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Islam in South Asia

The experience of Islam in South Asia is at once vast and varied. It encompasses nearly 300 million residents of the subcontinent who either define themselves as Muslim or are so defined by others. These 300 million Muslims belong to myriad groups whose members speak different languages, live in separate spheres, and confront disparate social and economic circumstances. These groups differ from one another in almost every sense except in their identity as Muslims.

Moreover, South Asian Islamic culture is not limited to Muslims. Hindus attend festivals for Muslim saints and holy men, engage in poetic contests, and enjoy the music of a centuries-old Muslim culture. At the same time, Islam persists as a multivalent release valve, especially for marginal groups. It functions as a site of symbolic protest, an avenue of social mobility, and even an alternative religious identity; this was the case with the untouchables of South India, one group of whom converted to Islam en masse in recent decades (Abdul Malik Mujahid, Conversion to Islam: Untouchables’ Strategy for Protest in India, Chambersburg, Pa., 1989).

Islam in South Asia is an experience for women as much as for men. Despite the absence of women’s names from almost all accounts, one should not assume a bias against women. Rather, the deficit of female voices reflects the kind of narrative writing that prevailed in Asia, as in Europe, until the mid-twentieth century; the experience of South Asian Muslim women is no less dynamic for its concealment, and they have both thought and acted in distinctive ways worthy of sustained inquiry. The modern disciplines of sociology and anthropology have begun to discover the world of women, which is also the world of children, in South Asian Islam. (See, for instance, Patricia Jeffery, Frogs in a Well, London, 1979), and Hannah Papanek and Gail Minault, eds., Separate Worlds: Studies of Purdah in South Asia, Columbia, Mo., 1983.)

The more common approach to South Asian Islam is not to accent experience but to restate history-to fix and narrate dates, events, persons, and themes as if they alone provide access to the character of Islam in the subcontinent. To restrict the account to historical markings, however, is to ignore the human variety that does not admit of a single or even a composite historical narrative. Muslims of Kerala, Sri Lanka, or Kashmir each have their story. Unless it accounts for these peripheral branches, the single trunk narrative, however sensitively

constructed and skillfully deployed, risks being reductive rather than representative. One must thus take account of several cultural-political core areas here in order to grasp the spectra of contemporary experience and historical formation that characterize South Asian Islam. The greatest danger, as Peter Mayer has pointed out, is “to project the specific conditions of North Indian, Urdu-speaking Muslims over the whole subcontinent” (“Tombs and Dark Houses,” Journal of Asian Studies 40.3 [1981]: 486).

Kerala. Life in the South Indian coastal state of Kerala is above all reflected in the Mappila community, as the majority Muslim residents of Kerala are known. Their life is shaped by the cultural tradition of the South Arabian seacoast and is dependent on its trade. Arab traders had come to Kerala even before the advent of Islam. The indigenous language, Malayalam, is venerated in its own right, but in religious instruction it is combined with Arabic. There is a vast corpus of ArabicMalayalam religious writings, narrative poetry, and songs, including song-stories that celebrate the lives of Sufi saints such as Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir Jilani and Shaykh Ahmad Rifa’i, eponymous founders of important brotherhoods. These songs are sung mostly by men; other song-stories are memorized and sung by women, for example the romantic ballads and battle songs popular at annual feast celebrations.

Connection to an Arab past is also evident in the distinctive status accorded Mappilas of Arab descent who through marriage can trace their paternal line to the family of the prophet Muhammad. In Kerala, however, patrilineal descent shares prestige with a matrilineal system common to the Nayar caste influential in the history of North Kerala. Under this system descent is traced through female relatives, with the eldest sister enjoying preeminence, and property is controlled through a joint rather than nuclear family system. Moreover, religious architecture does not follow the expected pattern of domes and minarets; instead, like Kerala Hindu temples, Mappila mosques are marked by peaked roofs. During the past decade, however, the influx of Gulf petrodollars has funded an explosion of new mosquebuilding on familiar Middle Eastern architectural lines.

R. E. Miller has suggested that Mappila Muslims are as closely connected to Arabian Islam as they are isolated from Indo-Persian Islam, and indeed that the Gulf connection “has affected the Mappilas more profoundly than any other Indian Muslims” (“Mappila,” Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., 1960-, vol. 5, p. 459). However, the relationship remains partial and restrained by numerous factors, most of which are historically based. One is the allegiance of Mappilas to the Shafi’i school of law, which diverges somewhat from the Hanbali madhhab of Saudi Arabia. Another is the prominence accorded tangals, a Malayalam term for saintly individuals-not only practicing spiritual directors but also those related to families of illustrious saints. Still another is lack of consensus about the norms and practices of Sunni Islam. Almost all Mappilas are Sunni Muslims, but they do not interpret orthodox Islam with one mind. Some are traditional religious specialists who prefer a strict madrasah education without the inclusion of modern subjects or professions; others strive to be both traditionalists and modernists; still others are committed, outspoken reformers. A very few are secularists, content to retain only the cultural markings of Kerala Islam and eschewing institutional Islam. All these subgroups are united by their common commitment to Islam as the decisive emblem of cultural pride, but they differ on programs for its assertion and maintenance.

Other historical factors haved shaped the Mappilas. Numbering almost 7.5 million by the early 1990s, they extend their influence across South India. While they enjoy a sympathetic and symbolic relationship to the Arabian Peninsula, they also relate to other parts of the subcontinent, especially to the adjacent areas of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Mappilas had prospered through trade during the centuries before 1498, but when the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrived in Calicut, the lucrative Arab trade was cut off, and new alliances were sought. They were disappointed by the Dutch, then by the British, and finally by the French. The latter seemed to offer some hope during the last part of the eighteenth century, when Muslim rulers from nearby Mysore state briefly controlled Kerala, but by 1792 the British had resumed their rule that was to persist until 1947

The economic status of Mappilas has declined relative to the rest of the Kerala since the serial occupation by European colonial powers. Insofar as Muslims tended to be more urban than the population as a whole, they reacted sharply to the loss of administrative posts, commercial links, and educational options. Their grievances were expressed in numerous sporadic revolts throughout the period of British ascendancy, culminating in the Mappila Rebellion of 1921, a watershed in Kerala Muslim history. It focused on the formation of an independent state, Moplastan, in southern Kerala, and was also fueled by the attempt of Mappila leaders to make common cause with North Indian Muslims on behalf of the beleaguered Ottoman caliph. Their efforts proved fruitless: they antagonized not only the British but also Hindus of Kerala who had initially been sympathetic to their cause. Repeatedly repressed, the Kerala Muslim community by the mid-1920s had sunk to its nadir, after which it began to recover and to reassert itself.

