SINGAPORE - Three books written by local asatizah, or Islamic religious teachers, and published by the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) were released on Tuesday (May 4).
One of them, titled Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices Of Singapore Religious Scholars, examines the threat of religious extremism here.
Edited by Ustaz Haniff Hassan and Nanyang Technological University professor of security studies Rohan Gunaratna, it contains 22 essays by the asatizah that, among other things, clarify how such radical ideas have no place in Islam.
In another of the books - Uncovering The Secrets Of Surah Al-Ikhlas - Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan, the president of Pergas, examines a chapter in the Quran that is said to have special significance.
And in the book, The Socio-Religious Thought Of Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad Through The Collection Of Sermons (1971-1980), the author, Ustaz Mohamed Qusairy Thaha, examines the teachings of one of Singapore's best-known asatizah.
At Tuesday's event at the Pergas building in Changi, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam held up the contributions that Pergas and the asatizah here have made for the community.
He told reporters: "They have been helping in countering extremism, providing guidance over decades. And writing these books is another example of the work that they do."
He touched on the book by Dr Haniff and Prof Gunaratna, and highlighted the importance of such work in countering the religious distortions that some might make in furthering their violent extremist agenda.
Since 2015, the Internal Security Department has dealt with 54 people under the Internal Security Act for terror-related conduct.
"They take the reader through the ideologies that are distorted and used by the extremists and the terrorists, and they expose it, and they give a framework for the way in which the religion can be approached," said Mr Shanmugam.
"Co-authored by an asatizah (and) published by Pergas, it gives our local population the confidence that this is a work they can go to and access."