Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia

Edited by Johan Saravanamuttu

© 2012 – Routledge

192 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415625340
pub: 2012-04-16
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415563925
pub: 2009-12-10
US Dollars$155.00

About the Book

Southeast Asia manifests some of the most interesting, non-violent as well as conflictual elements of Islamic social and political life in the world. This book examines the ways in which Muslim politics in Southeast Asia has greatly impacted democratic practice and contributed to its practical and discursive development. It addresses the majority and minority situations of Muslims within both democratic and authoritarian politics. It shows, for example, how in Muslim majority Indonesia and Malaysia, political Islam directly engages with procedural democracy; in Muslim minority Thailand and the Philippines, it has taken a violent route; and in Muslim minority Singapore, it has been successfully managed through civil and electoral politics. By exploring such nuances, variations, comparisons and linkages among Muslim majority and minority countries, this book deepens our understanding of the phenomenon of Muslim politics in the region as a whole.


"All chapters of Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia are an engaging read for the target audience. For those readers familiar with 'Political Islam in South East Asia', Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia serves as a wonderful advancement in discourse on a coherent theme. It is a pleasure to be able to read works which rely on cutting-edge research." - Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Contemporary South Asia Vol. 32, No. 2 (2010)

"The book under review offers a rare discussion of theoretical and empirical thinking about Islamic engagements with, variously, state power, 'authoritarian democracy' and civil society challenges, set against highly pluralistic societies that make up Southeast Asia. Highly recommended as a teaching resource not only for Southeast Asianists but, more broadly, for students of comparative politics and religion." - Geoffrey C. Gunn, Faculty of Economics, Nagasaki University, Japan; Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 41 No. 2 (2011)

"Islam and politics in Southeast Asia is a well researched and documented study of Muslim politics in modern post-colonial Southeast Asia. The individual writer's astute observations and pointed conclusions offer insights how each Muslim community that is examined responds to and engages with the state which is viewed as fundamentally authoritarian. Thus, the book is of value to students and scholars of social sciences, Southeast Asian and Islamic studies because it provides a basis for an understanding of Muslim politics in individual countries of Southeast Asia, to make comparisons between Muslim communities, particularly between the situations of Muslim majority and Muslim minority, and finally to gain an overview of the region as a whole." - Zailan Moris, School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang; Kajian Malaysia, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2010

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Majority-Minority Muslim Politics and Democracy - Johan Saravanamuttu 2. Authority and Democracy in Malaysian and Indonesian Islamic Movements - Judith Nagata 3. Political Islam and Democracy in the Majority Muslim Country of Indonesia - Jacques Bertrand 4. The Authoritarian State and its Link to Political Islam in Muslim-Majority Malaysia - Maznah Mohamad 5. Encounters of Muslim Politics in Malaysia - Johan Saravanamuttu 6. Missing Lawyer in Thailand: The Fate of Engaged Muslims in Authoritarian Democracy - Chaiwat Satha-Anand 7. A Never-ending War and the Struggle for Peace in Southern Philippines - Carmen Abu Bakar 8. Authoritarian Democracy and the Minority Muslim Polity in Singapore - Hussin Mutalib 9. Ideology and Utopia in the Discourse on Civil Society in Indonesia and Malaysia - Syed Farid Alatas

About the Editor

Johan Saravanamuttu is currently Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. He was formerly Professor of Political Science at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang and Visiting Chair in ASEAN and International Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is co-editor of New Politics in Malaysia; and co-author of March 8: Eclipsing May 13.

About the Series

Routledge Malaysian Studies Series

The Routledge Malaysian Studies Series publishes high quality scholarship that provides important new contributions to knowledge on Malaysia. It also signals research that spans comparative studies, involving the Malaysian experience with that of other nations.

This series, initiated by the Malaysian Social Science Association (MSSA) to promote study of contemporary and historical issues in Malaysia, and designed to respond to the growing need to publish important research, also serves as a forum for debate on key issues in Malaysian society. As an academic series, it will be used to generate new theoretical debates in the social sciences and on processes of change in this society.

The Series covers a broad range of subjects including history, politics, economics, sociology, international relations, geography, business, education, religion, literature, culture and ethnicity. The series will encourage work adopting an interdisciplinary approach.

New proposals for the series are welcomed.  Prospective authors should in the first instance contact the series editors, whose email addresses are:;; and


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Subject Categories

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