Minority Participation in an Islamic Negara
Pang Li Li
On the 1st of May 2014, Negara Brunei Darussalam declared the implementation of an Islamic criminal code of law, thus becoming the first country in modern Southeast Asia to declare so. Inevitably, Brunei was scrutinised by the international media, particularly over its relations with its non-Muslim minorities. This paper investigates the causes of the international media’s anxieties by analysing the socio-political circumstances of the non-Muslim minorities in Brunei, with particular focus on its ethnic Chinese citizens, and with reference to the Islamic Law of Minorities, or ahle dhimmah. Perspectives of the Islamic Law of Minorities toward Brunei’s Chinese citizens are also examined within the political-cultural context of Negara. Thus, exploring simultaneously these conceptual dichotomies, Islam and Negara, this paper asserts that the Islamic Law of Minorities has long been upheld in the Brunei Negara, serving to foster the coexistence of peoples of various ethnic and religious affiliations within the Abode of Peace.