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Syariahization of intra-Muslim religious freedom and human rights practice in Malaysia: the case of Darul Arqam.

Whenever the question of religious freedom or related concepts such as religious pluralism and religious tolerance appear in Malaysian public discourse, one's attention is invariably focused on inter-faith rather than intra-faith social engagements. Pluralist conceptions of Malaysian society inherited from colonial forms of knowledge had, to a large extent, ignored religious variations within local Muslim communities, especially the Malays, whose leaders shouldered the post-independence burden of maintaining political hegemony in the face of an apparent threat of being overwhelmed by migrant ethnic groups. On independence in 1957, and later as a federation in 1963, Malaysia's socio-political structures were inaugurated on the assumption that Malay-Muslims were religiously uniform. However, while socio-political categories of the nation-state ossified under the inaugural constitutional set-up, the religious-intellectual make-up of Malay-Muslims continued to undergo discursive developments, being liable to myriad influences from not only the ummah at large, but also from organic internal changes. Amidst the rapid political-economic developments of the post-colonial era, internal tension within the Malay-Muslim community was inevitable, but temporarily concealed under the facade of an ethnically driven Muslim unity legitimized by legal strictures.

The scenario above is reflective of the dilemma befalling Malaysian Muslims pertaining to the public role of Islam. On the one hand, Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution--which reads "Islam is the religion of the Federation, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation" (1)--provides legal safeguards for Islam's position in Malaysia's body politic. On the other hand, while apparently privileging Islam over other religions, the Constitution via Article 11 confers on every individual the right to profess, practise and propagate his or her own religion, although the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims may be legally controlled or restricted. Moreover, Article 11 authorizes all religious groups to manage their own religious affairs, to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes, and to acquire, possess, hold and administer property in accordance with the law. (2) The provision on Islam as the federal religion cannot preferentially trump other constitutional clauses, as spelt out in Article 3(4): "Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution." (3)

However, jurisdictional vagueness regarding its express role has laid constitutional provisions pertaining to Islam vulnerable to multiple interpretations. Hence, for example, despite Islam being under the guardianship of different individual states making up the Malaysian federation rather than the federal government, as signified by the different Majlis Agama Islam (Councils of Islamic Religion) and Jabatan Hal Ehwal Agama Islam (Departments of Islamic Affairs) operating separately in each of the states, (4) what we see in practice, especially since the enunciation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and the National Cultural Policy (NCP) in 1971, is a gradual dilution of states' control over Islam in favour of the federal administration. In the name of administrative coordination, power over Islam was effectively transferred from the states to the federal Islamic bureaucracy helmed by the Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia (JAKIM: Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia) situated in the Prime Minister's Department. The successor to the Islamic Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department, or otherwise known as the Islamic Centre (Pusat Islam), JAKIM began operations in 1997 with expanded functions. As for the judicial branch, a Department of Syariah Judiciary (JKSM: Jabatan Kehakiman Syariah Malaysia) was established in 1998 as a coordinating body for syariah courts in all Malaysian states, with most syariah judges and court officials being gradually absorbed by a parallel scheme called the Common-Use Syariah Administrative Service Scheme (Perkhidmatan Guna Sama Pegawai Syariah Persekutuan). (5) By then, a majority of the states had begun emulating the federal government's "Syariah Criminal Offences Enactments" model which subjected Muslims to a host of syariah-based criminal punishments. (6)

Islam in Malaysia evolved from being a perfunctory component of statecraft under Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman (1957-70) to an integral part of nation-building by the time Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad left office in 2003. Rather than dismissing the relevance of the Islamic revivalist challenge of the 1970s-80s, Mahathir deftly absorbed its currents by coopting its leading figures and hijacking its agenda. For resurgent Muslims prepared to work within the state-managed bureaucracy and party political system, Mahathir's offer of being part of the official power structure seemed like a golden opportunity to realize their dreams of creating an Islamic order. This Islamic order became formalized in the national ethos through identification with their political masters: Mahathir launched a campaign of inculcating Islamic values into the administration (Dasar Penerapan Nilai-nilai Islam); Mahathir's Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (1994-98), (7) introduced Islam Madani (Civil Islam); and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (2003-9) became perennially identified with Islam Hadhari (civilizational Islam). Nonetheless, the success of all these initiatives rested upon logistical and unwavering support from state officials entrusted with its implementation. At times, though, visions, interests and aims of different cohorts of politicians and officials differed. The consistent intersection of religion and politics in Malaysia has had the unfortunate consequence of reducing Islam to a political tool, to the detriment of a broad and inclusive understanding of the religion.

In the era of present Prime Minister Najib Razak, who succeeded Badawi in April 2009, Islam is said to have come under the threat of an ideology called "human rights-ism". "Human rights-ism", said to reject the religious and moral values, was linked instead to such Islamically repugnant actions as apostasy and homosexuality, and was viewed insidiously on the same plane with such ideologies as "liberalism", "secularism", "humanism" and "pluralism". (8) While Najib reaffirmed his commitment to the principles and values of universal human rights upon being queried by human rights organizations, his clarification failed to satisfy some quarters in Malaysia's human rights lobby. (9) Even the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM: Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia) expressed regret at Najib's cavalier demarcation of watertight boundaries between human rights and Islam. (10)

In light of the recent upsurge of an Islamist conservative lobby intent on imposing its arbitrary worldview upon Malay-Muslim society in Malaysia, (11) Najib's diatribe against modern humanistic values was not altogether surprising. Islamist conservatives' discourse was notoriously replete with the demonization of such allegedly ungodly concepts as "liberalism", "secularism" and "pluralism." (12) Having been elevated to the leadership of both the country and the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)--chief component of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN: National Front) coalition, short of the Islamic slogans that had been bandied about by his predecessors, Najib's religious void was filled by ultra-conservatives who have been primarily responsible for the phenomenon identified as the syariahization of Malaysia's political-legal complexion. (13)

For the purpose of this article, syariahization is defined as the institutionalization of syariah-based values, norms and categories in the discourse and practice of Malaysia's legal corpus and ensuing human rights regime, while simultaneously operating within a larger secular judicial framework as set out in the Federal Constitution. (14) But while syariah may be explicated in broad terms from civilizational and philosophical perspectives, Malaysia's official religious gatekeepers have chosen to apply syariah in a narrowly legalistic manner. That is, limiting what the gatekeepers consider as Islamically acceptable to doctrine and action within the confines of the dominant Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah or Sunni theological school, with deleterious consequences to the rights of Muslims who fail or refuse to conform to arbitrarily imposed uniform standards. The case of Darul Arqam is briefly discussed towards the end as we interrogate the practical implications of syariahization.