Sri Lanka. The experience of Sri Lankan Muslims relates closely to that of their Kerala coreligionists. The majority community is usually designated by the name given by the detested Portuguese, “Moors”; the other smaller subcommunities of Muslims in Sri Lanka are also frequently glossed as Moors. The Moors, like the Mappilas, are Sunni Muslims subscribing to the Shafi’i school of law; they, too, have been shaped by the location of their home straddling major trade routes in the Indian Ocean. A disproportionately urban population4o percent are citydwellers in a country that is only 20 percent urbanized-they trace their ancestry through both migration and conversion on a patrilineal model going back to the seventh century CE and the time of the prophet Muhammad. They are a small community, numbering perhaps 1.2 million of the total population of 15 million Sri Lankans. The majority of Sinhalas are Theravada Buddhists, with a minority of Tamil Hindus in one section of the island. It is with the Tamils that the Moors share their closest linguistic affinity, even though their political preferences are strongly Sinhala. Most Moors regard Tamil as their mother tongue, and the great song-poems they recite on popular and religious feast days are written in Arabic Tamil; the Arabic Tamil literary corpus of the Moors is regarded as a significant subset of the Arabic Tamil literature of South India.

The Moors thus share more with the Mappilas, despite linguistic and cultural differences, than either group does with the large North Indian Muslim community. Historical events make the separation of South Indian Muslims from their North Indian coreligionists even sharper. Like the Mappilas, the Moors were devastated by a Portuguese invasion in 1505. Portuguese control of Sri Lanka was even greater than their intervention in Kerala, for they succeeded in cutting off Sri Lankans from the mainland. The Moors ceased to have relations with Tamil Muslims, at the same time that the Portuguese curtailed and in time closed down the madrasahs. The succeeding Dutch colonialists pursued an explicitly commercial agenda, showing little interest in direct religious confrontation but not encouraging the restoration of institutions destroyed by the Portuguese. Their benign neglect of Islam was shared by their successors, the British.

For more than three centuries the Moors were forced to develop in isolation from other subcontinent Muslims; when they did experience a revival, it came not from Delhi or Mecca but via Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the nineteenth century. It was brought by Sufi orders that had been introduced into Kerala in the eighteenth century and then spread to Sri Lanka during the nineteenth. Chief among them was the Qadiriyah, but there were also notable adherents to other orders, such as the Shadhiliyah, the Chishtiyah and the Naqshbandiyah.

To commercial and social ties was added the common bond of Tamil Arabic. The first translator of the Qur’an into Tamil Arabic was a nineteenth-century Sri Lankan scholar, Shaikh Mustafa. Another Sri Lankan provided the first Tamil Arabic version of the famed Hanafi legal compendium, the Hidayah of Marghinani (d. 1197). The late nineteenth century also saw the establishment there of the first traditional Arabic madrasah since 1505.

There are three features of special note about the nineteenth century. First, it saw the diffusion of Islamic learning and observance on a new scale, with the introduction of more frequent and rapid travel to other parts of the Muslim world, the spread of journalism and print media, and the advocacy of Pan-Islamic causes, such as support for the Ottoman caliph/sultan in Istanbul. Second, there was a revival of multiple expressions of Islamic piety; some were linked to renewed stress on original Arabic sources-Qur’an, hadith and fuqh-but others extended to speculative, popular forms of piety deriving from Sufism. The latter development flies in the face of standard interpretations of Islamic movements during the colonial period, which tend to stress either accommodation to Western influence, as in the case of Muhammad `Abduh and Sayyid Ahmad Khan, or antagonism against Western influence, as in the case of the Wahhabis or neo-Wahhabis. Both developments were thought to undercut Sufism in general and the major brotherhoods in particular; yet throughout South Asia, and not just in the cultural-political core area of Kerala-Tamil Nadu-Sri Lanka, one finds Sufi orders and a Sufi worldview integrally linked to the Islamic movements and prominent personalities of this period.

Finally, the revival of Islam was related to a dynamic expression of scriptural norms and a renewed interest in ritual activities among other religious communities in

South Asia, including Theravada Buddhist activists in Sri Lanka, Shaiva reformers in Tamil Nadu, and Advaita modernists in Bengal. It was a crucial time for rethinking the categories of foreign rule, and Muslims shared with other religious communities, largely in urban centers, the concern to resist external pressures to conform. The Muslim heroes from Sri Lanka in this period, like their coreligionists, chose to restate their own norms and advocate their own values. Foremost among them were Siddi Lebbe, founder of the newspaper Muslim nesan and other educational institutions in Kandy; his successor, I. L. M. Abdul Azeez, who, in addition to journalistic and community activities, wrote the first comprehensive history of Sri Lankan Muslims (Ethnology of the Moors of Ceylon, 1907); and perhaps the most skillful minority politician in the subcontinent, A. R. A. Razik, who assured both Muslim support of the nationalist movement and the inclusion of Muslim officials in the governments that have ruled Sri Lanka since 1947

North India. The experience of North Indian Muslims is charted above all by a set of cultural and linguistic shifts unknown in the South Indian core area. Islam was introduced there not by sea but by land, through Central Asia, and more by military conquest and forced migration than by trade and commerce. It embodies Turkish and Persian rather than Arabic ethnic/linguistic features. Lumping North India and South India as South Asian Islam is already a shorthand, simplifying and also distorting a complex historical process. The communities did not really meet until the late colonial and early modern period. Their delayed interaction is charged with significance; before addressing that interaction, we must first examine the northern historical prologue that is at variance with the pattern in Kerala and Sri Lanka.

