The Pursuit of the Perak Regalia: Islamic Law and the Politics of Authority in the Colonial State
By Iza Hussin, University of Washington
Published in Law & Social Inquiry, Volume 32, Issue 3, 759–788, Summer 2007
Islamic law changed radically in the last century and a half. It was
codifed 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 codifed, institutionalized legal system within a
colonial state, which was critical in constructing Malay ethnic and religious
identities and interpretations of Islam that prevail today.