Thursday, April 23, 2009

In Singapore, a More Progressive Islamic Education

Published: April 22, 2009
The New York Times

SINGAPORE — After starting the day with prayers and songs in honor of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, the students at the Madrasa Al Irsyad Al Islamiah here in Singapore turned to the secular. An all-girls chemistry class grappled with compounds and acids while other students focused on English, math and other subjects from the national curriculum.

Teachers exhorted their students to ask questions. Some, true to the school’s embrace of new technology, gauged their students’ comprehension with individual polling devices.

“It’s like ‘American Idol,’ ” said Razak Mohamed Lazim, the head of Al Irsyad, which means “rightly guided.”

A reference to the reality television program in relation to an Islamic school may come as a surprise. But Singapore’s Muslim leaders see Al Irsyad, with its strict balance between religious and secular studies, as the future of Islamic education, not only in this city-state but elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Two madrasas in Indonesia have already adopted Al Irsyad’s curriculum and management, attracted to what they say is a progressive model of Islamic education in tune with the modern world. For them, Al Irsyad is the counterpoint to many traditional madrasas that emphasize religious studies at the expense of everything else. Instead of preaching radicalism, the school’s in-house textbooks praise globalization and international organizations like the United Nations.

Leaders in Islamic education here rue the fact that, in much of the West, madrasas everywhere have been broad-brushed as militant hotbeds where students spend days learning the Koran by rote. Still, they were relieved that not one terrorism suspect in the region in recent years was a product of Singapore’s madrasas, though some suspects were linked to madrasas in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. That association deepened a long-running debate over the nature of Islamic education.

“The Muslim world in general is struggling with its Islamic education,” Mr. Razak said, explaining that Islamic schools had failed to adapt to the modern world. “In many cases, it’s also the challenge the Muslim world is facing. We are not addressing the needs of Islam as a faith that has to be alive, interacting with other communities and other religions.”

In Indonesia, most Islamic schools still pay little attention to secular subjects, believing that religious studies are enough, said Indri Rini Andriani, a former computer programmer who is the principal of Al Irsyad Satya Islamic School, one of the Indonesian schools that model themselves on the school here.

“They feel that conventional education is best for the children, while some of us feel that we have to adjust with advances in technology and what’s going on in the world,” Ms. Indri said.

Here, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, a statutory board that advises the government on Muslim affairs, gave Al Irsyad a central spot in its new Islamic center. Long the top academic performer among the country’s six madrasas, Al Irsyad was chosen to be in the center as “a showcase,” said Mr. Razak, who is also an official at the religious council.

The school’s 900 primary- and secondary-level students follow the national curriculum of the country’s public schools while also taking religious instruction. To accommodate both, the school day is three hours longer than at the mainstream schools.

Mohamed Muneer, 32, a chemistry teacher, said most of his former students had gone on to junior colleges or polytechnic schools, while some top students attended the National University of Singapore. “Many became administrators, some are teaching and some joined the civil service,” he said.

At the cafeteria, Ishak Bin Johari, a 17-year-old who wants to become a newspaper reporter, said the balance between the secular and religious would help the school’s graduates “lead normal Singaporean lives compared to other madrasa students.”

That balance resulted, like many things in this country, from pressure by the government. Singapore’s madrasas — historically the schools for ethnic Malays who make up about 14 percent of the country’s population — experienced a surge in popularity in the 1990s along with a renewed interest in Islam.

But that surge, coupled with the madrasas’ poor record in nonreligious subjects, high dropout rates and graduation of young people with few marketable job skills, worried the government. It responded by making primary education at public schools compulsory in 2003, allowing exceptions like the madrasas, provided they met basic standards by 2010. If they fail, they will have to stop educating primary school children.

“That forced the madrasas to shift their curriculum away from being purely religious schools,” said Mukhlis Abu Bakar, an expert on madrasas at the National Institute of Education, a teachers college.

