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Islamic Law: Singapore

Guide to Islamic law resources in the C J Koh Law Library as well as open access resources.

Muslim law in the Singapore legal system

The Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap 3, 2009 Rev Ed) ("AMLA") sets out the powers and ambit of the key Muslim institutions in independent Singapore, outlining the structure and authority of three key Islamic institutions: the Islamic Religious Council (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura or “MUIS”); the Registry of Muslim Marriages (“ROMM”), which administers marriages under Muslim law; and the Syariah court system (Nizam, 2012 at 166-67).

The graphic below provides a brief overview of the framework for Islamic legal institutions in Singapore:

(Source: Navigating Muslim Law in Singapore, 2017 at 7)

Primary Sources of Law

For a list of legislation relied upon by the Syariah Court of Singapore, refer to this list.

For a brief background on AMLA, check out National Library Board's Singapore Infopedia article which includes a list of references.

Primary Legislation

Secondary Legislation

Historical Legislation

Other Related Statutes

Selected Bills

Parliamentary Debates

Select Committee Reports

Consultation / Parliamentary Papers

Case Law

1. LawNet 

  • Access: NUS Law; Access: Other NUS staff & students
  • Tip: Try using 'Legal Research' above -> select 'Subject Browse' -> Narrow down to 'Muslim law', and expand if necessary.

2. Singapore Syariah Appeals Reports (Academy Publishing 2012-)

Published by the Syariah Court, the Singapore Syariah Appeals Reports (SSAR) is the official report series of grounds of decisions delivered by the Appeal Board, compiling all significant cases decided by the Appeal Board between 1980 and 2019. Grounds of decisions for appeals from the Registrar of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) are also published. 

The Syariah Court of Singapore hears and determines disputes on Muslim marriages, divorces, the ancillary matters thereto and betrothal as prescribed by the Administration of Muslim Law Act. Cases at first instance are heard by the Syariah Court. Appeals from decisions of the Syariah Court are heard by the Appeal Board. Each appeal is heard by a separately-constituted Appeal Board.

Read more below about the launch of the SSAR, an important milestone in Singapore's Muslim law jurisprudence:

  • Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs (21 May 2012)
  • Article in the Singapore Law Gazette

 

Digests

Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review of Singapore Cases (Singapore Academy of Law, 2001-)

The Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review (SAL Ann Rev) is an annual conspectus by leading practitioners and academics that encapsulates and evaluates decisions of the Singapore courts in the preceding year, as well as selected cases from other jurisdictions. Coverage of Muslim law begins from 2014.

 

Foreign Authorities

Laporan syariah = Syariah reports (Malaysian Current Law Journal, 2004-)
Digest of court reports of selected cases argued and determined in the Syariah High Courts and Appeal Courts of Malaysia.
The electronic version is also available via the CLJ Law database.

Section 114(1) of AMLA sets out the sources of Muslim law which a judge can rely on in determining disputes on inheritance and succession.

Administration of Muslim Law Act

Proof of Muslim law
114.—(1)  In deciding questions of succession and inheritance in the Muslim law, the court shall be at liberty to accept as proof of the Muslim law any definite statement on the Muslim law made in all or any of the following books:
     (a) The English translation of the Quaran, by A. Yusuf Ali or Marmaduke Pickthall;
     (b) Mohammedan Law, by Syed Ameer Ali;
     (c) Minhaj et Talibin by Nawawi, translated by E. C. Howard from the French translation of Van den Berg;
     (d) Digest of Moohummudan Law, by Neil B. E. Baillie;
     (e) Anglo-Muhammadan Law, by Sir Roland Knyvet Wilson, 6th Edition Revised by A. Yusuf Ali;
     (f) Outlines of Muhammadan Law, by A. A. Fyzee;
     (g) Muhammadan Law, by F. B. Tyabji.

 

s 114(1)(a): English translation of the Quran by A. Yusuf Ali

s 114(1)(a): English translation of the Quran by Marmaduke Pickthall

s 114(1)(b): Mohammedan Law by Syed Ameer Ali

s 114(1)(c): Minhaj et Talibin by Nawawi, translated by E. C. Howard from the French translation of Van den Berg

s 114(1)(d): Digest of Moohummudan Law by Neil B. E. Baillie 

s 114(1)(e): Anglo-Muhammadan Law by Sir Roland Knyvet Wilson, 6th edition ; revised by A. Yusuf Ali.

s 114(1)(f): Outlines of Muhammadan Law by A. A. Fyzee

s 114(1)(g): Muhammadan Law by F. B. Tyabji

Fatwas

According to Nasir (2017), "Fatwas" may be defined as follows:

The word fatwa comes from the root word fa-ta-ya ( فَ-تَ-يَ ) which means “to explain”. Semantically, fatwa also means “informing a point of law from a question; an answer to a question related to an unclear legal point.”

