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Background

The need to have some form of accreditation for asatizah in Singapore was mooted in the 1990s by senior scholars and asatizah in PERGAS (Singapore Islamic Scholars & Religious Teachers Association). The proposal was forwarded to Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) for deliberation. In 2004, Muis formed the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB) appointing Ustaz Hj Ali bin Hj Mohamed as its first Chairman and PERGAS as its secretariat. The following year, the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) was launched and had its first batch of voluntary registrations. The ARS was then continually reviewed and further refinements were made.

The Scheme was established to enhance the standing of religious teachers (Asatizah) and serve as a credible source of reference for the Singapore Muslim community. Recognition is granted only to qualified Islamic religious teachers and scholars who meet the minimum standards of qualification and are considered fit and proper to preach and teach Islamic religious knowledge. The application for recognition is assessed and approved by the ARB. The Board comprises senior asatizah and is appointed by Muis for a period of three years.

Asatizah play an important role in providing the Singapore Muslim community with sound religious guidance amidst an increasingly diverse and vibrant socio-religious landscape. The community has sought greater assurance that such religious guidance should be compatible with the values that we cherish and our way of life in modern, multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore, and that our religious teachers should guard against the taking root of problematic ideologies and practices. Building on an earlier initiative by the ARB where professional development was made a requirement as part of the ARS recognition process, Muslim community leaders have called for the existing voluntary ARS initiative to evolve further into a mandatory one that covers all asatizah.

Similarly, the regulation of Islamic Education Centres and providers (IECP) will also help the Muslim public to access information on credible IECPs, and this will safeguard the community against deviant or problematic ideologies and teachings.