Celebrating Muhammad’s Birthday in Yogyakarta

The festival of the birth of the Prophet in Indonesia begins on the sixth day of the month of Mawlid and ends on the twelfth day. It is one of the most important religious festivals in the world’s largest Muslim country. This religious celebration is held in three Indonesian royal courts: Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Cirebon. My paper is a brief ethnographic account of the Muhammad’s birthday [...]

REVIEW— Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our Hearts

Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our HeartsCompiled by: Angela M. Kuga Thas and Jac SM Kee Petaling Jaya: Gerakbudaya Enterprise, 2016, 142 pages The recent widespread impression that religion, especially Islam, is to blame for the policing of sexuality in Malaysia is associated with the fact that two trends, Islamization and increasingly tightened regulation of bodies, have obviously been running [...]

REVIEW— Muhammadiyah Jawa

Muhammadiyah JawaAuthor: Ahmad Najib BurhaniYogyakarta: Suara Muhammadiyah, 2016. 184 pages   A Muslim organization in Javanese culture Muhammadiyah Jawa is an important work written on historical development of Muhammadiyah, an Islamic organization established in 1912. It is written by Najib Burhani – himself is a prominent young Muslim intellectual, based on his Master thesis submitted [...]

Nonviolent Action: The Ultimate Sacrifice

I have long been awed by the level of commitment required for any idealist to make the ultimate sacrifice for their cause, the offering of one’s very life. Where does one acquire such steadfast, unbending resolve? Suicide bombers do so to acquire the glories of martyrdom and their mission is anything but selfless; they wish to harm as many others as possible by their own deaths. The [...]

Uncertainties for Malaysia’s Opposition after Nik Aziz’s death

On Friday 13th January 2015, thousands gathered at the Pulau Melaka Mosque to pay their last respects for Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) spiritual leader, who was also Kelantan Chief Minister from 1990 to 2013, died at the age of 84. His death was a blow to Malaysia’s opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), especially when it came two days after the Federal Court [...]

The Faces of Islamic Politics

The popular imagination with regards to Islamic politics has lately been focussed on ‘radical’ Islamic groups that appear intent on establishing states run on the basis of Islamic law as well as being vehemently opposed to virtually all things associated with the ‘West’. This focus has been reinforced by media reports, as well as much scholarly and semi-scholarly discussion, that have [...]

On the Relationship between Cheng Ho and Islam in Southeast Asia

 From 1405 to 1433, during his seven expeditions overseas, did Cheng Ho participate in spreading Islam? While there is no relevant record in historical archives in China, many records and tales in Southeast Asian countries demonstrate well that Cheng Ho did help the spread of Islam there. However, do these records and tales really match the historical facts? The questions above merit further [...]

Tracing The Roots of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals: A Bibliographical Survey

   This essay provides a sketch of Indonesian Muslim intellectuals of the 1990s and offers a comprehensive explanation of their reformist approach to Islam from the 1970s to the 1980s. 1 It argues that there is a continuation in their regard of Islamic thought for the last three decades. I utilize a bibliographical approach to the works of these intellectuals. It is an approach that neither [...]

Why I “mengaji” (study) Malay? :Discussing the latest developments of Malay culture in South Thailand

    The word ‘mengaji’ – meaning to learn – has the highest value and status in the obsession and mentality of Malay society in South Thailand (after this referred to as Patani). Normally, the word ‘mengaji’ is used only for learning activities in a religious or spiritual context. The value and status of the word itself is also high in its general perception. This word cannot be [...]

From Adek to Mo’ji: Identities of Southern Thai People and Social Realities

Why Adek and Mo’ji? In the earlier stage of outlining the project and collection of information, I intended this piece of work, called “The Silence of Southern Thai Women” to reflect the impact of violence upon women living in the southern border provinces of Thailand. After I had reviewed the data, I then realized that if I presented only the current situations, this piece of work would be [...]

Mapping the Terrain: Politics and Cultures of Islamization of Knowledge in Malaysia

         Georg StauthPolitics and Cultures of Islamization in Southeast Asia: Indonesia and Malaysia in the Nineteen-ninetiesBielefeld / Transcript Verlag / 2002  Mona AbazaDebates on Islam and Knowledge in Malaysia and Egypt: Shifting WorldsLondon / Routledge Curzon / 2002 Syed Hussein AlatasKe Mana dengan IslamKuala Lumpur / Utusan Publications & Distributors / 2002 Farish A. [...]

Women, Islam, and the Law

         Hjh. Nik Noriani Nik Badlishah, editorIslamic Family Law and Justice for Muslim WomenMalaysia / Sisters in Islam / 2003 Gender, Muslim Laws and Reproductive RightsDavao City / Pilipina Legal Resources Center, Inc. / 2001 The essays in these two volumes deal unevenly with the issues of sexuality, reproductive rights, and gender violence in Islamic societies. There is, however, one [...]

In Search of Islamic Art in Southeast Asia

Barangay Oring-oring is a village in Brooke’s Point, Palawan, where women weave mats. These women belong to the Jama Mapun, an Islamicized group of people related to the Sama, an ethnolinguistic group found predominantly in Southern Philippines. Most of them had spent their early years in Cagayan de Sulu. The promise of land to till and a better life away from strife and armed conflict brought [...]

Young Muslims Speak Out

A young man sat calmly in front of judges in a court room in Denpasar, Bali. With long hair and a beard, he looked different when he was arrested in West Java a couple of months earlier. Imam Samudera (real name: Abdul Aziz) was about to hear the verdict. When his death sentence was announced, he shouted, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (God is great)!” When he was taken out of [...]

Women and Islam in Malaysia

There is tremendous preoccupation with Islam in Malaysia today. Unfortunately, much of it is focused on form rather than substance, the effects of which are largely felt by Muslim women. Malaysia portrays itself as a modern Muslim country and indeed it is, in many significant ways. The country is relatively democratic; we have a Federal Constitution that respects fundamental liberties and [...]

Book Review— Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World

Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern WorldFatima Mernissi, trans. Mary Jo LakelandNew York / Addison-Wesley / 1992 Can Islam, a religion revealed in 6th century Arabia, be compatible with democracy, a product of the modern “West”? There has been a surge of debate throughout the world on this issue, but no consensus. Indeed, the very concept of democracy is hotly contested, with countries [...]

Book Review— Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics

Malaysia: Islam, Society and PoliticsVirginia Hooker and Norani Othman, editorsSingapore / ISEAS Series on Islam, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies / 2003 This collection of essays has been prepared as a tribute to Clive S. Kessler, Professor of Sociology at the University of New South Wales and a significant contributor to Malay and Malaysian studies. The book opens with a touching series of [...]