Spotlight: Thailand

Submitted by Musawah on Wed, 03/07/2012 - 14:54


Muslims comprise up to 10 per cent of the Thai population and are concentrated mostly in the southernmost provinces near the Malaysian border. Although the state religion of Thailand is, in effect, Theravada Buddhism, it is not officially designated as such because of a fear that naming a national religion could inflame tensions in the southern provinces, which have seen a resurgence in separatist violence since 2004. Islamic ideas, rituals and practices are relatively pluralistic in character. In the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Satun, Muslims have been governed by Islamic family and inheritance laws since 1946, while the rest of the country is governed by the civil law. The Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, the 48 Provincial Islamic Committees, and the country’s 3,295 mosque committees have the official authority to rule on Islamic family law and inheritance. Because the state supports this system, it is able to ensure that mainstream Muslim scholars’ interpretations are part of the legal culture and traditional practices related to marriage, family and divorce.

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