Roles of Politics and the Islamic Bureaucracy in the Syariahization of Malaysia's Human Rights Discourse

In Muslim-majority countries, politicians find in general that religious elites--made up mostly of the ulama or learned scholars of Islamic sciences--make for powerful allies. A good example is the relationship forged between the Saud ruling family and Wahhabi-inclined ulama, the puritanical sect pioneered by the Nejdi reformer Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab (d. 1792), in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1932. (15) But while the Sauds had a relatively firm grip on the nation as legitimized by its doctrine of family rule, the UMNO-led religious-political terrain in Malaysia has been vulnerable to electoral swings which can potentially upset power equilibriums to maintain its political hegemony. Such grassroots upheavals took place in 1969-70, when a Malaysia torn by ethnic strife, started adopting characteristics of an ethnic democracy founded upon an authoritarian state; (16) and in 1998-99, when unrest ensuing from the humiliation suffered by Anwar Ibrahim triggered a process of "secular de-alignment", entailing shifts on the political ground from party-based loyalties to short-term factors capable of causing unpredictable swings along the electoral spectrum. As a consequence of eroding bases of the UMNO-BN juggernaut, the coalition lost its two-thirds parliamentary and popular vote majorities in the 2008 and 2013 general elections respectively. (17)

Considering the range of vested interests that had been sowed through decades of organic linkages between the ruling parties and government institutions, the prospect of losing power was frightening to UMNO and BN politicians. The conservative swing of the UMNO-dominated polity since 2008--which had its origins in the contentious ethno-religious issues that pitted Muslim and non-Muslim communities against each other in the mid-2000s, and the dismal failure of Islam Hadhari to deal with them (18)--is unmistakably related to BN's dwindling electoral fortunes. Despite Najib's efforts to foster ethno-religious reconciliation via his lMalaysia scheme, the results of Malaysia's Thirteenth General Elections (GE13) in May 2013 reflected not only a perpetuation of societal polarization along ethno-religious lines, but also its further accentuation along urban-rural lines, raising the spectre of traditional communal politics. (19) Ironically, in GE13, UMNO increased its share of parliamentary seats from 79 to 88, corresponding to an increase in its share of BN parliamentary representation from 56 to 66 per cent. (20) At the same time, the bulk of the non-Malay votes, namely the Chinese, went to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a component of the Anwar Ibrahim-led People's Pact (PR: Pakatan Rakyat) coalition. In the aftermath of the virtual annihilation of its Chinese-based partners in BN, namely the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (GERAKAN: Malaysian People's Movement Party), the ethno-nationalist right-wing turn was too obvious to escape attention. (21)

2006 was arguably a watershed year, during which "politics around the national narrative of Malaysia", with a deliberate emphasis on the issue of "what role the government has in shaping this national discourse" of Islam, was carved. The discourse on Islam since then has become increasingly shaped by "reactionary forces": "human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom to assemble and freedom of expression are under threat". (22) That politics predominates in determining syariah issues in Malaysia is evidenced by the federal government's past reluctance, before the electoral setback experienced by UMNO and BN in 2008, to institutionalize anti-apostasy laws despite getting wide support from the Islamic officialdom. As a party professing to uphold a moderate brand of Islam, UMNO's then concern was one of protecting the interests of its non-Malay constituencies and partners, since many of the applicants for a certificate to leave Islam were non-Malay converts who wished to return to their original religion due to unforeseen circumstances such as failed marriages. (23) An irony immediately comes about in the case of Malay-Muslims--for whom such an allowance does not exist--with defence of Islam being the raison d'etre. To open the floodgates of exiting from its artificially created legal majority, a socio-political entity defined by Islamized notions of the Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) ethos, would be political suicide within the context of an ethnicized state. Hence the furore that arose out of the Lina Joy case, whereby a Malay woman who no longer professed Islam attempted to legitimize her apostasy through Malaysia's existing civil courts, only to be effectively directed by the Federal Court to seek justice from the parallel syariah justice system. (24)

The legal-bureaucratic entity that has arrogated itself the task of safeguarding the sanctity of Islam in contemporary Malaysia has emerged as a result of diligent syariahization of its legal system, involving amendments to extant statutory laws, justified by recourse to the syariah as some kind of Grundnorm i.e., "cardinal foundational principle" or "sovereign sub-nation" imposing its jurisdiction over Malay-Muslims. (25) A victory for the Islamist lobby was achieved in 1988, when amendment 1A was added to Article 121 of the Federal Constitution, such that the High Courts of Malaya and of Sabah and Sarawak "shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts". (26) Jurisdictional dualism henceforth became a reality in Malaysia's legal system, with grave consequences for human rights, both inter-religious and intra-religious, as can be seen from the spate of contentious judicial cases pitting non-Muslim and renegade Muslim litigants against a Muslim-majority bench which, more than often, denied them their sought-after legal redress. (27) In addition, a host of mainly Sufi (28) groups have also come to be unilaterally pronounced as deviants by the national and state fatwa (legal ruling) committees for over-stepping the boundaries of what the religious gatekeepers deem as Islamic orthodoxy. (29) The Malaysian government's long-standing effort to defeat the challenge posed by Darul Arqam, a Sunni Sufi-revivalist movement which morphed into a business entity upon its proscription by a national fatwa in 1994, is a case in point, as will be elaborated later.

Compounding this fact, the process of fatwa-making in Malaysia is highly centralized, shrouded in secrecy and in resorting to institutionally sanctioned collective judgement, bereaves the ulama of the capacity of making independent rulings. (30) Questioning a fatwa is made impossible for Muslims by criminalizing such an act, despite the fact that the mufti and fatwa committees could have made incorrect judgements or miscalculated social priorities. As for non-Muslims, the evolving religious-political system has forced them to shy away from raising even the slightest query against their fellow Muslim citizens regarding violations of civil liberties whenever such trampling of human rights is undertaken in the name of Islam. Little do the religious bureaucrats, most of whom are conservative by orientation, (31) realize that by subjecting the syariah to a process of statutory codification, institutional rationalization and structural differentiation, they are in fact secularizing divine law. (32)

To make matters worse, syariahization bears traits of a hidden agenda of accomplishing the political aims of the country's Malay-Muslim ruling elites. Organic linkages between the religious elites and the hegemonic Malay-Muslim ruling UMNO party explain the inability of PR state governments to control the actions of Islamic religious officials. (33) This was, for example, manifested in the January 2014 raid by enforcement officers from the Islamic Religious Department of Selangor (JAIS: Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) on the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia, which ended in the confiscation of over three-hundred copies of Al-Kitab and Bup Kudus, the Malay language and Iban language versions of the Bible. Not only was the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS: Parti Islam SeMalaysia) executive councillor of the PKR-led Selangor government sidestepped by JAIS, (34) but he was also compelled by circumstances to defend the operation which drew condemnation from myriad civil society groups, the Bar Council and PR supremo Anwar Ibrahim. (35) With a large number of Malaysia's Islamic bureaucrats continuing to regard "UMNO as their patron", (36) the increasingly intolerant message spread by UMNO's version of hegemonic Islam, adding fuel to PAS's uncompromising stances on the primacy of Islamic legal nuances in mundane affairs, has ignited worries over the future of intra- and inter-religious relations. (37)

At the hands of Malaysian-style application of the syariah, the fundamental protection of human rights has become alien to Malaysian Islam, (38) which has morphed to acquire unduly anti-pluralist traits. This runs contrary to the spirit of tolerating diversity and accommodation of mores from a variety of civilizational traditions which had characterized the traditional religious landscape of the Malay world, as exemplified in the gentlemanly debate on the purity of dog saliva in 1937 in Kelantan. (39) The Malay-Muslim epistemological sphere has been shaped by a dynamic process of embedding Islam within a vast array of local customs known as adat, thus prompting foreign scholars to employ such provocative labels as "syncretic" and "hybrid" to describe Islam in Southeast Asia. (40) It is arguably this type of syariah--flexible enough to accommodate changing variables in society, divorced from worldly political interests and having the utmost concern for humanity--that has motivated generations of persecuted peoples to seek solace under the aegis of Muslim-controlled dominions. Islamic history is full of exemplary encounters between peoples of different religious orientations coexisting peacefully under an indisputably Islamic government, drawing examples from Islamic scriptures and the pluralist character of Prophet Muhammad's Medina charter. (41)

