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Contemporary Islam In Southeast Asia Development And Challenge

Author: Xu LipingSilver Editor Source: Time :2008-08-01 14:35:00


  After human beings entered the 21 st century, especially since the event of 911, Western academia, political circles and media have been interested in so-called “clash of civilizations”, one important evidence of which is “Islamic threat”. In fact “since the Islamic revolution in Iran, political circles in America and Western countries have kept warning people to keep a lookout on potential ‘Islamic threat’. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was even declared that ‘green threat’ will take the place of ‘red threat’ and become the major enemy to Western countries.” Islamic world, with the Middle East as its center, has ever since been misunderstood, denounced and even “demonized” by the Western media.

       In contrast, the Western media believe that Islam in Southeast Asia, located on the edge of Islamic world, is different from that in the Middle East. They are comparatively mild and have no obvious resentment to Western values. For example, Indonesia has successfully undergone the democratic transformation and become the largest democratic Islamic country in the world while Malaysia has been cited by the Western media as the most successful Islamic country in the process of modernization. However two explosions in Bali Island and one explosion in Marriott Hotel seemed to overthrow the above judgment. So it has been an urgent subject as how to fully understand Islam in Southeast Asia, particularly the contemporary Southeast Asian Islam.

       The problem of Southeast Asian Islam is involved with not only religion, but also other disciplines like politics, nation and history. It is a comprehensive multi-discipline research with certain challenge. This program, with the Islamic development in Southeast as its thread, analyzes the development and trend of contemporary Southeast Asian Islam from the perspective of history, religion and politics, and tries to reveal a general rule of the Islamic development in Southeast Asia.

       This program will cover two basic concepts: Islam and Islamism, which always cause different interpretations in academia home and abroad, and demand an explanation here.

       Islam is the transliteration of Yisliangmu in Arabic language, which means allegiance, obedience, tranquilness and peace, i.e. being obedient to Allah, being peaceful and loving. In other words, it means obeying Allah’s orders and abiding by Allah’s commandments so as to obtain inner tranquilness and social peace. It is said in the Koran that “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion”. Therefore it is clear that “Islam” originally had no religious connotation. Only after it was granted to the Muslim as a “favor” and when it is expressed as a belief is it called Islamism i.e. the Islamic religion. So Islam in truth refers to a cultural system.

       In a narrow sense Islamism contains its belief, proprieties, commandments and ethics. It was originally called “Da Shi Fa” in China. Later on it was called “Hui Jiao” as the Hui nationality believed in Islamism. The term of “Islamism” was adopted in 1950s. In modern China, believers in Islamism include 10 minority nationalities such as the Hui, the Uygur, Dong Xiang, Sha La, the Kazak, the Ozbek, the Kirgiz, the Tajik, Bao An, the Tatar. The Southeast Asian Chinese call Islamism as Hui Jiao. Although such a term obviously does not conform to current reality of Islamism, it is a popular name of Islamism among the Southeast Asian Chinese. The present academia extend Islamism into an ideology, a philosophy, a political system, an economic system and a cultural system. It is bestowed with an all-embracing meaning. “In fact Islamism only refers to a religion. The above extensions do not mean Islamism itself, but Islam.” For this reason, Islam, in this program, refers to a cultural system centering around religion.

       Contemporary Islam in Southeast Asia: Development and Challenge is a key research program of Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. It started in 2006 and was finished in 2008, with this book as its final research achievement. I was in charge of the program design and overall planning. Chapters about Myanmar and Thailand were written by Professor Chenyang Li, director of Institute of Southeast, Yunnan University, with the assistance from Mr. Longjv Gu, a PhD student from School of International Relations, Yunnan University. Chapters about Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were written by Associate Professor Sheng He from Academy of China Contemporary International Relations. I wrote the other parts of this book. Part of the materials is the research achievements of my field study in Southeast Asian island regions. Professor Chenyang Li and Associate Professor Sheng He collected some literatures in Burmese and Vietnamese. Some research achievements of this program have been published.

