Islam in Modern Thailand: Faith, Philanthropy and Politics (Hardback) book cover

Islam in Modern Thailand

Faith, Philanthropy and Politics

By Rajeswary Ampalavanar Brown

© 2014 – Routledge

280 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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This book addresses the complexity of Islam in Thailand, by focusing on Islamic charities and institutions affiliated to the mosque. By extrapolating through Islam and the waqf (Islamic charity) in different regions of Thailand the diversity in races and institutions, it demonstrates the regional contrasts within Thai Islam. The book also underlines the importance of the internal histories of these separate spaces, and the processes by which institutions and ideologies become entrenched. It goes on to look at the socio economic transformation that is taking place within the context of trading networks through Islamic institutions and civil networks linked to mosques, madrasahs and regional power brokers. Brown casts this study of private Islamic welfare as strengthening rather than weakening relations with the secular Thai state. The current regime’s effectiveness in coopting these Muslim elites, including Lutfi and Wisoot, into state bureaucracies assists in widening their popular base in the south, in the north-east, and in Bangkok. Such appointments were efficacious in reinforcing the elite’s Islamic identity within a modern, secular, literate, and cosmopolitan Thai culture.

In challenging existing studies of Thai Muslims as furtive protest minorities, this book diverts our attention to how Islamic philanthropy provides the logic and dynamism behind the creation of autonomous spaces for these independent groups, affording unusual insights into their economic, political and social histories.


'The title of this scholarly and detailed work promises an examination of Islam everywhere in Thailand, not just in the South. This is what we get in a book focused on Islamic charities and institutions affiliated to the mosque, including the operations of the waaf (Muslim religious foundation). […] Perhaps the main virtue of Brown's book is that it enables us to see the Muslim South in a wider context. And the challenge to McCargo's thesis at least makes us test afresh our own assumptions about the situation.'Barney Smith, Asian Affairs, July 2014

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Islam, Waqf and Modernity 2. Islamic Pluralism and Transnationalism in Thailand: The View from the Waqf 3. Cash Waqf, Islamic Finance, and Globalisation 4. Mobilizing a Divided Islam: Historical Intellectual Lineages, Diasporas and Ideologies under the Gaze of the Buddhist State 5. Cosmopolitanism and Legal Pluralism in Thai Islam since 1860 6. Pondering the Pondoks in Thailand: Islamic Education and its Long Term Repercussions 7. Leadership and Authority: The Art of Governing the Thai Muslims 8. The Secular Pilgrimage: Economics and Secularism in the Hajj 9. Saudi Arabian Philanthropy Abroad and the Economics of Muslim Resistance in Southern Thailand 10. Conclusion: Understanding Thai Islam And The Prophets Of Renewal

About the Author

Rajeswary Ampalavanar Brown is an Emeritus Professor at the Royal Holloway College in London, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of Southeast Asia.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General