Islam in Malaysia

Last updated

Percentage population of Islam in Malaysia according to 2020 census. Percentage population of Islam in Malaysia by district, 2020.svg
Percentage population of Islam in Malaysia according to 2020 census.

Islam in Malaysia is represented by the Shafi‘i school of Sunni jurisprudence. [2] [3] Islam was introduced to Malaysia by traders arriving from Persia, Arabia, China and the Indian subcontinent. It became firmly established in the 15th century. In the Constitution of Malaysia, Islam is granted the status of "religion of the Federation" to symbolize its importance to Malaysian society, while defining Malaysia constitutionally as a secular state. Therefore, other religions can be practiced freely. [2] [3] [4]


Malaysia is a country whose most professed religion is Islam. As of 2020, there were approximately 20.6 million Muslim adherents, or 63.5% of the population. [5] [6] Various Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Mawlid have been declared national holidays alongside Christmas, Chinese New Year, and Deepavali. [7]


List of Islamic denominations of which Shafi'i Sunni is the most common in Malaysia. Muslim self-identification.jpg
List of Islamic denominations of which Shafi'i Sunni is the most common in Malaysia.

The draft Constitution of Malaysia did not specify an official religion. This move was supported by the rulers of the nine Malay states, who felt that it was sufficient that Islam was the official religion of each of their individual states. However, Justice Hakim Abdul Hamid of the Reid Commission which drafted the constitution came out strongly in favour of making Islam the official religion, and as a result the final constitution named Islam as the official religion of Malaysia. [8] All ethnic Malays are Muslim, as defined by Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia. [9] [10]

Religion of the Federation

Nine of the Malaysian states, namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Johor, and Negeri Sembilan have constitutional Malay monarchs (most of them styled as Sultans). These Malay rulers still maintain authority over religious affairs in states. The states of Penang, Malacca, Sarawak, and Sabah do not have any sultan, but the king (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) plays the role of head of Islam in each of those states as well as in each of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya.

On the occasion of Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's 80th birthday, he stated in the edition of 9 February 1983 of the newspaper The Star that the "country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion". In the same issue of The Star, Abdul Rahman was supported by the third Malaysian prime minister, Hussein Onn, who stated that the "nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion." [11]

National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur Masjid Negara KL.JPG
National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

One of Malaysia's states, Kelantan, is governed by Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which is a conservative Islamic political party, with a proclaimed goal of establishing an Islamic state. Terengganu was briefly ruled by PAS from 1999 to 2004, but the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has since won back the state. To counter the falling credibility of United Malays National Organisation's (UMNO) Islamic credentials vis-à-vis PAS, the head of the Barisan Nasional, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, proposed Islam Hadhari. In the 1990s, the PAS-led governments of Terengganu tried to implement strict Islamic Sharia law, but was blocked in parliament as it violated Malaysia's secular Federal constitution. Malaysia's constitution is based on the English common law, a legacy of British colonial rule.

The newest format of the Malaysian identity card (MyKad) divides Malaysians into various religious groups, e.g., Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist. The introduction of this card caused a political uproar and remains controversial. [12]

There is also an Islamic university in Malaysia called the International Islamic University Malaysia, and a government institution in charge of organising pilgrimages to Mecca called Tabung Haji (Pilgrim Fund Board of Malaysia). In addition, the government also funds the construction of mosques and suraus . [13]

The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) was established under the Prime Minister's Department. Besides, every state also has its own version of JAKIM. Various Islamic rules and regulations governing the public and family life were codified into law that is compliant to Islam. Government policies have also be permissible in Islam, in other words 'halal'. [14]

The National Fatwa Council was established by Conference of rulers to issue fatwas. It conducts two types of meetings, one was authorised by the Conference of Rulers, another called muzakarah (discourse) is held occasionally without the order of the Conference of Rulers. [15]


Kampung Laut Mosque in Tumpat is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia, dating to early 18th century Around-Kota-Bharu-(19).jpg
Kampung Laut Mosque in Tumpat is one of the oldest mosques in Malaysia, dating to early 18th century

Individual Arab traders, including Sahabas, preached in the Malay Archipelago, Indo-China, and China in the early seventh century. [16] Islam was introduced to the Malay Peninsula coast by Arabs in 674 CE. [17]

Islam was also brought to Malaysia by Arab Muslim and Tamil Indian Muslim traders in the 12th century AD. It is commonly held that Islam first arrived in the Malay peninsula since Sultan Mudzafar Shah I (12th century) of Kedah (Hindu name Phra Ong Mahawangsa), the first ruler to be known to convert to Islam after being introduced to it by Indian traders who themselves were recent converts. In the 13th century, the Terengganu Stone Monument was found at Kuala Berang, Terengganu, where the first Malay state to receive Islam in 1303 Sultan Megat Iskandar Shah, known as Parameswara prior to his conversion, is the first Sultan of Melaka. He converted to Islam after marrying a princess from Pasai, of present-day Indonesia.[ citation needed ]

The religion was adopted peacefully by the coastal trading ports people of Malaysia and Indonesia, absorbing rather than conquering existing beliefs. By the 15th and 16th centuries it was the majority faith of the Malay people.

