Abstract

This paper traces changing patterns of Islamism in Malaysia, focusing on developments during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s final administration (1999–2003) and since Abdullah Ahmad Badawi assumed the premiership of the country on 31 October 2003. This period witnessed the making of a nascent Islamist civil society whose alliances have capriciously undergone realignments and reconfigurations in its endeavour to reach a stable equilibrium with non-Islamist forces. The emergence of a vibrant and burgeoning civil society in Malaysia has been characterized by lively vicissitudes in the relationship between its Islamist and non-Islamist elements. Having experienced a colourful and chequered relationship with the state and other Islamic movements since its official founding in 1971, the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM: Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) has, since its leadership rejuvenation in 2005, attempted to reassert its dominant place as an influential and legitimate voice of the Malay-Muslim masses, but with mixed ramifications.

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