Islamic Discourses in Southeast Asia: From the Periphery to the Center of Global Muslim Community

Anwar Ibrahim Lecture Series Inaugural Meeting | Featuring Khairudin Aljunied & Ismail Alatas

Thursday, November 10, 2022 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST
Research Hall, 163


Southeast Asia was not only a late-comer to Islamic faith and culture but its exposure and reception of Islam were also dramatically different than the regions conventionally viewed as the “core” of the Muslim world. Islam reached the region in the context of commerce and colonization, mostly through Sufistic and economic interactions. For so long, Southeast Asian Muslim communities were considered to be at the margins of Islamic learning and culture yet remained closely tied to major institutions and movements in the Middle East and South Asia, including scholarly and Sufistic networks. Rather than representing a case of simple dependency, the unique historical trajectories of Southeast Asian Muslim communities produced versatile cultural and institutional experiences in interaction with local identities and social contexts. With the advent of modernity, the region became increasingly closely connected with the rest of the global Muslim community with an indelible mark on Islamic intellectual movements thanks to a range of high-profile scholars and thinkers whose influence expanded beyond the archipelago. Speakers in this lecture series will explore the Islamic discourses and intellectual articulation of Southeast Asian Muslim communities in the context of their varied responses to modernity and interactions with the broader global Islamic thought.

The Islamic Reformist Mosaic in Southeast Asia

Khairudin Aljunied

In this talk, Khairudin Aljunied will explain how several Southeast Asian Muslim intellectuals have been especially innovative in giving rise to what could be termed as the “Islamic reformist mosaic.” While differing in their visions and aims, when viewed as a whole, these intellectuals have developed a unified and coherent frame of thought that distinguishes itself from the ultra-traditionalist and ultra-secularist leanings that have shaped much of the discussions regarding Islam from the mid-twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Khairudin Aljunied (PhD SOAS, London) is Professor and Deputy Director of the Sultan Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies at the University of Brunei Darussalam. He is also a Senior Fellow (previously Malaysia Chair of Islam in Southeast Asia) at the Alwaleed Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. Aljunied is the author of a number of books, among the recent ones are  Radicals: Resistance and Protest in Colonial Malaya (Northern Illinois University Press, 2016), Muslim Cosmopolitanism: Southeast Asian Islam in Comparative Perspective (Edinburgh University Press), Hamka and Islam: Cosmopolitan Reform in the Malay World (Cornell University Press, 2018), Islam in Malaysia: An Entwined History (Oxford University Press, 2019), and Shapers of Islamic Thought in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, 2023). His specialization is on the social and intellectual histories of Islam in Southeast Asia. He is currently writing his new book entitled Sufism in Southeast Asia: A Biography (London: Oneworld Publications).


Destination Jāwa: Religious Geography and Devotional Mobility to Southeast Asia

Ismail Alatas