The Politics of Religion in South and Southeast Asia: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Politics of Religion in South and Southeast Asia

1st Edition

Edited by Ishtiaq Ahmed


288 pages

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The notion of a ‘politics of religion’ refers to the increasing role that religion plays in the politics of the contemporary world. This book presents comparative country case studies on the politics of religion in South and South Asia, including India, Pakistan and Indonesia. The politics of religion calls into question the relevance of modernist notions of secularism and democracy, with the emphasis instead on going back to indigenous roots in search of authentic ideologies and models of state and nation building. Within the context of the individual countries, chapters focus on the consequences that politics of religion has on inclusive nation-building, democracy and the rights of individuals, minorities and women.

The book makes a contribution to both the theoretical and conceptual literature on the politics of religion as well as shed light on the implications and ramifications of the politics of religion on contemporary South Asian and South East Asian countries. It is of interest to students and scholars of South and South East Asian Studies, as well as Comparative Politics.


"[N]o public or university library must be without this book. It presents balanced, impartial and unbiased analyses by academics of the first order." - Reginald Massey; Confluence (, August 2011

"[T]his book is a rich source of useful information and an excellent analysis of the role of religion in politics in the context of South and South East Asia. It has been very competently edited by a scholar who has deep insight into the politics of this region. I recommend this book as a milestone of research on South Asia to scholars of this region as well as the lay reader." - Tariq Rahman; Newsline Magazine, February 2012

"[A] timely addition to debates on secularism and the space and place for religion in politics and public sphere in two regions of Asia where the medium of religion has always been a significant one for politics… Ishtiaq Ahmed has succeeded in highlighting that the rise of religion in politics and public affairs is inconsistent with rights and dignity that plurality offers to humanity. The volume succinctly brings out that the use of religion by any section of the political universe could lead to the use of the religious medium and language by most, if not all." - Ajay K. Mehra; Mainstream Weekly, Vol L No 12, March 10, 2012

Table of Contents

Preface Tan Tai Yong 1. The Politics of Religion in South and Southeast Asia Ishtiaq Ahmed 2. Religion as a Political Ideology in South Asia Ali Riaz 3. Islamism beyond the Islamic Heartland: The Case Study of Bangladesh Taj Hashmi 4. Secular versus Hindu Nation-Building: Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim and Christian Experiences in India Ishtiaq Ahmed 5. Sikh Politics and the Indo-Pak Relationship Tridivesh Singh Maini 6. Religious Nationalism and Minorities in Pakistan: Constitutional and Legal Bases of Discrimination Ishtiaq Ahmed 7. Women under Islamic Law in Pakistan Ishtiaq Ahmed 8. Religion as a Political Ideology in Southeast Asia Bilveer Singh 9. Political Islam in Indonesia Noorhaidi Hasan 10. Religion and Politics in the Philippines Raymund Jose G. Quilop 11. Creating the Muslim Majority in Plural Malaysia: Undermining Minority and Women’s Rights Maznah Mohamad 12. Keeping Politics and Religion Separate in the Public Square: Managed Pluralism and the Regulatory State in Singapore Eugene Tan 13. Transnational Religious-Political Movements: Negotiating Hindutva in the Diaspora Rajesh Rai 14. Negotiating Rights through Transnational Puritan Networks Tahmina Rashid

About the Editor

Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Visiting Research Professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore and a Professor of Political Science at Stockholm University, Sweden. His previous publications include ‘The Concept of an Islamic State: An Analysis of the Ideological Controversy in Pakistan’ (1987) and ‘State Nation and Ethnicity in Contemporary South Asia’ (1996).

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Asia Series

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

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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