In elaborating Islam's conception of human rights, the Islamic scholar Ismail Raji al-Faruqi (d. 1986) argued for the urgency of devising epistemological tools to derive a syariah which is "divine and eternal... not in its letter, but in its spirit", and which respects "the Maqasid al Shari'ah (the general purpose of the law)". This, in turn, ensures that "Islam's human rights are anchored in eternal principles or values whose applications may develop following human situations." (42) It was in the spirit of Maqasid al Shari'ah that Prime Minister Badawi had appealed to as the underlying principle behind the Islam Hadhari scheme he tried to promote during his short-lived premiership. (43)

Human Rights Dilemmas in the Expansive Framework of Syariah Legal Practice in Malaysia

Among Muslim political-legal theorists, there is near unanimous agreement that not only does Islam confer human rights on citizens of an Islamic polity regardless of creed, but that the Islamic system also assigns to the government the responsibility of actualizing the practice of such rights. For them, such fundamental rights, as bestowed by God on account of the peoples' humanity, can only be superseded by syariah-based rulings. Since syariah is implemented for the benefit of humankind, no conflict should arise between human rights and the syariah. Any discrepancy between them is attributed to hikmah (wisdom) of syariah injunctions unbeknownst to laymen. Distinctions are frequently drawn between Western and Islamic conceptions of human rights, the former said to favour unbridled individualism in its liberal manifestations while the latter regarded as stressing more importance on religious-communitarian values. In utopian form, the Islamic version is invariably depicted as superior, encompassing the freedoms of religion, thought and conscience, all of which have been hallmarks of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (44) In practice, however, it has always been easier for Muslim governments to accord such rights to non-Muslims than to Muslims who choose to differ from the official version of Islam expounded by the ruling elites. While non-Muslim rights in a doctrinal Islamic state are meticulously outlined and defended, (45) the discourse on minority rights within an Islamic polity is remarkably silent on the question of whether non-conformist Muslims qualify to be recipients of such rights.

Ideally, Islam bestows inalienable rights on human beings based on the principle of egalitarianism which binds them to one inclusive ummah (global community). Differentiation is only permissible in terms of spiritual merit, but even then, distinctions should not affect one's welfare as far as worldly life is concerned. (46) Freedom to associate with or disassociate from the ummah is enshrined in Islam, which arguably "rejects all ethnocentrist views of humanity". (47) In calling for a universal ethic within the context of a supranational "family of God", Tunisian historian Mohamed Talhi deplores the tendency of institutionalized religion to create homogeneity. (48) However, even within the relativist approach which seeks a more culture-specific understanding of human rights, no scholarly agreement exists on whether "freedom of conscience" should include the right of groups officially declared to be "deviationist" to profess, practise and preach their brands of unorthodoxy. (49) Islamic history is rife with paradoxical examples of how Muslim caliphates persecuted unorthodox Muslims, often more vigorously than the way they treated their non-Muslim subjects. (50)

This grey area in Islamic legal theology has given past Muslim rulers and governments the freedom to arbitrarily interpret orthodoxy in accordance with the precepts of the school of thought dominant in one particular place at a specific time. As religion became embedded in the ruling power structure, the ulama and the ruling elites developed a symbiotic relationship in which the former legitimized the authority of the latter in exchange for official recognition and social clout, which sometimes extended to worldly benefits such as gifts, marriages into ruling families and land. (51) In such situations, it is left to the piety of the ulama to be able to fend off worldly temptations emanating from the palaces and mansions of ruling Muslim dynasties. But, as so often is the case, the lack of spiritual training meant that the ulama ended up being co-opted by their political superiors. Hence, despite pre-colonial Malay states outwardly assuming an Islamic character as indicated by the existence of various legal digests compiled between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, human rights abuses committed by then feudal Malay elites against the masses were widespread. (52) In his overview of the Malaysian case, Mohamed Nawab finds that:
   From the early Islamic history to the Japanese occupation, ulama
   have usually worked with any power willing to secure their
   authority and influence.... Prior to the 1980s, the ulama within
   Islamic tradition were willing to play secondary roles to the
   rulers as long as their authority was preserved.... even when ulama
   opposed the government, as exemplified by the opposition of PAS's
   ulama to the UMNO-led Malaysian government, their opposition tended
   to be over political issues rather than religious ones. (53)

As the Malaysian nation-state progressed, a centralized decision-making structure was formalized into the political-legal system via faiwa-making and syariah-based judicial institutions. However, it was only with the Mahathir-era bureaucratization of federal Islamic institutions that the hydra of authoritarianism, sanctified in the name of Islam, was raised beyond its normative position in Malaysia's political system. While Malaysia's polity was hybrid from the outset, legal equilibrium could be maintained only if each of the parallel authorities--civil and syariah--were prepared to respect one another's jurisdiction as outlined by the constitutional boundaries. (54) What we have seen in Malaysia since the early 1980s, however, is a situation in which Islamic legal authorities have gradually expanded their discursive space and jurisdictional parameters through administrative judicial procedures involving statutory amendments and enactments. The situation has not been helped by the occasional pronouncements of national political figures such as Mahathir and Najib affirming Malaysia's "Islamic state" status. (55) In view of the increasing resonance of PAS's message among Malay-Muslim voters since the 1990s, these unilateral declarations had the intended effect of UMNO reclaiming the political initiative by "out-Islamizing" PAS in the proverbial UMNOPAS Islamization race. (56)

Legal pundits have bemoaned the fact that such Islamist developments are in danger of making a mockery of successive BN government's purported drive towards establishing Malaysia as a moderate Muslim-majority state. For example, reflecting upon two recent cases involving indictments under the Sedition Act and the Federal Territories Syariah Offences law, Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom laments the grossly undemocratic nature of official fatwas. (57) As Shad Faruqi rhetorically asks:
   Article 3(1) on Islam is trumping all other provisions of the
   Constitution, including the chapter on fundamental rights.... Are
   syariah authorities subject to the Federal Constitution? Or is it
   the case that once they invoke the holy name of Islam, hukum
   syarah [sic], fatwa or a State Syariah Enactment, they have a
   blank-cheque power to do whatever is necessary to promote good
   and prevent evil? (58)

Contrary to the spirit of Maqasid al Shari'ah as advocated by Ismail al-Faruqi and abortively experimented in Malaysia by Badawi, unchecked syariahization of Malaysia's legal system has continued under Najib's leadership. Najib's vision of an Islamic order does not venture beyond a superficially elaborated concept of wasatiyyah (moderation]. (59) Moderation, in any case, had already been appropriated by his immediate predecessor Badawi via his promotion of Islam Hadhari, which Najib then replaced with lMalaysia as the national motto. (60) Presumably cognizant of his own weaknesses with regard to Islamic legitimacy, Najib has effectively given a free rein to UMNO-connected ulama to increasingly define the contours of Islamic discourse and praxis in Malaysia. Islamists with literalist orientations have consequently found a welcome place in the government's and ruling party's Islamic networks and institutions. (61)

One great casualty in this realignment of Islamist undercurrents in Najib's Malaysia has been human rights understood as an inclusive concept. Even without the conservative turn which has until now largely defined the socio-political terrain of Najib's leadership, the legal setting of Malaysian Islam is already circumscribed. Defined in a limited sense as encompassing no further than the fiqh (jurisprudence) of the Shafie School of Thought, adherence to the syariah in Malaysia poses problems even for Sunni Muslims who subscribe to other fiqh traditions, let alone for non-Sunni Muslims such as the Shi'ites. (62) In December 2013, in the wake of anti-Shi'a diatribes during the UMNO General Assembly and the Home Ministry's declaration of the Shi'a Association of Malaysia as an illegal body, JAKIM Director Othman Mustapha delivered a blanket judgement that all branches of Shi'ism deviated from Sunni Islam, and as such, violated Malaysia's religious laws. (63) This contradicted an assurance given by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom in March 2011 to Malaysian Shi'ites to practise their beliefs although they were constitutionally prohibited from spreading them, on the basis that not all forms of Shi'ism were contradictory to Sunni Islam. (64) It was arguably a mixture of politics and religion rather than religious faith per se that prompted the government-alarmed at the transnational prospects of the Iranian Revolution of 1979--to renew concerns over locally based Shi'ism. (65) This was despite the fact the Ismaili-Bohra variant of Shi'ism practised since the mid-nineteenth century in then Malaya belonged to a different school of thought than the Ithna 'Ashariyyah (Twelver) sect prevalent in Iran.

