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The implementation Islamic Law in Malaysia

Malaysia is a multi-religious state in which Muslims constitute 53%, Buddists 17.3%,

Confucians, Taoists and etc. 11.6%, Christians 8.6%, Hindus 7.0% Folk/Tribals 2% and
unclassified 0.5% (Zulkifli, 2008). In article 3(1) of Federal Constitution 1957, the
Constitution provides that Islam is the highest religion of the Federation but other religions
may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation. In 2003, the former Prime
Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has announced that Malaysia is an Islamic State and this
statement has become very controversial among the Malaysian society (Zulkifli, 2008). In
article 4(1) of Federal Constitution of Malaysia 1957, it had been stated that the Federal
Constitution is the highest law of the land. In this context, it can be said that Islamic law is not
the highest law of the land since it does not put al-Quran as a primary source of law in
Malaysian legal system.

Historically, Hukum Kanun Melaka proved that Islamic Law has been administered since
Zaman Kesultanan Melayu Melaka and during that time, Islamic Law is the highest law of the
land (Ahmad & Ahilemah, 1995). However, Malaysian Law lost its significant when the
foreign power colonised Malaya for more than 500 years and British has gave the largest
impacts to Malaysian legal system.

However, Federal constitution placed the Islamic law under the state affairs. The state
legislative assembly (SLA) has power to legislate any enactment relating with the Islamic law
within the List II of the 9th Schedule. The amendment of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal
Constitution in 1988 gave exclusive jurisdiction to the sharia Courts over Islamic law. The civil
courts then shall have no 10 jurisdiction to try and decide matters, which fall within the
jurisdiction of the sharia court provided that the parties involved are Muslims and the disputed
matters are within the jurisdiction of the sharia court as conferred by Schedule 9 List II. The
purpose of this amendment is to allow the sharia court to carry out its functions within the
jurisdiction without any interference from the civil court.

In conclusion, even though Malaysia does not put Islamic law as the law of the land and some
people criticised Malaysia as a secular state, the administration of Islamic law in Malaysia are
administered accordingly to the al-Quran, the primary source of Islamic Law. Some
improvements and change in the legal system of Malaysia needs to be done in order to lead a
better life and a better legal system in Malaysia.


1. Ahmad Ibrahim & Ahilemah Joned. (1995). The Malaysian legal system (2nd ed.).
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
2. Zulkifli bin Hasan. (2008). The position of al-Quran as a source of law under
Malaysian legal system. Faculty of Syariah and law Islamic science university
of Malaysia.
3. Malaysia, & International Law Book Services. (2003). Federal Constitution: as at 20th
January 2015 (laws of Malaysia; Malaysia). Selangor: International Law Book