By Yaacob Harun




Article 160 of the Malaysian Constitution defines Malay, as “a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, and conforms to Malay custom”. [1] Based on this definition, Islam is taken to be synonymous to Malay, and vice versa. However, the two concepts are not complementary to one another. In the Malaysian context, a Malay person has to be a Muslim, but a Muslim may not necessarily be Malay. A person of different faith and ethnicity would only qualify to be called Malay if he embraces Islam and takes a Malay spouse. His children and their descendants would automatically be Malays. In this regard, we can say that Islam is the determinant for Malay-ness, and the basis of Malay culture and identity.

 Nevertheless, when Islam came to the Malay world about 500 years ago, it did not entirely wipe out the pre-Islamic elements in the local culture. For instance, the beliefs and rituals of the Malays do not preclude elements, which are incompatible with the strict tenets of Islam. Side by side with official Islamic beliefs and practices, there are animistic retentions from old civilization, traces from Hindu period of Malay history and popular Islamic practices, which stand outside the strict dogmas of the religion.  (Mohd Taib Osman, 1989).

 In Malay society, the role of Adat or customary practices is still important in the functioning of the society as a whole. Islam and Adat are allowed to be practiced concurrently. However, in circumstances when any of the Adat practices is believed to be in contradiction to Islam, then it has to give way to Islam. This is documented in the principle, “Adat bersendi Syarak, and Syarak bersendi KitabulAllah” (Lit: Adat conforms to religion, and religion conforms to the Book of Allah).

 To the Muslims, Islam is not only to be taken as a religion but as a complete way of life (Addeen). To be a true Muslim, theoretically, one has to put Islam above everything else, and to brush aside any form of behaviour, or practice that is contrary to Islam. But when Adat is allowed to co-exist with Islam, it continues to be an important component of Malay culture. The issue here is why retain Adat, as Islam is supposedly to be taken as a complete way of life. To have non-Islamic elements within the Islamic framework would only create controversies, and the purity of that religion would be at stake.

Many examples can be shown in Malay society when the Malays seem at some point or other give preference to Adat at the expense of their religion. One wonders whether the Malays are true adherents of the faith, when in reality, they do not fulfil their duties well towards their religion.

The need to place Islam above everything else is more intricate when the Malays in the present era are facing the challenges of globalisation and when many elements foreign to Islam and Adat are being infused into their culture, so much so that their lives have been shaped by a variety of elements leading to a situation chaotic enough to rob them of their identity as Malay as well as Muslim. The ensuing discussion on the web of relationships between Islam, Adat, and modern developments in Malay society focuses on three major areas, – politics, economy, and family. I think, it is in these areas, that controversies arising from relationships between the above elements (Islam, Adat, and modern developments) occur the most.


Before the coming of Islam, Malay polity was based on the Hindu concept of Kerajaan (kingship) with the king at the apex of the political pyramid. The king was believed to be from divine origin (devaraja) bestowed with  daulat (magical powers). Islam that was accepted later did not abolish this institution of kingship, but rather replaced it with the institution of the sultanate. The position of the new Muslim sultan was no less different from that of the former Hindu king. Until today, the Malay sultans are believed to have in their veins the (white) blood of the Hindu gods, and they are still believed to be bestowed with the magical daulat. Ritual of pre-Islamic origin which are part of the customary practices (Adat) are still being performed on occasions of royal wedding, enthronement,[2] and funeral. The yellow colour, and certain words in the Malay vocabulary are still the preserves of the royalty.[3]

Although under the present times the role of the Malay sultans is merely to fulfil certain symbolic functions, but the status position given to them by the society is far from being Islamic. According to the Islamic concept of humanity, everybody is equal before God, and the most righteous is the person with the most piety or taqwa (god-obedience).[4] However, with the adoption of new values, the perception of the society towards the Malay royalty has changed but not to the extent of initiating ideas to entirely remove them from the Malaysian political scene. The sultans today are still regarded as the symbol of Malay political hegemony.

