It gives me great pleasure to present the reader with this special issue of IAIS Malaysias flagship journal, Islam and Civilisational Renewal (ICR). Centred round the theme Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Muslim World: Twentyfirst Century Developments, this issue carries eight substantive articles, all with actionable policy recommendations. Collectively, these articles constitute a unique and timely body of work exploring the diverse ways in which democracy has been, is being, and could be shaped (or indigenised) by specific Islamic cultural contexts. Five of our articles, namely those by HRH Tunku Zain al-Abidin, Syed Farid Alatas, Deina Abdelkader, Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Waqas Ahmad, were presented at the Islam and Liberty Networks 5th International Conference, Democratic Transitions in the Muslim World, hosted by IAIS Malaysia from 27 to 28 November 2017.
Our lead article, Malaysia: Roots of a Democratic Society, is by HRH Tunku Zain al-Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz, founding president of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Malaysia. Tunku Zain presents the reader with a fascinating exploration of Malaysian history aimed at discerning several instances of early democratic leanings within Muslim cultural and religious contexts. Briefly discussing six such instancesincluding the fourteenth-century Terengganu Inscription Stone, Johors kangchu system, and Negeri Sembilans ancient adat pepatihthe author convincingly outlines the case for an early indigenous Malay-Muslim tradition of democracy. A more active appreciation of this tradition amongst Malaysians could, Tunku Zain argues, act as a counterweight to the authoritarian modes of thinking currently apparent amongst proponents of a more Islamic society in Malaysia.