The Divine Bureaucracy and Disenchantment of Social Life

A Study of Bureaucratic Islam in Malaysia

  • Maznah Mohamad

Part of the Contestations in Contemporary Southeast Asia book series (CCSA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 1-32
  3. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 33-67
  4. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 69-121
  5. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 123-157
  6. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 159-188
  7. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 189-231
  8. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 233-268
  9. Maznah Mohamad
    Pages 269-287
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 289-320

About this book


This book traces the expansion of Islamisation within a modern and plural state such as Malaysia. It elaborates on how elements of theology, sacred space, resources, and their interactivity with secular instruments such as legislative, electoral, and new social technological platforms are all instrumentally employed to consolidate a divine bureaucracy. The book makes the point that religious social movements and political parties are only few of the important agents of Islamisation in society. The other is the modern and secular state structure itself. Weber’s legal rational bureaucracy or Hegel’s ethical bureaucracy predominantly characterises a modern feature of governmentality. In this instance an Islamic bureaucracy is advantageously situated not only within an ambit of modernity and therefore legality, but divinity and therefore sacrality as well. This positioning gives religious state agents more salience than any other form of bureaucracy leading to their unquestioned authority in the current contexts of societies with Muslim majority rule. One of the requisites of this condition is the homogenisation of Islam followed by ring-fencing of its constituents. The latter can involve contestations with women, other genders, ‘secular’ Muslims, non-Muslims as well as dissenting Muslims with their differing truthful ‘Islams’.

Maznah Mohamad is an Associate Professor with joint-affiliation at the Department of Malay Studies and the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. She joined NUS in 2006. Prior to this she was an Associate Professor of Development Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. She teaches courses on Gender in Malay Societies, Religion and Politics in Southeast Asia and Malaysian politics. Her areas of research include the Muslim family, Islamic law and bureaucracy and Malaysian electoral politics. Her books include Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Malaysia (2006),  Melayu: The Politics, Poetics and Paradoxes of Malayness (co-edited, 2011), and Family Ambiguity and Domestic Violence in Asia (co-edited, 2013). Her recent publications include articles on matrilineal land rights and Islam in JMBRAS (2016), Malay-Islamic colonial law in Kajian Malaysia (2016), Islamic finance and business in Pacific Affairs (2015) and the monetisation of Malaysian politics in Journal of Contemporary Asia (2019).


Islamic state in a modern state Constitution of a modern Syariah judiciary Notion of a divine bureaucracy New Muslim family Islam and pluralism Islam and diversity Islam in Malaysia

Authors and affiliations

  • Maznah Mohamad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Malay Studies and Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Political Science and International Studies
  • Print ISBN 978-981-15-2092-1
  • Online ISBN 978-981-15-2093-8
  • Series Print ISSN 2661-8354
  • Series Online ISSN 2661-8362
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