A book that reflect the wide diversity of contemporary Islamic studies

globalisationIslam In The Era of Globalization: Muslim Attitudes Toward Modernity and Identity (INIS Series No. 38); Edited by Johan H. Meuleman; Indonesia-Netherlands Cooperation in Islamic Studies (INIS); Jakarta, 2001); xxi + 404

The book is a selection of about 70 papers presented at the First International Conference on Islam and the 21st Century held by INIS at Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 1996.

Around 100 Muslim and non-Muslim specialists in Islam from all over the world, including Indonesia, participated in the conference. Scholars whose papers appear in this volume include Azyumardi Azra, Muhammad Hisyam, Muhammad Atho’ Mudzhar and Lik Arifin Mansurnoor from Indonesia, Kees van Dijk, Nico Kaptein and Johan Meuleman from the Netherlands, Mark R. Woodward, Dru C.

Gladney and Riffat Hasan from the U.S. and Lukas Werth from Germany, as well as others from Britain, India and Pakistan.

In general, the papers concentrate on Islam in Asia, mostly Indonesia, but one pertains to Muslim communities of South Asian origin in Suriname, Trinidad and Guyana, while two others address more general topics.

Although most of the papers are based on detailed studies relating to a particular country or region, they share one core theme: how Muslims are facing globalization and modernity, and how they are going about creating an identity for themselves.

The editor defines globalization as “the process leading toward an increasingly strong interdependence between increasingly large parts of the world, resulting in the phenomenon that events and developments in one region influence most other regions”.

This is nothing new in the history of the Muslim community.

For instance, Azra stresses the important role played in its development by the interaction between Indonesia and the Middle East dating back several centuries. Both Van Dijk and Hisyam support a thesis that the various globalizing tendencies were just one part of a dialectic between globalization and local appropriations.

On modernity, Woodward finds different types of Javanese Muslims (traditionalist, modernist and Javanese mystic) who elaborate on their perspectives on belief and modernity. Woodward argues that Indonesian Muslims accept modernity while at the same time continuing to imbue their experiences with meaning and their society with cohesion on the basis of their religion.

He concludes that, for Muslims, the problem of modernity is sociological, not cosmological. As the history of Islamic jurisprudence clearly demonstrates, “sociological components of religion have proved to be far more flexible than cosmogonic truth claims” (p. 140), or, in the editor’s words, “that it is Islam indeed which is more open to modernity than Christianity”.

As a whole, the papers collected in the book reflect the wide diversity that characterizes contemporary Islamic studies, in keeping with the origins of the authors.

— Darul Aqsha

On The Shelves
The Jakarta Post
Sun, Feb 17 2002

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