Islam in Indonesia

Fred von der Mehden

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Islam in Indonesia


Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, composing approximately 85 percent of its more than 255 million population. They are Sunni, although there has been some influence of Shiʿism among religious intellectuals. The Shafiʿi School dominates, but Indonesian Islam has been traditionally characterized by syncretism, with strong Hindu and animist pre-Islamic influences. The study of Islam in Indonesia has experienced considerable changes, both in the background of the authors and in the subjects under analysis. In the colonial period, as would be expected, most literature available outside the Indies was in Dutch and frequently was authored by those in the colonial administration or those with close ties to government. At that time, Indonesians did relatively little scholarly work that was known outside the colony, except in the field of theology. In the first decades after World War II, there was some decline in interest in Indonesia among the Dutch, and the nationalist upheaval limited the activities of Indonesian scholars. American and other foreign scholars, particularly from the disciplines of anthropology and history, filled this vacuum. By the end of the 20th century, there was a strong Indonesian contribution, including works from many scholars who had been educated in the West. In addition, local bookstores have been inundated by translations of Islamically oriented Middle Eastern and South Asian books and pamphlets by scholars and activists. Thus, in the 21st century, Indonesians have available to them works from many more disciplines and perspectives.

Article.  9024 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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