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I. A brief overview of Islam and Muslims community


1. Islam at a glance.

1.1. Islamic beliefs

1.2. Major practices and the five pillar of worship
1.3. Daily life of Muslims
1.4. Islamic sects and schools
2. Overview of Islam in Southeast Asia
2.1. Southeast Asia at a glance

2.2. Islam in SEA.

II. The coming of Islam in Southeast Asia


1. The arrival and spread of Islam in Southeast Asia

2. The favorable conditions to the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia.

III. The current Islam-related issues of Southeast Asian countries


1.1 Overview
1.2. The freedom of religion
1.3. The rise of ISIS
2.1. Overview
2.2. The backwardness of Malay Muslim
2.3 The rise of ISIS
IV. Muslim women in SEA.
1. The role of women in Islam societies in SEA countries.


2 The reformation for Muslim women in SEA in recent years.

1. The reasons of such violence in Islamic.


2. Islam disputes.
3. The rise of ISIS and how SEA countries react
3.1 The rise of ISIS
3.2 How SEA countries react


I. A brief overview of Islam and Muslims community

1. Islam at a glance.
The word Islam is an Arabic word which means submission to the will of God. This
word comes from the same root as the Arabic word salam, which means peace. As
such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind and surety
of heart, one must submit to God and live according to His Divinely revealed Law.
The word Muslim means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race,
nationality or ethnic background. Being a Muslim entails wilful submission and active
obedience to God, and living in accordance with His message.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001
census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.
Who Was Muhammad?
Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the last and greatest prophet of God. According
to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to the Prophet over the course of 20
years, revealing to him many messages from God. In Islam, Muhammad is the last and
greatest of all the prophets, whose revelations alone are pure and uncorrupted.
What Is the Qur'an?
The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam and the perfect word of God for the Muslim. It is
claimed that the Qur'an was dictated in Arabic by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad and
were God's precise words. As such, it had preexisted from eternity in heaven with God as
the "Mother of the Book" and was in that form uncreated and coeternal with God.
1.1. Islamic beliefs
Islam teaches the importance of both belief and practice; one is insufficient without the
other (except for some Sufis). The following six beliefs are those that are commonly held
by Muslims, as laid out in the Quran and hadith.

- Belief in the Oneness of God: Muslims believe that God is the creator of all things, and
that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. God has no offspring, no race, no gender, no
body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.
- Belief in the Angels of God: Muslims believe in angels, unseen beings who worship God
and carry out God's orders throughout the universe. The angel Gabriel brought the divine
revelation to the prophets.
- Belief in the Books of God: Muslims believe that God revealed holy books or scriptures
to a number of God's messengers. These include the Quran (given to Muhammad), the
Torah (given to Moses), the Gospel (given to Jesus), the Psalms (given to David), and the
Scrolls (given to Abraham). Muslims believe that these earlier scriptures in their original
form were divinely revealed, but that only the Quran remains as it was first revealed to
the prophet Muhammad.
- Belief in the Prophets or Messengers of God: Muslims believe that God's guidance has
been revealed to humankind through specially appointed messengers, or prophets,
throughout history, beginning with the first man, Adam, who is considered the first
prophet. Twenty-five of these prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran, including
Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last in this
line of prophets, sent for all humankind with the message of Islam.
- Belief in the Day of Judgment: Muslims believe that on the Day of Judgment, humans
will be judged for their actions in this life; those who followed God's guidance will be
rewarded with paradise; those who rejected God's guidance will be punished with hell.
- Belief in the Divine Decree: This article of faith addresses the question of God's will. It
can be expressed as the belief that everything is governed by divine decree, namely that
whatever happens in one's life is preordained, and that believers should respond to the
good or bad that befalls them with thankfulness or patience. This concept does not negate
the concept of "free will;" since humans do not have prior knowledge of God's decree,
they do have freedom of choice.

