Freedom theoretical and legal framework in the

Freedom of religion in Malaysia is given its theoretical and legal framework in the Federal Constitution.

Islam is stated as the religion of the Federation. It is the religion of the indigenous inhabitants, the majority population who is the Malay. Article 3(1) states about the religion of Federation, where Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

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Article 11(1) adds on the freedom to practice religion that ‘every person has the right to profess his own religion’. However, such freedom does not include the freedom of propagating one’s religion as it is made subject to Article 11(4) in which the State law in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam. The Constitution in Article 160 defines “Malay” as a person ho professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom, born in Malaya or Singapore before or on Independence Day, and resides in Malaya or Singapore. This has resulted into an interpretation that the Constitution is implicit about two things: its defensive measure towards the Malay’s faiths and its protective measure against the Malay conversion. Ironically, the Constitution has never been advocated as a full-fledged Shariah-complaint or a Shariah-binding document notwithstanding the fact that there has been dispute whether Malaysia is an Islamic or secular state.


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