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  • Living Islamically in the Periphery: Muslim Discourse, Institution, and Intellectual Tradition in Southeast Asia by Iik Arifin Mansurnoor
  • Mahani Musa
Living Islamically in the Periphery: Muslim Discourse, Institution, and Intellectual Tradition in Southeast Asia Iik Arifin Mansurnoor Jakarta: UIN Jakarta University Press, 2011. 450 pp. ISBN: 978 602 8033 40 4

This volume is a compilation of the author's essays which were previously published in journals and edited books. These essays are grouped into four sections: Parts one and two focus on Brunei; Part three on Madura, while the discussion on Islam in Southeast Asia is covered in the final section. Under the theme of 'Keeping the faith and developing community and state', Part one embraces three chapters. The first chapter discusses the development of Kampong Ayer until the founding of a land-based settlement. The British Residency was introduced in 1906 and British Residents were influential in the state but with the state patronage. The sultan was firmly in control of all matters relating to Islam. This enabled Kampong Ayer to expand as an urban Muslim settlement despite the British plan in 1908 to move the capital to a land-based settlement.

The role of the sultan as the paramount symbol of Islam in Brunei is covered in Chapter 2, entitled 'Historiography and religious reform in Brunei during the period 1912-1959'. The author stresses that the sultan's decision to place Brunei under the protection of Great Britain in 1888 and 1905/06 had a significant impact on the socio-religious life of the people of Brunei. The glory of the Ottoman empire, the development of tariqa orders in Southeast Asia, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 which meant the availability of more religious books from Mecca, and the return of trained scholars from Mecca, had opened up Brunei to changes for the first time since the nineteenth century. Interestingly, it was during the British Residency that many Islamic reforms took place, such as the prominence of Islamic law (sharia') in matters relating to family law and the clarification of the roles of religious officials in the judiciary (i.e. the introduction of local religious officials, kadi, to deal with cases relating to family law only). In the 1930s there were major changes in religious education when the sultan became the patron of all Islamic education reforms. In 1948 major institutional changes started and these were accelerated in the 1950s following the ascendency of Sultan Begawan to the Brunei throne. He incorporated foreign influences into his reforms (e.g., he followed Johor in the introduction of afternoon religious school) and established the Islamic Law Council in 1954. In the third chapter, entitled 'Socio-religious changes in Brunei after the Pacific War' the author continues his discussion on the Islamic reforms after 1945. On 1 July 1954, the Department of State Customs, Religion and Social Welfare was established and following the 1959 Constitution, the department was reorganized into the Department of Religious Affairs and the Department of State Customs and Social Welfare. This clarified the position of Islam as the official state religion while the implementation of the 1955 Enactment on Islamic Affairs, State Customs and Kadhi's Court manifests the strength of Islam in Brunei. [End Page 111]

Part two of the book covers the theme 'Bringing Islam to individual and public: Education and intellectual tradition in Brunei'. The first chapter discusses the intellectual tradition through historical and religious text and the role and contribution of ulama in spreading knowledge among the population. In the second chapter 'Islamic education, state, and society in Brunei Darussalam', the author focuses his discussion on the development of religious tradition since the twentieth century through religious figures who, at the same time, served as state officials. They established religious network through students and a new balai. Iik divides the development of Islamic education into three phases: the early stage of development during British Residency in the first phase; the second phase covers the bureaucratization and institutionalization of religious education which took place after the Pacific War; and the third phase, the indigenization and maturation of religious education in the 1960s through Brunei scholars who had graduated from...


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