Four books have been banned in Singapore due to their extremist content. The Ministry of Communications and Information has announced the banning, citing the basis of the ban as the books’ ability to ‘cause social distancing, distrust, hatred and even violence among people of different faiths and religious views’.
The four publications are as follows:
1. At-Tauhid Li ash-Shaff al-Awwal al-‘Ali, authored by Syaikh Dr. Shalih bin Fauzan bin Abdullah al-Fauzan.
Indonesian translation: Kitab Tauhid 1, translated by Agus Hasan Bashori, Lc. Published by Darul Haq, Jakarta, 2015
2. Aqidatut Tauhid Kitabut Tauhid lis-Shaff Al-Awwal – Ats-Tsalis Al-Aly, authored by Dr. Shalih bin Fauzan al-Fauzan dan tim Ahli Tauhid.
Indonesian translation: Siri Buku Aqidah Kitab Tauhid, translated by Syahirul Alim Al-Adib, Lc. Published by Ummul Qura, Jakarta Timur, 2016
3. Al-Wajiz Fi Fiqhis Sunnah Wal Kitabil ‘Aziz, authored by ‘Abdul ‘Azhim bin Badawi al-Khalafi.
Indonesian translation: Al-Wajiz, translated by Ma’ruf Abdul Jalil. Published by Pustaka as-Sunnah, Jakarta, 2011
4. Bimbingan Islam Untuk Hidup Muslim Petunjuk Praktis Menjadi Muslim Seutuhnya Dari Lahir Sampai Mati Berdasarkan Al-Qur’an dan Sunnah Rasulullah, authored by Dr. Ahmad Matta, MA; Dr. Abas Mansur Tamam, MA; Ahmad Syahirul Alim, Lc., M.Pd.I. Published by Maghfirah Pustaka, Jakarta Timur, 2016
The banning of the books is in line with Article 14 of the Constitution of Singapore, which permits the evoking of rights to freedom of speech and expression should they threaten the security and sanctity of society.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has expressed support for the ban on the publications and has conducted a thorough assessment of the four books, finding that they indeed promoted ‘problematic religious positions that are extremely exclusivist in nature as well as dangerous’. It is also said that the books ‘clearly promote enmity, strife and potentially violence between Muslims and non-Muslims, and attack the modern, democratic nation-state’.
In the same statement, MUIS emphasised that the books ‘do not promote a peaceful, moderate understanding and practice of Islam. This, in the long run, may lead to an insular, exclusive Muslim community that seeks to isolate themselves rather than integrate with the larger society’. This is because the authors present a binary view of the world that puts Islam and Muslims in a conflicting position from the rest of the world.
This is ‘contrary to the ethos of the Singaporean Muslim identity and diametrically opposed to the ethos of the Singaporean Muslim identity and diametrically opposed to the progressive and inclusive religious outlook of the Singapore Muslim community’, MUIS added.
Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who is also the Minister-in-charge of Muslim affairs warned that ‘the threat of extremism is real and shouldn’t be taken lightly’. He also said that ‘The government strongly condemns the use of such publications to espouse destructive ideologies and promote enmity between communities’ and that the government ‘will not hesitate to take firm actions where necessary’.
He also called on Singaporeans to rally together to safeguard Singapore and play their part to report radical individuals to the authorities.
The ban of the books, which were all published between 2011 and 2016 in Jakarta, will take effect from Tuesday 31st October. Under the Undesirable Publications Act, it is an offence for anyone to own and distribute the books. Those who have copies of the book are required to hand them over to the police.
Offenders can be fined, jailed, or both.