1.2. Major practices and the five pillar of worship

Muslims are asked to put their beliefs into practice by performing certain acts of worship.
As in all faiths, since adherence to religious obligations and practices is a matter of
individual choice, some people are very strict in performing these duties, while others are
The five pillars or acts of worship in Islam include:
- The Declaration of Faith (shahada): The first act of worship is the declaration that
"There is no deity except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." Muslims repeat
this statement many times a day during their prayers.
- Prayer (salat): Islam prescribes a brief prayer or ritual worship five times a day: at
dawn, noon, late afternoon, sunset and night. . The Friday noon prayer is special to
Muslims and is done in a mosque if possible. Muslims face in the direction of Mecca
when they pray.
- Charity (zakat): Muslims are required to give to the poor and needy. Islam prescribes an
obligatory charity, known as zakat, based on two and a half percent of one's income and
- Fasting (sawm): Muslims are required to fast from dawn to sunset during the month of
Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. People gather in the evenings for a
festive breaking of the fast. When fasting, Muslims refrain from food, liquid, and sexual
activity. During Ramadan, Muslims are also supposed to abstain from negative behaviors
such as lying, gossip, petty arguments, and negative thoughts or behaviors, including
getting angry. Muslims are required to start fasting when they reach puberty.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj): Every Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca,
located in Saudi Arabia, once in their lifetime if financially and physically able. Mecca is
home to the first house of worship of God, the Kaaba, said to have been built by the
prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael.

1.3. Daily life of Muslims

Islam contains many rules for daily life and human relationships. The first source of these
rules is the Quran and the second is the hadith or reports of the prophet Muhammad's
words or actions.
- Prohibitions: In Islam, everything considered harmful either to the body, mind, soul or
society is prohibited (haram), while whatever is beneficial is permissible (halal). Islam
prohibits Muslims from consuming pork, alcohol or mind-altering drugs. Muslims are
required to eat meat that is butchered and blessed in an Islamic way. Muslims are also
prohibited from gambling, taking interest, fortune-telling, killing, lying, stealing,
cheating, oppressing or abusing others, being greedy or stingy, engaging in sex outside of
marriage, disrespecting parents, and mistreating relatives, orphans or neighbors.
- Role of clergy: There is no hierarchy of clergy in Islam, nor do Muslim religious leaders
have the power to forgive people of their sins. Every individual has a direct relationship
with God without any intermediary. There are religious leaders or scholars, called ulema,
who have studied and are experts in different aspects of Islam.
- Conversion to Islam: Muslims are encouraged to share their faith with others. However,
Muslims are told not to attack others' beliefs or engage in conflicts or debates about
matters of religion. There is no formal ceremony for conversion. People must merely
believe in and recite the shahada to convert to Islam.
1.4. Islamic sects and schools
The largest of the sects is the Sunni, which comprises about 90% of all Muslims. The
next two largest are the Shi'i and Sufi.
- The Sunnis ("traditionalists")
85% of Muslims are Sunnis. Sunnis consider themselves the guardians of Islamic
orthodoxy and tradition as established by Muhammad and the four "rightly guided
caliphs". Sources of Religious and Legal authority are the Qur'an and hadith. There are 4
schools of interpretation, including:

- Hanifite -- favors use of rational judgment in determining what is best for the common
good (most influential in Iraq, Pakistan, India, and Central Asia)
- Malikite -- turns first to consensus and then to analogy in order to determine right path
(most influential in North Africa, Egypt and eastern Arabia)
- Shafi'ite -- accepts the authority of the Hadith and de-emphasizes the role of reason
(most influential in Indonesia)
- Hanbalite -- reaction against the reliance on 'opinion' in other schools; maintains that
the Qur'an is the supreme authority and only the Hadith is accepted as also authoritative
(dominant school in Saudi Arabia)
The Shi'ites ("partisans")
Shi'ites began as a political dispute over the leadership of Islam; considered Ali (cousin
of Muhammad) as the first legitimate successor to Muhammad. They distrust the
traditional Sunni reading and interpretation of the Qur'an. Shi'ism is broken into three
main sects: the Twelve-Imam (Persia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Syria),
the Zaydis (Yemen), and the Ismailis (India, Iran, Syria, and East Africa). Shi'ites are the
ruling majority in modern Iran; influential minority in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan,
and Iraq.
The Sufis (mystics)
The Sufi are a mystical tradition where the followers seek inner mystical knowledge of
God. The word sufi means "woolen", and refers to the coarse wool garments worn by
early Muslim mystics as a symbol of poverty and the rejection of worldly pleasures. Sufis
trace their origins back to the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an. .

