Sacred Tensions: Modernity and Religious Transformation in by Raymond L. M. Lee

By Raymond L. M. Lee

This article examines the improvement and perform of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity in Malaysia. Its analyses supply an perception into how confirmed and charismatic religions healthy into the framework of modernization and secularization through the international.

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Extra info for Sacred Tensions: Modernity and Religious Transformation in Malaysia (Studies in Comparative Religion (Hardcover))

Example text

M. Lee 1986, 1988, 1990). Second, the fragmentation of clerical authority is characteristic of all the non-Islamic religions. Christianity, for example, is divided into several denominations and independent churches. The Christian Federation of Malaysia is an umbrella organization for interdenominational cooperation, but it wields no centralized power for making policies. Similarly, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism are individually not controlled by a single body of clerical authority. In fact, the growing influence of lay activities in all these religions suggests the development of separate power bases in non-Islamic religious institutions.

This means that the administration of Malaysian Islam is highly rationalized with respect to the accounting procedures for the social, economic, and political levels of Muslim lives. The organizational tightness of the Islamic field does not imply that it has a built-in tendency toward developing into a theocracy. On the contrary, the status of Islam as Malaysia's official religion is maintained by a Malay-dominated secular government, not by an Islamic clergy. In other words, the source of Islamic rationalization is secular rather than clerical.

Page_19 < previous page page_19 next page > Page 19 chiefs of Perak had set the basis for such legalization (Roff 1967: 69). Islam was formally recognized in this treaty as the religion of the Malays, and the Malay rulers were acknowledged to be the religious heads of their respective states. Islamic Protestantism increased Malays' awareness of their relative economic backwardness and accentuated their need to differentiate themselves from the economically aggressive non-Malays. The constitutionalization of Malay ethnicity, at independence in 1957, in terms of Islam (as well as Malay customs and language) legally marked a separation between the Malays and non-Malays.

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