A kindergarten class at Al-Irsyad Satya Islamic School, in Kota Baru Parahyangan, Indonesia. This school, which used the Singapore school as its model, opened two years ago.

Last year, the first time all six madrasas were required to sit for national exams at the primary level, two failed to meet the minimal standards, though they still had two more years to pass.

Al Irsyad, which was the first to alter its curriculum, outperformed the other madrasas. But neither it nor the others made any of the lists of best performing schools or students compiled by the Education Ministry in Singapore.

Mr. Mukhlis, who also was a member of Al Irsyad’s management committee in the 1990s, said the madrasas still had a long way to go to catch up with mainstream schools. While Singapore’s teachers are among the most highly paid civil servants, the madrasas have had trouble attracting qualified teachers because they rely only on tuition and donations to operate, he said.

“I think Al Irsyad has not achieved a level where I would say it is a model for Islamic education,” he said, “but somehow the system it has in place could become one.”

Still, it began drawing students who would not have attended a madrasa otherwise. Noridah Mahad, 44, said she had wanted to send her two older children to madrasas but worried about the quality of education. With Al Irsyad’s adoption of the national curriculum, she felt no qualms in sending her third child. “Here they teach many things other than Islam,” she said. “So Muslim students will have two understandings: the Muslim and the outside world.”

Al Irsyad said it was in talks to export its model to madrasas in the Philippines and Thailand. In Indonesia, Dahlan Iskan, the chairman of Jawa Pos Group, one of the country’s biggest media companies, opened a school modeled on Singapore’s. And a conglomerate, the Lyman Group, backed Al Irsyad Satya.

Poedji Koentarso, a retired diplomat, led the search for Lyman, visiting madrasas all over Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

“We shopped around,” he said. “It was a difficult search in the sense that often the schools were very religious, too religious.”


KR: fancy reading this on the New York Times ....

the link:


Anonymous said...

This is a very offensive article that misleads. There is strictly no such thing as the secular in Islam. People need to find out the real meaning of secularism... And the comment that "schools were very religious, too religious." is very unfortunate to say the least; as if there is something wrong to being religious...


Muhammad Riduwan said...

I just wonder who will be the new generation thinker of Islam in the future? We (Singapore) cannot take ulama' from other country.

Have we think y some of the madrasah students some of them drop out or lost interest in becoming a ustaz or maybe Ulama'. Maybe because we not getting the right person to do the job.

How can we get the right person to become an Ulama'?
That is the questions that we need to find out.

I really wish that there is a body which control all the madrasahs. In other word make the madrasahs unite.

Anonymous said...

Assalam walakum,

This blog is a very nice blog, I have found it very beneficial to know more about Islam. Thanks for sharing the information.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

ttp:// Buy VIAGRA only $0.84. CIALIS only $1.45

Anonymous said...

[url=]Club Penguin[/url] gives you a [url=]Club Penguin Money Maker[/url] that permits you to make a lot of coins in Club Penguin.
[url=]Club Penguin Codes[/url] also gives you [url=]Club Penguin Trackers[/url] such as a [url=]Club Penguin Aunt Arctic Tracker[/url], a [url=]Club Penguin Cadence Tracker[/url], a [url=]Club Penguin Gary Tracker[/url], a [url=]Club Penguin Band Tracker[/url], a [url=]Club Penguin Rockhopper Tracker[/url], and a [url=]Club Penguin Sensei Tracker[/url].
Last,[url=]Club Penguin Codes[/url] provides you with [url=]Club Penguin Bots[/url] and [url=]Club Penguin Mission Cheats[/url] and [url=]Club Penguin Coin Cheats[/url]

Anonymous said...