 Upon achieving Independence from the British rule in 1957, Malaysia adopted parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The institution of King or Yang Di pertuan Agong  was created, whereby the king is elected on rotational basis from among the nine Malay sultans to be head of  government at the Federal level. When Islam is constituted to be the official religion of the country, the king also assumes head of religion (Islam) at the Federal level, and the sultans as heads of religion in their respective states.[5]

 The new democratic government that was in power then, and still today, is a coalition of political parties, mostly ethnic-based parties.[6] United Malays National Organization (UMNO) being the backbone party of the coalition is all along been championing the cause of Malays and representing their interests politically, economically, and culturally. To UMNO, to safeguard the interests of the Malays also means to safeguard the interest of Islam, as all Malays in Malaysia are Muslims (by constitutional definition). UMNO claims itself not only to be the custodian of the Malays but also of Islam.[7] The voices of UMNO and its leaders in projecting Islam receive international recognition especially from members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Malaysia is said to be an ideal Muslim country worthy of emulation. (Chowdhury,1993, c.f S. Ahmad Hussein, 1998)

However, efforts taken by UMNO to bring progress to the Malay-Muslims receives little recognition from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, popularly known as PAS. To PAS, religion should come first, and the struggle to champion the cause of the Muslim ummah under the banner of religion is most paramount. What UMNO did to put ethnicity (the Malays) ahead of religion (Islam) is not considered right by PAS,  as the religion does not only belong to a particular ethnic group but to the general ummah. To PAS nationalism based on tribe or ethnicity is very much against the teaching if Islam.[8] PAS argues that UMNO is a secular party even though the party has done a lot to uplift the living standard of the Muslim-Malays, and above all to place Islam as the official religion of the country, and through the years of its control of the government, has implemented various policies and projects along Islamic lines. The main political agenda of PAS is to establish its own version of Islamic state, and to implement Islamic laws in all aspects of life, in politics, economy, education, culture, etc. To PAS, religion is not to be separated from politics. The party believes religious ideals could only be realized if they are carried out within an Islamic political framework.

The main issue here is the question of strategy. The one adopted by UMNO to champion the cause of the Malays who themselves are Muslims is to put “Malay” as the main agenda. On the other hand, the strategy adopted by PAS to champion the cause of Islam is to put religion in the forefront of its agenda, and the Malays being Muslims are also the target group. In relation to this, Ahmad Hussein (1998) says, “the immediate concern of the Malays is to protect their communal interests. Islam and ethnicity were entangled in a complex web of relationships. The ‘ethnic reality’ helps increase Malay identification with Islam generally, and yet it creates a new dilemma for them: how would Malay-Islam reconcile Islamic universal doctrines with demands of ethnic nationalism?” To me, this dilemma is not a big issue. As far as Malaysia is concerned, the concepts Malay-Islam or Islam-Malay are just like two sides of the same coin. Both UMNO and PAS are championing the cause of the Malays, and it is the Malay support that determines their political survival.

UMNO has taken a stand that religion should not be politicised, as this would only complicates matters and leads to divisions of the ummah. In the context of Malay-Muslim ummah in Malaysia, disunity among them resulting from differences in political ideologies would only jeopardize efforts to make them a developed and progressive community. In the long run, they are the ones to lose, not only along the intra-ethnic axis, but most importantly along the inter-ethnic axis. To my opinion, UMNO does not want to see the Malays suffer in their own country and to continue living in poverty while others enjoy the benefits of development. The party believes, in order to be in the mainstream of development in the present era, one has to be pragmatic, and not harp on issues of religion and religious idealism if they are difficult to be realized. The question of framework is not important as much as of its content The Islamic content achieved by UMNO in its political agenda for the benefits the Malays is enough to make it an Islamic party and Malaysia an Islamic state.[9] It does not need to be sound or to be seen so.


Traditionally, the Malays were peasants engaged in primary economic activities, notably in agriculture and fishing. Being Muslims does not mean that the Malays totally cast aside their traditional pre-Islamic belief system that greatly influenced their economic activities. Their belief in spirits (semangat) and other supernatural forces besides Allah is still prevalent. In the fifties, the Adat rituals to appease the rice sprits (puja semangat padi), and sea spirits (puja pantai) to ensure of a good harvest/catch were widely performed by the Malay peasants.[10] Today they are almost absent, probably due to the development of new and rational technologies or probably due to an increased awareness among the Malays that such rituals are contradictory to Islam.

Besides the above rituals, Adat practices in Malay economy could also be found in the areas of property ownership and inheritance, particularly among the Adat Perpatih or  matrilineal Malays in Negeri Sembilan. (Abdullah Siddik, 1975:116). According to Adat law, hereditary property (tanah pesaka) are collectively owned by clan/lineage members registered under the female members of the matriclan/matrilineage, and this property is to be passed from mother to daughter(s). This type of ownership is not in line with Islam, so too is property inheritance when according to Adat law, male children have no ownership right to such property, whereas under Islamic law of inheritance (faraid), they are entitled to two-thirds of the property belonging to both parents. Female children are only given one-third. Adat Perpatih laws also give provision of property inheritance to adopted children,[11] and again, this practice is not recognized by Islam. In Islam, only natural children are the rightful heirs to their parents’ property.