       I would like extend my gratitude to Professor Yunling Zhang (former director of Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Professor Yuyan Zhang (current director of Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) and Professor Jian Liu (dean of Social Cultural Section, Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) for their advice and help during the argumentation, initiation and researching process of this program.

       I feel grateful to Mr. Chang Lin (from Institute of Japanese Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Ms. Mingwei Lei (an editor from Shishi Press) and Mr. Jian Yang dan Ms. Min Zhang (my good friends) for their assistance in the editing and publishing of this book.

       Of course, the research of contemporary Islam in Southeast Asia is quite hot-spot, theoretical and practical, and this program is a pioneering and frontier subject home and abroad. As a result, it is inevitable that there may exist some limitations in this research. Hereby, I, as the chief author, will take the main responsibility for any mistake occurring in this program.




Liping Xu

Feb. 2008 in Caoqiao, Beijing





Chapter One        History and Tradition of Islam in Southeast Asia

       Section One         Some Historical Problems of Islam in Southeast Asia

       Section Two        Introduction of Islamism and Local Islam

       Section Three       Culture and Tradition of Islam in Southeast Asia

Chapter Two         Policy on Islamism in Southeast Asian Countries

       Section One         Policy on Islamism in Indonesia

       Section Two         Policy on Islamism in Malaysia

       Section Three       Policy on Islamism in Brunei

       Section Four         Policy on Islamism in Philippines

       Section Five        Policy on Islamism in Singapore

       Section Six           Policy on Islamism in Thailand

       Section Seven       Policy on Islamism in Myanmar

       Section Eight Policy on Islamism in Vietnam

       Section Nine         Policy on Islamism in Laos

       Section Ten          Policy on Islamism in Cambodia

       Section Eleven      Policy on Islamism in Timor Leste

Chapter Three        Islamic NGO and Civil Society in Contemporary Southeast Asia

       Section One         Theories on NGO and Civil Society

       Section Two         Islamic NGO and Civil Society in Indonesia

       Section Three       Sister In Islam and Civil Society in Malaysia

Section Four        Association of Muslim Professionals and Civil Society in Singapore

Section Five       Islamic NGO and Civil Society in Other Southeast Asian       Countries

Chapter Four    Islam in Contemporary Southeast Asia vs. Party and Politics

       Section One         Islamic Party and Election in Indonesia

       Section Two         Features and Development Trend of Islamic Party in Malysia

       Section Three       Islam vs. Party and Politics in Other Southeast Asian Countries  

Chapter Five                Development Dilemma of Islam in Contemporary Southeast Asia

       Section One         Shadow of Islamic Extremist

             One              Muslim Separatist Movement in Southern Thailand

           Two             Muslim Separatist Movement in Southern Philippines

Three            Muslim Separatist Movement in Myanmar

              Four              Jemaah Islamic Southeast Asia

Five      Development Trend of Islamic Extremist in Contemporarty Southeast Asia

       Section Two         Problem of Muslim Marginalization and Refugee

              One               Musim Marginalization

              Two              Problem of Muslim Refugee in Myanmar

Chapter Six           Islam and Modernization in Contemporary Southeast Asia

       Section One           Islamic Laws and Modernization in Contemporary Southeast Asia

 Section Two         Islamic Education and Modernization in Contemporary Southeast Asia

Section Three    Islamic Financial System and Modernization in Contemporary Southeast Asia

                 Section Four   Islamic Development Pattern and Modernization in Contemporary Southeast Asia

Chapter Seven        Contemporary International Hot Issues and Southeast Asian Islamic World

       Section One       911 Event and Southeast Asian Islamic World

    Section Two      Impact of Conflict between Lebanon and Israel on Southeast Asian Islamic World

    Section Three      Impact of Hijab Issue on Southeast Asian Islamic World

 Section Four          Impact of Cartoon Issue on Southeast Asian Islamic World


Appendix: Important Events in Southeast Asian Islamic World