The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past

By Johns, Anthony H. | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, February 2013 | Go to article overview

The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past


Johns, Anthony H., Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


Indonesia

The makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the narration of a Sufi Past

By MICHAEL LAFFAN

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. Pp. 287 + xvii. Maps, Plates, Notes,

Bibliography, Index.

This book offers an original reflection on the factors that have contributed to the faces of Islam in Indonesia today. It is fascinating, and brilliant in the lines of argument and interplay of themes that it develops, and despite the liveliness, at times playfulness of style, is dense and closely argued in its texture.

Michael Laffan first outlines the global position of the great archipelago of Southeast Asia, and the first evidences there of Islam. They proved to be seeds of a religious, social and intellectual culture in the region that in a millennium was to interact with and transform its societies, and their relations with the wider world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Individuals and the roles they play are a major part of the work. The preface at once establishes this human dimension, juxtaposing two figures with almost legendary status in the study of Indonesian Islam, Snouck Hurgronje: an Islamologist and ethnographer; and Clifford Geertz: an anthropologist-observer with a genius for theory, but not significantly informed on Islam as a religion.

The range of sources the author has excavated, among them Dutch, Arabic and Malay, is wide. And out of them, from the late sixteenth century on, he has distilled a narrative that situates the diverse participants in a complex, shifting world. It was one the Dutch did not understand, and they were ill-equipped to cope with the tensions and dislocations resulting from their intrusion in it. The consequences were revealed in the evolving policies of the VOC--later the Dutch government--and the relations between the Dutch authorities and missionaries and vice versa; between missionaries and Muslims, and the responses of Muslims to both; and those of Muslims with each other, and to Muslims elsewhere, either as close as Singapore, or as distant as Mecca and Cairo.

Laffan's narrative, based on local religious and literary works, and the correspondence, diaries, and government reports of the participants in these ensuing processes, reveals their personalities, thought worlds, and responses to the situations they inherited or created. There are lovely accounts of their early attempts to prepare textbooks for the study of Malay, and their bewilderment at some Muslim devotional practices--incense, beads, ceremonies at graves and prayers for the dead--which to the Calvinist Dutch appeared 'Papist'.

From the seventeenth century on, the personalities of Dutch administrators, scholars and missionaries and the many-sided roles they played come clearly into view. None rivals Snouck Hurgronje, and Laffan presents a striking portrait of this giant of colonial history. He comes across as part scholar, part idealist and part shyster, successfully leading a double life in his avatars as a Dutch official and as the Muslim Abd al-Ghaffar. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.