It has been the tendency for the Malays to give away property to their children (whether they are natural or adopted children) while there are still alive to avoid the possibility of arising conflict and animosity among the children upon their death David Bank says, “If the title to land is transferred before death in the form of gifts, there can be no dispute, and  even if it has only been given for use in anticipation of transfer, witnesses to the intent to transfer land will see to a compromise between the apparently intended gift and the Islamic law of inheritance”. (Banks, 1983:138). To me, such a move taken, even though it is permissible by Islam, shows that the Malays do not really understand and appreciate the philosophy and rationale of property inheritance in Islam.[12]

Malaysia inherits the economic infrastructure from the British, and this provides the necessary prerequisite for development planning after independence. During the colonial period, the British introduce cash economy to be practiced alongside with subsistence economy. The adoption of cash economic system means, the Malay peasants were incorporated into the wider capitalist network through market relations. They were later exposed to all forms of intricacies of financial and economic transactions under the capitalist umbrella.

Being Muslims, the Malays refrain themselves from getting involved in economic ventures – investments, financial transactions, etc. – that are considered contradictory to Islam. Usury, interest on capital, gambling activities, income from non-halal sources (e.g. through the sale of liquor, pork, lottery, sexual services, etc) are much to be avoided, not to mention, activities like cheating, exploitation, embezzlement, short-weighting and others. The existence of various financial institutions and instruments such as banking and credit institutions, insurance companies, investment of venture capital, and related commercial and business activities that operate within the capitalist system on the basis contradictory to Islam have not receive support from the Malays with strong religious background. For example, those who wanted to perform the Hajj to Mecca would resort to crude means of saving in the form of livestock, hording, and cash hidden  “under the pillows” rather than putting their money in commercial banks for fear of getting involved in “unclean” business activities. It was only after the establishment of the National Pilgrimage Board (LUTH) in 1962 that the issue of crude saving for pilgrimage was resolved. In 1983, the Islamic banking system was introduced in Malaysia with Bank Islam Malaysia established to carry out banking activities along Islamic lines. This was later followed by the establishment of Islamic insurance (Syarikat Takaful Malaysia) in 1984 based on the principles of mutuality and cooperation acceptable to Islam.

PAS government in the state of Kelantan has also taken measures to realize their economic ideals, among which include: transferring of fixed deposits from conventional banks to Islamic Bank, establishment of Islamic housing and car loan schemes, Islamic pawnshops, hotels, and Islamic medical and maternity centres. (Refer: Muhammad Shukri Salleh, 1999). The adoption of  “Islamic” economic development  policies by PAS in Kelantan such as  discouraging women industrial workers taking night shifts, prohibiting performance by women artists in cultural shows, prohibiting gambling activities, etc., directly or indirectly scares away foreign investments in the state, which in the end makes it less developed economically compared to other states of the Federation. I think it is a very difficult task for a country like Malaysia, and most importantly, for a state like Kelantan to uphold religious idealism while at the same time to develop the state along Islamic lines, when the whole world is under the umbrella of a secular economic (capitalist) system.


The tussle between Islamic principles and Adat occurs most in the Malay family system. It is the only area that falls totally under the jurisdiction of Islamic law in Malaysia. The department of Islamic affairs in each state in the Federation mostly handle matters pertaining to marriage, divorce, sexual misconduct, family maintenance, and child custody among the Muslims (Malays) in Malaysia.

What concerns here is not the family matters which fall under the purview of the administration of religious department mentioned above that deserve attention, but rather the popular Adat practices in Malay marriage, which are contradictory to Islam that are still prevalent. Among the customary practices that are regarded un-Islamic include: marriage taboos and prohibitions, marriage payment, elaborate marriage rituals, and postponement of consummation. In the sphere of family organization, there are also a number of Adat principles, which do not fit well with those sanctioned by Islam. These include: conjugal rights, parental authority, custody of children, as well as ownership of property and property inheritance discussed earlier.

