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Foreword

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2024

Norshahril Saat
Affiliation:
ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute
A'an Suryana
Affiliation:
ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute and Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia
Mohd Faizal Musa
Affiliation:
ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute and National University of Malaysia
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Summary

Introduction

To appreciate contemporary trends, one must appreciate historical origins, for they continue to define and influence the evolution of religious observance. Thus, there is a need to understand the ways in which Islam initially came into what is now Southeast Asia, especially the power of trade and proselytization in precolonial times, the impact of European colonial competition and imperial administration, followed by the impact of postcolonial nation-building.

Although only three countries in Southeast Asia have Muslimmajority populations, the narratives of Muslim-minority communities form a vital part of Southeast Asian Islam. For example, there are the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Chams of Cambodia, the Muslims in the former Sultanates of Pattani or Maguindanao, and the Malays in Singapore.

Proper treatment of this topic also demands a thorough grounding of regional geopolitics and an intimate knowledge of the domestic politics within specific countries. The nexus between religion and politics has grown in intensity all around the world, even in nominally secular countries such as the United States or India. Whether one is referring to evangelical Christianity, resurgent Hindutva, or Islamism allied with ethnic supremacy, we can see how almost every area of public policy has become infused with religious rhetoric: in justifying national budgets, tax policy, education policy, international relations, trade rules, housing and neighbourhood regulations, abortion rights, regulation of Islamic Finance which now includes fintech, and the administration of justice itself.

This edited volume showcases some of the emerging trends in Southeast Asian Islam. There are many ways of reading this book: one may choose to read the chapters to have a deeper understanding of the trends surrounding Islam in specific countries in the region—mainly Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei—or one can compare cases across state boundaries given that all these societies are now confronted with a new mode of religious transmission in the form of social media. The faithful are no longer studying religion solely from the mosque or madrasah, but they are doing so through the Internet and social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok.

Malaysia

I am rather inspired by Professor Komaruddin Hidayat’s incredibly insightful piece on Indonesia (Chapter 2), so this Foreword will focus on Malaysia.

Malaysia was known for a long time as a tolerant Muslim country, and there were many affirmations of this.

Type
Chapter
Information
Trending Islam
Cases from Southeast Asia
, pp. vii - xvii
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2023

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