2. Overview of Islam in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, the picture of religion is very diverse because in the development of
history, there was a multidimensional convergence of ideologies from both the Oriental
(China, India, Arabic) and the West. In such picture of Southeast Asian culture, Islam is
an important factor in cultural identity. During its intrusion and development here, Islam
has a solid position in many countries of the region. Along with the collapse of the
ancient nations and the establishment of numerous Islam emirates, Muslims have
contributed significantly to the development of the commodity economy in Southeast
Asia. And with the emergence of colonialism in Southeast Asia, Islam became the banner
of "holy war" of the Muslim population against the aggression of Christian colonialism to
protect land, water and religion. From here, Islam began to delve into the political life of
many countries in Southeast Asia and left many imprints.
2.1. Southeast Asia at a glance
Southeast Asia is a fairly large region, covering an area of about 4 million km2. In terms
of administrative equity, Southeast Asia now has 11 countries: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,
Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei and Timor
Leste with a population of over 478 million people and with many differences in size,
population and living standards.
Southeast Asia has long been regarded to be of important significance to the entire history
of the region and the world, from the first steps of mankind. Referred as "crossroads", a
bridge between the Chinese, Japan and West Asia and the Mediterranean, it is no
coincidence that the relationship of the region with the world has been established since
ancient times.
In Southeast Asia, before contacting with civilization from outside, its residents already
had a rich cultural life. Since the sixteenth century, Southeast Asia has emerged as one of
the centers of civilization, an important historical-cultural region. Naturally, in the course
of its development, Southeast Asia influenced by the civilization outside, but the effects
are so not turning this region into a region of India or China. Southeast Asia chose what

was best about Indian and Chinese ideologies and integrated them with their
characteristics, rather than blindly absorbing everything.
2.2. Islam in SEA.
Southeast Asia is the home of at least one-fifth of the world's Muslims. There are about
240 million Muslims in Southeast Asia, making up about 42 per cent of the total
Southeast Asian population and 25 per cent of the total world Muslim population,
estimated at 1.6 billion. Indonesia alone, with over 130 million Muslims, is the largest
such community in the world.
The majority of Muslims in Southeast Asia belongs to the Sunni sect, and follows the
Shafii school of Muslim jurisprudence.
Three Southeast Asian countriesIndonesia, Malaysia and Bruneihave Muslimmajority populations, while Muslims in Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Burma,
Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are in the minority.
Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and Brunei, and is one of the officially
recognized religions of Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Southeast Asian
Muslims come from many ethnic groups, speaking different languages such as Bahasa
Indonesia, Malay, Javanese, Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Thai, Chinese and
Burmese. Unlike the Middle East, where relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians
operate along theological lines, the relations between Islam, Buddhism and Christianity
in Southeast Asia operate around ethnic identity. Here an Indonesian and a Malay are
Muslim; a Thai/Laotian/Cambodian is a Buddhist; a Filipino is a Christian; and a Chinese
is a Taoist/Confucianist or a Christian. Ethnoreligious identities also determine the social
relations between religious majority and minority in each country.
Most Muslims in Southeast Asia are Sunni, although scholars note that Islam here is
remarkably syncretic, having absorbed a number of local beliefs, customs and traditions
that pre-date the arrival of Islam. Islam in Southeast Asia has its own styles and its own
temper and intellectual traditions. This condition is most frequently remarked upon when
discussing Islam in Indonesia, where the religion was adopted by local populations used


to Hindu, Buddhist and animist traditions. The island of Java is usually of specific
interest here, with many pre-Islamic traditions remaining in place as part of the everyday
life of local Muslims. The influence of Sufism on Islam in Southeast Asia has also been
commented upon by scholars, with some suggesting that initial conversions in many
places in the region may have been tied to the work of prominent Sufi mystics.

II. The coming of Islam in Southeast Asia

1. The arrival and spread of Islam in Southeast Asia
The actual timing and introduction of the Islamic religion and its practice to Southeast
Asia is subject to debate. European historians have argued that it came through trading
contacts with India, whereas some Southeast Asian Muslim scholars claim it was brought
to the region directly from Arabia in the Middle East. Other scholars claim that Muslim
Chinese who were engaged in trade introduced it.
Whatever the source, scholars acknowledge that Muslim influence inSoutheast Asia is at
least six centuries old, or was present by 1400 A.D. Some argue for origins to at least
1100 A.D. in the earliest areas of Islamic influence, such as in Aceh, northern Sumatra
in Indonesia.
Whatever exact dates and sources one chooses to support, there is no doubt that
Islamization of many peoples in present-day Malaysia, southern
Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei and the southern Philippines occurred within a few hundred
years. The process of religious conversion absorbed many pre-existing Southeast Asian
beliefs (often referred to as 'animism', or the belief in the power of invisible spirits of
people's ancestors and the spirits of nature to influence the fortunes of humans on earth).
In the year 1500, Anthony Reid notes that Islamic influence was present in coastal ports
of Sumatra, Java, and Malaysia. During this period, Muslim rulers tried to balance their
patronage of Islam with international traders, urban mosques, and basic adherence to the
Muslim doctrine of avoiding pork with their need to sustain rural peoples' beliefs in


