ROUNDTABLE: Is Southeast Asian Islam Unique?

Is Southeast Asian Islam Unique?

Date & Time
Thursday 17 August, 13:30 – 15:00

South School

Chair: Dato’ Afifi al-Akiti (University of Oxford)

Discussants: Ismail Alatas (New York University), Kevin Fogg (University of Oxford), Mulaika Hijjas (SOAS, University of London), Dominik Mueller (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Roundtable abstract
Nusantara Islam in Southeast Asia has been commonly projected as being more ‘inclusive’ and ‘moderate’ compared to Islam practiced in other parts of the Muslim world. For example, this perspective has been employed to explain Indonesia’s status as one of the most democratic countries in the Muslim world – where Muslim women and religious minorities have held leadership positions. However, many conservative Southeast Asian Muslims dismiss the idea that there are substantive differences between Southeast Asian Islam and Islam from the Middle Eastern heartland – and decline to acknowledge diversity and pluralism within Islam.  This Roundtable explores whether Nusantara Islam is relatively unique. It considers the impact of syncretic Islam and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the secularising influences of colonialism and the post-colonial state. Other factors that will be considered include the post-colonial constitutional status of Islam, status of sharia and Islamic courts, citizenship rights of women and religious minorities, impact of Arabic cultural assimilation and salafi Islam, politicisation of Islam, theological leadership (in support of and rejection of Nusantara Islam) and the influence of (moderate, conservative and radical) Muslim community organisations. The Roundtable critically examines the way by which Nusantara Islam has been conceptualised and the limits of this regional Islamic identity.