Malaysia
 National Profiles > Regions > South-Eastern Asia > Malaysia
Search National Profiles:

  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (56.1%)

Features Of Constitution

Is there a constitution?3 yes
Does the constitution state an official religion?3 yes [Article 3(1)]
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?3 yes [Article 11(1)]
Does the constitution protect religious equality/non-discrimination?3 yes [Article 8(2)]

Constitution

Constitution Year3 1957
Last Amended3 2007
Source3 Constitute Project
Translation3 Source is an English translation, edited by ARDA staff.
Current as of3 November 5, 2018

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)3

Article 3. Religion of the Federation.

(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

(2) In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution of that State, and, subject to that Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observances of ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the King] to represent him.

(3) The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the King] the position of Head of the religion of Islam in that State.

(4) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the King] shall be the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya; and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions for regulating Islamic religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam.

Article 5. Liberty of the person.

...

(4) ... And provided further that in the case of an arrest for an offence which is triable by a Syariah court, references in this Clause to a magistrate shall be construed as including references to a judge of a Syariah court.

...

Article 8. Equality.

...

(2) Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion ... in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.

...

(5) This Article does not invalidate or prohibit---

(a) any provision regulating personal law;

(b) any provision or practice restricting office or employment connected with the affairs of any religion, or of an institution managed by a group professing any religion, to persons professing that religion;

...

Article 11. Freedom of religion.

(1) Every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.

(2) No person shall be compelled to pay any tax the proceeds of which are specially allocated in whole or in part for the purposes of a religion other than his own.

(3) Every religious group has the right---

(a) to manage its own religious affairs;

(b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and

(c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it in accordance with law.

(4) State law and 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.

(5) This Article does not authorise any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality.

Article 12. Rights in respect of education.

(1) Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the grounds only of religion ... ---

[in admissions, tuition, or appropriations]

(2) Every religious group has the right to establish and maintain institutions for the education of children in its own religion, and there shall be no discrimination on the ground only of religion in any law relating to such institutions or in the administration of any such law; but it shall be lawful for the Federation or a State to establish or maintain or assist in establishing or maintaining Islamic institutions or provide or assist in providing instruction in the religion of Islam and incur such expenditure as may be necessary for the purpose.

(3) No person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own.

(4) For the purposes of Clause (3) the religion of a person under the age of eighteen years shall be decided by his parent or guardian.

Article 34. Disabilities of Yang di-Pertuan Agong, etc.

(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the King] shall not exercise his functions as Ruler of his State except those of Head of the religion of Islam.

...

Article 38. Conference of Rulers.

...

(2) The Conference of Rulers [Majlis Raja-Raja] shall exercise its functions of---

...

(b) agreeing or disagreeing to the extension of any religious acts, observances or ceremonies to the Federation as a whole;

...

...

(6) The members of the Conference of Rulers may act in their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, that is to say:

...

(d) the agreeing or disagreeing to the extension of any religious acts, observances or ceremonies to the Federation as a whole;

...

...

Article 42. Power of pardon, etc.

...

(10) Notwithstanding anything in this Article, the power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites in respect of, or to remit, suspend or commute sentences imposed by any court established under any law regulating Islamic religious affairs in the State of Malacca, Penang, Sabah or Sarawak or the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya shall be exercisable by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [the King] as Head of the religion of Islam in the State.

...

Article 76. Power of Parliament to legislate for states in certain cases.

...

(2) No law shall be made in pursuance of paragraph (a) of Clause (1) with respect to any matters of Islamic law or the custom of the Malays or to any matter of native law or custom in the States of Sabah and Sarawak ...

...

Article 97. Consolidated Funds.

...

(3) If in accordance with State law or in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, in accordance with federal law any Zakat, Fitrah, Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue is raised, it shall be paid into a separate fund and shall not be paid out except under the authority of State law or federal law, as the case may be.

...

Article 121. Judicial power of the Federation.

...

(1A) The courts referred to in Clause (1) [creating two High Courts] shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts.

Article 132. Public services.

...

(4) References in this Part, except in Articles 136 and 147, to persons in the public service or to members of any of the public services shall not apply to---

...

(d) in the case of Malacca and Penang, if provision is made by State law for their appointment---

(i) the President of the Religious Affairs Department;

(ii) the Secretary of the Religious Affairs Department;

(iii) the Mufti;

(iv) the Kadi Besar; or

(v) a Kadi.

Article 145. Attorney General.

...

(3) The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.

...

Article 150. Proclamation of emergency.

...