In the year 1590, Islamic writing appears in both Malay and Javanese scripts. This
indicates a period of activity by Muslim scholars in select areas who were promoting
Islamic beliefs.
Rapid commercialization increased global trade that involved Southeast Asians in
extensive travel outside their home areas. Animism, or the belief in spirits, was an
intensely 'local' religious form. It was difficult to perform rituals outside of one's own
home area, since spirits (ancestral or otherwise) were not 'portable'. The increased global
trade influenced indigenous Southeast Asian traders in two ways: 1) they were attracted
to new religious forms that were not tied to specific places; and 2) they were impressed
by the wealth and apparent materialistic power and talents of foreign traders.
Wealth and power, by indigenous animistic beliefs, signaled enhanced spiritual power. In
other words, traders began to contemplate Islam and Christianity as alternative, in some
cases superior, forms of religious belief. The success of European traders and Arabic
traders during this period provided the basis of attraction to new ritual practices. In many
cases, new religious practices were absorbed into the existing Southeast Asian ritual
Southeast Asian peoples came into direct contact with Muslim traders who had been not
just to India but also to Arabia. Arabic scholars also came
toMalaysia and Indonesia facilitating information about the new religion. In
the Philippines in contrast, Spanish missionary priests were directly involved in spreading
Christian beliefs among the local populations.
The successful spread of Islam in Indonesia Malaysia and the Philippinesowed much to
the introduction of the Noble Quran and other Islamic books and references. Animistic
beliefs, or those indigenous to Southeast Asiaprior to the impact of Hindu or Theravada
Buddhist beliefs, had no such written legacies.
Written doctrines enable religions to establish durability and a lasting impact on people;
oral religious traditions easily change and adapt to new circumstances. While these great
new religious traditions took a toll on local beliefs, and in that sense were intrusions of
foreign influence inSoutheast Asia they also left great impressions.


Today, 90% of Indonesians are Muslims, while over half of Malaysia's population is
Muslim. In the Philippines where the Spanish (and later Americans) won the war for
religious converts, only 5% of the population is Muslim.
2. The favorable conditions to the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia.
The period from the penetration of Islam until it became the dominant religion in some
South East Asian countries was not long, because Islam came to Southeast Asia with so
many advantages.

Firstly, the Islamization period coincided with the period of crisis of many ancient nations
such as Kingdom of Champa. At the end of the XV century, the powerful former IndianBuddhist country Majapahit was degraded and dissolved. These enpirates carved out of
the Central Government and became politically and economically independent. At that
time, the caste system of Hinduism had become outdated and failed meet the needs of
society and the development of the commodity economy. The crisis of Hindu ideology
created the gap for the penetration of a new religion
Secondly, the process of Islam the Kingdom Islands fit the economic navigation process
of the region. From a self-sufficient economy, the Emirates became important goods
suppliers, especially aromatherapy for Europe, therefore, they were ready to open their
doors to foreign Muslim traders on trading and missionary. Meanwhile, the principle of
equality and open-mindedness, simplity in Islamic ritual which were already suitable for
merchant class were easily accepted by the Indonesian and Malaysian aristocracy.
Moreover, unlike in the Middle East, Islam came to Southeast Asia in the path of peace
through personal contacts, the marriage of Muslim traders with the daughter of the local
aristocracy. Such way is consistent with the mentality of local residents, making them
easily acquire and integrate with Islam.
Thirdly, it was tolerance, flexibility and adaptation of Islam to the local traditional beliefs
that made it quickly supported in the Southeast Asian country. Some practices, local
traditions contributed effectively into accelerating the process of Islamization. For


example, in Indonesia, it was dynastic regimes and their loyalty to the king on the Malay
Archipelago that made the people also quickly convert to Islam when the king did.
Next, when coming to India, Islam contained the mysticism from the Middle East. This
element became a unique point of Southeast Asian Islam and quickly had a strong
position in this region and easilypersuaded residents who had been influenced by Indian
culture for a long time.
Finally, the use of Malaysian for missionary also contributed to the fast-growing Islam on
Malay- Indonesian archipelago, then in Southeast Asia on the whole. The reason why
Muslims chose Malai instead of any other languages is that since the pre-Islamic, Malai
language had been widely used and became intermediate language to communicate,
especially in regional trade. Malai was mostly used through the Muslim community, even
in Cambodia and Vietnam.


