Ring-Fencing Constituents

  • Maznah MohamadEmail author
Part of the Contestations in Contemporary Southeast Asia book series (CCSA)


The notion of ring-fencing as intrinsic to the Divine Bureaucracy’s project to homogenise the expressions of Islam and the identity of Muslim subjects is explored in this chapter. Its case studies will show that both syariah and civil laws delineate the boundaries of group identity by playing a gatekeeping function, defining who should be outlawed as Muslim ‘deviants’ and who should be rehabilitated back into the fold of group legitimacy. One of the most palpable, if not infallible, gatekeeping devices for ring-fencing is the legal prohibition against Muslims opting out of Islam as apostates. Yet ring-fencing goes beyond outlawing apostasy, as various forms of religious deviancy, forbidden marriages and sexual waywardness are part of a broad syndrome to be contained as well. To ring-fence subjects within these conditions of decreed wrongfulness requires that Muslim subjects suspend their civic identity and civil rights, a role that has devolved upon the Divine Bureaucracy.


Ring-fencing Religious deviancy Apostasy Gender marginals Forbidden marriages 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Malay Studies and Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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