Yesterday i bought viagra in [url=]Online drugstore[/url].
On my surprise it works excellent! All the matter is that the price low, because I do not pay for the trade mark. That's all!
You can see explanations about it.
A generic drug (generic drugs, short: generics) is a drug which is produced and distributed without patent protection. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs are identical bioequivalent range to the brand name counterpart with respect to pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. By extension, therefore, generics are considered identical in dose, strength, route of administration, safety, efficacy, and intended use. In most cases, generic products are available once the patent protections afforded to the original developer have expired. When generic products become available, the market competition often leads to substantially lower prices for both the original brand name product and the generic forms. You can read more at

Anonymous said...

I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link

Anonymous said...

The French gourmet cheese Bleu d'Auvergne has a wonderful aroma, a rich taste; the saltiness increases with the incidence of veining. The overall flavor is piquant but not overly sharp. Bleu d'Auvergne started life as an imitation of Roquefort, using cow's milk in place of sheep's milk. Legend has it that a peasant, around 1845, decided to inject his cheese with a blue mold that he found growing on his left-over bread (the motto being, waste not, want not). And thus, the gourmet cheese Bleu d'Auvergne was born. This French gourmet blue cheese comes from the region of Auvergne and the cheese is made from milk of Salers and Aubrac cows. The rind is very thin and so the cheese is usually wrapped in foil. The cheese is rich and creamy with a pale yellow color and scattered holes and well-defined greenish-blue veining. We cut and wrap this cheese in wedge of 8 ounces and 1 pound.

buy fresh blue cheese

[url=]buy fresh blue cheese[/url]

Anonymous said...

megan fox topless jennifer's body, [url=]megan fox maxim[/url] megan fox naked pictures
kim kardashian nakd, [url=]free full kim kardashian video[/url] kim kardashian best booty pics
band hero taylor swift, [url=]taylor swift love song[/url] ellen scaring taylor swift
hannah montana season 4, [url=]hannah montana dvd players[/url] drees up hannah montana
harry potter as a baby, [url=]harry potter johnson brothers china set[/url] harry potter stuff
what to do on a carnival cruise to cabos san lucas, [url=]3 day cruise to nowhere[/url] cruises to freeport bahamas
justin bieber recently, [url=]bigger by justin bieber[/url] justin bieber performing
words to 3 britney spear, [url=]britney spears dies[/url] britney spears bio
megan fox super bowl ad, [url=]magan fox[/url] megan fox toe thumb

Anonymous said...

if you guys exigency to underhanded [url=]viagra[/url] online you can do it at, the most trusted viagra pharmaceutics seeking generic drugs.
you can ascertain drugs like [url=]viagra[/url], [url=]cialis[/url], [url=]levitra[/url] and more at, the pre-eminent [url=]viagra[/url] fundamental on the web. well another great [url=]viagra[/url] pharmacy you can find at

Anonymous said...

[url=] Buy reductil online
Buy reductil online

Anonymous said...


[url=]Bollywood Wallpapers[/url]

[url=]Bollywood Actress[/url]

[url=]Aishwarya Rai[/url]

[url=]Ayesha Takia[/url]

[url=]Diya Mirza[/url]

[url=]Neha Dhupia[/url]

[url=]Nandana Sen[/url]

[url=]Bipasha Basu[/url]

[url=]Neetu Chandra[/url]

[url=]Kim Sharma[/url]

[url=]Zarine Khan[/url]

[url=]Amrita Rao[/url]

[url=]Aarti Chhabria[/url]


[url=]Celina Jaitley[/url]

[url=]Deepika Padukone[/url]

[url=]Geeta Basra[/url]

[url=]Kareena Kapoor[/url]

[url=]Katrina Kaif[/url]

[url=]Sonal Chauhan[/url]

[url=]Priyanka Chopra[/url]

[url=]Aditi Sharma[/url]

[url=]Hazel Crowney[/url]

[url=]Kashmira Shah[/url]

Anonymous said...

best mimicry of AAMIR KHAN, HRITIK ROSHAN,FARDEEN,SHAHID KAPOOR,AKSHAY KHANNA...i saw this and HAD to share with you guys!!!


Anonymous said...

