Branding Islam: Islam, Law and Bureaucracies in Southeast Asia

37(1) Current Journal of Southeast Asian Affairs, Special Issue, The Bureaucratisation of Islam in Southeast Asia: Transdisciplinary Perspectives

32 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2018  

Kerstin Steiner

La Trobe Law School; Law School, The University of Melbourne

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

Islam plays a pivotal political role in Southeast Asian countries, where the governments that have ruled since independence have been concerned with influencing the trajectory, content, hermeneutic and style of the legal traditions of their Muslim citizens and reconciling them with the states’ wider policy objectives. This contribution looks at one particular tool for this form of ‘guiding’ Islam – the codification of Islam – comparing the codes in two Muslim-majority countries (Malaysia and Brunei) and two Muslim-minority countries (Singapore and the Philippines). Utilising comparative law methodologies, this article explores the structure, style and content of the codes in order to explicate their explicit and implied function. These codes are less concerned with being a statement of substantive Islamic law than with setting up a state-sanctioned bureaucracy for the administration of law for Muslims. These bureaucratic institutions were the key instruments for the states to develop their own brand of Islam. In doing so, the state’s approach towards socially engineering Islam oscillates among appropriation, accommodation, control and subjugation of Islam in different political and legal frameworks.

Keywords: Islam, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Codes for Muslims

Suggested Citation

Steiner, Kerstin, Branding Islam: Islam, Law and Bureaucracies in Southeast Asia (2018). 37(1) Current Journal of Southeast Asian Affairs, Special Issue, The Bureaucratisation of Islam in Southeast Asia: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3183468

Kerstin Steiner (Contact Author)

La Trobe Law School ( email )

La Trobe University
Bundoora, VIC 3083 3142
Australia

Law School, The University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

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