Apart from early Arab conquests in the region of Sind, it was Turco-Afghan groups displaced by rival groups in Central Asia who became the vanguard of the emergence of Muslim polities in the subcontinent. The expansion of Turco-Afghan military might and political power was gradual rather than sudden. There was no single pitched battle but rather a series of small-scale skirmishes, not unlike those that took place simultaneously among regional Indian rulers. The Muslim advance occurred in several stages over long intervals. It was not until the mid-ninth century that the Saffarids came to control most of present-day Afghanistan. More than a century later the Ghaznavids controlled much of the Indus River region; at the end of the twelfth century the Ghurids finally conquered Delhi and established a pattern of Muslim rule that continued through the Mughal period up to the fateful Battle of Plassey in 1757. There the British prevailed and, as a result, they extended military and then political control over most of India until 1947.

The Turco-Afghan ruling elites were Muslim but not Arab. They maintained and developed Persian as the preferred language, not only in the court and bureaucracy but also in the culture at large. Persian poetry marked off the elites from the non-elites, binding North Indian Muslims to other urban elites of the `ajam, as the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim segment of Asia was known. The Delhi sultans organized themselveswhether in court life, army protocol, or administrative practices-along lines that dated back to the last preMuslim dynasty of Iran, the Sassanians. They also based their legitimacy as rulers on Persian notions of semidivine kingship: though not quite God’s emissary, the sultan could reckon himself as God’s shadow on earth and expect of his subjects a commensurate and abject obedience. Such a notion of divine authority was alien to Islam, but it did not compete openly with the notion of central authority that pertained elsewhere until the mid-thirteenth century. The Delhi sultans continued to acknowledge the caliph in Baghdad as the nominal leader of the ummah or Muslim community. They did not become, like the Umayyad caliphs of Andalusia, rival claimants to rule over the ummah.

Within South Asia the new rulers established powerful institutions that bore the impress of Islam. The capital city was to be adorned as the chief center of Muslim ritual observance. Because the sultan was expected to acknowledge the force of the shari’ah, even though that law might conflict with other dynastic or local laws, he also had to endow institutions crucial to Muslim collective identity-mosques (of which one must be a central mosque or jami` masjid), madrasahs or religious schools, and hospitals. While the ruler could expend funds from the central treasury, private individuals preferred to create charitable trusts (awqaf; sg., waqf) in order to establish and perpetuate such institutions.

None of these developments, however, accounts for the rapid growth of the Muslim population in North India from the twelfth century through the twentieth. Even when the Delhi sultans were pious, observing scrupulously the spirit as well as the letter of Muslim ritual requirements, they were not committed to extend the Muslim population base or to deepen the Islamic character of the Muslims under their rule. The latter task was left to the `ulama’, but the former task was not deemed important. It is difficult to attribute to the ruling elite the rapid growth of Islam in North India, from less than half a million in 1200, to 15 million in t 600 and more than 6o million by 1900 (roughly calculated on the basis of K. S. Lal, Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, Delhi, 1973, the standard albeit flawed work on this subject). Even though some of the elite patronized the arts, especially poetry, and others endowed madrasahs, mosques, and other charities, none was explicitly concerned to expand the base of Muslim society. Why then did so many persons become Muslim?

It is first necessary to establish how many did become Muslims, and that is far from simple. During the Mughal period records of population by religion were not kept; that practice was introduced by the British, as an element of the decadal census figures beginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The total population of India was around 284 million in 1901, of whom more than 25 percent or approximately 63 million were Muslim (Lal, p. 156). By 1991 the total population for all of South Asia approached 950 million, while the number of Muslims in the three nation-states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh was not less than 275 million.

It is difficult to explain these figures without recourse to speculation, and of all the speculative explanations the one that seems the most plausible focuses on the activities of another subset of elites that worked parallel with the official apparatus of Turco-Afghan rule but not in tandem with it. These were the tariqahs or Sufi brotherhoods. They date back to the time of the earliest military conquests. Middle Eastern or Central Asian in origin, they were elites; nearly all their members had privileged birth, religious training, and geographic mobility that set them apart from most of their generation. Yet their ethos was elastic rather than elitist.

The impact of the tariqahs is probably related to the fact that their great shaykhs followed a pattern of jurisdiction known as vilayet. Each vilayet demarcated a region or subregion of spiritual authority that then became the responsibility of a major shaykh or his successors to rule. The rule was to confer blessing or benefit on those who came to khanqahs, listened to shaykhs, sang at musical assemblies, and observed loyalty to the way. It also made these figures authorities parallel to ruling elites. If the kingdoms depended on arms for expansion, the Sufis depended on good will.

Domination and extraction were the hallmarks of the ruling groups, collaboration and inclusion the strategy of the brotherhoods. In terms of the expansion of a Muslim population base in North India, the latter seem the more likely candidates for success, though the actual process remains unclear.

What is clear is that by the end of Sultanate period and the beginning of the Mughal period in the sixteenth century, India had become a major node within the larger Muslim world. Muslim military expansion had provided the structure of dominance that continued through the Mughal period; Islamic India also provided a haven of retreat and opportunity for migrants from elsewhere in the Muslim world. From the medieval to the modern period the numbers of Muslims grew both by conversion and by immigration until they became a majority community in parts of northwestern and northeastern India, and a significant minority community in other parts of the subcontinent. The Mughal dynasty, by dominating North India, inspired a continuous cultural definition and renewal for the late medieval and early modern Muslim world. These transient heirs of Timur commanded the allegiance of the most populous, and arguably also the most powerful and wealthy, state within dar al-Islam.

Neither the power nor the prestige of Mughal India, however, could forestall its decline and eventual collapse. The last great Mughal was Awrangzib. During his nearly fifty-year reign indigenous groups such as Sikhs in the Punjab, Jats in Central India, and Marathas in the Deccan challenged and often defeated Mughal military forces. His heirs suffered an even worse fate: in 1739 an Iranian-Afghan raider, Nadir Shah, was able to plunder Delhi and take away the famed Peacock Throne.

There were, however, forces for reform that thrived even in the shadow of crisis, and the eighteenth century saw the ascent of such brilliant religious figures as Shah Wali Allah (d. 1763) and his successors Khvajah Mir Dard and Mirza Mazhar Jan-i Janan. All of them lived and worked in the region of Delhi forging a legacy for future generations of North Indian Muslims.