Intra-Muslim diversity, rather than being cherished as showcasing Islam's kaleidoscopic traditions and rich heritage, is dismissed in Malaysia as posing a danger to Muslim unity. The difficulties non-conformist Muslims face is magnified by the inclination of the Islamic authorities to criminalize, persecute and punish them without giving them sufficient opportunity to defend themselves. Yet, from a human rights point of view, state-level religious enactments to punish purported "deviationists" raise contentious legal issues, as do laws which condemn Muslim apostates. (66) In resorting to a literalist interpretation of the law, contemporary legal judgements on matters pertaining to Islam threaten the legitimate freedom of expression for dissenting Muslims as guaranteed to them by the Federal Constitution. One example would be the recent Federal Court dismissal of book publisher Ezra Zaid's petition to strike off a Selangor state legislation which he claimed had robbed him of fundamental liberties. (67) In ruling that the "impugned section" of the religious state law "falls within the scope of precept of Islam.... is not a matter included in the Federal List" and "therefore valid and not ultra vires the Federal Constitution", the judges cited, inter alia, the precedent from the case of Mamat Daud & Ors v The Government of Malaysia (1988). The Court held that Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution
   enables states to pass a law to protect the religion of Islam from
   being exposed to the influences of the tenets, precepts and
   practices of other religions or even of certain schools of thoughts
   and opinions within the Islamic religion itself.... to allow any
   Muslim or groups of Muslim to adopt divergent practice and
   entertain differing concepts of Islamic religion may well be
   dangerous and could lead to disunity among Muslims and, therefore
   could affect public order in the States. (68)

The Case of Darul Arqam (1968-2013)

From being the dominant strand of religious consciousness of MalayMuslims since Islam's arrival on Malaysian shores through to colonial times, Sufism (Arabic: tasawwuf), popularly known as the mystical strand of Islam, found itself by the 1980s to be consigned to the periphery of an Islamic reawakening engulfing modern Malaysia. (69) To lay minds, a Sufi is commonly identified with traditionalism, passivity and reclusiveness. But one movement, Darul Arqam, has arguably been an anomaly in integrating Sufi-based religiosity with modernity. (70) Led by Ashaari Muhammad (1937-2010), who did not boast any lofty qualifications in formal Islamic studies, Arqam encountered hostility from Malay ruling elites from its nascent phases in the 1970s until its official proscription in 1994, after which its followers continued to mobilize under the banner of two successor companies, namely Rufaqa' Corporation and Global Ikhwan. While political and economic factors certainly need to be considered in accounting for the state's shabby treatment of what on the surface are dynamic and innovative Malay-Muslims, religious justifications have been foregrounded in framing the official case against Arqam. (71)

On 5 August 1994, a host of Arqam's Sufi doctrines and practices were unilaterally declared to be heterodox by Malaysia's National Fatwa Council. This ruling was then emulated by the Majlis Agama Islam of the various Malaysian states. Taken together, the fatwas prompted the federal government to ban Arqam on the basis of the organization's allegedly "deviant and deviationist" character. (72) To add to Arqam's misfortune, not only was the reaction from Malaysia's civil society muted, elements of which may have themselves harboured reservations against Arqam's "retrogressive" social practices, but even fellow Muslim non-governmental organizations also hardly raised a voice against the federal government's clampdown which culminated in the arrest of Ashaari in Thailand, his extradition and incarceration without trial under Malaysia's Internal Security Act (ISA) in September 1994. (73) The ensuing nationwide crackdown saw forcible closures of Arqam's business enterprises, schools and offices, the confiscation of assets and the detention of its leaders. The first bout of repression concluded with Ashaari's admission of guilt alongside his promise to disband Arqam being televised over Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in October 1994. In mid-1996, close to thirty former Arqam leaders were detained under the ISA during a second crackdown designed to halt a purported attempt to revive the movement. (74) In spite of his forced exile under post-ISA restricted residence regulations until October 2004, Ashaari's congregation survived under the guise of business activities of Rufaqa' Corporation (1997-2007) and later Global Ikhwan (since 2008). (75) A partial modus vivendi struck with the Badawi government, whose championing of Islam Hadhari Ashaari had praised, was however short-lived when his followers were again harassed from 2006 onwards. (76) Upon Ashaari's death in 2010, Khadijah Aam, Ashaari's wife who effectively took over the spiritual guidance of Global Ikhwan, relocated to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, but was later repatriated to Malaysia in 2013. (77) Tried later in the lower syariah court in the state of Selangor, she pleaded guilty to the charge of going against the state mufti by associating herself with a banned organization. (78)

The Arqam saga exposes the vulnerabilities of Malaysia's Islamist discourse on the question of human rights. Fearful of being implicated with heretical teachings to which Arqam was accused of subscribing, Islamic groups shied away from defending their co-religionists. (79) Voices of disapprobation against the government's heavy-handed treatment of Arqam could only be heard from liberalsecular social activists representing organizations such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM: Voice of Malaysians), Sisters in Islam (SIS) and the Malaysian Social Science Association (MASSA). (80) Arqam was never given the discursive space to answer theological allegations levelled against it, especially since Ashaari's publications responding to such accusations of heresy were comprehensively banned in Malaysia. In Abdullahi An-Naim's analysis, the Malaysian government's contention of protecting Islam by combating "deviationisim" was unsound even by standards of traditional Islamic fiqh. Insofar as it comes close to the contentious debates concerning excommunication and apostasy, An-Naim does not see in the official ulama a competent and neutral arbiter in deciding upon the validity of the faith of people who profess Islam. So despite An-Naim's own reservations concerning the veracity of Arqam's doctrines, he maintains that it is still dangerous for the government via its religious officialdom to be a self-appointed arbiter in determining what is Islamically right or wrong, for the simple reason that it is bound to be influenced by political considerations, over matters of faith which are properly left to God to adjudicate on. (81)

By arrogating to fafwa-making ulama, the majority of whom are state employees, an air of infallibility in not risking their edicts being challenged, the government is in danger of going down the road of Islamist-conditioned extremism. Too often in history has it been the case that when claimants to the understanding of divine words and intent as well as their political agents are given carte blanche minus checks and balances in the name of sovereignty of God, a recipe for despotism develops on account of "the reductionist nature of Islamist ideology", whether consciously or unconsciously. (82) This notion becomes even more critical when we consider that wide disagreement exists in the field of apostasy-related fiqh. For instance, while the hudud penal code proposed by PAS for implementation in the state of Kelantan prescribes the death penalty for apostates, (83) Mohammad Hashim Kamali disagrees. Insisting that the Quran specifies no clear-cut punishment for both apostasy and consumption of alcohol, Kamali questions why latter-day proponents of hudud are wont to neglect provisions for repentance and reform which immediately follow the verses prescribing hudud punishments. (84) Shad Faruqi echoes Kamali's sentiments in arguing that "the Prophet never ordered the execution of an apostate". (85) Further, even some of the greatest Muslim scientists and theologians revered by the ummah today were themselves victims of medieval state-orchestrated blasphemy laws, which were later abrogated by the Ottoman caliphate in 1844 and by Cairo's Al Azhar University, the highest seat of Islamic learning in the Sunni world, in 1958. (86) Yet, in Malaysia, even the reform-oriented Islamist NGO IKRAM is of the view that apostasy constitutes a hudud offence. (87) Even after considering a variety of opinions, it is alarming to note that some UMNO leaders, namely government ministers, for fear of being vilified as un-Islamic for openly opposing God's laws, provisionally indicated support for PAS's plans to table two Private Members' Bills in order to legitimize the implementation of hudud in the state of Kelantan. (88)

