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.
“Azhar Ibrahim’s book cuts through the noise of much discourse on Islam and puts perspective to a vast amount of materials, effectively constructing their actual social and historical meaning. It should be read by all those seeking an in-depth understanding of contemporary Southeast Asia, even beyond the particular issues of Islam and Muslims.”
— Shaharuddin Maaruf
Academy of Malay Studies, University of Malaya
“This book is a must read for all those interested in a critical evaluation of the force and implications of religious traditionalism, conservatism and revivalism on the development of plural and democratic Muslim societies in Southeast Asia, and the challenges they pose to critical voices struggling for the relevance of ethical and humanist traditions of Islam.”
— Noor Aisha binte Abdul Rahman
Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore