Islamic Studies Islam in Southeast Asia
Fred von der Mehden
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 June 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0080


Southeast Asia is the home of more than 220 million Muslims and includes the world’s most populated Muslim state and its largest democracy, Indonesia. It includes three majority Muslim states (Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia), four with significant minorities (Burma/Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, and a small and declining minority in Cambodia. Muslims in the region can be characterized as displaying a growing Islamic awareness, significant involvement in politics, and developing interaction with the rest of the Muslim world. Until after World War II, studies of Muslims in the region were primarily carried out by authors from the European colonial powers. Although there was also religious literature written in Malay/Indonesian, it was little known outside the colonies. Most of the European studies were concentrated on Muslim history, experience, and practice at the local and national level. It was only with the advent of the Islamic revival and the rise of militant Islam in recent decades that cross-national approaches became more prevalent.

Bibliographies and Dictionaries

There are a number of bibliographies that cover aspects of Islam in Southeast Asia. Some of these have not been updated or are not annotated. There are variations in the citations listed, and several entries are not traditional bibliographies. Only Boland and Farjon 1983 and Horvatich 1993 have only citations on Islam in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately there is, as yet, no major 21st century bibliography on Islam in the area.

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