The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern `Ulama’ in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Ayzumardi Azra, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004. 254 pages.

This book, an extension of Azra’s doctoral dissertation, explores the transmission of Islamic knowledge from the Middle East to the Malay-Indonesian (Jawi) world. Making use of Arabic biographical dictionaries and scholarly texts, he produces a historical account arguing that the region’s Islamic renewal and reformism originated in crisscrossing networks of Islamic scholars based in the Haramayn (Makkah and Madinah) during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Azra’s detailed historical research substantiates an earlier intellectual transmission than previously thought. He contends that the main ideas transmitted comprised a “neo-Sufism” characterized by harmonizing the Shari`ah and tasawwuf (Sufism) and promoting a return to orthodoxy, purification, and activism. He makes these arguments in an introduction, seven chapters, and a brief epilogue.

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