III. The current Islam-related issues of Southeast Asian

Almost half of the 629 million people living within the ASEAN region are Muslims. Within the
ten countries of ASEAN, three countries Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia have
Muslim majorities, and the remaining seven countries host Muslim minorities, ranging from
0.1% in Vietnam to nearly 16% in Singapore.

Figure 1. The Approximate Muslim Population within ASEAN





Muslim Population

Brunei Darussalam





15,205, 539

4% (est.)
















15% (Est.)




10% (Est.)












0.1% (Est.)






(Data primarily from CIA Factbook &

1.1 Overview


Indonesia contains the largest Muslim population of all countries in the world. The current
number of Muslim inhabitants is estimated to be around 207 million individuals (88.2% of total
population) , most of whom adhere to Sunni Islam. This large number implies that approximately
13 percent of the total number of Muslims in the world live in Indonesia, thus indicating that
Indonesia contains a clear Muslim majority population. But despite this Muslim majority, the
country does not constitute a Muslim or Islamic country based on Islamic law. Indonesian
Muslims can be categorized into two main groups: modernists, who adhere to orthodox Islam
while accepting modern advances and education, and traditionalists, who are more apt to
follow local religious leaders. (Wikipedia)
Composition of Indonesia's Six Official Religions


(of total population)

Absolute numbers
(in millions)



















Source: Statistics Indonesia (Badan Pusat Statistik), Population Census 2010
1.2. The freedom of religion
Outsiders have long viewed Indonesia as a bulwark of moderate Islam. In November 2010, for
example, US President Barack Obama visited Jakarta and mentioned the spirit of religious
tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesias constitution, and that remains one of this countrys
defining and inspiring characteristics.
This religious tolerance, however, is under acute threat. Sunni Muslim militants are seeking
confrontation with Buddhist, Catholic and Shia Muslim communities and attacking minority
religious communities across the country. In many instances, moreover, the Indonesian
government and Muslim mass organizations are not doing enough to help.


According to the Jakarta-based Setara Institute, which monitors religious freedom, there were
230 attacks on religious minorities in Indonesia in 2013 and 107 cases in 2014 through
November. The alleged perpetrators were almost all Sunni Islamist militants; the targets
included Christians, Ahmadiyah, Shia, Sufi Muslims, and native faith believers.
There are five main factors causing the decline of religious freedom in Indonesia: (1) lack of law
enforcement, (2) contradictory regulations related to the protection of citizenship rights and
religious minorities, (3) the spread of intolerant ideologies and hostile attitudes toward religious
others, (4) the weak leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and (5) the central
governments laissez-faire approach to local religious persecution.
As a result, not surprisingly, Indonesia has lost something of its former reputation and is
increasingly seen as a home to the angry Islam. The government appears unable to control the
militant Islamists, and religious freedom in the country is now at a crossroads.
1.3. The rise of ISIS
Attacks on Thursday January 14, 2016 in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, which killed at least
seven people, are believed to have been the handiwork of an outfit, or outfits, linked to the
Islamic State group. Prior to the attack the deadliest in the predominantly Muslim nation in
over six years Indonesian authorities were aware of a credible threat amid heightened
concerns over the recent growth of ISIS in the region, theAssociated Press (AP) reported.
Islamic State fighters carried out an armed attack this morning targeting foreign nationals and
the security forces charged with protecting them in the Indonesian capital, Reuters reported,
quoting an ISIS-affiliated news agency, confirming earlier statements by Jakarta's police chief,
who said the Sunni militant group was definitely behind the attack.
Radical Islamist groups have been responsible for several attacks in the country. However, the
attacks in the past, including the deadly bombings in Bali in 2002 which killed over 200
people were carried out by groups such as the now weakened Jemaah Islamiyah, linked to al
Thursdays attacks were the first successful ones by ISIS in the country, hinting at the increasing
influence of the militant group in the nation which is home to the worlds largest Muslim
population. Indonesian authorities and counter terrorism analysts say that hundreds of


Indonesians, including entire families, have gone to Syria and Iraq over the past year to live in
ISIS-controlled territories and support its cause.

