Muslim Cosmopolitanism Southeast Asian Islam in Comparative Perspective By Khairudin Aljunied (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017. 240 pages.)

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Bruce B. Lawrence

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Abstract

Does cosmopolitanism exist in the Muslim world? Does it reflect a distinct
ambience in Muslim societies that links to other expressions of cosmopolitanism
beyond Islam?


This deftly-crafted book amounts to a manifesto that answers both
questions with a resounding: YES! Yes, there is a cosmopolitan trajectory
with Muslim overtones and undertones, and yes, it can be found in places
and persons identified with Islam, especially but not solely in Southeast
Asia. There it becomes part of what the author labels, following Azyumardi
Azra, Islam Nusantara (86-91).
The author begins by reviewing several previous efforts to locate, then
describe, and interpret or explain what is cosmopolitanism and who are
Muslim cosmopolitans. He correctly notes that “as a concept, Muslim cosmopolitanism
suffers from being used too loosely and too indiscriminately
to describe anything that Muslims say and do which points towards some
degree of inclusivity” (xix). He then looks to forms of everyday expression—“
a style of thought, a habit of seeing the world, and a way of living”—
all linked to Islam in its broadest formulation as maqāṣid al-sharīʿa, that is,
the purposes of Islamic law defined in five mandates that apply to Muslims
but also to all humankind: to preserve self, to preserve mind, to propagate
via marriage, to preserve society, including property, and also to preserve
and defend belief in God ...

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