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The states of Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah do not have any sultan, but the king (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) plays the role of head of Islam in each of those states as well as in each of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.On the occasion of Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's 80th birthday, he stated in the 9 February 1983 edition of the newspaper The Star that the "country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs.

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Terengganu was briefly ruled by PAS from 1999 to 2004, but the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has since won back the state.

To counter the falling credibility of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)'s Islamic credentials vis-à-vis PAS, the head of the Barisan Nasional, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, proposed Islam Hadhari.

In the 1990s, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS)-led state governments passed Islamic hudud laws in Terengganu, but was struck down by the secular federal government.

Islam was introduced by traders arriving from Arabia, China and India. The constitution grants freedom of religion and makes Malaysia an officially secular state, while establishing Islam as the "religion of the Federation" to symbolize its importance to Malaysian society.

The king is generally seen as the defender of the faith in the country.

Various Islamic holidays such as Muhammad's birthday etc., have been declared national holidays alongside Christmas, Chinese New Year and Deepavali.The draft Constitution of Malaysia did not specify an official religion.This move was supported by the rulers of the nine Malay states, who felt that it was sufficient that Islam was the official religion of each of their individual states.However, Justice Hakim Abdul Hamid of the Reid Commission which drafted the Constitution came out strongly in favour of making Islam the official religion, and as a result the final Constitution named Islam as the official religion of Malaysia.Nine of the Malaysian states, namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Johor and Negeri Sembilan have constitutional Malay monarchs (most of them styled as Sultans).These Malay rulers still maintain authority over religious affairs in states.

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