Perfecting Family

Part of the Contestations in Contemporary Southeast Asia book series (CCSA)


This chapter explores premises that underscore the quest for ‘perfecting’ the Islamic family, as envisioned by the Divine Bureaucracy, where one of its foremost priorities is the reformulation of syariah to embody a new Malay-Muslim masculinity and femininity. The chapter examines contentious male-female syariah litigation, the teaching and learning of marriage and the judicial displacement of Muslim-non-Muslim family units, where one partner is Muslim and the other a non-Muslim. It documents and analyses the evolution of syariah family laws over different periods of social reform. Then it explores how the perfection of the new Muslim family has also involved more affable routes such as the certification of mandatory marriage education courses before any Muslim marriage can take place. Through these courses, marriage is objectified as a set of skills and conduct that is teachable and learnt. The judicialisation of the Muslim-non-Muslim family is shown to have worked towards the disruption rather than the protection of family, and highlights the Divine Bureaucracy as the key agent of both family-making and unmaking.


Malay-Muslim masculinity Malay-Muslim femininity Masculine protectionism Marriage education Islamic family Muslim-non-Muslim family 


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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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