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Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia

Nakamura Mitsuo, Sharon Siddique and Omar Farouk Bajunid

Publication Year: 2001

The Islamic world, often regarded as an anathema to civil society, in fact has rich traditions of associational life pursuing “common good”. These religious resources have been reinterpreted for the enhancement of civic virtues and participatory politics in contemporary context, that is, democratization. Such pioneering efforts have been clearly observable in Muslim Southeast Asia. In November 1999, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation invited ten Muslim activists and scholars from the region to Japan for exchanging views and experiences among themselves and with Japanese participants. Here their papers and discussions are compiled into a book, Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Front Matter

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

On behalf of the participants of the conference, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all those individuals and organizations who rendered help to the project. I owe particular thanks to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, of which the following individuals deserve special mention: Mr Iriyama Akira...

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About the Contributors

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pp. viii-x

Chaiwat Satha-Anand is Director, Peace Information Center, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Bangkok. He served as Convenor for the Non-Violence Commission, International Peace Research Association (IPRA), 1990–94. He was educated at the Thammasat University, and the...

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pp. xi-xv

This volume is the result of a two-day closed intensive seminar and a half-day open symposium entitled “Islam and Civil Society: Messages from Southeast Asia”, held on 5–7 November 1999 in Japan, sponsored by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Ten paper-presenters from five countries of Southeast Asia...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-30

It seems appropriate here to state what is meant by “civil society” in this volume. Although the various chapter writers have not jointly attempted to define the term explicitly, they seem to be more or less in agreement in using the term to refer to the public sphere between the state and the individual, which...

PART I. THE INDONESIAN EXPERIENCE: Civil Society versus the State

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2. Nahdlatul Ulama and Civil Society in Indonesia

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pp. 33-42

The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) is the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia today. It was founded as a religious voluntary organization in Surabaya, East Java, in January 1926. It took part in the modernization of the Indonesian Muslim community by involvement in the development of education, social...

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3. Muhammadiyah’s Experience in Promoting Civil Society on the Eve of the 21st Century

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pp. 43-54

This chapter argues that the Muhammadiyah, as an Islamic social-religious organization in Indonesia, cannot be aptly explained by this binary and dichotomous approach. The most critical point in understanding civility and democracy concerns not one, but both, of these variables — not in isolation, but...

PART II. THE MALAYSIAN EXPERIENCE: Islamization, the Muslim Community, and Inter-Ethnic Relations

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4. Islam, Civil Society, and Ethnic Relations in Malaysia

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pp. 57-75

Islam as a religion, as a way of life, and as a “mercy to mankind” (rahmatan lil ‘alamin) constitutes a comprehensive guide to the adherents of the faith in their relationship both with God (hablun min Allah) and within society (hablun min nas). Qur’anic injunctions and Prophetic instructions (al-Hadith) abound with...

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5. Islamization and the Emerging Civil Society in Malaysia: A Case Study

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pp. 76-88

In Malaysia, the Islamic resurgence of the 1970s, without doubt, is one of the autonomous forces that has contributed to the expansion of civil society. Responding to the call for a greater representation of Islamic values, norms, and identity in society, a large segment of the urban-based Malay middle class...

PART III. MINORITY EXPERIENCE: Contribution of Muslim Civil Society to Civility

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6. Defending Community, Strengthening Civil Society: A Muslim Minority’s Contribution to Thai Civil Society

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pp. 91-103

One of the most exhaustive academic treatments on the subject of civil society during the last decade is perhaps Jean L. Cohen and Andrew Arato’s Civil Society and Political Theory.1 It is interesting to note that in this 771-page volume, there is no reference to “Islam” or “Muslim” anywhere in its...

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7. Islam and Civil Society in Thailand: The Role of NGOs

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pp. 104-116

On 11 October 1997, millions of people in Thailand watched on television King Bhumipol Adulyadej perform the ceremony to hand over the kingdom’s latest Constitution to the President of the National Assembly, Wan Muhammad Noor Matha. This new Constitution is widely considered to be the most liberal...

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8. The Making of Civil Society Through Waqf Institution in Mindanao

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pp. 117-134

Civil society — in a number of organizational networks apart from the nation-state — has become one of the most useful terms in our time. The early idea of “society” which at first represented the rulers and polity was associated with the conception of “nation”. The addition of “civil” has given it a contemporary...

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9. Islam and Civil Society: A Case Study from Singapore

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pp. 135-146

In Singapore, the main preoccupation with civil society lies in defining state–society relations. This generally takes the rather benign focus of “exploring the potential for achieving … state–society synergies”.1 When the issue of civil society first emerged into the public arena in the early 1990s, Brigadier-General...

PART IV. TOWARDS A GLOBAL CIVIL SOCIETY: From Convergence to Common Agenda

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10. Potential Islamic Doctrinal Resources for the Establishment and Appreciation of the Modern Concept of Civil Society

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pp. 149-163

There are at least three reasons to see the relevance and, therefore, the legitimacy, of an attempt to look at Islamic teachings for the resources to establish and appreciate the idea of civil society in Southeast Asia. The first is historical, in the sense that there is every indication that Islam has brought the idea of civil...

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11. Inter-Civilizational Dialogue: Theory and Practice in Islam

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pp. 164-176

The main purpose of this paper is to provide a brief discussion of some of the fundamental and salient elements in the Islamic theory and practice of intercivilizational dialogue. The domain of ideas with which intercivilizational dialogue is primarily concerned constitutes a new field of academic inquiry. Scholarly...

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12. Islam and Civil Society in Southeast Asia: A Review

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pp. 177-202

The theme of Islam and civil society in Southeast Asia deserves much more attention than it has been so far given. The unique position of Islam in the region, by and large, still appears little explored and, at best, only ambivalently understood. Although Islam is a dominant religion in Southeast Asia and Muslims...


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pp. 203-211

E-ISBN-13: 9789812307132
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812301123

Page Count: 212
Publication Year: 2001

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil society -- Religious aspects -- Islam.
  • Civil society -- Southeast Asia.
  • Islam -- Social aspects -- Southeast Asia.
  • Islam -- 20th century -- Southeast Asia.
  • Islam -- Southeast Asia.
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