- By: Howard M. Federspiel. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
- Muslim World, 00274909, Fall2002, Vol. 92, Issue 3/4
- Database: Academic Search Complete
Scholarly activity is in constant flux and this is the case in Islamic Studies, where one of the important contemporary trends centers on research that transcends national boundaries for regional and universalist views of Islam and Muslims. In part, this trend reflects tendencies within Islam itself, where fundamentalism and globalization have broadened conceptions of what the universal Muslim community should be and where Islamic activity might profitably be undertaken. In part, the trend, reflects scholars' own interests where enough studies of single countries or ethno-geographic regions (such as the Arab world) exist to encourage attempts at integration of major trends crossing political and social boundaries. Islamic modernism in Southeast Asia offers a case study of such development. Starting as an important movement in the Ottoman Empire in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Islamic modernism had a wide impact on Islamic societies throughout the world by the 1940s, when its message was superseded or integrated into the philosophies and ideologies of the day. An important arena for modernist activity was Southeast Asia, where the movement had a significant impact on Muslims in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand. The movement in Southeast Asia left a considerable record of its activity and was subsequently covered academically by a fair number of scholarly studies on the individual personalities and associations important in the movement, although none were addressed specifically to an assessment of the overall modernist Muslim movement in the region. This article was written as an attempt to begin such an assessment.