Rethinking the Role of Islam in Malaysian Politics: A Case Study of Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH)

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Maszlee Malik

Abstract

In 2015, a group of sidelined and outcast progressive leaders and other activists from Parti Islam SeMalaysia (the Islamic Party of Malaysia, also known as PAS) decided to leave that organisation and form Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH). The establishment of this new party was linked to efforts at saving the moderate form of Islamic political thought once embraced by PAS; the founders of AMANAH claimed that the new PAS leadership, elected during the 2015 Muktamar (Annual General Assembly), were too conservative and threatened the continuation of this moderate heritage. According to its founders, AMANAH has therefore been established to bring Islamic political activism into a new paradigm, with the hope of shaping a future Islamic discourse in Malaysia that is more inclusive, moderate, democratic and progressive. This article is an attempt to understand the party’s ideology, supposedly a ‘new discourse’ in political Islam, and evaluate the level of adherence it enjoys amongst AMANAH members. This is done through a qualitative study conducted with 100 party members from different levels.

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