Contemporary Islam

Contemporary Islam follows the Shafi‘ite school of Sunnism. Some Islamic terms, such as the word Allah, are forbidden to non-Muslims both orally and in government's ban on the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims, reversing the 2009 ruling of a court of first instance.

Until the 1970s, many Malay Muslims lived a liberal and moderate Islam, like Indonesian Muslims. At this time, a wave of Islamisation emerged (sparked by various social and ethnic conflicts, linked to the Al-Arqam parties and Islam Se-Malaysia), so that today, Malaysia lives in a more Islamic environment compared to the earlier years. Malays, who represent 50.4% of the total population, are almost all Muslims. About 70% of Malay Muslims wear headscarves, while their port was marginal until the 1980s. The traditional Malay garment, of Islamic origin, is also worn by many Malays.

Freedom of worship

Article 3 (1) of the Malaysian Constitution provides:

"Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions can be practiced safely and peacefully in all parts of the Federation."

Article 11 of the constitution provides:

"Everyone has the right to profess and practice his religion and to propagate it."

Originally authorised for the country's independence in 1957, apostasy became illegal following an amendment to the country's constitution in 1988. [18] The internationally reported attempt by Lina Joy [19] to convert from Islam to Christianity is one of the most famous representations.

While this was not a problem during the colonial era, Muslims wishing to change their religion face severe deterrence. Before 1988, the question of freedom of religion and therefore of questions relating to the desire of citizens to change their religion was exclusively within the jurisdiction of secular courts. But since the law has changed, an amendment stipulates that secular courts no longer have the right to deal with claims by Muslims and that only Islamic Shariah courts have jurisdiction to discuss issues related to human rights. [20] Apostasy is one of them and it follows that it is constitutionally legally impossible for a Muslim to change his belief.

Putra Mosque in Putrajaya Putrajaya Mosque 2288564202 525ee843c2.jpg
Putra Mosque in Putrajaya

Many Muslims who have changed their religion, whether it is conversion to Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Taoism and other beliefs, are forced for their own safety to lead a double life. In some cases, denunciations of apostasy have already been reported as being reported to the authorities by family members or co-workers. [21] [22]

In February 2014, Edry Faizal, a coordinator in charge of the Democratic Action Party, claimed that it was inconsistent from a Quranic point of view to forbid Muslims from freely changing beliefs, but from his point of view was the best alternative that the power had found to preserve its Malaysian electorate and consequently to remain in power continuously.

In May 2014, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said during his speech about the future of the country that: "We will never tolerate any demand for the right to apostasy by Muslims, and we refuse that Muslims can have the right to be tried by courts other than sharia courts, and we will not allow Muslims to participate in LGBT activities". But he concluded that this was necessary because: "This is in line with our efforts to make Malaysia a modern, progressive Muslim country in order to achieve the status of a developed nation with a high income for 2020". [23]

In recent years, more and more voices have been asked to try to determine the number of ethnic Malay people supposed to have left Islam. The government has remained silent on the question, believing that it is much too controversial to be debated. However estimates go from 135, according to Ridhuan Tee, a Muslim preacher, to 260,000, according to Harussani Zakaria, the mufti of the state of Perak. [24] The latter highest estimate when put in the context of the 2010 population census would make them to be between 3 and 4% of the Malaysian majority. [25] Nevertheless, no data estimating the number of Malay who converted to another religion was provided.

Nonetheless, these remarks later triggered a polemic often repeated in the media by Islamist and nationalist circles that recognising the right of the Malayans and the entire Muslim community to be free to choose their own beliefs would risk provoking a "Massive exodus of apostates" within the nation, the same slogan has also been listed on the official website of Islam in Malaysia. On 17 December 2015, Malaysian Police Chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar during a speech, alluded to this mysterious report: "I can not tell you how much this issue is and potentially explosive. " [26]

Religious discrimination

The state banishes and sanctions non-Muslim proselytism, but encourages conversions to Islam [27] and remunerates them in order to facilitate the reduction of the non-Muslim population within the nation. Among the new rights provided to converts, if they have child/children, they have the right to convert their children by force to Islam, [28] [29] without having to consider the approval of his spouse. [30]

In March 2015, unrest erupted in Miri, Sarawak, when a 13-year-old Dayak schoolgirl complained to the police, along with her parents, after being sequestrated at her school by two of her teachers who wanted to convert her to Islam by forcing her to recite Shahada. The latter then rewarded his conversion by donating 250 ringgit. In order to ease interfaith tensions, the two teachers were subsequently fired and transferred out of the state of Sarawak. [31]

On 4 December 2015, Malaysian feminist and human rights activist, Shafiqah Othman Hamzah said, "What we are living in Malaysia is almost no different from apartheid. While segregation was racial in South Africa, in our country we live in religious segregation." [32]