Persecution of Sufis by orthodox theologians acting in cahoots with the ruling elites of the day is nothing new in Islamic history. Parallels can be made between the Arqam episode in Malaysia and the high-profile execution of the Persian mystic Husayn ibn Mansur Al-Hallaj (857-922 AD) during the Sunni-dominated Abbasid caliphate. While official history has immortalized Al-Hallaj as a pantheist who had committed unforgiveable heresy for his infamous incantations of Ana al-Haq (I am the Truth i.e. Lord), a closer inspection of his life reveals that Al-Hallaj was envied for his large following and was implicated with the stirrings of a Shi'a rebellion. (89) While a literal reading of Al-Hallaj's utterances would easily pass them off as mystical ecstasy gone overboard, classical scholars are known to have exonerated him on the basis of extenuating circumstances deriving from spiritual intoxication (zauk] and ensuing uncontrollable impulses. (90) In the Malay-Indonesian world of Islamic orthodoxy, however, Al-Hallaj is generally condemned as a Shi'a Sufi guilty of espousing the heterodox doctrine of Wahdat al-Wujud (Unity of Being). (91)

Ashaari Muhammad, by contrast, vindicates Al-Hallaj as a misunderstood Sufi whose chantings are indicative of his true Love for the Divine, which words are unable to express. (92) This reflects Ashaari's position as an eclectic modern-oriented Sufi. A deeper analysis would show that both Al-Hallaj's and Ashaari's undoing came at the behest of political elites organically related to the ruling government or in Al-Hallaj's case, the reigning caliphate of the day. The political elites were in turn sanctioned by the orthodox-controlled ulama officialdom who thought that they were fulfilling obligations as guardians of the faith, only to end up justifying the denial of basic human rights in the name of Islam.

Concluding Remarks

Three decades of syariahization in Malaysia, rather than witnessing institutional reforms to accompany the expansion of intellectual horizons and variegation of socio-cultural practices, have seen instead federal-conditioned homogenization in the name of safeguarding the sanctity of Islam, understood as a political category of Malay identity. Malayness and federal-controlled Islam mutually reinforced each other in moulding the post-colonial Malay-Muslim mind, infusing post-independence generations of Malay-Muslims with a siege mentality propelled by the permanent fear of being overwhelmed by the more enterprising non-Malays. It is based on such ethnocentric sentiments, injected with religious flavour, which the UMNO ruling elites have depended on for their political survival. Fellow Malay-Muslims who dare to challenge UMNO's hegemony by mobilizing themselves through opposition parties especially PAS and independent-minded NGOs are indelibly vilified as betrayers of the Malay-cum-Islamic causes, which supposedly together form the pillar of Malaysia's national ethos. In this de facto blueprint for hegemonic perseverance, the Malay-Muslim community becomes the definitive bulwark of national categories, such that even non-Malay Muslims like the Tamil Muslims who refuse to give up their Indian identity as well as non-Muslim Bumiputera (sons of the soil) such as the indigenous Christians of Sabah and Sarawak, are also treated as the "Other" in the UMNO-orchestrated public discourse. The Malay language mainstream press speaks in largely mono-racial tones as if they are addressing the Malay community only, oblivious to the fact that many non-Malays of the post-NEP generation find no problem accessing materials in the national language. (93)

A thorny issue which Islamization in Malaysia has failed to address satisfactorily is that of human rights. In a country whose official policy of affirmative action anomalously redresses the grievances of the majority community instead of addressing the concerns of minorities, such an imbalanced understanding of concepts such as rights, duties and responsibilities is hardly surprising. Paradoxically, the Malaysian body politic legitimizes the denial of fundamental rights to its own citizens who find themselves to be part of the unfortunate "Other". This "Other" comprises not only non-Muslims who by definition are also non-Malays, but also non-conformist Muslims who refuse to abide by the terms and conditions of membership of the Malay-dominated Islamic order. Such terms and conditions have throughout the post-colonial years been strengthened in an anti-pluralist direction through a gradual process of statutory legal amendments which, when Islamic issues are involved, amounts to syariahization. This version of syariah, however, is not the open-minded, broad and dynamic type as envisioned by reformist Muslim intellectuals, but rather a peculiarly Malay-Muslim-oriented version of syariah whereby discursive boundaries harden and ossify at the hands of conservative-minded interpreters and legal practitioners. What one understands by "defending Islam" in Malaysia's legal parlance today excludes non-Malaysian Islamic variations, which in Islamic history, have been accepted as being within the spirit of ikhtilaf (valid differences of opinion). (94) If religious views of fellow Muslims cannot be tolerated in the spirit of ummatic unity, what hope is there for non-Muslims to procure a fair deal from the Malay-Muslim-conditioned Malaysian polity? Unsurprisingly, interfaith dialogue has taken a backseat in the list of national priorities outlined by the federal government. (95)

The hardline religious posture adopted by Malaysia's Malay-Muslim-dominated state goes not only against the doctrine of moderate Islam that BN purports to espouse, but also against acceptable standards of human rights, whether understood from a Western or an Islamic perspective. The Malaysian government's heavy-handed handling of Arqam exposes the prevailing double standards in its management of Islam, torn between professing moderate global standards on the one hand and coercing its ethno-religious brethren into state-driven Islam on the other. Belying its moderate image, Malay-Muslim ruling elites deny Malay-Muslims the freedom to choose from the smorgasbord of expressions of Islam available on the ummatic market via the Internet-powered globalization. Tightening legal shackles around Malay-Muslim religious expressions is unduly regressive in this information and communication technology age. Improving the quality of state-managed Islamic education throughout Malaysian schools and universities would definitely be a more viable alternative, irrespective of its decline in quality over the years as a result of politically conditioned state intrusion. (96)

As shown in the government's management of the Arqam "threat", obscurantism has been a plague surrounding the UMNO-BN-centric state. Such obscurantism necessarily translates "unorthodoxy" as being equivalent to "deviancy", thus stigmatizing the followers of the particular unorthodox sect as "deviationists" liable to excommunication. In Arqam's case, stout defences provided by its leader Ashaari Muhammad, (97) utilizing Islamic sources and methodologies, fell on deaf ears of the Islamic authorities. Arqam was instead dealt with by the long arm of the law which banned Ashaari's books and proscribed his congregation. In acting against the Arqam members, gross human rights violations were committed by enforcement authorities. (98) Having to regularly attend official rehabilitation courses, former Arqam members tell the author that a "holier-than-thou" attitude of arrogance rather than compassion characterizes religious functionaries in purportedly guiding the ex-activists. (99) The situation turns out to be rather ironic when we consider that Arqam has made valuable inroads in improving second generation human rights (100) of Malay-Muslims through their independently-run business networks and enterprises, at a time when the UMNO-led government consistently lashes out at Malay-Muslims for their continuing economic backwardness and dependency syndrome.

