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The ‘Other’ Muhammadiyah Movement: Singapore 1958-2008

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14 November 2018 18:54 WIB
Dibaca: 90
Penulis : Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied




This paper provides a critical historical analysis of the Muhammadiyah movement in Singapore. I argue that four processes have been crucial in the emergence and sustenance of the Muhammadiyah within a predominantly non-Muslim society: the symbiotic relationship between the leaders and their followers, the formulation and subsequent reformulation of the ideology of the movement, political opportunities which were judiciously exploited and the availability of a wide array of infrastructures. The Muhammadiyah, as will be shown, provides an informative example of an Islamic movement in Southeast Asia that has transcended the challenges faced by the minority Muslim population by making effective use of the limited resources at its disposal.



Among the major Islamic movements in Southeast Asia that have attracted an increasing scholarly interest in recent years is the Muhammadiyah movement in Indonesia (hereafter referred to as ‘the Muhammadiyah’). Founded in 1912 in the city of Yogyakarta and deemed to be one of the oldest Islamic organisations in the country, the Muhammadiyah today prides itself with more than 29 million members. Because the movement has contributed to the continual development of the social, political, economic, educational and social landscape of modern Indonesia through its many branches, hospitals, universities and schools, it is of no surprise that a large corpus of work has been devoted to analysing its genesis, growth and influence. Previous studies have unravelled the ideology, missionary activities, political behaviour, institutions, female activism and reformist psychology of the Muhammadiyah. There is, at the same time, a whole array of published works on the lives and leadership styles of the ideologues of the movement.1



Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied is Assistant Professor at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore. Correspondence in connection with this paper should be addressed to: The author would like to thank participants of the ‘Islam and Asia: Revisiting the Socio-Political Dimension of Islam’ symposium held at Tokyo, Japan on 9 Oct. 2008 for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. Erik Holmberg, Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir, Timothy Barnard and Maurizio Peleggi provided some useful criticisms and suggestions



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