Starting in the 1970s, the wave of Islamic revivalism in Malaysia has revitalized ritual life among many Malay Muslims. In the same period, the country has witnessed steady economic growth, an emerging Malay middle class and the formation of an Islamic state bureaucracy that attempts to transform the understanding and practice of Islamic ritual. Building on fieldwork in a suburb outside Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, this article explores this ritual economy i.e. ways in which economic processes are driven by and integrated with religious ritual. I shall show how the question of Islamic rituals evokes a wide range of contestations in the interfaces between the state and everyday lives of middle-class Malays. An important theme is how the state as a consequence of its de-emphasis on Islamic ritual practices tries to transform ritual to make it compatible with what I shall call ‘proper Islamic consumption’.
Journal of Ritual Studies, 2008, Vol 22, Issue 2, p. 13-22