In March 1947, the first Pan-Malayan Islamic conference at Madrasah Ma'ahad al-Ehya as-Sharif at Gunung Semanggul, Perak, was held. The conference was sponsored by Parti Kesatuan Melayu Muda (PKMM) under the leadership of Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmy. The conference set out to address the economic problems faced by the Malay-Muslims. It was meant to bring together the more politically active and progressive Islamic movements and thinkers in the country. As a result of this conference, the Majlis Agama Tertinggi (Supreme Religious Council, MATA) of Malaya was formed.
MATA began organising political events and meetings for Malay-Muslim activists to meet and discuss their plans for the future and the need to mobilise the masses. The Council also organised a conference on 13-16 March 1948 which discussed local and international issues which are of concern to the public. The conference participants felt that UMNO was not doing enough to raise important issues in public and that the conservative-nationalists were not doing enough to stand up for Malay-Muslim rights. Needless to say, the UMNO representatives at MATA were not happy with the tone of discussion set by the Islamists, which was too revolutionary and militant for their taste. The UMNO delegates reported their findings and observations to the party leaders. In due course, UMNO leader Dato Onn Jaafar began to issue warnings about the "threat from the mountain" (a reference to Gunung Semanggul).
The Parti Orang Muslimin Malaya (Hizbul Muslimin) was formed on March 17 1948, after the second conference declared that MATA should be reorganised as an Islamic political party. With the formation of Hizbul Muslimin, all political activities were transferred to the organisation. MATA served as the party's religious affairs bureau. However, the first Islamist party in Malaya was not destined to last long, as they were banned by the British authorities anxious to retain control of the territories, alleging that Hizbul Muslimin have ties with the Communist Party of Malaya.
Demise and revival
Many members of Hizbul Muslimin escaped the purge of the British and joined UMNO. When the ulama faction in UMNO broke away from the party, they formed an association called Persatuan Islam Sa-Malaya (Pan-Malayan Islamic Association), abbreviated as PAS. At the time, the association charter allowed for dual membership in PAS and UMNO and thus many PAS members thought of themselves as UMNO members and vice-versa. Eventually, the dual-membership clause in the party charter was revoked and PAS began to emerge as a distinct entity.  For the sake of contesting in the general election of 1955, the party was re-registered under the name Pan-Malayan Islamic Party (PMIP). The name was later changed to Parti Islam Se-Malaysia during the Asri Muda era in the 1970s. Though keeping its official name in Malay, nowadays the party prefers to refer to itself in the English language as the Islamic Party of Malaysia, rather than its old name Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.
In 1999, riding a groundswell of popular protest after the arrest and conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, PAS allied itself with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Keadilan (PKR), founded by Anwar Ibrahim's wife Wan Azizah by forming a coalition known as Barisan Alternatif. In the general election, PAS took over Terengganu from the Barisan Nasional.
In the 2004 Malaysian general election, the party's strength was greatly reduced. It won merely seven parliamentary seats, a significant decrease from the 27 parliamentary seats it had won in the 1999 general election. The party leader, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang even lost his parliamentary seat while one of the seven seats was won because a Barisan Nasional candidate was disqualified on a technicality. PAS also lost control of Terengganu but retained control of Kelantan with a very slim majority of 24 out of 45 seats. . The party's majority in Kelantan's state assembly was further reduced to 23 seats following the Pengkalan Pasir by-election in 2005 which left them with the majority of only one seat in the state assembly.
In the recent 2008 Malaysian general election, the party made a comeback in Kelantan, winning 38 out of 45 seats as well as managing to take control of the west coast state of Kedah, and formed coalition governments with the DAP and PKR in the states of Perak and Selangor. The party also increased its share of MPs in the Malaysian Parliament from seven to 23.
The leaders of PKR, DAP and PAS consolidated their cooperation by forming Pakatan Rakyat (People's Coalition) in 2008. Pakatan Rakyat is led collectively by the three parties and would uphold the rights and interests of all Malaysians. The state governments of Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor are known as Pakatan Rakyat state governments. Together, the three parties also won 82 of the 222 parliamentary seats at stake in the 2008 general elections.
Criticisms towards UMNO-led Barisan National government
PAS often opposed and criticised the Barisan Nasional coalition. However, for a brief period from 1973 to 1978, under the leadership of Asri Muda, PAS was brought into the BN fold. The Islamic opposition party often alleges that the economic and social problems of Malaysians and Malay-Muslims are the fault of the UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional federal government in Kuala Lumpur. PAS claims that after independence, social problems such as drugs, corruption and promiscuity have increased and blames the UMNO-led government for allowing these problems to arise.
PAS is of the view that its leadership can overcome these perceived problems for the benefit of the Muslim and non-Muslim electorate alike by establishing an Islamic state.