An alternative islamism: Hizbut tahrir and the quest for the caliphate in Malaysia

Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Demonstrations and rallies in support of the Palestinians are constant occurrences in Malaysia. Yet, a call for the Malaysian armed forces to fight in Palestine had been unheard of in the country’s history. This demonstration was lauded by some Muslim youths as the most sophisticated and bold strategy in dealing with the Palestinian problem.163 Such a move was an obvious strategy on the part of Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia to draw the attention of Muslims to the organisation and its larger aims. While political Islam is an important feature of political life, the emergence of Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia (HTM) in 2004, a chapter of the larger transnational Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, caught many political observers by surprise. Hizbut Tahrir represented a new Islamism that rejected the entire Malaysian political system, denounced both the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) as being un-Islamic and sought to revive the Islamic Caliphate in a country where the medieval Caliphate seems to be a distant memory for most Muslims. This makes HTM an interesting case study. Borrowing from variants of social movement theory and theories on identities and ideologies, this paper seeks to understand the rise of HTM within the Malaysian political system. This paper argues that a confluence of factors that include the domestic political environment, HTM’s mobilisation and framing strategies, and the strength of its ideology have all resulted in the emergence and growth of HTM. This paper will be divided into three parts. The first part of the paper will briefly highlight the history of HTM. The second part will examine at greater length the factors leading to the rise and growth of HTM. The last part of the paper will discuss the potential of HTM to achieve success in the political context of Malaysia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFrom the Mosque to the Ballot Box: An Introduction to Political Islam in Malaysia
    Editors Sohpie Lemiere
    Place of PublicationParis
    PublisherInstitute of Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC)
    ISBN (Print)9786169028260
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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