Islam, adat and multiculturalism in Malaysia

Bowman, Marion (1994). Islam, adat and multiculturalism in Malaysia. Diskus, 2(1) pp. 15–27.



This article is largely based upon fieldwork undertaken in Malaysia in March and April 1991, information received directly from Malaysia since that time, and contact with Malaysian students in Britain. Having lived in Bahrain for two years in the 1980's, the main aim of my fieldwork was to explore what contrasts and tensions exist between Gulf Islam and Malaysian Islam, particularly between Gulf cultural tradition and 'adat' (the Malay word for custom or cultural tradition) which are evidently dissimilar, and the inherent difficulties when Islam is just one ingredient, albeit the dominant one, in a multicultural situation. These are obviously complex issues which cannot be dealt with exhaustively in an article of this length, but my aim here is simply to outline some of the aspects involved, and to focus on the celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri as an example of the dynamism and complexities of the Malaysian situation.

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