DOI: 10.1355/cs38-1b


This article is an output of a research project entitled "Human Rights, Religion and Ethno-National Conflict" (RU013-2013) hosted by the Human Rights Research Group, Universiti Malaya (UM), Kuala Lumpur. The author wishes to thank the then Dean of UM's Social and Behavioural Cluster, Edmund Terence Gomez, for a modest grant which facilitated data-gathering. He acknowledges intellectual support from fellow research team members, viz. Tan Beng Hui (UM), Azmi Sharom (UM), Maimuna Merican (UM), Azizuddin Sani (UUM), Faizal Musa (UKM) and Shanon Shah (King's College, London), through workshop discussions at UM in September 2013, June 2014 and January 2015. Finally, he expresses gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers.

(1) Federal Constitution with Index (Kuala Lumpur: MDC, 1998), p. 1.

(2) Ibid., pp. 6-7.

(3) Ibid., p. 1.

(4) Ahmad Ibrahim, "The Position of Islam in the Constitution of Malaysia", in Readings on Islam in Southeast Asia, edited by Ahmad Ibrahim, Sharon Siddique and Yasmin Hussain (Singapore: ISEAS, 1985), p. 216.

(5) Maznah Mohamad, "Legal-Bureaucratic Islam in Malaysia: Homogenizing and Ring-fencing the Muslim Subject", in Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia, edited by Hui Yew-Foong (Singapore: ISEAS, 2013), p. 111.

(6) Rita Camilleri, "Religious Pluralism in Malaysia: The Journey of Three Prime Ministers", Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 24, no. 2 (April 2013): 229. The model adopted across the country was fairly uniform; compare for example, the version implemented in the federal territories, available at < my/Akta/Vol.%2012/Act%20559.pdf>, with those of Penang, available at <http:// nsf/f831ccdddl95843f48256fc600141e84/85f629c05c010143482576b600082bee? OpenDocument>; Selangor, available at < esyariah/mal/portalvl/enakmen2011/Eng_enactment_Ori_lib.nsf/f831ccddd 195843f48256fc600141e84/48907f4adb469cf84825760a0040fe64?OpenDocument>, and Sabah, available at < enakmen2011/Eng_enactment_Ori_lib.nsf/f831ccdddl95843f48256fc600141e84/ a24fl0def0a59dle4825761f00281c44?OpenDocument>.

(7) Anwar Ibrahim, co-founder and leader of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM: Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) (1974-82), was the most prominent Islamist co-opted by Mahathir into UMNO and the federal government in 1982.

(8) Ong Han Sean, "Najib: 'Human Rights-ism' Goes Against Muslim Values", The Star Online, 13 May 2014, available at < 2014/05/13/Najib-human-rightsism-against-muslim-values/>.

(9) D. Kanyakumari, "Najib Reiterates Commitment to Human Rights Principles and Values", The Star Online, 16 May 2014, available at < my/News/Nation/2014/05/16/human-rights-najib-razak/>; "Proham Acknowledges Najib's Commitment on Human Rights Issues", The Star Online, 16 May 2014, available at <>.

(10) Florence A. Sarny, "Suhakam: Clear, Consistent Message on Human Rights Needed", The Star Online, 17 May 2014, available at < my/News/Nation/2014/05/17/Suhakam-deliver-consistent-message-human-rights/>.

(11) "Islamist" here refers to a believer in and a practitioner of "political Islam", i.e. the institutional expression of Islam in its manifestation as political ideology, as encapsulated in the term "Islamism". When used as an adjective, "Islamist" pertains to "Islamism" as a revivalist ideology rather than "Islam" as religious faith per se. For details, see Joseph Chinyong Liow, Piety and Politics: Islamism in Contemporary Malaysia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 6.

(12) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid and Muhamad Takiyuddin Ismail, "Islamist Conservatism and the Demise of Islam Hadhari in Malaysia", Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 25, no. 2 (April 2014): 159-80.

(13) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia, Trends in Southeast Asia #02 (Singapore: ISEAS, 2013), pp. 7-13.

(14) For the application of the concept of syariahization to Malaysia's political economy, see Patricia Sloane-White, "Working in the Economy: Sharia-ization and the Malaysian Workplace", Sojourn 26, no. 2 (October 2011): 304-34.

(15) James P. Piscatori, "Ideological Politics in Sa'udi Arabia", in Islam in the Political Process, edited by James P. Piscatori (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 56-72.

(16) Maznah Mohamad, "The Authoritarian State and Political Islam in Muslim-Majority Malaysia", in Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia, edited by Johan Saravanamuttu (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 65-69.

(17) Abdul Rashid Moten, "Secular Dealignment and Party System in Malaysia", Japanese Journal of Political Science 14, no. 4 (December 2013): 473-97.

(18) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Politically Engaged Muslims in Malaysia in the Era of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (2003-2009)", Asian Journal of Political Science 18, no. 2 (August 2010): 166-69; Camilleri, "Religious Pluralism in Malaysia", op. cit., pp. 231-36.

(19) James Chin, "Editorial: Chinese Tsunami or Urban Revolt? It is Both Actually", The Round Table 102, no. 6 (December 2013): 499-501; William Case, "Post-GE13: Any Closer to Ethnic Harmony and Democratic Change?", The Round Table 102, no. 6 (December 2013): 511-19.

(20) James Chin, "Umno Relies Increasingly on Rural Malay Support", Straits Times, 14 May 2013.

(21) Kikue Hamayotsu, "Towards a More Democratic Regime and Society? The Politics of Faith and Ethnicity in a Transitional Multi-Ethnic Malaysia", Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 32, no. 2 (June 2013): 74-82; Fauzi, Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia, op. cit., pp. 16-20.

(22) Gerhard Hoffstaedter, "Secular State, Religious Lives: Islam and the State in Malaysia", Asian Ethnicity 14, no. 4 (September 2013): 478-80.

(23) Kikue Hamayotsu, "Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim: The Politics of State Enforcement of Syariah in Contemporary Malaysia", South East Asia Research 20, no. 3 (September 2012): 399-421.

(24) Marzuki Mohamad, "Religion, Human Rights and Constitutional-Contract Politics in Malaysia", Intellectual Discourse 16, no. 2 (December 2008): 176-81; Maznah, "The Authoritarian State and Political Islam", op. cit., pp. 72-78.

(25) Norani Othman, "Religion, Citizenship Rights and Gender Justice: Women, Islamization & the Shari'a in Malaysia Since the 1980s", in Sharing the Nation: Faith, Difference, Power and the State 50 Years After Merdeka, edited by Norani Othman, Mavis Puthucheary and Clive Kessler (Petaling Jaya: SIRD, 2008), pp. 46-47; Maznah, "The Authoritarian State and Political Islam", op. cit., p. 77.

(26) Federal Constitution with Index, op. cit., p. 79.

(27) Norani, "Religion, Citizenship Rights and Gender Justice", op. cit., pp. 34-47.

(28) Sufi refers to a practitioner or practices of the science of Islamic spirituality or tasawwuf, commonly translated as mysticism or simply "Sufism". The practices are systematized through sufi brotherhoods (tariqahs) that have variously emerged throughout Islamic history, led by spiritual mentors called syeikhs.

(29) Maznah, "Legal-Bureaucratic Islam in Malaysia", op. cit., pp. 118-26; Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, Islamization Policy and Islamic Bureaucracy in Malaysia, Trends in Southeast Asia #05 (Singapore: ISEAS, 2015).

(30) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Implementing Islamic Law within a Modern Constitutional Framework; Challenges and Problems in Contemporary Malaysia", Islamic Studies 48, no. 2 (Summer 2009); 181-82; Yuki Shiozaki, "The Historical Origins of Control over Deviant Groups in Malaysia: Official Fatwa and Regulation of Interpretation", Studia Islamika 22, no. 2 (September 2015): 211-12.