2.1. Overview
Malaysia is a multiracial country with a population that currently stands at 28 million, of which
approximately 60 percent are Muslims. Islam is constitutionally the countrys official religion,
with the freedom to practise other religions. The Shariah Law in Malaysia is only applicable to
Muslims and is used to resolve conflicts relating to creed and family matters.
In Malaysia, people have accepted and implemented the irreligious tolerance, moderation and
cooperation within their own religious communities as well as outside their own religious
communities. They are able to uphold their religious teachings and practices because the
Constitution of Malaysia has guaranteed their religious freedom and rights;the two legal systems
practiced in Malaysia do not force the non-Muslims to subject themselves to the Syariah laws
and courts; and the policies of the Government of Malaysia have promoted the Muslims,
Buddhists, Christiansand Hindus in Malaysia to prefer and uphold their religious
tolerance,moderation and cooperation because they are all intended for all Malaysians and they
are for peace and stability and prosperity for all Malaysians regardless of their ethnic origins and
religious affiliations. The Muslims and non-Muslims are free to practice their religious teachings
in peace and harmony in any part of Malaysia. Moreover, the governments dynamic approach to
religion, with regard to Islam as the official religion of the country, brings about harmonious
cooperation among the people. The notion of extremism and violence had never penetrated
the mind of the majority of the Malaysian people, hence enables the country to prosper and
progress inits own distinct way.

2.2. The backwardness of Malay Muslim

In fact, some youngers, more progressive Malays find these strict religious regulations
oppressive. They found that the automatic imposition of religion on them created a type of
identity crisis within themselves. They dont feel connected to Malaysia or Islam as they
understand neither fully but have been labeled as belonging to both communities.


The reason for the perception of backwardness and archaic thinking of Malay Muslims in
Malaysia is because Malaysians are too concerned with rituals and practices. They fret about
how to wash body parts, if they step into a mosque with our right foot or the left, or if they lean
more of their body weight on their left leg while sitting on the toilet.
They think about all of this while the rest of the Muslim world are more concerned with bigger
issues like the philosophical and intellectual development of its people and religion. In the other
progressive Muslim societies outside of Malaysia, the study, discussion and comparison of
different Islamic schools have encouraged better understanding of the faith. Islamic thinkers
around the world are actually constantly discussing the challenges of adapting and interpreting
the religion to the times, understanding very well that Islam is for all times. They discuss and
debate different schools of thoughts and interpretations to understand the evolution of Islam
better, hence able to mould the religion for current times.
Rarely will you hear Muslims outside of Malaysia talk about how many times you need to chew
before swallowing like the prophet, as if that will determine if you will enter heaven or hell. It
doesnt help the matter when Malaysian local religious authorities curb the spread of different
Islamic schools of thoughts and interpretations that differ from the standard majority. Any
teachings or thoughts that go against the Sunni Shafie teachings are straight out condemned and
banned without so much of an explanation to why they do so. They do not encourage rational
and intellectual thought when it comes to the religion because that is seen as a threat to what
control the authorities have over the people.
4, The rise of ISIS
That is baffling to regional analysts and has muddied Malaysias reputation as an anchor of
moderate Islam in Southeast Asia. Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 122 individuals
since 2013 who either joined the Islamic State and returned home or were stopped while
attempting to leave the country, according to government data given to Foreign Policy. That
figure indicates an almost doubling of Islamic State-related arrests by Malaysian authorities
between 2014 and 2015.
Authorities have also identified between 100 and 200 people currently inside Malaysia who
support the Islamic State.


The involvement of Malaysians in militant activities in the name of Islam has tarnished the
countrys image and affected the purity of Islam, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told
parliament last year.
Analysts said the rising number of extremist suspects is surprising for a country that has been
hailed as a leading U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism. As recently as April, an estimated
60 to 150 Malaysians were identified as members of the Islamic State, or ISIS. Those numbers
were similar to those of recruits from Indonesia a country roughly eight times the size of
Malaysias population, noted Joe Chinyong Liow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
The reasons for the rise are unclear, and analysts differ about the drivers of extremism within
Malaysia. But observers have pointed to the politicization of Islam in the countrys government.

