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IBRAHIM, ANWAR (born 10 August 1947), Malaysian Muslim activist, thinker, and politician. Anwar was born at Cerok Tok Kun, Bukit Mertajam, Penang; both his parents were active in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). He received a secular education and also, like most Malay children of the time, studied religion in the afternoon. While at the prestigious MalayCollege in Kuala Kangsar, Perak (1960-1966), Anwar became noted as an interscholastic debater and a school captain. He was also active in religious functions and read widely on Islam and society.

anwar ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim

As a student of Malay studies at the University of Malaya (1967-1970), he presided over the two major student organizations, the Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar-pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM, National Union of Malaysian Students) and Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Malaya (PBMUM, Malay Language Society of the University of Malaya). Following the communal riots of 1969, Anwar and Dr. Mahathir Mohamed formed an alliance against Premier Tunku Abdul Rahman and pushed for Malay educational and economic rights. However, antipoverty demonstrations in Baling, Kedah in 1974 set them politically apart for some time.

The establishment of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) in 1971 made Anwar the most influential young leader of Malaysia. While earnestly calling for the islamization of Malaysian life and an integrated form of development, he also argued for justice, including safeguards for the rights of the non-Muslim population.

Through ABIM Anwar had extensive contacts with most Malaysian leaders, Muslim intellectuals, and activists at home and abroad; however, neither UMNO nor its Malay Muslim opponent PAS (Partai Islam SeMalaysia) was able to enlist Anwar, even though he shared some of the Islamic ideals of the PAS leadership. Meanwhile, Anwar concentrated on his school, Yayasan Anda, and on youth activities. His career was interrupted when he was detained for two years (1974-1976) without trial under the Internal Security Act following the Baling demonstrations. Nonetheless, on his release his popularity increased tremendously at home and abroad, so that the government could not simply ignore his stand on Islam and other issues. Hence joint programs on da’wah (missionary activity) and related issues were held with the cooperation of various government religious agencies. In 198o Anwar married Dr. Wan Azizah, a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.

As a thinker, Anwar has consistently stressed justice, an integrated form of development, and excellence in education and economic production. He is influenced by such intellectuals as Syed Naguib al-Attas, Isma’il alFaruqi, Yusuf al-Qardhawi, Hasan al-Turabi, Malik Bennabi, and Mohammad Natsir. He also shows familiarity with such varied writers as Ibn Khaldun, al-Ghazali, R. G. Collingwood, Malcolm X, Edward Said, and Francis Fukiyama.

Among his many activities, he has served as the leader of Malaysian Youth Council (1972), a member of United Nations Advisory Group on Youth (1973-1974) a representative of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) for Southeast Asia (1976-1982), and a cofounder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), Washington, D.C.; he is presently chancellor of the International Islamic University (IIU) at Kuala Lumpur. His 1982 entry into UMNO on Mahathir’s invitation caused displeasure, especially among those who aspired to the party’s top posts; nonetheless, with charisma and determination, he has risen to lead UMNO’s youth wing and later to serve as one of its three vice presidents. Within the government, he rose rapidly to positions including deputy minister in the prime minister’s department; minister of youth, culture, and sports; agricultural minister; and education minister; in 1993 he was minister of finance. His efforts led to the establishment of such institutions as the Islamic Bank, IIU, the Curriculum for Islamic Civilization, and other Islamically oriented programs. With his success as the new deputy president of UMNO in the November 1993 party elections, most observers consider it likely that he will be Malaysia’s next prime minister.

[See also ABIM; Malaysia; United Malays National Organization.]


Anwar Ibrahim. Menangani Perubahan. Kuala Lumpur, 1989. Berita Harian, 22 October, 6 November 1993

Borsuk, Richard. “Islamic Rising Cry.” Asiaweek (August 1979). Chandra Muzaffar. Islamic Resurgence in Malaysia. Petaling Jaya, 1987.

Morais, J. Victor. Anwar Ibrahim: Resolute in Leadership. Kuala Lumpur, 1983.

Risalah 6.6 (1980), 7.3 (1981), 8.1 (1982).

Sabda, S. “Anwar Ibrahim: Cita-cita Perjuangannya Lewat ABIM Sebelum Beliau Aktif Dalam Politik Lewat UMNO.” Al-Islam (May 1982).

Yusof Harun. UMNO Selepas Mahathir. Kuala Lumpur, 19go.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/ibrahim-anwar/

  • writerPosted On: April 15, 2014
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