Also surviving into the 18th century were remnants of Shi i polities that had flourished throughout South Asia in different periods, appearing as alternative regional kingdoms in the Deccan, Kashmir, Awadh, and Bijapur. Despite the pattern of Sunni domination, in both the South Indian core area and most of the North Indian region one must note the distinctive characteristics of Shi’i community life; for two recent approaches, see Juan R. I. Cole, Roots of North Indian Shi’ism in Iran and Iraq: Religion and State in Awadh, 1722-1859 (Berkeley, 1988), and Vernon J. Schubel, Religious Performance in Contemporary Islam: Shi’i Devotional Rituals in South Asia (Columbia, S.C., 1993)

British Colonial Period. The most profound change for the Muslims of North India came not through the decline of the Mughals, the attrition of indigenous groups, or the persistence of Shi’i polities, but rather through the advent of the British. From the fifteenth century onward, commercial expansionism emanating from northwestern Europe and claiming long-distance maritime routes gradually affected all of Africa and Asia. The rise of capitalist states in one part of the world transformed the entire network of international trade. Until the end of the eighteenth century this unprecedented expansion provided some space for urban Muslim traders and religious figures, who were able to use the routes of intensified international commerce to visit other parts of the Muslim world and to further support for Islam as the locus of religious and community identity. But by the nineteenth century a new international culture challenged the older Islamic framework. Overwhelming European domination of economic and political arteries reinforced the alleged superiority of a scientific, capitalist culture. The British who ruled India could not only claim control of public space, they could also allege that the basis of that control was a superior way of life.

This transformation of political authority and cultural outlook affected all religious communities, but it pitted Muslims against Hindus in a new relationship as minority versus majority. Muslims had always been a minority, but they had never been singled out or deprived of access for that reason. Hindus had always been a majority, but they had never assumed privilege or calculated a collective strategy on the basis of numerical strength. In the eyes of the British, Islam and Hinduism represented two distinct and bounded cultures. Although their mutual interaction and influence was at times acknowledged, it was more usual to perpetuate their differences as historically determined and irreversible. If objective knowledge could demonstrate that Hindus and Muslims were antagonistic, it was argued, then administrative control was needed to mediate that antagonism and ensure peace in the public domain. Census definitions of identity, beginning in the late nineteenth century, made religious categories binding. Recruitment into the Indian army and the application of personal and family law also presupposed and reinforced religiously based identity. To the extent that those defined as Muslims or Hindus (or Sikhs, Parsees and others) accepted these strictures and tried to operate within them, they began to compete publicly, both for regional opportunities and for influence within the emerging national movement. A new generation of religious reformers emerged; they all fought British control, but they also opposed other indigenous groups who similarly articulated a scriptural basis for Muslim or Hindu identity.

Such an appeal to scriptural authority had been previously unknown. During the Mughal period conflict was widespread, bitter, and destructive, but it was waged on a cluster of interests: religion intermingled with land, language, and race as expedient claims for struggle. Nineteenth-century British Christian missionaries singled out native religion as an object of contempt. For North Indian Muslims the twin bases of their religious identity were put at risk: the prophethood of Muhammad and the sanctity of the Qur’an. Christians ridiculed the former as pretension and the latter as a testament of forgeries. What resulted were polemical exchanges, but also multiple efforts by Muslim elites to reclaim Islam as an authentic banner of public loyalty. One school of thought suggested accommodation to European values along with the retention of the kernel of Islamic faith. “Travel lightly but travel as Muslims” became the slogan of Muslim modernists, best typified by the Aligarh reformer and educator Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Another response was to reject all association with Europe and to retreat into a textualist bunker, counterattacking both European and Hindu influences. This became the strategy of the Deoband madrasah and other `ulama’-directed reform movements in North India. Still another reaction was to crystallize Islam into a new millenarian creed articulated by a charismatic leader, as did the Ahmadiyah under the direction of Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in northwestern India. There was also a groundswell of localized Islam-based mass movements, such as that of Mawlana Ilyas, a Sabirl Chishti popularist, who founded the Pan-Indian and now international reform movement known as Jama’at-i Tabligh. [See Ahmadiyah; Tablighi Jama’at.]

The most significant reaction, however, was that of the Khilafat (or Caliphate) movement, which affected the entire subcontinent. It was felt by Muslim elites in North India and also by emerging elites in Kerala. It is impossible to discuss twentieth-century South Asian history without accenting the hope engendered by the Khilafat movement. It countered the prevailing trend, favored by the British Raj, of politicizing Muslims into units of religiously based representation, sequestering them from Hindus as separate electorates while adjudicating their grievances under an independent legal system. Because the Ottoman sultan remained the titular leader of the world’s Muslims through World War I, the turmoil that took place in Turkey during the 1920s had repercussions throughout South Asia. In the name of a global Muslim community, others who were discomforted by national politics took up with zeal the cause of the Ottoman caliph. For a brief moment the Khilafat Committee and the noncooperation movement headed by Mohandas K. Gandhi cooperated, but the depth of suspicion was too great. When two of the leaders of the movement, Shaukat and Muhammad ‘Ali, were tried on charges of sedition in 1921, it was Muslims from Kerala who protested most loudly. The Khilafat trial fueled the Mappila Revolt in Kerala, turning Muslims against the British but also against Hindus. Efforts to retain Hindu-Muslim cooperation through the Congress Party failed. [See Khilafat Movement.]

The Khilafat movement also failed, at least in its avowed intent. The Ottoman Caliphate was abolished by Kemal Ataturk in 1928; the Mappila Revolt was put down with gruesome efficiency; and the National Muslim Party came into being as a direct response to the Nehru Report of 1928, which allotted Muslims only 26 percent of the seats in a future all-India independent parliament, instead of the 33 percent they sought.

Subsequent events reflected and at the same time intensified the deeprooted conflict over community representation. Consensus was never attainable, as Farzana Shaikh has made clear (Community and Consensus in Islam, Cambridge and New York, 1989), because the struggle over who represented the community ensured internal debate as well as external confrontation. Muslims were divided among themselves: opposed to British colonial rule, they were also fearful of Hindu dominance in a “secular” post-independence polity. In 1930 Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, proposed the idea of a separate Muslim state within the Indian federation. Later the acronym Pakistan was coined, and despite arguments over what territory would become Pakistan, in 1947 the British withdrew from the subcontinent, leaving as their legacy two independent and hostile polities. Pakistan was divided not only from India but also within itself. It consisted of two wings, a western Urdu-speaking minority and an eastern Bengali-speaking majority. It was a mismatch destined to fail, and in 1971, with assistance from India, the former East Pakistan led the only successful secessionist movement since World War II, from which Bangladesh emerged as the third major nation-state in the subcontinent.