(6A) Clause (5) shall not extend the powers of Parliament with respect to any matter of Islamic law or the custom of the Malays, or with respect to any matter of native law or customs in the State of Sabah or Sarawak; nor shall Clause (6) validate any provision inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution relating to any such matter or relating to religion ...

...

Article 160. Interpretation.

...

(2) In this Constitution, unless the context otherwise requires, the following expressions have the meanings hereby respectively assigned to them, that is to say:

...

• "Malay" means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay custom ...

...

Article 161E. Safeguards for constitutional position of States of Sabah and Sarawak.

...

(2) No amendment shall be made to the Constitution without the concurrence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of the State of Sabah or Sarawak or each of the States of Sabah and Sarawak concerned, if the amendment is such as to affect the operation of the Constitution as regards any of the following matters:

...

(d) religion in the State, ... and the special treatment of natives of the State;

...

FOURTH SCHEDULE: Oaths of office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong [Article 37].

PART 3: English translations.

... Further We do solemnly and truly declare that We shall at all times protect the Religion of Islam ...

FIFTH SCHEDULE: The Conference of Rulers [Article 38(1)].

...

(7) The Yang di-Pertua-Yang di-Pertua Negeri of States not having a Ruler shall not be members of the Conference of Rulers for the purposes of any proceedings ... relating solely ... to religious acts, observances or ceremonies.

...

EIGHTH SCHEDULE: Provisions to be inserted in State Constitutions [Article 71].

1. Ruler to act on advice.

...

(2) The Ruler may act in his discretion in the performance of the following functions (in addition to those in the performance of which he may act in his discretion under the Federal Constitution) that is to say:

...

(c) the making of a request for a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with ... religious acts, observances or ceremonies;

(d) any function as Head of the religion of Islam or relating to the custom of the Malays;

...

14. Annual financial statement.

...

(3) The estimated receipts to be shown in the said statement do not include any sums received by way of Zakat, Fitrah and Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue; and the sums to be shown under paragraph (b) of subsection (2) do not include---[loan proceeds and trust funds]

...

19. Amendment of the Constitution.

...

(6) This section does not invalidate any provision of the Constitution of this State requiring the consent of any body of persons to any amendment affecting---

...

(c) the appointment and attributes ... of members of religious or customary Advisory Councils or similar bodies;

...

NINTH SCHEDULE: Legislative lists [Articles 74, 77].

List 1: Federal List.

...

4. Civil and criminal law and procedure and the administration of justice, including---

(a) Constitution and organization of all courts other than Syariah Courts;

...

(e) Subject to paragraph (ii), the following:

(i) [here follows a list of subject matter jurisdictions]

(ii) the matters mentioned in paragraph (i) do not include Islamic personal law relating to marriage, divorce, guardianship, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, family law, gifts or succession, testate and intestate;

...

(k) Ascertainment of Islamic law ... for purposes of federal law; ...

...

6. The machinery of government, subject to the State List, but including---

...

(e) Government and administration of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya including Islamic law therein to the same extent as provided in item 1 in the State List and in respect of the Federal Territory of Labuan, native law and custom to the same extent as provided in item 13 of the Supplement to State List for States of Sabah and Sarawak;

...

12. Surveys, inquiries and research, including---

(a) Census; registration of births and deaths; registration of marriages; registration of adoptions other than adoptions under Islamic law or Malay custom;

...

15. Labour and social security, including---

...

(c) Charities and charitable institutions; charitable trusts and trustees excluding Wakafs; Hindu endowments.

List 2: State List.

1. Except with respect to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, Islamic law and personal and family law of persons professing the religion of Islam, including the Islamic law relating to succession, testate and intestate, betrothal, marriage, divorce, dower, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, guardianship, gifts, partitions and non-charitable trusts; Wakafs and the definition and regulation of charitable and religious trusts, the appointment of trustees and the incorporation of persons in respect of Islamic religious and charitable endowments, institutions, trusts, charities and charitable institutions operating wholly within the State; Malay customs; Zakat, Fitrah and Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue; mosques or any Islamic public places of worship, creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List; the constitution, organisation and procedure of Syariah courts, which shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam and in respect only of any of the matters included in this paragraph, but shall not have jurisdiction in respect of offences except in so far as conferred by federal law, the control of propagating doctrines and beliefs among persons professing the religion of Islam; the determination of matters of Islamic law and doctrine and Malay custom.

TENTH SCHEDULE: Grants and sources of revenue assigned to states [Articles 109, 112C, 161C(3)

* [note - this article has been repealed]].

PART 3: Sources of revenue assigned to states.

13. Zakat, Fitrah and Baitulmal and similar Islamic religious revenue.


Sources

1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

3.  Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at support@thearda.com if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

Bookmark and Share