Islam and Religious Expression in Malaysia

MOHD AZIZUDDIN MOHD SANI is Profesor of Politics and International Relations at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

ISEAS Publishing (First Pblished, 2020)
225 pages including Bibliography and Index


In stock

Islam and Religious Expression in Malaysia attempt to analyse the concept of religious expression vis-à-vis freedom of speech in Malaysia from the philosophical, political and theoretical perspectives. It begins by discussing the major sources of religious expression that are firmly rooted in the societal and religious beliefs, constitution and legislation of the country. It also examines multiple facets of the Islamization policy in the country and to what extent such policy affects the exercise of domestic religious expression.

The problems and challenges of domestic religious expression, theoretically and practically, will also be examined including the issues of radicalization and terrorism. After a change of power from the Barisan Nasional (BN) to Pakatan Harapan (PH) in 2018, this book attempts to explain PH’s approach in dealing with the issue of Islam and religious expression in Malaysia. Lastly, this book intends to identify and observe how Malaysian society and the state react to the issue of religious expression.

Based on a lengthy research and observation, Islam and Religious Expression in Malaysia elaborates with impressive empirical evidence on democracy and social accommodation among the different religious groups in the country that has generally brought about peace, stability, progress and prosperity to Malaysia and Malaysians irrespective of religious and ethnic orientation.

Against the grain of Islamophobia and intensely negative global narratives and viewpoints about anything Islam or Islamic, the author painstakingly narrated and analysed the various dimensions of Islamic religious expression in peaceful and stable Malaysia. His contribution is a small oasis and a hopeful narrative within the cacophony of a chaotic discourse on contemporary Islam and society globally.

He successfully unpacked the complexity of the nature of Islamic religious expression in Malaysia based on rich ontological evidence of the Islamization policy and Islamic bureaucracy in Malaysia to the interaction between what could be viewed as the practices of traditional Islam within a Weberian-informed modern bureaucracy.

What is impressive about this study are its coverage, breadth and depth. The author’s investigation has not only been on inter-religious expression between Muslims and non-Muslims but also intra-religious expression among Malaysian Muslims, consisting of Malay Muslims, Indian Muslims, Chinese Muslims and the converts group. This, might be, is the first scholarly attempt to dissect the community of Muslims in Malaysia beyond the demographically larger constitutional Muslim Malays.

He also did not fail to address the controversial issue of Islamic terrorism, radicalism and extremism in Malaysia. However, he did this by emphasizing on the “deradicalization” efforts by Malaysian authorities to keep terrorism under control. The added bonus of this book is that the author gives an informed assessment of the new Pakatan Harapan government and how it deals with Islamic matters.

This is an impressive work by a young, energetic and highly productive Malaysian academic whose observations are serious and valid. This book is a must-read for specialists on Malaysia. For those who are beginning to get interested in Malaysia, hopefully, this book shall excite them to know more about this complicated yet arguably the model of a peaceful Islamic majority country.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

1. Freedom of Expression
Freedom of Expression in Malaysia
Freedom of Expression and the Critiques
Human Dignity

2. Islamization Policy and Islamic Bureaucracy
Historical and Contemporary Background of Islamization Policy: An Overview
— Multiple Facets of Islamization Process
—— Institutionalization of Islamic Bureaucracy
1. Public Service
2. Judiciary
3. Security
4. Economy
—— Education and Human Capital Development for Islamization
—— Islamization through the Media
—— Moral Policing
—— Syariah Index
Malaysia’s Constitutional Framework and Islamization Policy

3. Inter-Religious Expression
Inter-Religious Expression in Malaysia
Hate Speech
Religious Expression in the Press
Interfaith Commission: A Way Towards National Unity?

4. Intra-Religious Expression
Religious Expression Model
Secular or Islamic State in Malaysia?
Freedom of Religion and Intra-Religious Doctrine
Public Speech
Publication and Broadcasting
Dress Code
Private Speech

5. Extreme Expression and Radicalization
Theory of Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization
ISIL Media Propaganda
Concerns over Malaysians’ Involvement in ISIL
— The Strategy of Recruiting
— Funding
Efforts in Combating ISIL Threats in Malaysia

6. New Malaysia under Pakatan Harapan
Hate Speech
Inculcation of Islamic Values Continued
Islam and Education
Religious Publications
Recent Developments under the PH

7. Conclusion: Seeking for a Genuine Freedom of Religious Expression
Future Challenges for Political Islam
Future Challenges for Religious Expression
Future Challenges for Freedom of Expression in Malaysia

About the Author

Weight0.330 kg
Dimensions22.8 × 15.2 × 1.2 cm




Year Published


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