Islamic Societies in Southeast Asia

Mark Woodward

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Islamic Societies in Southeast Asia


Southeast Asia is home to a large variety of Islamic societies and cultures, including those in the world's largest Muslim country, Indonesia. A basic distinction can be drawn between the cultures of the Southeast Asian islands and the mainland. Malay-speaking Muslims numerically and culturally dominate much of insular Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines. Quite different cultural traditions are found in the diverse Muslim minority communities of mainland Southeast Asia in Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia. Islam is virtually absent in Vietnam and Laos. In Indonesia, almost 90 percent of its population of more than 200 million profess some form of Islam. During the period of British rule, large numbers of South Asian Muslims migrated to Rangoon, Mandalay, and other Burmese urban centers. This article discusses Islamic societies in Southeast Asia, focusing on the Malay world. It examines Islam and politics in the Malay world, Muslim minorities in Southeast Asia, and Islam and ethnicity in Southeast Asia.

Keywords: Islam; ethnicity; Southeast Asia; Muslims; Indonesia; politics; minorities; Malaysia

Article.  2317 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Islam

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