)

11pg -12.30tgh

Sejarah Rakyat:
Pemberdayaan Melawan Cita Bencana

Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee
Jabatan Kajian Melayu
Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura (NUS)

Seminar ini cuba merungkai persoalan sejarah dari perspektif alternatif
yang menyanggah tafsiran sejarah yang cenderung mendukung idea dominan,
baik dalam fasa feudalisme, kolonialisme, orientalisme, dan nasionalisme
mundur. Visi dan peranan sejarah rakyat merangkumi empat segi utama,
(1) menyanggah cita bencana dalam sejarah;
(2) mendukung pemberdayaan; dan
(3) menghargai sejarah sebagai visi moral, sambil
( 4 ) mengambil kira kelompok mana yang telah membenarkan
peminggiran dan pensenyapan suara, hak dan harkat rakyat.

Yang penting dalam menelurusi sejarah ini, harus dapat kita mengenalpasti
dan menghargai terungkapnya resilience rakyat dalam mengharungi
dan berhadapan dengan kehidupan.

4.30 - 6ptg

Kritik Sejarah, Sejarah Kritis:
Upaya Merungkai Pendekatan Sejarah Kebudayaan Melayu

Mohamed Imran bin Mohamed Taib
Aktivis Sosial,
The Reading Group, Singapore

Sejarah adalah suatu bidang keilmuan yang menafsir masa lampau
supaya membawa makna tertentu kepada kehidupan manusia hari ini.
Upaya pensejarahan itu bukan setakat mengkaji, mencatat atau melapor
segala hal yang terjadi dalam meriwayat dan menafsirkan kehidupan sesuatu
bangsa. Sebaliknya, ia melalui proses pemilihan dan pengasingan dari
bahan-bahan sejarah, yang akhirnya merumuskan gambaran atau
representasi akan hakikat sesuatu bangsa.

Gambaran dan representasi inilah yang akan dibincangkan di dalam sesi ini.
Pada masa yang sama, sesi ini akan mengupas pendekatan-pendekatan
dominan dalam proses pensejarahan dunia kebudayaan Melayu. Ini adalah
sebahagian dari upaya membangunkan tradisi sejarah yang lebih kritis.
Tanpa pemahaman sejarah yang kritis, masyarakat Melayu akan senantiasa
dibelenggu corak pemikiran dan orientasi sosial yang merantai potensi
bangsa untuk berkembang bebas.


5 June 2010
Wisma Mendaki

Workshop on
'Introduction to the Evolution of Islamic Thought'

conducted by Ridzuan Wu
(Deputy President, Regional Islamic Da'wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific - RISEAP)

Organised by Leftwrite Center,
supported by the Reading Group, Singapore

Event Brief

The workshop covered the evolution of thought on Islamic theology, and on the evolution of sufi thought. Various aspects of Islamic Theology were discussed: from the origins of aqidah [belief-system] as understood by Sunni Muslims, to similarities and differences with other Muslim understanding of aqidah such as (a) the Shi’a – the beliefs of the ithna ashari (including the Alawis), the Isma’ilis (the Nizaris, the Must’ali Ismailis, the Druze), and the Zaydis; (b) the Khawarij and the last surviving school, the Ibadis; (c) the Mu’tazilas, followed by the response of the Asharites; and (d) the Qadiani as well as the Lahori Ahmadis.

The session also discussed the evolution of Sufi Thought, and in particular, the context for emergence of Sufi concepts. The practices of the early Sufis (Hasan Basri, Bayazid Bastami, Abdul Qadir al-Jilani and Abu Madyan) and the impact of their beliefs/practices were also discussed. Subsequently, the session looked at the rise of the Tariqah/Turuq (introducing the Chistiya, the Qadiriyyah, the Shahdilliya, Mawlawi, the Naqshabandi, and the Safawi orders). The thoughts of ibn ‘Arabi and Jamal al-Din Rumi, were given special attention, and the ideas of those who have criticised the practice of Sufism (Ibn Taymiyya, ibn Abdul Wahhab) as well as those who have called for its reform (Sirhindi, Shah Wali Allah, Hamka) were put in context.

Additionally, the session gave attention to the practice of Sufism in Singapore: the ‘Alawiyyah order, the Ahmadiyya-Idrisiyah order, the Naqshabandi-Haqqani order, the Qadari-Naqshabandi order, and the practice of tawassul at dargahs/karamats in Singapore. Finally, there was discussion on issues that arose from the Malaysian fatwa banning Al-Arqam and the practice of Aurad Muhammadiyah, in order to discuss its implications on the practice of Sufism.