 

In Singapore, Fatwas are regulated under section 32(1) of the Administration of Muslim Law Act on Rulings (Fatwa):

Rulings (Fatwa)
32.—(1)  Any person may, by letter addressed to the Secretary, request the Majlis to issue a fatwa or ruling on any point of the Muslim law. 

 

Fatwas issued by MUIS

  • List of Fatwas issued by the Office of the Mufti, Secretariat of the Fatwa Committee, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS))
  • Selected examples:
  • See also: Nazirudin Mohd Nasir (Ed.), Fatwas of Singapore: Science, Medicine and Health (MUIS, 2017) (Open Access)
    • Description: This publication is part of the Fatwa Rulings Documentation Project which aims to increase awareness and enhance the understanding of readers on fatwas produced by Singapore’s Fatwa Committee and its development and thinking since 1968. Beyond the 29 fatwa texts related to issues of science, medicine and health, also provides socio-historical accounts of the context behind the issues discussed by the fatwas, as well as commentaries on them.

    • In particular, see List of Fatwas

  • See also: Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), Kumpulan Fatwa (Vols 1-3) (NUS Libraries)

    • Description: These 3 books are a compilation of fatwas in the Malay language by MUIS and issued pursuant to section 32(1) of the Administration of Muslim Law Act

    • Kumpulan fatwa (1), published 1987

    • Kumpulan fatwa (2), published 1991

    • Kumpulan fatwa (3), published 1998

 

Global Fatwas

Subject header(s) in LINC catalogue: Fatwas (subdivided by jurisdiction if necessary); Advisory opinions (Islamic law)

  • Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah
    • Dar al-Ifta al Misriyyah is an Egyptian educational institute and government body and is considered the pioneering foundation for fatwas in the Islamic world since 1895. It is in charge of the Global Fatwa Index.

Acknowledgement: We wish to thank Zamiq Azmeer '18 (LL.B. (Hon.) NUS) for his advice and invaluable assistance in providing the resources under "Fatwas" and "Irsyad."

Irsyad

"Irsyad" has been defined in Singapore by the Office of the Mufti, MUIS as follows:

Irsyad is a religious guidance issued by the Office of the Mufti. This irsyad aims to address various issues related to Islamic practices and perspectives on current development.


It should be noted that Irsyad has hardly any legal weight compared to Fatwas because it is not provided for under the Administration of Muslim Law Act or any subsidiary legislation.

Acknowledgement: We wish to thank Zamiq Azmeer '18 (LL.B. (Hon.) NUS) for his advice and invaluable assistance in providing the resources under "Fatwas" and "Irsyad."

Practice Directions issued by the Syariah Court

Secondary Sources of Law

Leading Articles

  1. Ahmad Nizam bin Abbas,"The Islamic legal system in Singapore" (2012) 21:1 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 163 (Open access)

Helpful and concise introduction to the Islamic legal system in Singapore, including the key Muslim institutions (MUIS, Syariah Court and ROMM).

  1. Ahmad Nizam Abbas, Arif A. Jamal, Halijah Mohammad and Jaclyn L. Neo, "Recent Developments in Muslim Law Practice in Singapore" Singapore Law Gazette (March 2019) (Open access)

Provides a bird's eye view of AMLA and examines the law and practice of Muslim family law in Singapore.

  1. Noor Aisha Binte Abdul Rahman, "Muslim Personal Law within the Singapore Legal System: History, Prospects and Challenges" (2009) 29:1 Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 109

The author tracks the development of Muslim law in Singapore with focus on both historical and contemporary elements.

  1. M. B. Hooker, "The Evolution of Singapore's Common Law Fiqh, 1957-2013" (2016) 17:1 Australian Journal of Asian Law 1 (SSRN access)

Prof Hooker, an expert who has studied Singapore and South-east Asian Islamic law for decades, examines the development of positive law (fiqh) in Singapore. It pays particular attention to the Select Committee Reports for their role in highlighting legal debates within the Singapore Muslim community.

See also: Selected Articles - Islamic law in Singapore for a more comprehensive list of articles.

Indexes

Singapore Legal Journals

See also: Law in Singapore LibGuide - Journals for a more comprehensive list of Singapore law journals, reviews and bulletins.