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The Evolution of a Muslim Democrat

The Life of Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim


Charles Allers

Long before the recent «Arab Spring», when the topic of democracy with in many Muslim countries took center stage internationally, Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim, an energetic and charismatic politician, had been one of the most vocal global proponents of the compatibility of Islam and democratic principles. Anwar, who at one time was asked to be secretary-general of the United Nations, has lived a life that is a compelling testimony of the growth and evolution of his love for his country and his faith. Anwar has been active at the highest levels of Malaysian politics for over thirty years, and though he has been jailed for his activism on several occasions, he continues to be a dynamic, passionate voice for the diverse cultures, religions, and peoples of Malaysia. Anwar’s life story is told in a factual, impartial way, and his one-on-one interviews with this book’s author add a personal component. This volume is essential reading for scholars and students interested in Islamic politics and South East Asian studies.


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Chapter 1 1 Anwar Ibrahim, The Asian Renaissance (Singapore: Times Books International, 1996), 15-16. 2 “Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics, 2010,” Population and Housing Census of Malaysia, Department of Statistics, Malaysia, 2010 ( uran_Penduduk_dan_Ciri-ciri_Asas_Demografi.pdf, accessed 11 October 2011): 5, 9. A detailed classification of Malaysia’s ethnic groups can be found on pages 5 and 129. 3 “Pluralism,” Britannica Academic Edition Dictionary (http://0-, accessed 10 October 2011). 4 Peter Mandaville, Global Political Islam (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2007), 12. 5 John L. Esposito and John O. Voll, Islam and Democracy (Oxford: University Press, 1996): 4. 6 Mandaville, Global Political Islam, 12. 7 John L. Esposito, “Introduction,” in Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reformed?. John L. Esposito, (London: Lynne Rienner, 1997), 12. Chapter 2 1 Frederica M. Bunge, ed., Malaysia: A Country Study (Washington, DC: American University, 1985), 6. 2 Judith Nagata, Malaysian Mosaic: Perspectives from a Polyethnic Society (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1979), 7. 3 Michel Jacq-Hergoualc’h, The Malay Peninsula: Crossroads of the Maritime Silk Road: 100BC-1300AD, translated by Victoria Hobson (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 2. 4 Barbara Watson Andaya and Leonard Y. Andaya, A History of Malaysia: Second Edition (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001), 158. 5 The Straits Settlements are a confederacy of Penang, Melaka and Singapore (dating back to 1826); the Federated Malay States are Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang (1896); the Unfederated Malay States are Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu (1909). 6 Paul H. Kratoska, The Japanese...

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