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Maximising the overlapping area: multiculturalism and a Muslim identity for madrasahs in Singapore

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This paper discusses the recent efforts by the Singapore government to construct a Muslim identity for the madrasahs in Singapore. By promoting a prescribed set of desired attributes for the Muslims and introducing new curriculum materials for the madrasahs, the government aspires to construct a Muslim identity that is compatible with the principle and practice of 'hard multiculturalism' in Singapore. Through a content analysis of the textbooks for Islamic Social Studies used at the primary level, this paper argues that the Muslim identity that is privileged by the state is one where a 'good' Muslim is a good citizen who: is well-adjusted as a full member of a secular society; is enlightened and appreciates richness of other civilisations; is inclusive and practises pluralism; and is a blessing to other communities.
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Keywords: Muslim identity; Singapore; madrasahs; multiculturalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Policy and Leadership Studies, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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