Melaka Chinese Mosque in Malacca Melaka Chinese Mosque.jpg
Melaka Chinese Mosque in Malacca

On 9 February 2016, [33] the Putrajaya Federal Court ruled on a scandal termed the "S Deepa Affair" dating back to 4 September 2013, involving forced conversions of children to Islam in a Hindu couple married since 2003. In this case, the father N. Viran converted to Islam in November 2012 under the name of Izwan Abdullah decided to impose his conversion to his two children, his son Mithran and his daughter Sharmila. Shortly after that, the children had their names changed to Nabil for the son and Nurul Nabila for the girl. Becoming the only person judged capable of raising them, he had obtained from the Shari'a court of Seremban their sole custody and through this the dissolution of his marriage. [34]

Their marriage, which had been celebrated according to the Hindu rites and subsequently registered in the civil registers, was thus dissolved by the Shari'a court on the sole ground of the conversion to Islam by the husband, making it immediately obsolete. However, the Seremban High Court ruled that the annulment of the marriage was illegal and decided to return the custody of the children to the mother on 7 April 2014. [35]

However, two days later Izwan kidnapped his son during a home visit by his ex-wife. [36] Deepa quickly requested the High Court for police aid in getting her son back. Izwan decided to appeal the decision by the Seremban High Court and sought the help from the Shari'a court to assert his rights. The Court of Appeal rejected both appeals in December 2014. Child custody in February 2016 was finally divided by the Court of Appeal. [37] The guard of the son was entrusted to the father, in this case, Izwan and the guard of the daughter to the mother, S Deepa. [38] Asked by the media at the announcement of the verdict, she announced in tears: "This is injustice, I am upset. It was my last hope that the court would return my two children, but it was not so. Only my daughter was given to me." [39]

Influences of Zheng He's voyages

Stamps of Indonesia commemorating Zheng He's voyages to secure the maritime routes, usher urbanisation and assist in creating a common identity Stamps of Indonesia, 026-05.jpg
Stamps of Indonesia commemorating Zheng He's voyages to secure the maritime routes, usher urbanisation and assist in creating a common identity

Zheng He is credited to have settled Chinese Muslim communities in Palembang and along the shores of Java, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines. These Muslims allegedly followed the Hanafi school in the Chinese language. [40] This Chinese Muslim community was led by Hajji Yan Ying Yu, who urged his followers to assimilate and take local names.


Malaysian Muslims participate in a Maulidur Rasul parade in Putrajaya, 2013 Maulidur Rasul (8413657269).jpg
Malaysian Muslims participate in a Maulidur Rasul parade in Putrajaya, 2013

Sunni Islam

The Sunni Islam of the Shafi'i school of thought is the official, legal form in Malaysia, although syncretist Islam with elements of Shamanism is still common in rural areas. Mosques are an ordinary scene throughout the country and azan (call to prayer) from minarets are heard five times a day. Government bodies and banking institutions are closed for two hours every Friday so Muslim workers can conduct Friday prayer in mosques. However, in certain states such as Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Johor, the weekends fall on Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday. It has been introduced to several states, notably Kelantan and Terengganu, all businesses close for 2 hours on every Friday for prayers. Failure to comply would result in fines.

Since it is compulsory for Muslims to perform a prayer 5 times a day no matter where they are, almost all public places, including shopping malls, hotels, condominiums, usually have allocated spaces called "Surau", for performing the Muslim prayers.

In 2017, it was reported that Wahhabism is spreading among Malaysia's elite, and that the traditional Islamic theology currently taught in Government schools is gradually being shifted to a view of theology derived from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia. [41] [42]

Shia Islam

The Malaysian government has strict policies against other Islamic sects, including a complete ban on Shia Islam, [43] allegedly to "avoid violence between the two faiths that has sometimes broken out in other parts of the world by promoting only the Sunni faith". [44] [45] Due to decades of the Saudi funding, Shia Islam is openly and freely demonised and Shia Muslims are oppressed in the country, their prayers and gatherings are broken up, state's secret service also engages in Shia forced disappearances. Anti-Shi'ism reaches such an extent that the mainstream media always present Iran in bad light while blindly glorying Saudi Arabia. [46] For example, in 2019 Malaysian police raided multiple private functions commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali at the battle of Karbala, arresting scores of foreign and local Shia Muslims. [47] While the true numbers are not known, the number of Malaysian Shia Muslims is estimated at around 250,000. [46]

Other sects

A notable sect that has been outlawed is Al-Arqam. [48]

Muslims who believe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the fulfilment of the Islamic prophecies concerning the return of Jesus, the Ahmadiyya, are also present. There are approximately 2,000 Ahmadis in the country. [49] Though small in number, they face state sanctioned persecution in Malaysia. [50]

Muslims who reject the authority of hadith, known as Quranists, Quraniyoon, or Ahl al-Quran, are also present in Malaysia. The most notable Malaysian Quranist is the scholar Kassim Ahmad. [51]

Cultural role

An Ustaz during the Akad Nikah marital ceremony Ustaz Kahwin.jpg
An Ustaz during the Akad Nikah marital ceremony

Islam is central to and dominant in Malay culture. A significant number of words in the Malay vocabulary can trace their origins to Arabic which is the common language of Islamic prayer and rituals. This is, however, not exclusive and words from other cultures such as Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch, Sanskrit, Tamil, English, and French can also be found in the Malay language. Islam is so ingrained in Malay life that Islamic rituals are practised as Malay culture. Muslim and Malays are interchangeable in many daily contexts.

