MAIK: Its Role in the Field of Religion, Education and Publication in Kelantan Until 1990 outlines three key aspects of the role of the Council, which are the fields of religion, education, and publication within the span of 75 years of its operation, since its establishment in 1915 to 1990. Historically, this institution was instrumental in reviving the education of the Malays in particular, and instilling social and political awareness among the Kelantanese society in general, mainly through organizing various activities since it was founded until now.
MAIK is the first religious institution established in the Malay states of Peninsular Malaysia. Soon after the enforcement of the Bangkok Treaty in 1909, which saw British intervention in the administration of the state of Kelantan, several Kelantanese Malay intelligentsia at the time felt the need to establish an institution solely to organise the administration of the religion and Malay customs and traditions that was ‘beyond the scope’ of the British Adviser’s jurisdiction, to balance or buffer the loss of power in the state which was formally in the hands of the sultan and traditional chiefs.
The Kelantan Council for Islam and Malay Customs (the original name at its proclamation) or presently known as the Kelantan Islamic Council (MAIK, or MAIK in the Malay language) was established on 17 Safat 1334 H, corresponding to 24 December 1915. The official inauguration for the establishment of the institution was graced by His Majesty Sultan Muhammad IV, the Sultan of Kelantan, at a ceremonious and pompous event held in front of the old Land Office, Kota Bharu, witnessed by state dignitaries, distinguished personalities, and the people of Kelantan. Since its establishment, the institution has played a prominent role in the religious lives and rise of Malay intellectuals in Kelantan as well as in other states of the Malay Peninsula, particularly in the years before the Second World War until close to independence.
MAIK’s contribution to the Muslims in Kelantan is actually immense, more so when one is mindful of its long existence close to one-century Hijriyah (since 1334). It is undeniable that MAIK is the oldest Islamic institution ever established in Malaysia or in the other states of the Malay Peninsula. Its establishment was earlier that the Islamic Council of Johor which was established in 1925 or the Islamic Council of Kedah which was established in 1948. Indeed, the institution is even older than the Islamic Council of Patani (Thailand) which was just established in 1945.
If the British Adviser’s function was to advise the Sultan on matters relating to the administration of the state, then MAIK will be the organ that will advise him on religious and customary affairs. Such was the philosophy behind the establishment of MAIK, which was later translated and clarified through the law Undang-Undang No. 1, Tahun 1953, which stated that “MAIK will assist and advise His Majesty in all matters relating to religion as well as Malay customs and traditions, and in all situations act as authority in the state except when otherwise stated under this law.”
This philosophy was further strengthened through another law, Undang-Undang Majlis Ugama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Malaya Tahun 1966 (Undang-Undang No. 2, Tahun 1966) which stated that the laws for the establishment of a religious Council was “to advise His Majesty the Sultan on matters relating to Islam and Malay customs and traditions in the state of Kelantan.”
Thus, based on the historical background and the philosophy behind the establishment of MAIK, and excerpts taken from legal documents, it is perfectly clear that the establishment of MAIK was a unique experience for the religious leaders in Kelantan in their effort to develop a modern religious institution to meet the religious needs and attend to contemporary developments in the society.
Unlike other religious councils in the other Malay states that were established later, MAIK became an autonomous and self-sufficient body, non-governmental in nature, and separated from the control or interference of the State Council. With such status, MAIK became independent of the British Adviser (then) nor the state government (later). And this position, with all its historical heritage, continued to be enjoyed by MAIK up till the end of 1990, the period covered by MAIK: Its Role in the Field of Religion, Education and Publication in Kelantan Until 1990.