IV. Muslim women in SEA.

1. The role of women in Islam societies in SEA countries.


In general, the same as Muslim women and men in other parts of the world, in
Islam societies in SA countries, they have distinct and complementary roles. The
husband's primary responsibility is to support and protect the family. The wife
cares for and disciplines the children and maintains the home. Although Islamic
law teaches that the husband and wife are equal before God, women are
subordinate to men and women have not had equal access to many areas of Islamic
life. Moreover, The Koran allows Muslim men to beat their wives and the Islamic
religion is often less friendly to women than other religions/worldviews.
First, the Muslim community gradually incorporates the values and customs of the
conquered peoples, including the practice of veiling and secluding women. Veiling
refers to the use of garments to cover the head, face, and body. Seclusion involves
limiting women to the company of other women and close male relatives in their
home or confining them in separate female living quarters. Although Islamic
sources do not specifically require veiling and seclusion, some Muslims have used
passages from the Qur'an and sunnah to justify these practices. Southeast Asian
Islam has traditionally been very tolerant, but over the last 20 years there has been
greater stress on correct dress (notably head covering) and public behavior.
Although all Southeast Asian countries except Laos and Vietnam have signed the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and
have made advances promoting gender equality, it is difficult to change this
Moreover, studies from a number of different Islamic countries indicate that the
presence of women in public is considered to be a source of temptation and
conflict. Therefore, keeping them out of mosques is regarded as necessary to
preserve the holiness and dignity of religious ceremonies. For centuries, mosques
were primarily male spaces. The Islamic resurgence that has swept the Muslim
world since the 1970s has modified these attitudes. Recently, Muslims have
constructed mosques that provide a separate space for women. However, the


women often remain isolated in areas where they cannot see the preacher, which
reinforces their marginal role in mosques.
Finally, in the past, men regarded women as their property, to be married or
divorced at will. No limitations on polygyny existed. Women generally did not
have a say in the choice of a husband. Once married, they lacked financial security,
as the groom's dowry was paid directly to the bride's male relatives. Female
infanticide (the killing of baby girls at birth) was common. Nowadays, although
Islamic law extended some rights to women and limited the privileges of men, it
did not change the dominant position of men in Muslim society. For example, the
Qur'an requires women to be obedient to their husbands, and it describes men as a
degree higher than women in rights and responsibilities. The scriptures also permit
men to divorce their wives without cause and deny women custody rights over
children who have reached a certain age.
4.2 The reformation for Muslim women in SEA in recent years.
The same as Muslim women in other parts of the world, Muslim women in SEA
are also subordinate to men and they have not had equal access to many areas of
Islamic life. However, in recent years, the number of Muslim women in SEA
realizing and supporting womens rights is increasing in comparison with other
Muslim countries and calls for reforms in fair and women-friendly societies in
Southeast Asian countries are growing louder in Indonesia, Malaysia and the
Philippines. Throughout this sheet, there are two typical reformations for Muslim
women in SEA to be discussed.
First, more women in SEA are officials than ever, especially in local government,
particularly in the Philippines. However, when women do manage to enter the
political arena, they often find themselves marginalized in a male-dominated
culture, with real power remaining in mens hands. A few individuals who have
attained the highest political offices (such as President in the Philippines and


Indonesia) have done so because they are the daughter or wife of a famous man.
However, it is worth considering as an innovative point for womens right in these
Secondly, in term of wearing veiling, wearing the veil is compulsory. The Quran
is clear on how women are to dress. The correct way is to show only the face and
hands. The reason for wearing veils is that if women want to live as God
commands, she must wear it and they do so as a sign of my devotion to God. Each
day when I put on the veil, it reminds them that they have certain values that they
must live by. However, there are increasingly Muslim women in SEA countries
agree that they should have the right to choose whether they wear a veil or not. In
Indonesia, the government actually banned the veil in government offices and
nonreligious schools, as a part of enforcing independent Indonesias early identity
as a secular state
Muslims in the countries surveyed generally favor a womans right to choose
whether to wear a veil in public. This view is especially prevalent in Southeast
Asia, in Indonesia(79%), Thailand (79%), Malaysia(77%).




1. The reasons of such violence in Islamic.

Does this violent extremism stem from Islams sacred texts? Or is it the product of
circumstance, which has twisted and contorted Islams foundations?
Its worth first drawing the important distinction between Islam as a set of ideas and
Muslims as adherents. The socioeconomic, political, and cultural circumstances of
Muslims are varied across the globe, but we can distinguish three different groups of
Muslims in the world today based on how they envision and practice their faith.
- Medina Muslims: The first group is the most problematic the fundamentalists who
envision a regime based on sharia, Islamic religious law. They argue for an Islam largely
or completely unchanged from its original seventh-century version and take it as a
requirement of their faith that they impose it on everyone else. We call them Medina
Muslims, in that they see the forcible imposition of sharia as their religious duty,
following the example of the Prophet Mohammed when he was based in Medina. They
exploit their fellow Muslims respect for sharia law as a divine code that takes precedence
over civil laws. It is only after they have laid this foundation that they are able to
persuade their recruits to engage in jihad.
- Mecca Muslims: The second group and the clear majority throughout the Muslim
world consists of Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but
are not inclined to practice violence or even intolerance towards non-Muslims. This
group is called mecca Muslims. The fundamental problem is that the majority of
otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to
repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own
religious texts.
- Modifying Muslims: More recently, and corresponding with the rise of Islamic
terrorism, a third group is emerging within Islam Muslim reformers or, modifying
Muslims who promote the separation of religion from politics and other reforms.
Although some are apostates, the majority of dissidents are believers, among them clerics