The tudung is very commonly worn by Malay girls and women Malaysian girls.jpg
The tudung is very commonly worn by Malay girls and women

Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid ul-Fitr) is an important festival celebrated by Malaysian Muslims.

Muslim women generally wear the tudung (hijab or headscarf) over their heads. However, Malay women not wearing any headgear are not reprimanded or penalised. Prominent Malaysian female examples are Rafidah Aziz, International Trade and Industry Minister and Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, wife of then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. However, with the influx of Arabic travellers, foreign Muslim women (Arabs) wearing hijab that leave only their eyes exposed are often spotted in tourist attractions, not the least at the shopping malls. At certain Malaysian institutions such as the International Islamic University, wearing of the tudung is mandatory; however, for non-Muslim students this usually amounts to a loosely worn piece of cloth draped over the back of the head.

Some regard the tudung to be an indication of Arabic influence in Malay Muslim culture, and point to incidents such as the banning of the traditional Malay wayang kulit in the state of Kelantan (which was ruled by the Islamist PAS) to be "un-Islamic". [52]

Malaysia's top Islamic body, the National Fatwa Council, ruled against Muslims practising yoga, saying it had elements of other religions that could corrupt Muslims. [53] The same body has ruled against ghosts and other supernatural beings. [54]

Political issues

Definition of Malay

Malacca Islamic Centre Melaka Islamic Center.jpg
Malacca Islamic Centre

As defined by the Constitution of Malaysia, Malays must be Muslim, regardless of their ethnic heritage; otherwise, legally, they are not Malay. Consequently, apostate Malays would have to forfeit all their constitutional privileges, including their Bumiputra status, which entitles them to affirmative action in university admissions and discounts on purchases of vehicles or real estate. It is legally possible to become a Malay if a non-Malay citizen with a Malaysian parent converts to Islam and thus claims all the Bumiputra privileges granted by Article 153 of the Constitution and the New Economic Policy (NEP). However, the convert must "habitually speak the Malay language" and adhere to Malay culture. A tertiary textbook for Malaysian studies following the government-approved syllabus states: "This explains the fact that when a non-Malay embraces Islam, he is said to masuk Melayu ("become a Malay"). That person is automatically assumed to be fluent in the Malay language and to be living like a Malay as a result of his close association with the Malays". [55]

Islam in Malaysia is thus closely associated with the Malay people, something an Islamic scholar has criticised, saying that Malaysian Islam is "still clothed in communal garb; that Muslims in Malaysia have yet to understand what the universal spirit of Islam means in reality". [56]

Protesters in Kuala Lumpur take to the streets to demonstrate against the Innocence of Muslims film Anti-Islam Film protests (8009245996).jpg
Protesters in Kuala Lumpur take to the streets to demonstrate against the Innocence of Muslims film

Parallel to the civil courts, there are Sharia courts which conduct legal matters related to Muslim family sphere. Legal issues like Muslim divorce and Muslim apostasy are conducted in the Syariah Courts. However, there are cases whereby apostasy cases are tried in the Federal Courts. Non-Muslims are not bound by Sharia.[ citation needed ]

Accusations of "Christian agendas"

In mid-2017, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff who is a former senior lecturer at Universiti Utara Malaysia alleged that it was the Christian members of the largely Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) that held effective power over the party and that it had a "Christian agenda". [57] He claimed that numerous party officials including party Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng of being a Christian. DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang refuted the allegations and accused the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of spreading lies about the DAP. [58]

On 12 July 2018, UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam claimed that the DAP which is a component party of the then governing Pakatan Harapan coalition was attempting to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia. [59]


Siti Nurhaliza wearing a tudung Siti Nurhaliza - Khairul Fahmi's Wedding 2013.jpg
Siti Nurhaliza wearing a tudung

As of 2013, most Muslim Malaysian women wear the tudung, a type of hijab. This use of the tudung was uncommon prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, [60] and the places that had women in tudung tended to be rural areas. The usage of the tudung sharply increased after the 1970s, [61] as religious conservatism among Malay people in both Malaysia and Singapore increased. [62]

Several members of the Kelantan ulama in the 1960s believed the hijab was not mandatory. [60] However, in 2015 the majority of Malaysian ulama believed this previous viewpoint was un-Islamic. [63] The National Fatwa Council has issued a ruling against young Muslim women wearing trousers. [64]