In the meantime, a truncated but still vital Muslim minority community continued to claim India as homeland and to participate, though not with one voice, in the events of its post-independence public life and cultural struggle. The grim events of the 1980s, including the shrill claims, counterclaims, and bloodshed over a Hindu-Muslim site of worship in North India, suggest that the seeds of religious conflict planted a century earlier under British rule continue to bear bitter fruit. Although it is possible for Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs to plan for common goals, too often leaders using religious shibboleths will undermine and so preclude long-term commitment to an identity that places homeland over religion. Yet neither fascism nor fundamentalism is the most likely future ideology for the Republic of India. To secure Bharat as the domain of all divinities and devotees remains the hope of secular India; it is also the goal shared by silent majorities among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

[See also Afghanistan; Bangladesh; India; Kashmir; Mughal Empire; Pakistan; Popular Religion, article on Popular Religion in South Asia; and Sufism, article on Sufi Orders.]

Education, History, Politics, Religion, Socio-Economic, and Communal Problems (Delhi, 1991).

Additionally one must call attention to the antigovernmental, universalist view of Sufi masters and their legacy, best set forth in Khaliq Ahmad Nizami’s overview essay, “Hind. V. Islam,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vol. 4, pp. 428-438 (Leiden, 1960-). This essay epitomizes the life work of the most productive scholar of South Asian Islam. Its multiple insights into the traditions that molded the community of North Indian Muslims may be usefully supplemented by consulting any of Nizami’s more than forty books and countless articles, in both Urdu and English. See Mohammad Ahmad, comp., The Literary Contribution of K. A. Nizami (Delhi, n.d.). The publisher of this volume, Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delhi, intends to bring out all of Professor Nizami’s works in alternative English and Urdu volumes by the end of the 1990s.

Also of interest for a different approach to South Asian Islam are the several monographs in the New Cambridge History of India, a series edited by Gordon Johnson (Cambridge and New York, 1987-), relating Islam and Muslims to the larger political trends of the subcontinent during the past five hundred years. Divided into four topical segments-“The Mughals and Their Contemporaries,” “Indian States and the Transition to Colonialism,” “The Indian Empire and the Beginnings of Modern Society,” and “The Evolution of Contemporary South Asia”-these thirty monographs will encourage a revisionist view of both Mughal and post-Mughal history.

Finally, the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies has announced its intention to publish an atlas of Muslim social and intellectual history under the editorship of the Centre’s director, Farhan Nizami. The first volume will be devoted to South Asia, integrating rural with urban patterns of development, while also accounting for the emergence of distinctive mystical orders and scholarly institutions that shaped all phases of South Asian Muslim society. Together with the relevant monographs in the New Cambridge History of India, the Oxford atlas will set a new standard for future research into the largest community of Muslims in the modern world.



At present there is a vast and numbingly circular literature on Islam in South Asia. It is characterized by sweeping narratives, mostly focused on dynastic histories into which economic, social, cultural, and religious history is spliced. It is also rigidly diachronic: the unspoken assumption is that all history must be teleological, that we begin at the beginning (with Muslim raids, conquests, and empire-building) and then move through the centuries toward some putative end. In the case of South Asian Islam, it is always a grim end, since the advent of the West and the bitterness of the colonial/postcolonial eras confirm the prejudgment that Islam is in political decline and, with few exceptions, reduced to a hopeless, private sphere of personal piety.

For a representative sample of this view, see Peter Hardy, “Islam in South Asia,” together with its several bibliographic entries, originally published in The Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 7, pp. 390-404 (New York, 1987), and reprinted in The Religious Traditions of Asia, edited by Joseph Kitagawa, pp. 143-164 (New York and London, 1989).

Several nonstandard sources have been given in the text above, and a comprehensive (though not exhaustive) bibliographical compilation of more than three thousand English-language entries is now available. See Mohammed Haroon, Muslims of India: Their Literature on Islam in Southeast Asia and the Pacific

Islam is the religion of about 220 million people in Southeast Asia who live in a “Muslim archipelago” extending from southern Thailand, through Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and north to the southern Philippines. There are in addition isolated pockets of Muslims in Burma (Myanmar), northern and southern Thailand, and Cambodia; however, the major Islamic presence is in the “archipelago,” and the language of Islam there is Malay or one of its variants. This last fact has two important consequences for the understanding of Islam in the region: the consequences of geography and indigenous settlement patterns, and the crucial importance of language.

The typical settlements of the archipelago from prehistory to the recent past have been riverine or on estuaries. Trade has always been important. Beginning in the late twelfth century, the Arab-controlled trade of the Mediterranean, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent reached the islands of the archipelago. The Arab traders represented both a source of wealth and a window on the glamorous civilizations of West Asia. The impact of Islamic philosophy and the accounts of the great Muslim kingdoms of West and Central Asia (and later India) offered the indigenous rulers both a justification and a model for rule. The processes of physical transmission and intellectual acceptance are of course complicated, but the important point is that Islam was successful in the archipelago, despite preexisting Hinduism and Buddhism, because it was initially accepted and later imposed by rulers (rajas, later sultans) on the populations. This process took considerable time, and indeed, one may argue, it is not yet over.

In regard to language, Malay or one of its variants has always been the language of Islam in the archipelago. Arab speakers and readers have always been present in some areas, and at some times in considerable numbers. Islam was, however, transmitted in Malay, the language of all classes. Islam thus came early to be associated with the state (ke-rajaan) and with the Malay language; this relationship has persisted into the present.

Early Literature. The literature of Islam in Malay from the sixteenth to nineteenth century comprises a chronicle of royalty, an explanation of the world, various dogmas of faith, simple guides for life, and a theory and justification of power and its forms and expressions. Malay forms include sejarah (chronicle), hikayat (history), and translations in the fields of theology, the history of Islam, the life of the Prophet and his Companions, and apocryphal tales of individuals and kings in the Arabic and Persian worlds. This has been a rich heritage for the intellectual culture of Southeast Asian Islam. Yet it was far more than mere heritage, received, held, and copied; it was not static, as some nineteenthcentury European scholarship supposed. Instead, from the seventeenth century onward there was a positive flowering of Malay scholarship on Islam in all its forms.

