A recent Indonesian Islamic law compilation presents an apparent anomaly in restricting the right to give away wealth as hiba to one-third of an estate — whereas the trend in Indonesian law reform has been to bring Islamic law closer to local inheritance practices. By means of a narrative analysis of a recent court decision, I identify a discourse of justifying the new restrictions in terms of general religious and social norms of fairness and agreement among heirs. Examination of local debates over law and property in two Sumatran societies, Gayo and Minangkabau, suggests that hiba is regarded as an impediment to Islamization of social life, and as introducing elements of unfairness and discord. Thus the new rule can be explained as having been motivated by local social processes and social norms.
In Women and Property Rights in Indonesian Islamic Contexts, eight scholars of Indonesian Islam examine women’s access to property in law courts and in village settings. The authors draw on fieldwork from across the archipelago to analyse how judges and ordinary people apply interpretations of law, religion, and gender in deliberating and deciding in property disputes that arise at moments of marriage, divorce, and death. The chapters go beyond the world of legal and scriptural texts to ask how women in fact fare in these contexts. Women’s capabilities and resources in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim society and one with distinctive traditions of legal and social life, provides a critical knowledge base for advancing our understanding of the social life of Islamic law. Contributors: Nanda Amalia, John R. Bowen, Tutik Hamidah, Abidin Nurdin, Euis Nurlaelawati, Arskal Salim, Rosmah Tami & Atun Wardatun.
Vincent Donovan is best known for his best-selling Christianity Rediscovered (1978, 2003), frequently cited in discussions of the mission of the church in the post-Christendom West. His recently published letters from Tanzania between 1957 and 1973 shed new light on the man and his development. This article identifies some of the influences that shaped Donovan: firstly, the significance of the changing political face of Africa at that time, and how it led Donovan to question what this meant for the future of missions in Africa. Secondly, there were ecclesial influences. One was the character of his Order (the Spiritans) which found a fresh opportunity to experiment with enculturation when a new diocese was founded in Arusha in 1963, led by a Spiritan bishop. The other ecclesial influence was that of Vatican II, to which Spiritans contributed and which (they felt) affirmed their direction – though they also felt it did not go far enough. Thirdly, the letters show Donovan’s personal development from his arrival in Africa in 1957 as a naïve young missionary to the seasoned missiologist concerned “to fill the flesh and blood of Africa with the soul of Christianity” whose story is told in Christianity Rediscovered.