Norhayati Kaprawi directed a 2011 documentary about the use of tudung in Malaysia, Siapa Aku? ("Who am I?"). [63]

Despite the hijab, or tudung being non-mandatory in Malaysia, some government buildings enforce within their premises a dresscode which bans women, Muslim and non-Muslim, from entering while wearing "revealing clothes". [61] [65]

In 2014, the feminist Muslim organization Sisters in Islam was named in a fatwa by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council. They had previously supported Muslim women who attempted to compete in the Miss Malaysia pageant before four had to withdraw. [66]

Distribution of Muslims

According to the 2020 census, 63.5% of its population (20,623,140 people) were Muslim. [67] All individuals who self-identify as ethnic Malays are categorised as Muslims (see also ethnoreligious group). The data shows the non-Malay who self-identifies as Muslim does not "menjadi Melayu" and still counted separately from Malay ethnic group. Information collected in the census based on respondent's answer and did not refer to any official document.[ citation needed ]

By ethnic group

Distribution of Muslim Malaysians by ethnic group (2010 census)

   Malay (81.7%)
  Non-Malaysian Citizen (9.3%)
  Other Bumiputera (7.8%)
  Other Non-Bumiputera (0.6%)
   Indian (0.4%)
   Chinese (0.2%)

By gender and ethnic group

GenderTotal Muslim Population
(2010 Census)
Malaysian Muslim CitizensNon-Malaysian Muslim Citizens
Bumiputera MuslimNon-Bumiputera Muslim
Malay MuslimOther Bumiputera MuslimChinese MuslimIndian MuslimOthers Muslim
Male Muslim8,892,8537,145,985679,22125,10842,47552,776947,288
Female Muslim8,482,9417,045,735667,98716,94036,22749,558666,494

By state/federal territory and ethnic group

StateTotal Muslim Population
(2010 Census)
Malaysian Muslim CitizensNon-Malaysian Muslim Citizens
Bumiputera MuslimNon-Bumiputera Muslim
Malay MuslimOther Bumiputera MuslimChinese MuslimIndian MuslimOther Non-Bumiputera Muslim
Johor 1,949,3931,759,53713,0684,0748,3185,896158,500
Kedah 1,504,1001,460,7461,1191,0033,3451,67336,214
Kelantan 1,465,3881,426,3736,4061,5254451,44829,191
Kuala Lumpur 776,958679,2365,4663,8387,6884,88675,844
Labuan 66,06530,00124,0835221951,23510,029
Malacca 542,433517,4412,2028681,67896319,281
Negeri Sembilan 615,235572,0063,6511,8484,6261,52931,575
Pahang 1,124,9091,052,7748,6511,0022,2444,31355,925
Penang 696,846636,1461,2511,29012,3351,62844,196
Perak 1,301,9311,238,35715,3871,3677,5371,76437,519
Perlis 203,476198,7102023692604993,436
Putrajaya 70,52268,47540610468501,419
Sabah 2,096,153184,1971,106,0429,5913,16440,216752,943
Sarawak 796,239568,113134,3404,0371,8922,43385,424
Selangor 3,161,9942,814,59723,80410,24124,47232,829256,051
Terengganu 1,004,152985,0111,13036943597216,235

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kelantan</span> State of Malaysia

Kelantan is a state in Malaysia. The capital is Kota Bharu and royal seat is Kubang Kerian. The honorific name of the state is Darul Naim . Kelantan is located in the north-eastern corner of the peninsula. Kelantan, which is said to translate as the "Land of Lightning", is an agrarian state with green paddy fields, rustic fishing villages and casuarina-lined beaches. Kelantan is home to some of the most ancient archaeological discoveries in Malaysia, including several prehistoric aboriginal settlements.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. First, Article 11 provides that every person has the right to profess and to practice his or her religion and to propagate it. Second, the Constitution also provides that Islam is the religion of the country but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terengganu</span> State of Malaysia

Terengganu, formerly spelled Trengganu or Tringganu, is a sultanate and constitutive state of federal Malaysia. The state is also known by its Arabic honorific, Dāru l-Īmān. The coastal city of Kuala Terengganu, which stands at the mouth of the broad Terengganu River, is both the state and royal capital as well as the largest city in Terengganu. There are many islands located close to the coast of Terengganu state, such as Perhentian Islands and Redang Island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malaysian Islamic Party</span> Islamist political party in Malaysia

The Malaysian Islamic Party is an Islamist political party in Malaysia. As the party focused on Islamic fundamentalism, PAS's electoral base are largely in Peninsular Malaysia's rural and conservative northern and eastern coasts, particularly in the states of Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu & Pahang. They also gain significant support in the rural area of Penang, Perak, Selangor & Malacca in the last 2022 Malaysian general election.

