Johor remains the bastion of Kaum Tua (2017)
in: Trends in Southeast Asia, 2017 no. 21
Many scholars on Malaysia have recognized that Salafism-Wahhabism has penetrated substantially into the countr's political and social life. The southern state of Johor has always been considered, and remains, the bastion of kaum tua, with its religious institutions dominated by ulama (religious scholars) who are traditionalist in character but tolerant of religious practices that are infused with local culture and mysticism. These scholars have also tended to maintain conservative attitudes on gender issues, inter-religious relations, and intra-faith differences. The Sultan of Johor appoints the Mufti whose primary role is to issue fatwas (religious rulings) and be the ex-officio of the Johor Islamic Religious Council, the highest Islamic body in the state. Johor's Muftis are dominantly political quietists, and loyal to the ruling family. Occasional interventions by the Sultan of Johor in the religious sphere have proved crucial in ensuring that the state maintains its Malay character. The Sultan also acts to protect the state's religious institutions from encroachment by the federal government.