4-5 December 2010
Department of Malay Studies, NUS

Workshop on
'Deepening Democracy, Resisting Fundamentalism'

Organised by
Leftwrite Center (Singapore),
Centre for Pesantren Studies (Bogor, Indonesia),
YMCA Metro (Jakarta, Indonesia),
supported by the Reading Group, Singapore


For the past few decades, many societies had experienced a phenomenon where religious fervour is on the rise and religion is seen as asserting itself more and more in the public sphere. This phenomenon is coupled by the increasing movement of ideas, people and resources across the globe. People no longer live in an isolated world; they are now living and interacting with diverse groups and communities within a single polity.

In some cases, conflicts occur when religious communities begin to adopt an exclusive, isolationist and supremacist identities – otherwise known as religious fundamentalism. How do societies deal with religious fundamentalism? Is religious fundamentalism compatible with the practice of democracy? Or will religious fundamentalism undermine democracy and the foundations of a plural society?


Explore ways to strengthen democratic ethos within individuals and groups co-existing in a plural society, through interfaith alliances.

Diagnose the problems surrounding attempts to politicise religion, be it from fundamentalist groups and/or policies.

Carve an alternative vision of religion that counters the exclusivist and supremacist worldview of fundamentalist orientation, while resisting every form of hegemonic tools of control and monopoly of ideas.


Day 1: Democracy and the Problem of Hegemony

  • Overview of the principles of democracy
  • Public space and the search for identity
  • Case Study: Indonesia
    Two sides of the same coin – Democracy and the rise of religious fundamentalism
  • Case Study: Southern Thailand
    From hegemony to peaceful co-existence – The struggle for human rights

Day 2: Fundamentalism and Politics of Representation

  • Politicisation of religion and communalisation of politics
  • Resisting stereotypes and prejudices
  • Case Study:
    Gender biases and politics of identity
  • Case Study: Singapore
    Resisting fundamentalism – From legal control to civic engagement

Resource Persons

Dr. Muhammad Wildan
Lecturer, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Dr. Siti Syamsiyatun
Director, Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Gadjah Madah University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Mr. Favor Adelaide Bancin
General-Secretary, YMCA Metro, Jakarta, Indonesia

Mr. Achmad Ubaidillah
Director, Centre for Pesantren Studies, Bogor, Indonesia

Mr. Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib
Social Activist, The Reading Group, Singapore


29 March 2011

Documentary Film Screening of
'Aku Siapa?' [Who Am I?]

by Norhayati Kaprawi, independent film-maker

Organised by Leftwrite Center (Singapore) and the Reading Group, Singapore; supported by Onepeople.Sg



"Aku Siapa?" focuses on why Muslim women in Malaysia wear the hijab [headscarf/tudung] and the challenges they faced. Through a series of candid interviews with Muslim women, young and old, urban and rural, director Norhayati Kaprawi uncovers why Muslim women wear the hijab, and why some take it off. The interviews also demonstrate what Muslim women understand about the hijab and the Qur'anic verses that compel them to cover up. Just as importantly, the film interviews religious scholars, academics and politicians from both Malaysia and Indonesia about the phenomenon of the hijab and its development within Islam and in Malaysia. "Aku Siapa?" is a necessary viewing for those who are curious about the hijab and those who want to better understand political Islam and its impact on women in contemporary Malaysia.

The 50-minute film was followed by discussion and interaction with filmmaker, Norhayati Kaprawi and Dr. Suriani Suratman (Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore).


5 - 6 December 2011
The Wahid Institute, Jakarta

Regional Conference on
'Islam and Multiculturalism in Southeast Asia'

