Islam in Indonesia Modernism, Radicalism, and the Middle East Dimension by Giora Eliraz (Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press, 2004. 142 pages.)

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Muhamad Ali



Southeast Asian Islam is receiving an increased amount of attention among
both scholars and students. The direction has been toward understanding
Muslim diversity and change, despite the still-existing perceptions among the public of a monolithic and static Islam. Fundamentalism still gains more
attention, partly due to its current influence and confusion. In this book,
Giora Eliraz comparatively examines how the Middle Eastern Islamic modernist
movements influenced Islamic movements in the Malay-Indonesian
world throughout the twentieth century and contributed to the rise of contemporary
Islamic radicalism in Indonesia.
Eliraz studies the transmission of modernist and/or radical ideas from
the Middle East to Indonesia, the multiple organizations and strategies
within Islamic movements, as well as the impacts of local and national values
on the distinct faces of Indonesian Islam. Despite the current emergence
of Islamic radicalism, the majority of the people continue to reject politicized
Islam. According to the author, the tradition of intellectual and organizational
pluralism has become the predominant characteristic of
Indonesian Islam.
The book is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 examines how the
reformist ideas of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), his colleague Jamaluddin
al-Afghani (1839-97), and Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935) were transmitted
to Southeast Asia (including Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula)
through publications and networks, and how they were interpreted and
applied within the new environment. Thus, Islamic reformist ideas, particularly
from Egypt, influenced the rise of as well as the conflicts between the
modernists, represented by the Muhammadiyah (established in 1912), and
the traditionalists, represented by the Nahdatul Ulama (NU, established in
1926). In these two movements, Middle Eastern reformism underwent a
process of localization that involved local preachers, activists, and scholars ...

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