The Islamization of the State: A Framework and Case Study in Malaysia

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The Ohio State University

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This thesis attempts to provide a framework to study the Islamization of the state in Malaysia; a successful result of which can be used to approach the study of Islamization in other Muslim-majority countries. It postulates Islamization of the state as the dependent variable (effect) and examines four critical factors (causes): the roles of electoral politics, the judiciary, the religious bureaucracy, and the non-state actors. Electoral politics in Malaysia is dominated by the country’s biggest political parties, UMNO and PAS. Through competition and cooperation, electoral politics encouraged religious outbidding and was the main causal factor of the Islamization of the state. Electoral politics also provided the catalyst for the other factors: a crucial constitutional amendment in 1988 which effectively upgraded the status of the Sharia courts, the creation and expansion of religious bureaucracy which controlled and spread the state-sanctioned version of Islam, and the activism of non-state actors which became effective pressure groups. All of these four factors combined to form a broad framework to explain and link the causes of the Islamization of the state in Malaysia.



Islam, Malaysia, Islamization, Southeast Asia, Political Islam, Malaysian politics