The Grand Mufti is the head of regional muftis, Islamic jurisconsults, of a state. The office originated in the early modern era in the Ottoman empire and has been later adopted in a number of modern countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Islam in the United Arab Emirates</span>

Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buddhism in Malaysia</span> Overview role of Buddhism in Malaysia

Buddhism is the second largest religion in Malaysia, after Islam, with 19.8% of Malaysia's population being Buddhist, although some estimates put that figure at 21.6% when combining estimates of numbers of Buddhists with figures for adherents of Chinese religions which incorporate elements of Buddhism. Buddhism in Malaysia is mainly practised by the ethnic Malaysian Chinese, but there are also Malaysian Siamese, Malaysian Sri Lankans and Burmese in Malaysia that practice Buddhism such as Ananda Krishnan and K. Sri Dhammananda and a sizeable population of Malaysian Indians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Islam in Singapore</span> Religious community

Islam constitutes the third largest religion in Singapore, with Muslims accounting for approximately 15.6% of the population, as indicated by the 2020 census. Predominantly, Singaporean Muslims are Sunni Muslims adhering to either the Shafi‘i or Hanafi schools of thought. The majority of the Muslim population, about 80%, are ethnic Malays, while 13% are of Indian descent. The remaining fraction comprises local Chinese, Eurasian, and Arab communities, in addition to foreign migrants. Buddhism and Christianity are the two larger religious affiliations in the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hinduism in Malaysia</span> Overview of the presence, role and impact of Hinduism in Malaysia

Hinduism is the fourth largest religion in Malaysia. About 1.78 million Malaysian residents are Hindus, according to 2010 Census of Malaysia. This is up from 1,380,400 in 2000.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Culture of Malaysia</span> Overview of the culture of Malaysia

The culture of Malaysia draws on the varied cultures of the different people of Malaysia. The first people to live in the area were indigenous tribes that still remain; they were followed by the Malays, who moved there from mainland Asia in ancient times. Chinese and Indian cultural influences made their mark when trade began with those countries, and increased with immigration to Malaysia. Other cultures that heavily influenced that of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic, British. The many different ethnicities that currently exist in Malaysia have their own unique and distinctive cultural identities, with some crossover.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sky Kingdom</span> Former sect based in Besut, Malaysia

Sky Kingdom was a Malaysian religious commune and sect founded by Ariffin Mohammed, also known as Ayah Pin. The commune, based in Besut, Terengganu, was demolished by the government of Malaysia in August 2005. As of 2006, Ayah Pin was residing in exile in Narathiwat, Thailand, just over the border from Kelantan. Eighteen members of the Sky Kingdom commune remain at the mercy of the Malaysia's Higher Shariah Court, with 40 having received leniency upon renouncing the group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sisters in Islam</span> Malaysian Islamic feminist civil society organisation

Sisters in Islam (SIS) is a Malaysian registered company committed to promoting the rights of women within the frameworks of Islam and universal human rights. Its efforts to promote the rights of Muslim women are based on the principles of equality, justice and freedom enjoined by the Quran. SIS work focuses on challenging laws and policies made in the name of Islam that discriminate against women. As such it tackles issues covered under Malaysia's Islamic family and sharia laws, such as polygamy, child marriage, moral policing, Islamic legal theory and jurisprudence, the hijab and modesty, violence against women and hudud. It is noted for its Islamic feminist research and advocacy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tudong</span> Traditional Southeast Asian Islamic headscarf

The tudong is a style of headscarf, worn as interpretation of the Islamic hijab, prevalent amongst many Muslim women in the Malay-speaking world; Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore. Today, the tudong forms part of the standard dress code for many offices in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as in school uniforms and formal occasions. Though initially considered a conservative form of dress, it is worn today by most moderate Muslim women in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Lina Joy is a Malay convert from Islam to Christianity. Born Azlina Jailani on 28 July 1964 in Malaysia to Muslim parents of Javanese descent, she converted at age 26. The Lina Joy case sparkled a debate about apostasy in Malaysia, and her failed legal attempt to not have her religion listed as "Islam" on her identity card is considered a landmark case in Malaysia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Religion in Malaysia</span> Religion in the country

Malaysia is a multireligious country, whose official religion is Islam. However, it is to note that the official religion is merely symbolic and Malaysia is undisputedly a secular state. As of the 2020 Population and Housing Census, 63.5 percent of the population practices Islam; 18.7 percent Buddhism; 9.1 percent Christianity; 6.1 percent Hinduism; and 2.7 percent other religion or gave no information. The remainder is accounted for by other faiths, including Animism, Folk religion, Sikhism, Baháʼí Faith and other belief systems. The states of Sarawak, Penang and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur have non-Muslim majorities. Numbers of self-described atheists in Malaysia are few; the state has come under criticism from human rights organisations for the government's discrimination against atheists, with some cabinet members saying that "the freedom of religion is not the freedom from religion".

