At the recent Syposium entitled “Understanding Shariah from the Religious and Rights Perspectives”, Aston Paiva presented a paper that has garnered attention.

Citing a paper entitled “Islamic Law, Women’s Rights, and Popular Legal Consciousness in Malaysia” by Tamir Moustafa (based on research by the Merdeka Centre), Aston points out that there is a lot of misconception amongst Muslims in Malaysia regarding the source of the various State laws that regulate the practice of Islam in Malaysia.

Aston also cites Moustafa’s paper (which has previously been summarized on LoyarBurok) which shows a small change in terminology resulted in a sea change in the way the Malaysian government dealt with Muslims, where Moustafa says the government “reconstituted Islamic law in ways that are better understood as a subversion of the Islamic legal tradition.

With his usual eloquence, Aston opens his concluding remarks setting out his vision of the way forward in this way:

Malaysian politicians have appropriated the word ‘Syariah’ from the Malaysian Muslim community for their own self-centered political pursuits. They have named laws passed by State Legislatures, and courts created by State law, after it. In doing so, they have defiled the sanctity associated with the word ‘Syariah’, and reduced it to a tool for sloganeering (to increase their credentials), political one-upmanship (to “discredit” their opponents) and to misrepresent Malaysia to Malaysians (fracturing democracy).

As a result, many Malaysians (particularly Muslims) now live in ignorance about their constitutional rights, of Islam and of each other’s religious heritage.

Malaysians, Malaysia and Islam deserve better.

Read the full paper here: Syariah in Malaysia.

4 replies on “Syariah in Malaysia”

  1. Aston Paiva, thank you for your generosity in sharing your paper. It is enlightening in the detail and citations.

  2. MALAY / MUSLIMS IN MALAYSIA dominated by AHLUL SUNNAH WAL JAMAAH MAZHAB,had almost treated and reduced ALQURAN into a book of chanting and singing.Every day natonal tv, tv9 ,radio ikim without fail practised this belief in religion.You can see now more muslims go to mosque to pray "berjumuah".if you ask them" do you understand what are you doing".l do not think they understand because they do not read to understand ALQURAN and they only follow what their parents or their friends are doing, even chanting ALFATEHAH EVERYDAY they did not know the meaning.If you dont believe go and ask them.then you will be surprise to find out.

  3. Mr Aston Paiva, thank you for this enlightening paper. An admirable contribution to public discourse and a call for action, instead of succumbing to the pessimism afflicting some Malaysians. But Malaysia and its antecedent parts have historically been led and moulded by its Malay elites, with the support of the significant Malay majority, with the acceptance and participation of the minorities, no doubt. Leaders influence but are also pulled along by the people. (It is not easy to eliminate the use of religion in politics, even in a mature democracy like America, precisely because of the importance of religion to people.) Beyond liberals talking to other liberals in the Klang valley, what will motivate the elites in politics, government, and economy today to arrest the negative trends you describe in your paper, and who is willing and able to "educate" the millions of youths and general public? In short, my sincere question is, do you see any potential developments on the horizon to shift the current trends? Thank you, and all the best.

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