organised by The Wahid Institute, Jakarta and Leftwrite Center, Singapore


One of the greatest challenges facing many nations in the post-Cold War period is the prevalence of sectarian conflicts based on tribal, ethnic, religious symbolic attachments. The world saw, for example, ethnic-cleansing in former Yugoslavia and genocides in Rwanda and Burundi. We also saw violent conflicts in Indonesian islands of Maluku and Poso. In fact, many countries with high density of diverse population are facing some form of conflict. Developed nations such as Germany, France and even the United States are no exception in facing the threat of primordial conflicts.
Meanwhile, there is fear that the post-9/11 world is heading towards a conflict between Muslim and Christian West civilisations. This is not an unfounded fear, given the evidence that extremists from both sides are utilising religion to push for their political agenda. Osama bin Laden and, more recently, Anders Behring Breivik, are representative of the extreme Right from their respective religious community; they are hijacking religion to further their interest. Among Muslims, there is no doubt that there are competing factions: Between those who devote to God in love and compassion, and those who worship God with hatred towards others; between those who saw the compatibility of religion with modernity, and those who want to return to the caliphate system of the past; between those who want to coexist in peace with the West, and those who saw the West as an enemy.
Evidence shows that the contestation has spread to various parts of the world, including the Southeast Asian region. Countries in this region, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, are known to have a highly diverse population. These three countries are also experiencing the development of multiculturalism, but each with its own specificity. Tensions between the ‘pribumi’ (indigenous) Malays and ‘pendatang’ (migrants), serve as a unique example in ethnicity and ethnoreligious studies in these countries.
Malaysia, with a population of 23 million, adopts a federal system. The majority, or rather two-third of her population comprised of Malay-Muslims, while the Chinese constitute 25% and Indians 7%. She has a history racial conflicts and thus comes with an experience in handling multiculturalism, be it from the political or economic approach.      
Singapore too is a country with a cosmopolitan population. There are 5 million residents and almost half of these are not local born citizens. When the country was colonised by the British, Raffles had invited traders and workers from various ethnic and race to Singapore. In fact, according to historical records, it took just two years since the establishment of Singapore as a colony that the island saw a diverse mixture of population comprising of Malays, Chinese, Bugis, Indian, Arab, Armenian, European and others. Today, the Chinese form the majority with 74.1%, while the Malays constitute 13.4%, Indians 9.2% and others such as Europeans, Arabs and Jews constitute 3.3%. From the Census 2010, the religious composition of Singapore are: 33.3% Buddhists, 18.3% Christians, 17% No Religion, 14.7% Muslims, 10.9% Taoists, 5.1% Hindus, and 0.7% others such as Jews, Bahais, Sikhs and Zoroastrians.
The largest country in Southeast Asia is Indonesia, with a population of 230 million. This country has tremendous diversity in terms of ethnicity, tribe, language and religion. The majority of Indonesians are Muslims (88%), while Protestant Christians constitute 5%, Catholics 3%, Hindus 1.73%, Buddhists 0.61%, Confucians 0.10%, and others 0.11%.
During colonial history, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia formed parts of the Malaya. Nonetheless, the cultural and political situation of Singapore had always been different from her neighbouring states. If Malaysia and Indonesia were dominated by ‘pribumi’ (indigenous) Muslims, it was the Chinese who had been dominant in Singapore. This means that ethnoreligious issues affected Indonesia and Malaysia more than Singapore.
In addition, the advancement of globalisation has made Muslims more receptive to the multicultural framework, including Muslims in Southeast Asia. On one hand, countries with Muslim majority such as Indonesia and Malaysia are facing an influx of foreigners, be it migrants or expatriates. This phenomenon is also observed in countries where Muslims are a minority, such as Singapore.
According to R. W. Hefner, multiculturalism in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore develops as a form of cultural transition from colonial to post-colonial era. The fact that the transition has to occur indicates the rapid development of pluralism within the three countries. At the same time, state intervention in citizenship gave rise to ethnic and ethnoreligious issues. The rule of Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore), Mahathir Mohamad (Malaysia) and Suharto (Indonesia), no doubt contributes to the rise of various ethnic and ethnoreligious issues with each country. As feared by Geertz, the cultural transition from colonial to postcolonial society had given birth to competitions that destroyed civility, while at the same time, the process had also convinced many people on the importance of building civil politics and inclusive citizenship.

The above background indicates that the challenges brought by multiculturalism is as dire in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as in other parts of the world. Thus, continuous attention must be given to this issue. Various strategies, be it structural or cultural, need to be analysed in order to solve the problem of multiculturalism in these three countries.

To identify the problem of multiculturalism in Southeast Asia and propose sustainable approaches to address the problem
2. To identify potential groups to build a network and strengthen intercultural dialogue in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
3. To compare literatures and researches on Islam and multiculturalism in order to develop a new and comprehensive direction in multiculturalism studies within the three countries
1. Identification of problems surrounding multiculturalism and proposed solutions in the context of Southeast Asia 
2. The establishment of a regional network between the various stakeholders in the three countries
3. Proposed solutions to develop new studies on Islam and multiculturalism in Southeast Asia
Paper Presentations

* Keynote Address: Islam and Multiculturalism in Southeast Asia 
by Dr Muhammad Ali [University of California, Riverside, USA]

* Post-Traditionalism and Islam in Indonesia
by Dr. Rumadi [The Wahid Institute, Indonesia]

* Islam and Multiculturalism in Malay Society
by Dr. Azhar Ibrahim Alwee [National University of Singapore, Singapore]
* Shari'a By-Laws in Aceh and Kelantan
by Dr. Khamami Zada [LAKPESDAM-NU, Indonesia]
* Islam in Malaysia and the Multicultural Framework: A Struggle for State Identity
by Ahmad Fuad Rahmat [Islamic Renaissance Front, Malaysia]

* Impacts of Islamisation on Non-Muslims in Malaysia
by Norhayati Kaprawi [Lensa Srikandi, Malaysia]
* Muslim Minority and Multiculturalism in Southeast Asia 
by Ahmad Suaedy [The Wahid Institute, Indonesia]
* The Challenges of Multicultural Citizenship: State Communalism and Religious Fundamentalism in Singapore
by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib [Leftwrite Center, Singapore] 
Study Visits to the following organisations:
* Institute for Human Resource Studies and Development (LAKPESDAM), Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia
* Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM), Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Indonesia