Among the Minangkabau Malays in Negeri Sembilan, marriage between clan or lineage members is strictly prohibited, and in old days, such marriage was severely reprimanded. Contrarily, Islam does not prohibit such marriage. Couples are allowed to marry one another as long any of them is not one’s mahram.[13] By restricting marriage between couples allowed by Islam and by imposing severe punishments on them if they do so, simply means that the Malays place little regard to the philosophy of marriage in Islam. Possibly, the Malays feel that when marriage institution mostly involves relationship between man and man, and not so much between man and God, then, man-made laws are more important to be observed than those ordained by God.

Mahr or marriage payment is an important aspect to be observed in any Islamic marriage, without which, the marriage contract itself is not valid. It is just a token payment, payable in kind or cash. The amount seldom exceeds RM100. In some states, the mahr is fixed at a very nominal amount of less than RM50, and this amount must be mentioned in the marriage contract agreed upon by both parties. The question here is not, mahr but the relatively bigger marriage payment besides mahr, referred to as belanja hangus (lit: burnt payment) imposed on the groom.[14] The time taken by the groom to come out with the payment, sometimes leads to marriage being postponed.  When marriage being the cherished institution in society has been subject to human manipulations, in the end makes it difficult for people enter into it. Indirectly, this would pave the way for them to commit various forms of sinful as well as harmful sexual misconduct. Again, from Islamic point of view, such human manipulations are not in line with the teachings of the religion.

Another aspect of Malay marriage is the elaborate rituals involved which were pre-Islamic in origin. Among them include: the customary ritual of sending the marriage payment and other gifts from the groom’s to the bride’s family (hantaran belanja), beautification rites (berandam), and the bersanding ritual on the wedding day. Upon close examination, these rituals are not at all Islamic.[15]

Islam allows married couples to consummate their marriage and assume their respective marital roles as husband and wife after the solemnisation ceremony (aqad), However there are cases in Malay society when consummation is not allowed even though the marriage is properly solemnized. The married couples have to wait for a period of time, sometimes up to a year before they could do so. Consummation is only allowed after all marriage rituals, including the bersanding ceremony, are performed. The Adat practice of prolonging consummation known as nikah gantung (lit: hanging marriage) is not what Islam really prescribes.

With regards to marital rights, parental authority, and custody of children, we do find cases in Malay family organization, which contravene Islamic principles. Examples of these again can be found in Adat practices among the matrilineal Malays in Negeri Semibilan. According to Adat Perpatih, a husband could exercise his marital right on his wife and children only within the confines of the four side-beams of his house. (Bendul yang empat suami punya). Being an outsider to his wife and his children’s lineage, he is not allowed in intervene in matters of critical importance with regards to the general welfare of his family. The person who has full authority on these matters is his wife’s brother. Besides, being a brother and a maternal uncle himself, he too has full right over his sisters and their children. Contrarily to Islam, it is the husband-father who has full authority over his wife and children. Their welfare is entirely his responsibility.

Today, Malay family system has experienced dramatic structural and organizational changes under the impetus of modernization. One area that involves a tussle between the demands of religion and Adat and that of the changing family system is conjugal roles. Nowadays, there is a growing trend among Malay women to engage themselves in economic activities outside the family, and no longer confine themselves to performing their expressive role as homemaker. When women enter into the job market, they tend to have greater voice in the family. The position of husband as family head has been affected by this development. There are cases when husbands have to submit to the hidden power and authority of their wives by virtue of the wives bringing more income to the family, and hence, assume the role of family head. The dominant position they once occupy in the family has been much subdued. One wonders whether the changing conjugal roles of this nature is in line with Islam. Not to mention whether the shift of women’s roles from that of homemaker to breadwinner and likewise of men’s roles from that of breadwinner to homemaker (as we often find today) is also in line with Islamic teaching. In Malay society, it is definitely a deviation from the established norms, as the adage says, timur sudah beralih ke barat (lit: east has changed to west).


To conclude, I would say when religion, ethnicity, and Adat are taken to denote Malay-ness, as stipulated in the constitutional definition of Malay in Malaysia, then, controversies occur. To be true believers of the faith, one has to take Islam, not only as a religion, but its totality as a complete away of life. With this it means that one has to discard all elements contradictory to Islam in his daily life affairs and replace them with those allowed by Islam. It needs a total transformation of culture, from pre-Islamic to that of Islam.   But to the Malays, to discard their Adat practices, although some of these practices as discussed above may not be in consonance with Islam, is not an easy task. Adat and all of its rituals have been part and parcel of Malay culture. In fact, Adat itself is culture. The process of Islamisation of Malay culture starting from the beginning of the 20th century with the Kaum Muda Movement (Roff, 1968) until now has never been complete. However, with Islamic revivalism and the continuos efforts taken by the government and other related agencies to uphold Islamic principles in politics, economy, education, and others, the status of Islam and its ideal in Malay society is very much enhanced. Not until the process of Islamization of Malay culture is complete, Malay could not wholly be regarded Islamic neither could Islam be wholly regarded the basis of Malay culture and identity.


