The Traditionalist Response to Wahhabi-Salafism in Batam
About the publication
The rise of Wahhabi-Salafi ideology in neighbouring Batam is causing concern in Singapore. There are worries that some Singapore Muslims are being radicalized by Batam's Islamic radio station Hang FM, which openly promotes Wahhabi-Salafi teachings.
The uncovering by Batam police of a plan by five Indonesians to launch a missile from the island, targeting Singapore's Marina Bay, and the arrest of some individuals linked to ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in Batam in August 2016 strengthen these fears.
This article argues that Batam Muslims are non-violent traditionalists in their orientation, and key religious leaders from the state have come out against Wahhabi-Salafis anti-pluralist ideas. Contrary to expectations, key traditionalist practices like mass prayers (zikr), and praises to the Prophet Muhammad (selawat), which Wahhabi-Salafis frown upon, continue to attract a huge following in Batam.
In contradistinction to perceptions that Batam influences Singapore, the city-state does in its own right exert influence on its neighbour, and monetary flow from Singapore Muslims help keep traditionalist rituals alive.