NUS Law students launch Syariah Law guidebook

Students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Law introduced a new guidebook on Muslim Law and successfully organised a forum on the history of Syariah and its role within the Singapore legal framework.

Speaker of Parliament Madam Halimah Yacob launched the new guidebook entitled “Navigating Muslim Law in Singapore” at the student-run Syariah Law Forum 2017. The forum was held in partnership with I.R.B. Law LLP, NUS Muslim Society, NUS Pro Bono Group and ARLC Law Corporation.

Photo courtesy: NUS
Photo courtesy: NUS

The guidebook and the Forum were the fruits of labour of a pro bono project which involved 11 months of planning and research by 16 NUS Law students, NUS said in a press statement.

“Syariah Law is an important but under-explored part of Singapore’s legal system," said Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean of NUS Law. "This Forum and the guidebook offer an outstanding resource to improve understanding, as well as an opportunity to widen the dialogue about Syariah Law.”

Sheiffa Safi Shirbeeni is a second-year NUS Law student, who led the Syariah Law Forum. She saw the need to raise awareness and to engage legal practitioners, academics, students and members of the public in a discussion of Muslim law in Singapore, and put together a team of like-minded students to work on the project.

“I was part of the “Syariah Court Friends” project, a court volunteer scheme organised by the NUS Pro Bono Group and Syariah Court,§ said Sheiffa. "Through this experience, I realised there was a lot that could be learnt about Syariah. We organised this Forum as a platform for people to learn about Syariah – correcting misconceptions and encouraging a conversation on the law. We opened the Forum to the public, and not just lawyers or law students, because we believe that everyone can benefit from an understanding of what Syariah is and how it is really applied in Singapore.”

Photo courtesy: Halimah Yacob Facebook
Photo courtesy: Halimah Yacob Facebook

Book to guide readers on Muslim Law in Singapore

“Navigating Muslim Law in Singapore” is a guidebook compiled and designed by Sheiffa and her team, with support from NUS Law staff and legal practitioners. It aims to serve as a useful guide for readers to navigate the practice of Muslim law in Singapore. 

The guidebook first provides context by reviewing the history of Syariah, culminating in the Administration of Muslim Law Act today. Moving to the present-day, it then focuses on the operation of Muslim law in Singapore. Specifically, it looks at the Syariah Court’s jurisdiction, procedures in the Syariah Court, and the substantive Muslim laws which are applied in Singapore. Building on the preceding chapters, the guidebook offers a brief comparison of practising Muslim law and civil law in Singapore.

The guidebook will be made available at the C J Koh Law Library at the Bukit Timah Campus and at public locations such as the National Library, mosques, and social service centres. An e-version of the book will also be made available at a later date.