New Releases on Malaysia from ISEAS
Singapore’s Malay (Muslim) community, constituting about 15 per cent of the total population and constitutionally enshrined as the indigenous people of Singapore, have had its fair share of progress and problems in the history of this country. While different aspects of the vicissitudes of life of the community have been written over the years, there has not been a singularly substantive published compendium specifically about the community – in the form of a Bibliography – available.
This academic initiative fills this obvious literature gap. The scope and coverage of this Bibliography is manifestly comprehensive, encompassing the different sources of information (print or non-print) about the many facets of life of the Republic’s Malays/Muslims – such as education, economy, politics, culture, history, health, language, religion, arts, and more.
The result is a Bibliography that is arguably the most expansive, if not exhaustive treasury collection about the community, ever available anywhere. Scholars and researchers in particular and the public in general should find this Bibliography a highly valuable, indispensable source of information about the rich and varied life of Singapore’s Malay/Muslim community, stretching a period of two centuries – from the time of Stamford Raffles in 1819 until today.
The form of Islam normatively understood and practised in Malaysia, i.e. Malaysian Islam, has undergone myriad changes since the 1970s as a result of gradual Salafization. Powered by Saudi Arabian largesse and buoyed by the advent of the Internet, this new wave of Salafization has eclipsed an earlier Salafi trend that spawned the Kaum Muda reformist movement.
Recent surveys suggest that there has been a rise in the level of extremism among Muslims in Malaysia. While the majority is far from being enamoured by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Wahhabi-Salafi doctrine that ISIS claims to represent in unadulterated form does appeal to many of them following the decades-long Salafization of Islam in the country. This tallies with media reports on increasing numbers of Malay-Muslim youth harbouring an attraction towards radical Islamist movements such as ISIS.
Salafization, referring to a process of mindset and attitudinal transformation rather than the growth of Salafi nodes per se, is not restricted to individuals or groups identified as “Salafi”, but rather affects practically all levels of Malay-Muslim society, cutting across political parties, governmental institutions and non-state actors. It has resulted in Islamist, rather than Islamic, ideals increasingly defining the tenor of mainstream Islam in Malaysia, with worrying consequences for both intra-Muslim and inter-religious relations. Responses to the Wahhabi-Salafi onslaught from the Malay-Muslim ruling elite in Malaysia have been ambivalent, and have had weak counteracting effects on the Salafization process.