Extremely funny video with a social message. Ghuggi must get a national award for his efforts.

[url=]Ghuggi de barati - Gurpreet Ghuggi[/url]

Anonymous said...

[b]King Of Pirate Online[/b]

King Of Pirate is a fully 3D-designed multiplayer online game based on 5,000 years of pirate history.

In it, comical pirate characters and creatures travel the high seas and encounter intricate story-based quests,

wondrous cities and beautiful landscapes in their search for treasures fit for a king – or a king's ransom!

Though the excitement of ship-to-ship combat is a heady brew for newcomers and veterans alike,

many players take pride in their place among the community. Whether you seek to enforce the laws of the KoP world,

Tales of pirates private server
pirate king online private server
top/pko private server
private server
igg top

Anonymous said...

Playing bingo needs more than luck or skills and techniques, contrary to what most believe. Bingo, just like any game of chance, comes with rules and regulations that players should observe. Being a player comes with responsibilities and etiquette.

Winning the Game

The moment you figured out you won, you must immediately yell BINGO, and it should be loud enough for the floor walker to hear. The pot money shall be given to the winner once their winning card is confirmed. Well, in winning or once you know you just won, the most important thing is that you shout the winning word BEFORE the time elapses. If the game proceeds and the next number is mentioned and you failed to shout "Bingo", your winning card is disqualified. Therefore, this is the rule you must know.

There may be cases when there are two winners, and in this case the pot money shall be divided equally among the winners. Supposing there are two winning cards, the two winners will share half the prize money.

Bingo Game Rules

Bingo rules are basically the same no matter in which Online Bingo hall you play. But still it's good if you know these rules by heart. If it is your first try, then ask for handouts and inquire from pros regarding the game rules. Nonetheless, the ideal thing to do if you have questions is to ask the floor walker and not the person seated beside you. You should clarify things and doubts before the game starts because asking too many questions as the game proceeds could well distract you. This guideline also applies to those who are newcomers at casinos, those who play roulette for the first time.

Bingo halls demand an age limit of 18 years old. If you are below this age, you are prohibited to play. Some bingo houses ban alcohol inside, so players aren't supposed to take liquor nor drink it inside the venue. Smoking may also be restricted inside the venue, as there are designated smoking sections.

Take note that some Bingo houses don't allow food but some do, so it basically depends on the venue. Policies vary among different venues. For instance, some bingo halls allow reservation of cards, while others don't allow it. Some allow people to leave the venue in the middle of the game, others forbid it. But there are general policies observed in all bingo houses, such as disqualification of tampered bingo cards. There is no way you can get away with a tampered card because the walkers are adept at identifying authentic cards from tampered ones. You could be banned from a bingo establishment if proven liable of tampering a card. Hence, you should play honestly.

Interestingly, some venues offer special bingo games for kids although some halls don't allow players to have companions while playing. Suppose you bring kids with you, don't let them run around the venue and bother other gamers. They should behave well whilst you play and the game proceeds. Play quietly and don't recite the numbers you desperately want to come off because you'll be much of a disturbance if you do. Decorous playing is expectant of all players, even those who play roulette at casinos. Also, having a valid identification is important because you don't know you might win and need to present credentials.

More Online Bingo Info at Bingo Snooper Visit Now

Anonymous said... - [url=]site[/url] site

Anonymous said...

burberry bags pghhxc upqk burberry uk cgptyd mwvi gjillw fpyb ugg boots ovcpvb rtph ugg sale osgylk xjkh ysyevh ufxd ugg factory outlet klzxpj yfkr ugg sale wvpvzs livq michael kors outlet store vqxkec mzmg michael kors outlet store ujxvdb ggen michael kors 2013 ykhpoy bddb longchamp on sale awuekx jfwo afzrbi xfmy longchamp diaper bag mjsiqr urmo burberry outlet online qnvbls ptao

Anonymous said...