On the more general side, there exist various genres that explain the nature of religion and introduce the reader to the necessary Arabic history and ritual. In this group are popular tales about the Prophets and other persons mentioned in the Qur’an. There are a number of named texts (e.g., Hikayat Anbiya, Hikayat Yusuf), all taken from Arabic sources; together they may be said to form a historical hagiography given in popular terms, with contents that are by no means theologically sophisticated. A closely related class concentrates on the prophet Muhammad himself, his life, the miracles attributed to him,, and the deeds of his companions. Major texts include Hikayat Nur Muhammad and Hikayat Nabi Bercukur. These works are all without named authors; no scholastic doctrine is stated, although there is considerable emphasis on didactic elements.

On the scholastic side, there is a group of works in theology, dating from the seventeenth century, which represents a burst of indigenous creativity unequaled in later Southeast Asian Islamic thought. Doctrine is discussed within the threefold classification of knowledge (al-kalam, al fiqh, al-tasawwuf). In addition, there were extensive translations and reworkings of established Arabic texts, ranging from commentaries on the Qur’an and hadith to works on Sufism and the varieties of rituals (dhikr, du’a’, rawdtib).

Four outstanding contributions to Islamic writing were produced in the seventeenth century in the Sultanate of Aceh, in both Malay and Arabic. The author Hamzah Fansuri was famous for his sha’ir (a genre of poetry) but most famous for his mystical writings. In his Sharab al-ashikin he discusses the four stages of the mystical path-the law, the path of renunciation, selfknowledge, and gnosis. His other famous work is the Asrar al-arifin, an exposition of the nature of God. Both works are still studied and remain highly influential in Southeast Asia today. An important commentary on Hamzah was written by the second of the great seventeenth-century authors, Shams al-Din. Only one of his works has survived complete, an orthodox Mirat almumin. His main interest was the doctrine of the unity of existence; he saw man as a mere appearance of the absoluteness of God. In his words, “Man is but a puppet in God’s shadow play.” As with Hamzah, selfknowledge is the first step toward perfect knowledge. The arguments of both scholars have been discussed in detail, but the striking feature is that intellectual Islam in the Malay world was, in its origins, speculative and mystic.

Naturally there was a reaction, and this is found in the work of al-Raniri, who was not just a translator from Arabic but also a great systematizer. His Bustan alsalatin is a compendium of Islamic knowledge for his time. He was also a polemist, and his attacks on unorthodoxy, especially Hamzah (which he compared with the nihilism of the Vedantas), are still read today. At the close of the seventeenth century there seems to have been a return to “practical” mystic practices in the writings of Abd al-Rauf, who published a translation of alBaydawi on the Qur’an as well as textbooks on dhikr and rawatib.

The archipelago seems to have a fondness for the mystical and speculative side of Islam, with a desire to find the outer permissible limits of doctrine. Given the very strong pre-Islamic cultures of the area, this is perhaps not surprising. The adoption or adaptation of such a universal theology, with its political implications, always involves tensions, and often inconsistency. Thus, in the late nineteenth century in Patani (now in southern Thailand), Shaykh Daud Patani worked as a brilliant translator from Arabic but was essentially a medieval man; in contrast was Shaykh Mohammed Zain, somewhat younger, whose fatwas disclose a determined effort to adapt-and if necessary to change-the world of Islam in his place and time. Neither can be classed simply as “orthodox” or “heretical”; they are both entirely within the Islamic tradition of Southeast Asia, in which intellectualism and royal power were clearly differentiated from social reality. [See also Malay and Indonesian Literature.]

Ethnography. The Muslim world of Southeast Asia is complex in its languages and cultures. Further, the translation of the Qur’anic injunction into daily life has been a complex and often inconsistent process, and it remains so today. There has been no single explanation of what constitutes acceptable Islamic practice for all of Southeast Asia. Instead, there are many culturally devised variations within the Islamic spectrum. Three structural features appear especially important.

First, there is a reasonable diversity of actual religious practices. These range from highly orthodox practices with emphasis on scripture and scholarship to various forms of “modernism” in which dogma is reinterpreted to cope with contemporary conditions. Notable in the latter respect is the fact that the nation-states of the area are avowedly secular. Secularism as such has become identified as the main problem for Islam. Paradoxically, this has resulted in a greater degree of tolerance for diversity of religious practice rather than the opposite. Pressure for conformity, in fact, seems to come from the state or from government-sponsored religious publications. The growing number and variety of millennial movements, especially since the 1960s, is part of this rich diversity.

Second, Islam is, like Judaism and Christianity, a religion of revelation. Its meaning is thus to be sought by each person in reading the holy words of God. Alternatively, understanding can be sought in recognized texts of interpretation and in commentaries. The essential scholarship of Islam is in Arabic and was for the most part written before the close of the twelfth century. This is part of the Muslim heritage in Southeast Asia; it describes Islam, and it is how one “knows” Islam. At the same time, the facts of life in the region are by no means easily assimilable in such terms. For example, local marriage practices, systems of land tenure, contracts of sale and purchase, adoptions and family relationships, punishment for crimes, and explanations of social and political ideas all operate under quite different principles from the ideals and revealed prescriptions of Islam. From the purist’s point of view, the difference is often seen in terms of a conflict between adat and Islam.

Adat (Ar., `adat) means “custom” and usages in the widest senses, as well as in legal prescription; there is no doubt that serious differences, practical as well as intellectual, did and still do exist between it and Islamic law. It is common, however, to find a wide degree of relativity for each term. A tendency toward compromise, syncretism, and local sophistry was the norm rather than the exception. As with religious practices themselves, the ethnography of Islam shows that formal doctrine is but one element in the social manifestation of theology. This is unsurprising, since the same situation can be found in any Muslim society.

A third important referent is the fact that the terms “Islam” and “Muslim” have always been used as an idiom for conceptualizing an identity and so legitimizing a status. What is a “Muslim,” and what does it mean to be one? In the European colonial period, especially in the late nineteenth century, these were important questions. For example, a whole range of rights, duties, and privileges depended upon holding Muslim status; these same rights were devised to “heretical Muhammadans.” The legal system of the Netherlands East Indies was even posited on the view that it was local custom (adat, not shari`ah) that should form the basis of laws for the indigenous peoples. [See Adat.]

