Protecting the Religion (Maqsad Hifz al-Din) In Malaysian Political Islam: A Preliminary Analysis
Keywords:Malaysian political Islam, Maqasid al-shari'ah, maqasid hifz al-din, Malay politics, protecting religion, Malaysian politics
After inheriting a multicultural yet segmented society from its colonial legacy, identity politics has heavily influenced political Islam in Malaysia. Since then, identity politics has significantly shaped Malaysia's political dynamics, including in the bureaucratic and legal spheres. The Islamism espoused by the Malay Muslim majority is often intertwined with exclusivist ethno-religious considerations vis-a-vis the non-Muslim minorities (the Chinese and Indians). One of the most frequent manifestations of this political platform is the slogan ‘protecting Islam’ or ‘protecting religion’. This notion often finds itself at the centre of the Islamist discourse, especially in high-profile religious cases involving Muslims and non-Muslims. This paper intends to provide a descriptive analysis of ‘protecting Islam’ in the Malaysian context while also identifying key elements in its inner-workings. It will then proceed with a discussion of maqsad hifz al-din (the objective to preserve religion), a sub-topic in the overarching field of maqasid al-sharicah. This discussion will examine how this notion is understood within the Malaysian context, while also asking what the Shari’ah says about it, and what the gaps are between the two positions. Finally, the article will propose a theoretical framework for achieving an optimal Shari'ah-based policy response to the issues discussed. Possible real world applications in the Malaysian experience will also be explored.