(31) Fauzi and Takiyuddin, "Islamist Conservatism", op. cit., pp. 169-71.

(32) Maznah Mohamad, "The Ascendance of Bureaucratic Islam and the Secularization of the Sharia in Malaysia", Pacific Affairs 83, no. 3 (September 2010): 512.

(33) An exception here would be the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS: Parti Islam SeMalaysia)-led government in Kelantan, which had been under opposition rule since 1990, long before PR came into being in 2008.

(34) Tan Yi Liang, "Selangor Islamic Affairs Exco 'Unaware' of Jais Bible Society Raid", The Star Online, 2 January 2014, available at < my/News/Nation/2014/01/02/Selangor-Islamic-Affairs-Exco-unaware-of-Jais-BibleSociety-raid/>.

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(36) Maznah, "Legal-Bureaucratic Islam in Malaysia", op. cit., p. 111.

(37) Boo Su-Lyn, "In 'Islamist' Umno, Analysts see a Nation Torn by Religion", The Malay Mail Online, 10 December 2013, available at <http://www.>.

(38) "Malaysian Islam" refers to Islam as normatively understood and practised in Malaysia. For an elaboration of the notion, see Osman Bakar, "Malaysian Islam in the Twenty-First Century: The Promise of a Democratic Transformation?", in Asian Islam in the 21st Century, edited by John L. Esposito, John O. Voll and Osman Bakar (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 81-108.

(39) William R. Roff, "Whence Cometh the Law? Dog Saliva in Kelantan, 1937", Comparative Studies in Society and History 25 (April 1983): 323-38.

(40) Shamsul A.B., "The Impact of Globalization on Religious Coexistence in Southeast Asian and Europe: A Reflection", in Religious Pluralism in Democratic Societies: Challenges and Prospects for Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States in the New Millennium, edited by K.S. Nathan (Singapore and Kuala Lumpur: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Malaysian Association for American Studies, 2007), pp. 211-13.

(41) Sean William White, "Medina Charter and Pluralism", The Fountain, issue 76 (July-August 2010), available at < Medina-Charter-and-Pluralism>; Abdou Filali-Ansary, "Introduction: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Diversity", in Pluralism in Muslim Contexts, edited by Abdou Filali-Ansary and Sikeena Karmali (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), p. 4.

(42) Ismail R. Al Faruqi, "Islam and Human Rights", The Islamic Quarterly XXVII, no. 1 (First Quarter 1983): 12-13.

(43) See Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, "Muslim World Needs a Meeting of Minds", New Straits Times, 5 October 2004.

(44) See for example, A.K. Brohi, "Islam and Human Rights", in The Challenge of Islam, edited by Altai Gauhar (London: Islamic Council of Europe, 1978), pp. 176-95; Abul A'la Mawdudi, Human Rights in Islam (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1980), pp. 15-16; Abu Bakar Hamzah, Hak Asasi Manusia Menurut Pandangan Islam [Human Rights According to Islam] (Kuala Lumpur: Penerangan Al Arqam, 1988); Abdur Rahman O. Olayiwola, "Human Rights in Islam", The Islamic Quarterly XXVI, no. 4 (Fourth Quarter 1992): 262-79; Muslim Brotherhood, "Human Rights--Myth or Reality: An Assessment of Western and Islamic Views", Encounters 1, no. 2 (September 1995): 93-97.

(45) See for example, Mawdudi, Human Rights in Islam, op. cit., pp. 30-32; Abdur Rahman I. Doi, Non-Muslim Under Shari"ah (Islamic Law) (Kuala Lumpur: A.S. Noordeen, 1990); Declan Patrick O'Sullivan, "Al-Islam: An Alternative Approach to the Universal Protection of Human Rights", The Islamic Quarterly XLI, no. 2 (Second Quarter 1997): 143-46.

(46) Mawdudi, Human Rights in Islam, op. cit., pp. 21-22; A1 Faruqi, "Islam and Human Rights", op. cit., pp. 15-16.

(47) Al Faruqi, "Islam and Human Rights", op. cit., p. 20.

(48) Mohamed Talbi, "Is Cultural and Religious Co-existence Possible?", Encounters 1, no. 2 (September 1995): 74-84.

(49) Shad Saleem Faruqi, "Human Rights--Asian and Western Perspectives", in Islam, Democracy and Good Governance--The Malaysian Experience, edited by Ibrahim Abu Shah (Shah Alam: UPENA, 2004), p. 110.

(50) Georges G. Corm, Fragmentation of the Middle East: The Last Thirty Years (London: Hutchinson, 1982), p. 22.

(51) Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman, "Towards a History of Malaysian Ulama", South East Asia Research 16, no. 1 (March 2008): 119-22.

(52) Cheah Boon Kheng, "From the End of Slavery to the ISA: Human Rights History in Malaysia", in Reinventing Malaysia: Reflections on Its Past and Future, edited by K.S. Jomo (Bangi: UKM, 2001), pp. 64-71.

(53) Nawab, "Towards a History of Malaysian Ulama", op. cit., pp. 139-40.

(54) Shad Saleem Faruqi, "Constitutional Perspectives on Freedom of Religion, Secularism and Theocracy", in Islam, Democracy and Good Governance, op. cit., pp. 91-102.

(55) Norani, "Religion, Citizenship Rights and Gender Justice", op. cit., pp. 47-50.

(56) Liow, Piety and Politics, op. cit., pp. 81-83, 107-8, 182-84.

(57) Azmi Sharom, "Disturbing Legal Implications", The Star Online, 2 April, 2014, available at < Profile/Articles/2014/04/02/Disturbing-legal-implications/>.

(58) Shad Saleem Faruqi, "At the Crossroads", The Star Online, 13 November 2014, available at < 3C177EF59287%7d>.

(59) Fauzi, Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia, op. cit., pp. 10-11.

(60) Fauzi and Takiyuddin, "Islamist Conservatism", op. cit., pp. 171-73.

(61) Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman, "Salafi Ulama in UMNO: Political Convergence or Expediency?", Contemporary Southeast Asia 36, no. 2 (August 2014): 206-31.

(62) Faruqi, "Constitutional Perspectives", op. cit., p. 86; Mohd Faizal Musa, "The Malaysian Shi"a: A Preliminary Study of Their History, Oppression, and Denied Rights", Journal of Shi"a Islamic Studies VI, no. 4 (September 2013): 411-63.

(63) "All Syiah Teachings in Malaysia Deviate from True Islamic Faith, says Jakim", The Star Online, 15 December 2013, available at < News/Nation/2013/l2/15/syiah-all-teachings-deviate/>.

(64) "Penyebaran fahaman Syiah dilarang" [Dissemination of Shi"a Faith Prohibited], Utusan Malaysia, 10 March 2011; "Malaysia larang sebar Syiah" [Malaysia Disallows Spreading Shi'Tsm], Berita Harian, 10 March 2011.

(65) Norshahril Saat, "Constructing the Deviant 'Other': Religious Traditionalism in Contemporary Malaysia", The Malaysian Insider, 31 July 2012, available at < contemporary-malaysia-norshahril-saat>; Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Shi'a-Inspired Violence in Malaysia: A Possibility?", Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) Bulletin, 24 July 2014, available at <http://www.mei. edu/content/map/shi%E2%80%98-inspired-violence-malaysia-possibility>.

(66) Faruqi, "Constitutional Perspectives", op. cit., pp. 82-85.

(67) Azmi Sharom, "A Literalist Interpretation of the Law", The Star Online, 14 October 2015, available at < Brave-New-World/Profile/Articles/2015/10/14/A-literalist-interpretation-of-the-lawRecent-judgments-have-an-impact-on- basic-freedoms-such-as-tha/>.