  1. Abdullah Siddik. 1975. Pengantar Undang-Undang Adat di Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Universiti Malaya.
  2. David J. Banks. 1983. Malay Kinship. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues.
  3. Jj. Mohamad Shahir Hj. Abdullah. 2002. Malaysia Negara Islam: Penjelasan Ringkas. Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM).
  4. Ismail Noor & Muhammad Azam. 2000. The Malays Par Excellence. Subang Jaya:Pelanduk Publications.
  5. Judith Nagata. 1994. “How to be Islamic without being an Islamic state: Contested models of development in Malaysia. Akbar Ahmad & Hastings Donnan. (eds).Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity. London. Routledge.
  6. Khoo Boo Teik. 1995. Paradoxes of Mahathirism. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
  7. Mahathir Mohamad. 1976. Menghadapi Cabaran. Kuala Lumpur: Penerbitan Pustaka Antara.
  8. Muhammad Shukri Salleh. 1999. “Political Economy of Islamic Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kelantan and Trengganu. Muhammad Shukri Salleh & B.N. Ghosh. (eds). Political Economy of Development in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications and Distributors.
  9. Mohd Taib Osman. 1989. Malay Folk Beliefs: An Integration of Disparate Elements. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  10. Othman Ishak. 1982. Hubungan Antara Undang-Undang Islam dengan Undang-Undang Adat. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
  11. Roff, W.R.1967. The Origins of Malay Nationalism. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press.
  12. S. Ahmad Hussein. 1998. Muslim Politics in Malaysia: Origin and Evolution of Competing Traditions in Malay Islam. Braamfontein: The Foundation for Global Dialogue.
  13. Sloane, Patricia. 1999. Islam, Modernity and Entrepreneurship Among the Malays. London: Macmillan Press Ltd.
  14. Winstedt, R. 1961. The Malays: A Cultural History.London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.


 [1] Malaysian Constitution ( )

[2] “As in Vedic ritual, the initial steps at a Malay enthronement are to wash away the old man by lustration and to anoint the new;…Next, wearing necklet and armlets like a Hindu god, the Sultan of Perak has thrust into his headdress a mediaeval lightning seal (chap halilintar), whose handle is made of thunder (gempita) wood that causes matter to fly; and this seal must have taken the place of Indra’s vajra or thunderbolt symbol so often represented in Indian…sculpture. And when the Perak Sultan sat enthroned, a court herald of Brahmin origin would read a formula in corrupt Sanskrit lauding his victory (over evil), his luck, his justice and his power of healing. After that address a new Malay ruler, like a Hindu king, promises to rule justly in accordance with law” (Winstedt, 1961:65-66)

 [3] Words such as santap (to eat), bersiram (to bathe), beradu (to sleep), mangkat (death) are the oreserves of the royalty. The commoners’ equivalents are makanmandi , tidur and mati respectively.

[4] And this accords with Allah the Most High’s saying: “O mankind! We have created you from male and female and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Indeed the most noblest of you with Allah is the one who has the most taqwaa.” [Surah al-Hujuraat 49:13]. (Refer: Abdul Azeez bin Baaz,

 [5] The Constitution was adopted on 31st August 1957 and has been amended several times. Article 3(1) declares Islam the official state religion as well as guarantees religious freedom. Articles 3(3) and (5) provide that the Ruler of each State is the head of the religion of Islam by the Constitution of that State. In the absence of a Muslim ruler (in the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak) or in the Federal Territories (Kuala Lumpur and Labuan) Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State) is declared the head of the religion of Islam ( )

[6] The component parties of the present National Front government are:: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO); The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA); The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC); Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia(GERAKAN); People’s Progressive Party (PPP); Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP); Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB); Sarawak National Party (SNAP); Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS); Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP); Angkatan Keadilan Rakyat (AKAR); Liberal Democratic Party (LDP); Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS); Parti Demokratik Sabah (PDS)

 [7] Among the measures taken by UMNO) to uphold Islam and to bring progress to the Malay-Muslim community in accordance with Islam in the economy, education, administration, and in other spheres of life include: These include: establishing an Islamic bank and Islamic insurance to provide an alternative for Muslims to undertake economic and financial transactions and developments along Islamic lines; establishing the International Islamic University to provide an avenue for advancement of religious education and other academic disciplines related to Islam; instilling positive universal Islamic values in the administration; making Islamic religious studies a compulsory school subject for Muslim students; making Islam the core element in the formulation of national culture; and ensuring that only Islam can be propagated to non-Muslims and to other indigenous peoples who are still pagans in Malaysia.