Finally, it is to be noted that in the postindependence period, Islam has become institutionalized in governmental ministries and offices of religious affairs. There is in effect a developing sociology of Islamic institutions, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, and Indonesia.

Islam and the State. The Islamic response to the realities of dominion in Southeast Asia is complex because state histories are complex. Even the definition of “state” itself is debatable, and it has certainly changed over time.

The premodern state. The sultanates of the Malayan peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and the southern Philippines and Borneo cannot really be described as “Islamic” states. Thus, for example, while shari`ah was important in written texts, it did not solely determine either administration or personal law or finance; rather, it was a part of a system in which pre-Islamic practices continued. The respective balances between shari`ah and other elements of course varied from place to place. Comparing the Sejarah Melayu with the roughly contemporaneous Adat Aceh illuminates the varying emphases on religion and its place in the indigenous state systems.

There is, however, no question of the legacy of rule and theories of government bequeathed to Southeast Asia by the medieval Islamic tradition. The ruler (sultan) is himself khalifah (caliph) or al-insan al-kdmil. He draws an important justification for his position from these attributes and, in turn, is a focus of power for the officers of religion in his state. He might trace his genealogy back to Rum ( Constantinople) through Persia, or back to Adam through Sulayman-an almost physical transferance of power from the heartlands of Islam to its outer dominions. The legacy is not just the code of shari `ah and commentary, but also ideas of rule and sovereignty and of perfection in the ruler.

There were of course reactions against this, most notably from the various Muslim reform movements, such as Wahhabiyah; however, the reaction was itself expressed in terms of Islamic philosophy. The important point is that in the period up to establishment of firm European control, there was a Muslim theory of state in the archipelago, as well as a vibrant, sometimes violent argument about the theological and practical nature of this state.

The European colonial state, 1800-1940. In this period of a century and a half, the Muslim policies of the Malayan peninsula and of Sumatra and Java became subordinated to the British and the Dutch, respectively. Their subordination was military and economic butmore important in the long term-intellectual as well. Formerly at least the ethos of the sultanates, and in most cases much more than that, Islam became much reduced in status.

The state came to be defined in European terms. While the precise nature of the constitutional and political theories differed, there was no doubt that the Muslim archipelago was dependent territory and that ultimate sovereignty lay in Europe. Within this scheme, whether British, French or Dutch, there was simply no room for Islam as the basis of a theory of state. There was of course resistance, sometimes armed, but essentially religion had to give way to European secular formalism. The consequences of this persist; by the midnineteenth century Islam had become irrelevant to the definition of the state.

There was a second fundamental redefinition in the colonial period. The formal status of Islam declined to that of a mere religion, and only one among others. Regulation made Islam a private, personal religion and a personal law (not even the latter in the Netherlands East Indies). The state was secular, and religion was totally divorced from it. The only exception was in British Malaya, where the sultans were theoretically heads of religion in their states, but this concession was so heavily regulated as to render it nugatory.

Islam was in fact reduced from an essential of the state, its basic foundation, to mere individual belief. As though this were not enough, the religion itself became subject to government fiat at a very basic level. The respective colonial bureaucracies so regulated many of the fundamental institutions of Islam that even today it is impossible, or very difficult, to see Islam except in the terms imposed then. For example, “Islamic law” is not the shari`ah it is certain selected principles expressed in European form and administered in European-style courts. Similarly, licensing restraints (which still exist) were placed on zakdt, the building of mosques, the publication of literature, and the teaching of Islam. In short, the religion had become just one of the matters that clerks in ministries were charged to regulate.

Modern states. The reference to “modern states” is primarily to Malaysia and Indonesia, the heartlands of Southeast Asian Islam. The relatively small Muslim population of Myanmar (Burma) comprises two groups. The first includes the descendants of Indian immigrants (1880-1940), most of whom either left during World War II or in the 1960s; some, mostly from the economically depressed classes, remained. This class also includes the “Zerbadi,” the offspring of Indian Muslim males and Burmese females. There are no data on the numbers or situation of these people, but they have been consistent targets of Burmese racial chauvinism, so it is possible that they no longer survive as a discrete group. Second, the Rohingha of the Arakan are Muslim in religion but Arakanese in all else. They have been and are now subject to considerable aggression on the part of the Burmese army.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, two factors have determined the position of Islam in the postwar period. First, the newly independent states are modeled on the European secular tradition. They have constitutions, bureaucracies, national economic and social policies, and, to varying degrees, political pluralism. Political ideology ranges from variants of parliamentary democracy to versions of presidential and corporate rule. Essentially, however, the state is defined in terms of rational secularism.

Second, and contrasted with this, in the new states Islam for the first time gained a legitimate political voice. It was no longer a proscribed vehicle of protest and anticolonial agitation. Islam and Islamic activists in both the Netherlands East Indies and in British Malaya, especially in the former, had a long and proud history of resistance to the European imperium. But with the legitimization of at least some political pluralism with independence, the focus has changed: Islamic parties have entered the new political process as contributors rather than as resisters. This has not happened in Thailand or the Philippines, where Muslim minorities still resist the central governments, occasionally violently, in the name of Islam.

In Malaysia and Singapore, however, the Islamic political parties very quickly found themselves in a rather serious dilemma. How could the democratic political process within a secular state and their participation in it be reconciled with classical theories of ummah and the functions of imam, qadi and `ulama’, Theoretically the dilemma is irreconcilable, because an Islamic government, once established, has no mechanism by which it can be replaced. A further complication in both states has been that Islam was very heavily organized in the prewar period, and such important functions as the teaching of religion, the collection of zakdt and fitrah (charity/tax), the hajj, and judicial administration had become fully controlled by the state bureaucracy. This process continued after independence with the establishment of ministries of religion and departments of religious affairs. The public existence of Islam, whether in politics or in other sectors, had become accommodated within the institutions of the nation-state. This again is the dilemma of contemporary Islam: its participation in the politics and institutions of the secular state is combined with varying degrees of nonacceptance of the principles on which such states are based.

The history of Islamic politics in Southeast Asia is the history of “varying degrees of nonacceptance.” As already mentioned, the Muslims of southern Thailand have in the past resorted to violence (the Patani Liberation Front), as have the Moro of the southern Philippines (the Moro National Liberation Front); resistance in both areas continues. [See Patani United Liberation Organization; Moro National Liberation Front.]