(68) The Federal Court judgement in question is available at <http://www.kehakiman.>.

(69) John Bousfield, "Adventures and Misadventures of the New Sufis: Islamic Spiritual Groups in Contemporary Malaysia", Sojourn 8, no. 1 (February 1993): 328-44.

(70) Judith A. Nagata, The Reflowering of Malaysian Islam: Modern Religious Radicals and Their Roots (Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1984), pp. 104-16.

(71) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Political Dimensions of Religious Conflict in Malaysia: State Response to an Islamic Movement", Indonesia and the Malay World 28, no. 80 (March 2000): 32-65.

(72) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "The Banning of Darul Arqam in Malaysia", Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs 39, no. 1 (July 2005): 87-128.

(73) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Inter-Movement Tension among Resurgent Muslims in Malaysia: Response to the State Clampdown on Darul Arqam in 1994", Asian Studies Review 27, no. 3 (September 2003): 361-87.

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(75) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "From Darul Arqam to the Rufaqa Corporation: Change and Continuity in a Sufi Movement in Malaysia", in Islamic Thought in Southeast Asia: New Interpretations and Movements, edited by Kamaruzzaman Bustamam-Ahmad and Patrick Jory (Kuala Lumpur: UM, 2013), pp. 45-65.

(76) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Islamist Civil Society in Malaysia Under Abdullah Badawi: The Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) and the Darul Arqam", Studia Islamika 16, no. 3 (December 2009): 448, 457-61.

(77) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, "Spirituality as an Integral Part of Islamic Business: The Case of Global Ikhwan", Pacific Affairs 88, no. 2 (June 2015): 173-92.

(78) Farik Zolkepli and Shaun Ho, "Al-Arqam Founder's Wife Held", The Star, 14 May 2013; Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias and Siti Aliza Alias, '"Saya taubat': Hatijah Aam, 17 bekas pengikut al-Arqam diperintah berkelakuan baik setahun" [I Repent: Hatijah Aam, 17 Former Al-Arqam Followers Bonded on Good Behaviour for One Year], Berita Harian, Kuala Lumpur, 8 November 2013.

(79) Fauzi, "Inter-Movement Tension", op. cit.

(80) Abdullahi A. An-Naim, "The Cultural Mediation of Human Rights: The Al-Arqam Case in Malaysia", in The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights, edited by Joanne R. Bauer and Daniel E. Bell (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 162-63.

(81) Ibid., pp. 163-64.

(82) Adel Daher, "Democracy, Pluralism and Political Islam", in Pluralism in Muslim Contexts, op. cit., p. 69.

(83) Kelantan, "Enakmen Undang-undang Kanun Jenayah Syariah (II) 1993 (Hukum Hudud)" [Syariah Criminal Laws Enactment (II) 1993 (Hudud Laws) in Kelantan], in Pelaksanaan Hukum Hudud di Kelantan [The Implementation of Hudud Laws in Kelantan] (Kota Bharu: Telda Corporation, 1994), pp. 112-13.

(84) Mohammad Hashim Kamali, "Civilian & Democratic Governance in Islam", in Islam and Civil Society, edited by Hedieh Mirahmadi (Washington, D.C.: WORDE, 2005), p. 176.

(85) Faruqi, "Constitutional Perspectives", op. cit., p. 84.

(86) Usama Hasan, No Compulsion in Religion: Islam & the Freedom of Belief (London: Quilliam, 2013), pp. 14, 16, 25-26.

(87) D. Kanyakumari, "Hudud Goes Against Federal Constitution, say Panellists at Forum", The Star Online, 3 May 2014, available at < my/News/Nation/2014/05/03/Hudud-against-Federal-Constitution/>.

(88) Joceline Tan, "Pushing for 'God's Law'", The Star Online, 2 November 2014, available at < Articles/2014/ll/02/Pushing-for-Gods-law/>.

(89) M. Abdul Haq Ansari, Husayn Ibn Mansur Al-Hallaj: Ideas of an Ecstatic, Islamic Studies Occasional Paper No. 42 (Islamabad: Islamic Research Institute, 2001), pp. 6-11.

(90) Fariduddin Attar, Tazkiratul-Auliya': 62 Orang Wali Allah [Tazkiratul-Auliya': 62 Saints of Allah], translated by Abdul Majid Haji Khatib (Kota Bharu: Pustaka Aman, 1990), pp. 113-20; Ali b. Uthman Al-Jullabi Hujwiri, Kashf Al-Mahjub: The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, translated by Reynold A. Nicholson (Karachi: Darul-Ishaat, 1990), pp. 150-53.

(91) See for example, Sirajuddin Abbas, I'tiqad Ahlussunnah Wal-jamaah [The Sunni Creed] (Kota Bharu: Pustaka Aman, 1991), pp. 137-38. On the significance of Al-Hallaj to Islam in Southeast Asia, see R. Michael Feener, "A ReExamination of the Place of Al-Hallaj in the Development of Southeast Asian Islam", Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde 154, no. 4 (December 1998): 571-92.

(92) Ashaari Muhammad, Berhati-hati Membuat Tuduhan [Be Careful in Making Allegations] (Kuala Lumpur: Shoutul Arqam, 1989), p. 206; Ashaari Muhammad, Pendidikan Rapat Dengan Rohaniah Manusia [Education is Close to the Human Spirit] (Rawang: Penerbitan Minda Ikhwan, 2006), p. 438.

(93) Fauzi, Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia, op. cit., pp. 16-19.

(94) On Islamic principles of ikhtilaf, see Taha Jabir A1 'Alwani, The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam, translated by Abdul Wahid Hamid (Herndon: IIIT, 1994).

(95) See for example, Osman Bakar, "Islam and the Challenge of Diversity and Pluralism: Must Islam Reform Itself?", Islam and Civlisational Renewal 1, no. 1 (October 2009): 69; Rahimin Affandi Abd. Rahim, Mohd Anuar Ramli, Paizah Ismail and Nor Hayati Mohd Dahlal, "Dialog Antara Agama: Realiti dan Prospek di Malaysia" [Inter-Religious Dialogue: Reality and Prospects in Malaysia], Kajian Malaysia 29, no. 2 (December 2011): 95-97.

(96) Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Islamic Education in Malaysia, RSIS Monograph No. 18 (Singapore: RSIS, 2010); Azmil Tayeb, "The Ups and Downs of Islamic Education in Malaysia", Aliran Online, 31 October 2012, available at <http://>.

(97) Ashaari Muhammad, Aurad Muhammadiah Pegangan Darul Arqam: Sekaligus Menjawah Tuduhan [Aurad Muhammadiah: The Conviction of Darul Arqam and Answers to Allegations] (Kuala Lumpur: Penerangan Al Arqam, 1986); Ashaari Muhammad, Berhati-hati Membuat Tuduhan, op. cit.

(98) See for example, Detainee, "Treated as Deviant even before Court Hearing", Aliian Online, 15 January 2008, available at < before-court-hearing/>.

(99) Author interviews with former Arqam members who participated in the rehabilitation courses, Penang, August 2015.

(100) See Carolina C. Lopez, "Globalisation, State and G/Local Human Rights Actors: Contestations Between Institutions and Civil Society", in Politics in Malaysia: The Malay Dimension, edited by Edmund Terence Gomez (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), pp. 51-53.

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid is a Professor of Political Science at the School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. Postal address: School of Distance Education, USM, 11800 Penang, Malaysia; email:
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Author:Abdul Hamid, Ahmad Fauzi
Publication:Contemporary Southeast Asia
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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