This book critically investigates how dominant Muslim groups in Southeast Asia think and appropriate Islam in response to contemporary challenges of social and political change. Its approach and perspective, based on the sociology of knowledge, provide a refreshing departure from the pervasive culturalist frameworks that have marked publications on Islam and Muslims in the region in recent years.
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While many books have probed the role of Islam in political and social change in Southeast Asia over the past three decades, few have focused on the power of the religious discourse itself in shaping this transformation.
Contemporary Islamic Discourse in the Malay–Indonesian World captures the interplay between religion and social thought in comparative case studies from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Drawing on a critical sociology of knowledge and a profound understanding of historical contexts, the central focus is on Muslim intellectuals who have grappled with the impact of modernity in these societies, between those seeking to reform Islam’s role and those who take a hardline defensive stance.
The discussion deals successively with the role of religious traditionalism, the upsurge of dakwah revivalism and the public sphere, attitudes towards democracy and pluralism, and finally the ideas advanced by liberal Islam and its opponents. Above all, Azhar Ibrahim offers the reader a creative way of understanding the modern Islamic discourse and its relationship to the remaking of society at large.
Published by SIRD