Islam in Southeast Asia: Political, Social and Strategic Challenges for the 21st Century

By K. S. Nathan; Mohammad Hashim Kamali | Go to book overview

6
ISLAM EMBEDDED: 'MODERATE'
POLITICAL ISLAM AND
GOVERNANCE IN THE MALAY
WORLD

Shamsul A.B.


INTRODUCTION

The "Malay world" is a riverine-maritime complex of contemporary Southeast Asia, a geo-body often compared to the Mediterranean because of their many similarities, especially, as historical and civilizational "sites" where many great world civilizations, both from the East and West, interacted and crossfertilized. Physically, the Malay world is located at the centre of the region known as Southeast Asia, where 90 per cent of over 250 million of its population are Muslims who speak the Malay language and its various dialects. They inhabit present-day Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Southern Philippines and Southern Cambodia. Therefore, it is the largest single linguistic group of Muslims, with Malay as the lingua franca, and even larger than the Arab-speaking Muslims of the Middle East and North Africa put together. This fact is rarely highlighted nor publicly known to the majority of Muslims around the world. With such a huge population of Muslims residing in this vibrant region, it is not unexpected that many Western countries fear it may become a new "nest of global terrorists". The fear is largely unfounded because historically the majority of

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