The law of Malaysia is mainly based on the common law legal system. This was a direct result of the colonisation of Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo by Britain between the early 19th century to the 1960s. The supreme law of the land—the Constitution of Malaysia—sets out the legal framework and rights of Malaysian citizens.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ayah Pin</span> Founder of Malaysian new religious movement Sky Kingdom

Ariffin Mohammed, better known as Ayah Pin, was a Malaysian cult leader and founder of the Sky Kingdom religious sect. His movement had a commune based in Besut, Terengganu, which was demolished by the Malaysian government in August 2005. He claimed to have direct contact with the heavens and was believed by his followers to be the reincarnation of Jesus, the Buddha, Shiva, and the Prophet Muhammad. Devotees of the Sky Kingdom believe that one day, Ayah Pin will return as the Mahdi. In addition, he was considered the king of the sky, and the supreme object of devotion for all religions.

Malaysia curbs blasphemy and any insult to religion or to the religious by rigorous control of what people in that country can say or do. Government-funded schools teach young Muslims the principles of Sunni Islam, and instruct young non-Muslims on morals. The government informs the citizenry on proper behavior and attitudes, and ensures that Muslim civil servants take courses in Sunni Islam. The government ensures that the broadcasting and publishing media do not create disharmony or disobedience. If someone blasphemes or otherwise engages in deviant behavior, Malaysia punishes such transgression with Sharia or through legislation such as the Penal Code.

Capital punishment for non-violent offenses is allowed by law in some countries. Such offenses include adultery, apostasy, blasphemy, corruption, drug trafficking, espionage, fraud, homosexuality and sodomy, perjury, prostitution, sorcery and witchcraft, theft, and treason.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apostasy in Islam by country</span> Global overview

The situation for apostates from Islam varies markedly between Muslim-minority and Muslim-majority regions. In Muslim-minority countries, "any violence against those who abandon Islam is already illegal". But in some Muslim-majority countries, religious violence is "institutionalised", and "hundreds and thousands of closet apostates" live in fear of violence and are compelled to live lives of "extreme duplicity and mental stress."


