Continuities and ruptures of the governance of Islam in Malaysia

Karin Meerschaut, Serge Gutwirth, Maussen Marcel (Editor), Veit Bader (Editor), Annelies Moors (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


(From the introduction by the editors)
Meerschaut and Gutwirth discuss development of the relations between the state and Islam within Malaysia, from pre-colonial times onwards. Whereas in a European context the accommodation of religious or customary law and courts is usually seen as a choice in favour of 'culture' rather than 'rights', the Islamic family law reforms in Malaysia conceive of Islamic law as a regime of rights. The systematisation and institutionalisation of Islamic law was achieved during British colonial rule concurrently with the introduction of English law, whereas customary law (adat) was not institutionalised in that way. In the post-colonial period, a further constitutional recognition of legal pluralism developed, resulting in parallel secular, Islamic and customary systems of family law. More recently, the reforms of Malaysian Islamic family law in the 1980s and early 1990s demonstrate creative contextual institutional ways to compromise between religion and state and between legal pluralism and equality. Nevertheless, the authors are critical of the more recent push for Islamic supremacy within the judicial arena
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationColonial and post-colonial governance of Islam. Continuities and ruptures
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)978-90-8964-356-8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Islamic law
  • Malaysia
  • Islamic Courts


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