Towards a history of Malaysian ulama

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This paper traces the religio-political role of ulama in Malaysia. Its key argument is that historically the ulama in Malaysia have maintained a symbiotic relationship with various political authorities. From early Islamic history to the Japanese occupation, ulama have usually worked with any power willing to secure their authority and influence. The paper also shows that even when the ulama oppose the government – exemplified by the opposition of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia ulama to the UMNO-led Malaysian government – this opposition tends to stem from differences in politics rather than religious ideologies.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • South East Asia Research publishes articles based on original research or fieldwork on all aspects of South East Asia within the disciplines of archaeology, art history, economics, geography, history, language and literature, law, music, political science, social anthropology and religious studies. This peer-reviewed journal is published four times per year by IP Publishing in cooperation with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). SOAS is the leading centre in this field in Europe and one of the most prestigious centres of South East Asian Studies in the world.

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