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Southeast AsiaLiterature And Philosophy, Law, Islam And The State

The Muslim population of Southeast Asia is in excess of 250 million. It is the religion of the majority in Indonesia and Malaysia, with significant minorities in Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Islam has a five-hundred-year history in this region. Importantly, it was not imposed by conquest but freely adopted, initially by royal and upper classes and then percolating down to the masses. Of course its progress has been uneven, despite organized missionary efforts that began in the seventeenth century and continue into the early twenty-first century. However, the result has been that Islam in Southeast Asia is expressed in local idioms reflecting local cultural norms. These variations do not mean that the basics of revelation are or have been abandoned but that localized expressions incorporating indigenous philosophies are primary. To "know Islam" is thus to know the local forms.

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