In Indonesia (go percent Muslim) the history of Islamic political parties has been complex and characterized by the formation of large overarching groups, followed by their splitting into various specific interest and ideological groups. The interesting point about these regroupings and the shifting alliances that went with them is that they were not based on differences of doctrine. One cannot explain the sometimes bewildering political changes in such terms as “traditionalism” or “modernism.” Instead, differences arose over competition for the political posts available to Muslim representatives in alliance with secular parties. The detailed history is unedifying, probably because the Muslim parties have never held power or even the balance of power; yet the experience has not been without profit for Muslims. The Islamic perspective is politically important and has been recognized in the fields of family law and in parts of the education system, but no further. To some extent, Islam still remains an ideology of resistance in Indonesia, albeit in a more sophisticated form than before World War II. More recently, under the New Order government, Islamic political movements have been subsumed under a general “United Political Party” that emphasizes Pancasila as the national ideology.

In Malaysia, about half the population is Muslim, and Islam is recognized in the constitution as the official religion of the country. The rulers (sultans) of the various states in Malaysia are guardians of Islam in their own states. Each state has a Department of Religious Affairs, and there is also a National Council for Religious Affairs. Muslim political representation is divided into two unequal parts. On one hand is UMNO (United Malay National Organization), an ethnic Malay secular and nationalist party that has been dominant since independence. It accommodates Islam to a reasonable degree, but not to the extent of allowing religion to determine policy in any sphere. On the other hand, there has been a succession of “Islamic” parties concentrated almost entirely in the east coast and in the northwest, the rural heartlands of Islam. The latest party is the PAS (Patani Islam Se-Malaysia), whose program is avowedly Islamic, but at a fairly primitive level-women should not be allowed to work at night, and thieves should have their hands cut off. Although the Islamic parties have controlled states in the Malaysian Federation, they, like the Indonesian parties, have never come close to forming a national government. [See United Malay National Organization; Partai Islam Se-Malaysia.]

In summary, the history of Islam in Southeast Asia falls into three parts. Initially (fifteenth to eighteenth century) it was an ideology of rule in the Malayspeaking lands and the inspiration for an extensive and complex literature. Second, in the period of high colonialism it became subordinated to European forms of government, heavily bureaucratized, and politically suppressed. In literature, there was little except repetition until the inspiration of the West Asian reform movement reached Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth century. Even here, however, most of the Islamic revival was derivative of West Asian models. Finally, with independence came real political accommodation between Islam and the state in the areas of Muslim majority, Malaysia and Indonesia. Islam as a truly alternative way of life is not seriously espoused by any political party; that remains the aim only of various fringe groups (“fundamentalists”). There is currently little in the way of original literary work; instead there is a vast array of rather naive short books and pamphlets of an almost entirely admonitory and didactic nature.

On the other hand, and on a more positive note, both Malaysia and Indonesia have established “Islamic Banks.” These operate on a variety of Muslim contracts which eschew interest (riba); instead profits stem from various sharing and commission arrangements. The central banks of Malaysia and Indonesia exercise supervisory control. [See Banks and Banking.]

Islam in the Pacific. Islam is not a historical religion in the Pacific basin. Its presence in this region is the result of postwar immigration. The majority of immigrants are from Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, and to a lesser extent the Muslim Balkans. There is also a small representation from the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia.

The main areas of Muslim population are in Australia and New Zealand but there are increasing numbers in Japan, Korea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. In these last six states Muslim missionary work has been carried out with some vigor since the 1970s. A small but steady stream of local converts is now appearing. In the more developed states such as Japan and Korea they are supported with quite elaborate administrative structures including various sorts of councils and advisory bodies. There is even an “Islamic Company” in Japan.

The main centers, however, remain Australia and New Zealand. Until fairly recently Islam has had a low profile in both countries but international politics and missionary activity have greatly raised its public profile. In addition, internal disputes within the Muslim communities are now often reported in news media. Community organizations are often invited by governments (especially in Australia and New Zealand) to offer the Muslim position on such subjects as women, the family, and the custody of children.

There have been occasional difficulties with the host communities (for example, objections over locating mosques in suburban areas) but they are all of a relatively minor nature. There are also signs that conversion is proceeding among the native populations. There is little in the way of any serious political problem facing Islam or the Muslims.

[See also Australia and New Zealand; Brunei; Cambodia; Indonesia; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; and Regional Islamic Da’wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.]


Benda, Harry J. The Crescent and the Rising Sun. The Hague, 1958. Islam and the Japanese occupation in Indonesia, 1942-1945• Boland, B. J. The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia. The Hague, 1971.

Boland, B. J., and I. Farjon. Islam in Indonesia: A Bibliographical Survey, 1600-1942. Dordrecht, 1983.

Gowing, Peter G., and Robert D. McAmis, eds. The Muslim Filipinos. Manila, 1974

Hooker, M. B., ed. Islam in Southeast Asia. Leiden, 1983. Contains papers on history, sociology, philosophy, literature, law, and politics, plus an extensive bibliography.

Hooker, M. B. Islamic Law in South-East Asia. Kuala Lumpur, 1984. Contains chapters on Islamic legal history, Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The only general survey for the area, but now somewhat dated.

Hooker, M. B., ed. The Laws of South-East Asia. 2 vols. Singapore, 1986-1988. Volume 1 contains an article on Muslim texts (pp. 347-434) and an extensive bibliography (pp. 539-554).

Majul, Cesar Adib. Muslims in the Philippines. Quezon City, 1973. Al-nahdah (Journal of the Regional Islamic Da’wah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific). A quarterly with useful information on contemporary Islamic affairs in the area.

Ner, Marcel. “Les Musulmans de I’Indochine francaise.” Bulletin de iIEcole Francaise d’Extreme Orient 41 (1941): 151-too. The only general account, focused mainly on the Cham of Cambodia.

Taufik Abdullah and Sharon Siddique, eds. Islam and Society in Southeast Asia. Singapore, 1986. Valuable collection of papers on all aspects of Islam in the region.

Yegar, Moshe. The Muslims of Burma. Wiesbaden, 1972. Good account of the history of the mainly immigrant Indian Muslim community in Burma.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/islam-south-asia/

  • writerPosted On: June 4, 2014
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