  1. "Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal".
  2. 1 2 STATEMENT: Malaysia a secular State, 18 July 2007
  3. 1 2 Wu & Hickling, p. 35.
  4. "Religious Identity Among Muslims | Pew Research Center". 9 August 2012.
  5. "Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal".
  6. "Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal". Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  8. Wu & Hickling, pp. 19, 75.
  9. Article 160 (2). Constitution of Malaysia.
  10. "Constitution of Malaysia 1957 - Part XII".
  11. Ooi, J. 2007. "Merdeka... 50 years of Islamic State?" Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  12. Boo Su-Lyn (16 February 2016). "Keeping religious status off MyKad, birth certs may solve interfaith woes, rights groups say". The Malay Online. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  13. Putra, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1986). Political Awakening, p. 105. Pelanduk Publications. ISBN   967-978-136-4.
  14. Chin, James (2015). "25". Malaysia: pseudo-democracy and the making of a Malay-Islamic state. Abingdon Oxon UK: Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asia Democratization. pp. 399–409. ISBN   9781138939042 . Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  15. Mohamed Adil, Mohamed Azam (26 January 2017). "Increase role of National Fatwa Council". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 19 July 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  16. T. W. Arnold, 1913/1997, The Preaching of Islam, Delhi: L.P. Publications, p. 294, 294 nt.2; Dru C. Gladney, Hui Muslims in The South Asian Studies, California, vol.16, No.3, August 1987, page 498, p.498 nt.8.
  17. W.P. Groeneveldt, 1877, Notes on the Malay Archipelago and Malacca, Batavia : W. Bruining.
  18. "The Islamisation of Malaysia - EA Foundation". Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  19. "Lina Joy's despair". The Economist. 31 May 2007. ISSN   0013-0613 . Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  20. "Religious Conversion and Sharia Law". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  21. "Life as a secret Christian convert". 15 November 2006. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  22. "The Right Not to be a Muslim". National Review. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  23. "Muslims threatened by liberalism, secularism, and LGBT, says Najib Bernama". Archived from the original on 14 April 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  24. view, Apostasy in Malaysia: The hidden (9 November 2011). "Apostasy in Malaysia: The hidden view". New Mandala. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  25. "Dekl Arasi Himpunan Sejuta Umat Mahu Akta Murtad Digubal Segera". Archived from the original on 23 December 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  26. "Top cop confirms reports lodged over attempts to covert Muslims". Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  27. "Asia Times - News and analysis from throughout Southeast Asia". 10 October 2004. Archived from the original on 10 October 2004. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  28. Saturday, 13 Feb 2016 04:11 PM MYT (13 February 2016). "Resolving interfaith disputes: A constitutional court for Malaysia — Andrew Yong | Malay Mail". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  29. "Malaysia: move to legalize forced conversion of minors -- government attempts to further Islamize the law by stealth". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  30. Tawie, Sulok (7 November 2015). "Dayak parents told to be less 'sensitive', amid protests over new Muslim principal | Malay Mail". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  31. "Converting children unilaterally is un–Islamic, court told in Indira Gandhi case - The Malaysian Bar". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  32. Hamzah, Shafiqah Othman. "Are we headed for a Malaysian apartheid? | Malay Mail". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  33. "Syariah Court has no jurisdiction on civil marriages".
  34. Tuesday, 30 Jan 2018 07:10 AM MYT. "Other cases of unilateral child conversion | Malay Mail". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  35. "IN THE FEDERAL COURT OF MALAYSIA (APPELLATE JURISDICTION) CIVIL APPEAL NO: 02(f)-5-01-2015 & 02(f)-6-01-2015" (PDF). 1 June 2015.
  36. Saturday, 12 Apr 2014 09:55 AM MYT. "Hindu mother now in hiding after cops close eyes to son's abduction | Malay Mail". Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  37. "Federal Court erred in giving custody to Muslim convert, says Bar chief | HAKAM". Archived from the original on 23 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  38. ALBAKRI, SHAILA KOSHY, MARTIN CARVALHO, MAIZATUL NAZLINA and DANIAL. "Federal Court grants custody of boy to Izwan while Deepa is given the daughter". The Star. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  39. Yatim, Hafiz (10 February 2016). "Deepa harap kesnya jadi yang terakhir". Malaysiakini (in Malay). Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  40. AQSHA, DARUL (13 July 2010). "Zheng He and Islam in Southeast Asia". The Brunei Times. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  41. "Wahabism spreading among Malaysia's elite". 14 January 2017.
  42. "The radicalisation of Islam in Malaysia". 28 August 2016.
  43. "Rights Group Says Six Malaysians Detained For Being Shia Muslims", Islam Online. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  44. "Iraqi Sunnis forced to abandon homes and identity in battle for survival", "The Guardian". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  45. Fernandez, Celine (15 December 2013). "Malaysian Shia Muslims Prepare for Trial". The Wall Street Journal.
  46. 1 2 Roknifard, Julia (25 July 2019). "The growing threat of sectarianism in Malaysia". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  47. "More foreigners arrested in fresh raids on private Shia functions in Johor, Selangor". 10 September 2019.
  48. Morgan, Adrian. "Malaysia: Heretical Islamic cult returns" Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine , SperoNews. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  49. "Malaysia's Ahmadis living dangerously". 8 November 2011. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  50. "Living with the Ahmadiyah – The Nut Graph, Malaysia". Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  51. Aisha Y. Musa, The Qur'anists Archived 19 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine , Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  52. Kent, Jonathan (6 August 2005). "Malaysia's clash of cultures". BBC.
  53. "Top Islamic body: Yoga is not for Muslims", CNN, 22 November 2008
  54. "Malaysia issues fatwa on ghosts". Al Jazeera . Archived from the original on 13 October 2012.
  55. Shuid, Mahdi & Yunus, Mohd. Fauzi (2001). Malaysian Studies, p. 55. Longman. ISBN   983-74-2024-3.
  56. Wu, Min Aun & Hickling, R. H. (2003). Hickling's Malaysian Public Law, p. 98. Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia. ISBN   983-74-2518-0.
  57. "Six months on, controversial ex-academic Kamarul Zaman confirms he is PM's aide". Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  58. "Malaysian Political Party Accused of Harboring a Christian Agenda" . Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  59. Zurairi, A R (12 July 2018). "Claiming 'Christian' DAP in control of Dr M, Umno man plans Parliament protest". Malay Mail. Kuala Lumpur.
  60. 1 2 Boo, Su-lyn. "Tudung industry in Malaysia: Cashing in on conservative Islam" (Archive). The Malay Mail . 9 May 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015. See version at Yahoo! News. "Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Hassan, former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer in history and dakwah, said Muslim women in Malaysia started donning the tudung in the 1970s.[...]it's considered wrong," he added, estimating that more than 70 per cent of Muslim women in Malaysia wear the headscarf."
  61. 1 2 Leong, Trinna. "Malaysian Women Face Rising Pressure From Muslim 'Fashion Police'" (Archive). HuffPost . 21 July 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015. "Malay women began adopting conservative styles of dress in the 1970s, reflecting a growing politicization of religion in the Islamic world. Many now wear the headscarf that in earlier decades had been worn mostly in conservative backwaters."
  62. Koh, Jaime and Stephanie Ho. Culture and Customs of Singapore and Malaysia (Cultures and Customs of the World). ABC-CLIO, 22 June 2009. ISBN   0313351163, 9780313351167. p. 31.
  63. 1 2 Fernandez, Celine. "Why Some Women Wear a Hijab and Some Don’t" (Archive). The Wall Street Journal . 18 April 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  64. MacKinnon, Ian (24 November 2008). "Islamic ruling bans Malaysia's Muslims from practising yoga". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  65. Hassim, Nurzihan (2014). "A Comparative Analysis on Hijab Wearing in Malaysian Muslimah Magazines" (PDF). SEARCH: The Journal of the South East Asia Research Center for Communication and Humanities. 6 (1): 79–96. ISSN   2229-872X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2015. ()
  66. Winn, Patrick (5 January 2015). "Yoga, Petting Puppies, Halloween: Banned By Malaysia's Muslim Clerics". NPR. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  67. "Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal". Retrieved 17 February 2023.