 [8] Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) rahimahullaah said: [ Majmoo ul-Fataawaa (3/456).] “Everything which is outside the call of Islaam and the Qur’aan, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and ways, then it is from the calls of jaahiliyyah. Indeed, even when the Muhaajirs (those Companions who migrated from Makkah to Madeenah) and the Ansaars (those Companions who aided and supported those who migrated) argued, such that one of the Muhaajirs said:” O Muhaajirs! (implying; rally to my aid) ” And one of the Ansaar said: “O Ansaar!” Upon hearing this, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Is it with the calls of Jaahiliyyah that you call, and l am still amongst you!” And he became very angry at that.” [ Related by al-Bukhaaree (8/137).] The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said: “Indeed there is no excellence for an arab over a non-arab, nor a non-arab over an arab, nor a white person over a black one, nor a black person over a white one, except through taqwaa (piety and obedience to Allaah) [Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (5/411) and it was authenticated by Ibn Taymiyyah in Kitaabul-lqtidaa (p.69).]  (Refer: Abdul Azeez bin Baaz, op.cit.)

 [9] In February 1986 the National Fatwa Council had declared Malaysia as an Islamic state based on the following factors: (a) the Constitution states clearly that Islam is the official religion of the country; (b) it is governed by Muslims while the non-Muslims enjoy peace and freedom in the county  (M.Hassan as-Syaibani); (c) Malaysia is recognized by the international community as an Islamic country. It has been a member of OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) since its establishment in 1969; (d) and Malaysia’s administration is accordance with Islamic teaching (Hj. Mohamad Shahir Hj. Abdullah, 2002).

 [10] For a detailed discussion on these rituals, refer to  Mohd Taib Oman, 1989:93-100.

[11] According to Ahmad Ibrahim (1929, c.f Abdullah Siddik, 1975:117), “Full adoption gives a woman (and her children whether born before or after the adoption) all the rights of inheritance and all the responsibilities belonging to the natural daughters and grand-daughters of her adopter”.

[12] “Islam has explained in detail through Al-Quran on the share of each waris with the intention of maintaining justice within the society. Unfortunately, despite that, till now the issue of wealth distribution is still the main cause of family disintegration. This is due to the attitude of some who chose to disregard the faraid law. Most regrettable is that some are already influenced by the western allegations that Islam is not being fair to the women in its distribution of wealth even before they fully understand the faraid law” (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, Friday Sermon, 23 June 2000. Justice In The Law Of Faraid In Islam.

[13] A mahram refers to the group of people who are unlawful for a woman to marry due to marital or blood relationships. These people include: (1) Her permanent Mahrams due to blood relationship, and those seven are: her father, her son (who passed puberty), her brother, her uncle from her father’s side, her brother’s son, her sister’s son, and her uncle from her mother’s side.(2) Her Radha’ Mahrams due to sharing the nursing milk when she was an infant, and their status is similar to the permanent seven Mahrams (i.e. nothing can change their status), (3) Her (in law) Mahrams because of marriage and they are: her husband’s father (father in law), her husband’s son (step son), her mother’s husband (step father), and her daughter’s husband. ( )

 [14] The amount of belanja hangus varies with status and economic position of the bride’s parent. Normally, it is within the range of RM2000 – RM5000. Among the Malay professionals with a five- figure income bracket, the payment ranges from RM10,000 – RM30,000 excluding the cost a reasonably priced diamond ring to be given  to the bride together with mahr and belanja hangus.

[15] In the bersanding ritual for instance, both the bride and bridegroom are required to sit on the dais (pelamin).  They must be elaborately dressed and decorated like king and queen for the day (raja sehari).  The couples are then blessed by relatives and friends when each of them takes turn to sprinkle incense water (air mawar), yellow rice, and other scented leaves and flowers cut into small pieces (bunga rampai) onto the couples’ palms. The ritual is ended by having a priest or someone who is an expert in religion reciting prayers and supplication to God for the couples’ enduring happiness and prosperity in marriage.


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