Piety and Politics: Islamism in Contemporary Malaysia by Joseph Chinyong Liow

By Joseph Chinyong Liow

Malaysia, domestic to a couple twenty million Muslims, is usually held up as a version of a pro-Western Islamic kingdom. the govt. of Malaysia, looking for Western funding, does its most sensible to perpetuate this view. yet this is not the total tale. during the last numerous a long time, Joseph Liow indicates, Malaysian politics has taken a powerful flip towards Islamism. This booklet deals a entire research of the becoming position of Islam within the final sector century of Malaysian politics. traditional knowledge recommend that the ruling UMNO celebration has moved towards Islamism to fend off demanding situations from the extra seriously Islamist competition social gathering, PAS. Liow argues, besides the fact that, that UMNO has frequently taken the lead in relocating towards Islamism, and that during truth PAS has usually been compelled to react. the outcome, Liow argues, is a online game of "piety-trumping" that would be very tough to opposite, and that has dire effects not just for the ethnic and non secular minorities of Malaysia, yet for his or her democratic approach as an entire.

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Extra resources for Piety and Politics: Islamism in Contemporary Malaysia (Religion and Global Politics)

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13 In an obvious concession to more radical Islamist elements in UMNO, the final constitutional document deliberately avoided characterizing Malaya as secular. Under the administration of Tunku Abdul Rahman, numerous assertions were made to the effect that it was unrealistic to consider postcolonial Malaya an Islamic state. Be that as it may, early concern about the presence and activism of Hizbul Muslimin threatened to further fragment an already fragile Malay community whose loyalties were divided along ideological and class lines.

16 Several months later, in November, a third Ulama Conference was held in Butterworth, Penang, in which PUM’s name was changed to Persatuan Islam Se-tanah Malaya (Pan Malayan Islamic Association, or PMIA). ”17 Widening the Schism: Malay Rights and the Islamic State From the beginning, the PMIA was an ardent supporter of Malay rights and privileges, owing to its origins within UMNO. Still, PMIA members were not afraid to actively criticize the Malay nationalists, which they vehemently did in opposition to what they saw as UMNO’s excessive concessions to non-Malay communities.

Indeed, upon closer investigation several conundrums emerge. The argument that participation in the political process will dilute the Islamist agenda is a structural one that assumes a mainstream political sphere that is inherently, if not explicitly, a secular space. The argument also assumes that society itself, which provides the context in which Islamist parties operate, is equally committed to secularism or is at least ill-disposed to Islamism. This may not necessarily be self-evident in contemporary Malaysia, where the vocabulary and praxis of mainstream political contestation has in fact become discernibly Islamic in character.

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