Islam in Southeast Asia
In the 11th century, a turbulent period occurred in the history of Malay Archipelago, the Chola Navy crossed the ocean and attacked the Srivijaya kingdom of Sangrama Vijayatungavarman, Kadaram (Kedah), an important fortified city in the Malayan peninsula was sacked and the king was taken captive. Soon after that, the king of Kedah Phra Ong Mahawangsa became the first ruler to abandon the traditional Hindu faith, and converted to Islam with the Sultanate of Kedah established in year 1136.
Samudera Pasai converted to Islam in the year 1267, and many other rulers follow suit. There are several theories to the Islamization process in Southeast Asia. The first theory is trade. The expansion of trade among West Asia, India and Southeast Asia helped the spread of the religion as Muslim traders brought Islam to the region. The second theory is the role of missionaries or Sufis. The Sufi missionaries played a significant role in spreading the faith by syncretising Islamic ideas with existing local beliefs and religious notions.
Finally, the ruling classes embraced Islam which further aided the permeation of the religion throughout the region. The ruler of the region’s most important port, Malacca Sultanate, embraced Islam in the 15th century, heralding a period of accelerated conversion of Islam throughout the region as the religion provided a unifying force among the ruling and trading classes.
Islam in Indonesia.
As we know, Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia, but not many people know that the amount of Muslims in Indonesia is larger than anywhere else in the world, with approximately 202. 9 million identified as Muslim (88. 2% of the total population) as of 2009. To foreign observers as well as to many Indonesians themselves, Indonesian Islam has always appeared to be very different from Islam at most other places, especially from the way it is practised in the Arabian peninsula.
The religious attitudes of the Indonesians, it was often said, were more influenced by the Indian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism) that had long been established in the Archipelago and the even older indigenous religions with their ancestor cults and veneration of earth gods and a plethora of spirits. Many contemporary Indonesian Muslims refuse to recognise them as Islamic because they conflict with modern conceptions of (universal) Islam. In many cases, however, they came to Indonesia as part of Muslim civilisation, even if they did not perhaps belong to the core of Muslim religion.
They represent an earlier wave of Islamisation.
Islam In Malaysia
Malaysia is a multiconfessional country with Islam being the largest practiced religion, comprising approximately 61. 4% Muslim adherents, or around 17 million people. In the 11th century, a turbulent period occurred in the history of Malay Archipelago, the Chola Navy crossed the ocean and attacked the Srivijaya kingdom of Sangrama Vijayatungavarman, Kadaram (Kedah), an important fortified city in the Malayan peninsula was sacked and the king was taken captive.
Soon after that, the king of Kedah Phra Ong Mahawangsa became the first ruler to abandon the traditional Hindu faith, and converted to Islam with the Sultanate of Kedah established in year 1136. Samudera Pasai converted to Islam in the year 1267, and many other rulers follow suit. The local population saw that Islam could extricate them from this bondage and provide the means for the extirpation of social evils. The new religion gave the small man a sense of this individual worth – the dignity of man – as a member of an Islamic community.
Originally, the draft Constitution of Malaysia did not specify any official religion for the state. This move was supported by the rulers of the nine Malay states, who felt that it was sufficient that Islam was the official religion of each of their individual states. However, Justice Hakim Abdul Hamid of the Reid Commission which drafted the Constitution came out strongly in favour of making Islam the official religion, and as a result the final Constitution named Islam as the official religion of Malaysia.
Islam in the Malay Archipelago in general and Malaysia in particular follows the Shafi Madhab (school of thought). However there are many Muslims in Malaysia who do not follow any particular school. In Perlis, the state constitution specifies that Perlis follows the Qur’an and Sunnah and not a particular madhab. Many Muslims in Perlis therefore do not follow any madhab, as is the case with the followers and members of the Muhammadiyah Organisation in Indonesia.
- Global and Local in Indonesian Islam by Prof. Martin Van Bruinessen, Southeast Asian Studies (Kyoto) vol. 37, no. 2 (1999), 46-63.