who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be
condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.
2. Islam disputes
Despite the popular conception of Southeast Asia as a religiously diverse, tolerant and
peaceful region, the past decade has nevertheless seen a worrying rise in violent
extremism. Cases in point include various campaigns of violence perpetrated by Islamist
groups demanding separate Muslim homelands in the southern Philippines and southern
Thailand as well as calls for an Islamic caliphate encompassing the Indonesian
archipelago. Most notable were the Jemaah Islamiyah-orchestrated Bali bombings of
2002 and 2005 and the Jakarta bombing of 2003, 2004 and 2009.
More concerning is that the rise in violent extremism is not limited to a small number of
Islamist groups but has instead arguably found wider appeal among the public. In the case
of Indonesia, for example, incidents of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and
violence has not only been perpetrated against non-Muslim minority groups, such as
Christians and Buddhists, but also Muslim minority groups such as Ahmadiyah and Shiite
communities. Incidents include Christian churches being forced shut by local Muslim
communities and the Ahmadiyah declared as heretics by the then Minister for Religious
It should be noted, however, that violent extremism should not be considered as an
Islamic problem only. Religious violence led by extremist Buddhist monks in Myanmar
against the minority Rohingya has also been a worrying trend in the ASEAN region in the
past decade. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic that extremist groups in reforming Indonesia
and Myanmar have exploited their newly found democratic freedoms of expression to
espouse religious hate and violence.

3. The rise of ISIS and how SEA countries react

3.1 The rise of ISIS


The rise of the Islamic State also known as ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh posed a very
serious threat to the whole of Southeast Asia, . Not only is Southeast Asia home to 15
percent of the worlds 1.6 billion Muslims, but according to official estimates, as many as
514 Indonesians have moved to Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State (as of
March 2015), in addition to at least 50 Malaysians (as of December 2014) and even
several from Cambodia. Furthermore, a number of Islamist groups in Southeast Asia have
pledged allegiance to the Islamic State including the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group in the
Philippines. It is these statistics that led Singapores Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to
describe Southeast Asia as key recruitment center for ISIS.
3.2 How SEA countries react
The authorities both at the national and regional levels of ASEAN have taken steps
to counter the violent extremist group.
Malaysia, the current chair of ASEAN, announced plans to hold a Special ASEAN
Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism on October 2,
2015 in Kuala Lumpur. As ASEAN Chair, Malaysia also pushed for a joint statement by
the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on the Rise of Violence and Brutality Committed by
Terrorist/Extremist Organizations in Iraq and Syria a move that was hailed by US
Secretary of State John Kerry who praised ASEAN for taking a strong stand against the
Islamic State.
At the national level, Kuala Lumpur passed a White Paper on Combating the Threat
Posed by Islamic State. Indeed, it was reported that Jakarta was mulling tougher
measures including revoking the passports of Indonesians who joined the Islamic State.
It is in this sense that more attention should be given to the Indonesian blueprints
emphasis on counter-radicalization and deradicalization. As the chief of Indonesias
National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Comr. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution, argued,
hard and punitive approaches are unable to address the root of the problem. Instead, the
most important thing is a soft and persuasive approach to prevent individuals from
becoming attracted to radical thinking. Indeed, the blueprint lists seven key factors it
believes are necessary in addressing the root problem of radicalization, namely: poverty,


political disagreement, poor education, social, cultural, and psychological conditions, as

well as technology.

Overall, in order to effectively counter violent extremism in Southeast Asia, relevant

authorities must go beyond traditional security approaches and/or the introduction of
statements, laws, and whitepapers. Whilst important, they can only ever be part of the
solution. A permanent long-term solution requires a more comprehensive approach that
addresses the root causes. Reforming the regions various education systems so that the
peoples of Southeast Asia are economically productive members of society is one
element. So, too, is ensuring greater democratic freedoms so that pent-up anger and
frustration against governments and their policies can be resolved through the ballot box
rather than the resort to violence under the guise of religion. When officials from the
region gather for the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting later this year, it is thus
incumbent on them to be mindful of the need to not only agree on immediate, short term
measures to address the imminent threat of the Islamic State but also to find a
comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of violent extremism so that the
ASEAN can be the religiously diverse, tolerant and peaceful region it so wishes to be.