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The Pursuit of the Perak Regalia: Islam, Law, and the Politics of Authority in the Colonial State



Islamic law changed radically in the last century and a half. It was codified and limited to the domain of personal and family law in almost all majority and minority Muslim states. The argument of this article is that this remarkable change in Islamic law began in the colonial state. Islamic law, as it functions within postcolonial Muslim states, is a product of negotiations between colonial and local elites over law, religion, culture, ethnicity, and the identity of the Muslim subject. In the case of colonial Malaya, this resulted in a codified, institutionalized legal system within a colonial state, which was critical in constructing Malay ethnic and religious identities and interpretations of Islam that prevail today.