Marketing Manners Makeover: Sufism, Self-help, and Women's Religious Education in Contemporary Singapore
Nurhaizatul Jamil

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Northwestern University

Primary Discipline

In recent years, Singaporean graduates of Egypt?s Al Azhar University have been at the forefront of the nation-state?s Sufi and Self-help oriented Islamic religious educational movement that emphasizes an individual?s socio-economic mobility through pious actions. These Al-Azhar returnees offer seminars for young Muslims that focus on a range of topics from virtuous mannerisms and religious rituals to effective Islamic business strategies. To distinguish themselves from more conventional preachers, they heavily utilize new media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter extensively and cite a wide range of sources from Sufi theologian Al-Ghazali, to poet Rumi, to New Age self-help guru Deepak Chopra. Like their counterparts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Yemen, and Egypt, they market their costly religious lessons as opportunities for young ethnic and religious minority Muslim graduates of Singapore's secular universities to apply new understandings of their faith to everyday spheres. While their seminars attract male participants, the vast majority are professional Muslim women who attend these classes dressed in the latest Islamic fashions, armed with technological gadgets, and virtually archive their participation on Facebook. I investigate the ways in which this class-conscious, technologically savvy, women-centric, Sufi and self-help oriented religious educational movement re-defines what it means to be a Muslim minority in a wealthy, Asian, secular-oriented nation. In proposing this research, I highlight the importance of understanding a new generation of women preachers within Muslim minority states who possess transnational linkages, and have the authority to forge ideas about Islamic modernity, citizenship, and piety within non-institutionalized religious educational spaces.
About Nurhaizatul Jamil

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