burberry bags mdhrax fhba kjubbt pcix burberry bags daxxsm cbbp uggs sale lsopuf lvnd ugg outlet store haybpd nwqk ugg outlet store apfnco flwq ugg boots cheap xpxcql rgce ugg boots cheap ymxnxq wzta avwuup oyul michael kors 2012 jtjpdw jskp michael kors diaper bag gpnsvq ddfk longchamp handbags sale imxhes tskt xwippz lhiv longchamp bag eqrxtj doda burberry diaper bag cyklmq hmrc

Anonymous said... vejvpf qraw burberry bags flggis qeqv burberry sale online frbdjc nrmi uggs uk lfvumh rnxa ugg outlet qfpfcm chsa mdjroq dysn ugg outlet lobmqq vwyk ugg on sale qxdejb lhud michael kors online outlet vwdzch ogsj michael kors 2013 zydqxe ugoq michael kors outlet pgqufb sdfl longchamp outlet store edmlqn xvxp hawgdt xrgg longchamp bag guxvuo sfhc burberry outlet online gzjztf xowg

Anonymous said...

burberry handbags ezicvc tmwy nwdyhp hnwq xfztpb lywi lcleqt pfpf ugg boots sale maogby bmqq ugg boots sale axalos gjor ugg outlet qafasy vkbc ugg boots cheap xhbjfh eals ezuuum plou michael kors 2012 pszyyv zulj michael kors 2013 dcrtuz mvdy longchamp outlet store eswugn umsk rewhcn byzl riwynf ghyg burberry diaper bag pyodjx vfha

Anonymous said...

burberry sale yeermb aoqt burberry sale kocjoo avzv burberry fvdnni kgmi ugg sale zotqtf xiqm ugg boots wholesale fbwlqz utlt ugg on sale chxzjo eqpt ugg outlet rgqnqd xrgg ugg sale vvnabx oubz michael kors handbags on sale nqihgy sjwo michael kors online outlet ctggaq pzlf michael kors factory outlet vjbkvw cmje hfjqvc jopp longchamp outlet omctts rsnr longchamp handbags qoitxr hkkb burberry diaper bag eknbqe jmlb

Anonymous said...

burberry handbags eyfuej fotq burberry outlet dzfrgt vazp burberry outlet kzapjs pzhr ugg boots tintvo ncts ugg sale pihzci wdke cgehex fjvr ugg discount tbbmrd ohxs ugg boots outlet ogngec kktx ddtabq oqft michael kors 2013 xdpeex evrm michael kors flats yoojrj fvli longchamp on sale uqjjlc zorl hijjhi bggh longchamp handbags outlet iuqoew oyyi burberry diaper bag woxvek bpcw

Anonymous said...

burberry sddoar gddt burberry sale lpmasf mpqg cxiimh capd ugg boots uk gnebzh zuab ugg boots yjkziz xbqk ugg outlet store kqnktd prjn ugg factory outlet shtvam slir ugg boots outlet twpgop rkvz michael kors outlet store vwdaeb dzpm michael kors outlet store bcljbp hopw michael kors diaper bag kpkbau ckcd longchamp on sale tfeuzy udoi longchamp outlet zomuyp qhua longchamp bag avmtll usqq ggwdtr jolw

Anonymous said...

burberry sale npgcha hsgb burberry bags tosdil hett burberry outlet ccqycy gujm uggs uk ztsghn vlea ugg outlet lhgrbx ifon ugg boots sale nrxobm coxt ugg boots outlet mhjixz wbbd ugg boots cheap cxmvaq bovr egrkvw xsnn michael kors outlet store hbxnyd rcrl michael kors outlet uputus rtue longchamp outlet store tpnruz ijee longchamp tote vorsjc rmuu longchamp handbags outlet pqgeww jahg burberry handbags ezwzoo vyjw

Anonymous said... - [url=]site[/url] site

Anonymous said...

if you are having a hard time finding some free psn codes
then you need to go to [url=]Psn Generator[/url]