Essay collection countering radical ideas among 3 new books by Islamic teachers

(From far left) Ustaz Mohamed Hj Ali, a contributor to Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices Of Singapore Religious Scholars; Ustaz Mohamed Qusairy Thaha, author of The Socio-Religious Thought Of Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad Through The Collection Of S
(From far left) Ustaz Mohamed Hj Ali, a contributor to Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices Of Singapore Religious Scholars; Ustaz Mohamed Qusairy Thaha, author of The Socio-Religious Thought Of Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad Through The Collection Of Sermons (1971-1980); and Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan, who wrote Uncovering The Secrets Of Surah Al-Ikhlas, with their books at yesterday's event. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Three books written by local asatizah, or Islamic religious teachers, and published by the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) were released yesterday.

One of them, 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 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, Pergas' president, Ustaz Mohamad Hasbi Hassan, 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 yesterday's event at the Pergas building in Changi, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam held up the contributions that Pergas and asatizah here have made to 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."

Mr Shanmugam touched on the book by Ustaz Haniff and Professor 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 (the writers) 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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2021, with the headline 'Essay collection countering radical ideas among 3 new books by Islamic teachers'. Subscribe