Islam And Colonialism: Becoming Modern in Indonesia and Malaysia (Muhammad Ali, Edinburg University Press, 2016)

Islam And Colonialism: Becoming Modern in Indonesia and Malaysia (Muhammad Ali, Edinburg University Press, 2016)

Muhammad Ali

Edinburgh University Press, 2016

Focusing on Indonesia and Malaysia, this book looks at how European colonial and Islamic modernising powers operated in the common and parallel domains of government and politics, law and education in the first half of the twentieth century. It shows that colonialisation was able to co-exist with Islamisation, arguing that Islamic movements were not necessarily antithetical to modernisation, nor that Western modernity was always anathema to Islamic and local custom. Rather, in distinguishing religious from worldly affairs, they were able to adopt and adapt modern ideas and practices that were useful or relevant while maintaining the Islamic faith and ritual that they believed to be essential.

In developing an understanding of the common ways in which Islam was defined and treated in Indonesia and Malaysia, we can gain a new insight to Muslim politics and culture in Southeast Asia.

Key Features

  • Shows how Asian Muslims and European Christians developed modern approaches to politics, law and education which formed the basis for governance and civil society in the independent nations of Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Adds to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between Islam and the West
  • Demonstrates that colonial–Islamic relations were less confrontational, both conceptually and institutionally, than has been previously believed
  • Uses comparative history to emphasise common and parallel features between diverse forces for change



Part I: Making Islam Modern

Chapter 1. Organizing Da’wah and Spreading Reform

Chapter 2. Colonizing the Muslim East and Reinforcing Culture

Part II: Modernizing Politics and Government

Chapter 3. Building Siyasah and Reforming Sultanate

Chapter 4. Controlling Politics and Bureaucratizing Religion

Part III: Modernizing Law

Chapter 5. Integrating Shari’ah, Adat, and European Laws

Chapter 6. Formalizing Legal Plurality

Part IV:  Modernizing Education

Chapter 7. Teaching Agama and the Secular

Chapter 8. Secularizing Education





Muhamad Ali is an Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He has published articles in several refereed journals including the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences and Indonesia and the Malay World.

Share This