Singapore Muslims expect NU Singapore to soon be established ~ The presence of Nahdlatul Ulama in a number of countries is re-initiated by local clerics. After Algeria founded Nahdlatul Ulama in 2014 and then followed by Sudan and Egypt, now the Singapore Muslim leaders hope the organization could be established in the lion country.
The plan of establishing NU singapore was stated by the official of the  Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) Ust. Firdaus Masruhen on the sidelines of his visit to the NU headquarters, Jl Kramat Raya 164 Jakarta, Monday (11/05).

Firdaus, accompanied by the official of Malaysia's Daarul Arqam, Ahmadi called for the importance of the presence of NU to help propagate the Islamic teachings in Singapore in addition to eliminating the negative stigma of Islam, as well as assisting the development of madrasa education in Singapore.

"So far the Singapure religious teachers (ustadz) have moved personally and often been suspected or receiving terror threats in their (Islamic) preaching. Establishing an Islamic school has always been troubled. There are only six official madrasa, namely Al-Maarif, Assaqaf, Al-Junaid, Al-Arabiyah, Al-Irsyad and Awak Tanjung," he said.

Firdaus added that the students studing in Madrasa were only 13,000 of some 174 500 young Muslim children of school age in the country, saying that there had still been many who do not receive Islamic education including those coming from broken home Muslim families.

The difficulty of developing the propagation of Islam in Singapore, according to Firdaus, is due to the modernization moving toward individualism, also the stigma that Islam and the Arabic term are closely linked to both terrorism and extremism.

"The names of any company with the Arabic word are problematic in Singapore. Singapore religious teachers are also less supported and defended by the government and the Islamic Ulema Council of Singapore (MUIS). NU need to be present (there) to defend (them)," he explained.

"Singapore's Muslims are on average poorer, Islamic teachers / scholars are in need of organizations such as NU. Because Islamic organizations in Singapore have always been suspected by the government. NU has so far been assessed positively both by society and the government due to such sides as humanity and tolerance and is very acceptable," he said.

IDEOLOGICAL SIMILARITIESThe need of establishing NU Singapore in protecting Muslims there, according to Firdaus, is due to the ideological and cultural suitability of Singapore Muslims with the Indonesian ones.

"Ideologically Muslims scholars and people of Singapore are in the same root as NU. The organization of NU has already been known widely in Singapore, we are so-called Nusantara, let's not be restricted by the state. The big organization like NU should be developed throughout the world," said.

He hoped that the presence of NU Singapore could bridge the cooperation between the people in Indonesia and Singapore, among others, the student exchange scholarship.

"The Government of Singapore has so far also viewed NU positively. If necessary the government or baitulmaal funds and zakat are directed for Islamic education scholarship. Send Singapore Muslim children to NU Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) in Indonesia, NU pesantren alumni could study in Singapore while helping the propagation for Muslim children in Singapore," he hoped.

While Ahmadi representing the Malaysia's Darul Arqam Malaysia did support the plan, given the Malay Muslim community in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei is still one root with NU.

"The formation of NU Singapore by involving Singapore scholars and religious teachers could help reduce the government pressure on the Malay Muslims. Because by cooperating with NU, there will expectedly be a friendship between nations in addition to confirming the nature of Islam that is tolerant and rahmatan lil Alamin," he added.

NU Chairman KH Masduki Baidowi greatly welcomed the willingness of the establishment of NU Singapore. However Masduki stressed that the presence of NU in various countries should be based on the principle of nationality, patriotism and loving local culture and wisdom.

"So the NU presence is not to establish an Islamic state or to impose the Islamic sharia formalization, but strengthening nationality and tolerance and harmony in each region or country," he said.

"I think it is a good (idea), first we're widening the NU movement, we also want to improve the capacity of cadres. There have now been NU in Algeria, Sudan and Egypt established by local clerics. In the future, if in Singapore and Australia NU could be established, that's a very good idea. NU special branch boards having already axisted in nearly one hundred countries are also encouraged to establish a network of education and economy," he said.

Editing by Sudarto Murtaufiq, via