During the middle decades of the twentieth century, Indonesian Muslim scholars participated in a movement for the creation of a new "national madhhab." These unprecedented developments took place within contexts of modernity in which the epistemological structures of traditional Islamic jurisprudence, as known and practiced in Indonesia, were faced with challenges by both "Western" and Islamic reformist thought. This essay presents an overview of these developments that highlights their significance for comparative studies of modern Muslim jurisprudence, with particular reference to the works of Hasbi Ash Shiddieqy and Hazairin.
Attempts at understanding the development of Islam in the modern period through its intellectual history demand new analytical frameworks to be brought to bear on both Muslim religious thought and the academic study of religion. There is a need for innovative approaches to modern Muslim intellectualism that can build upon the traditional strengths of Islamic Studies while also taking into account contemporary realities which add new dimensions of complexity to the processes of producing and transmitting knowledge. Aside from the formal contents of legal, theological, and social texts texts, approaches to Muslim thought in the modern period also require paying attention to the dynamics of new educational and publishing structures, new forms of media, and cross-cultural contexts of discussion, all complemented by a theoretically aware methodological flexibility that self-consciously moves back and forth between text-specific and broader cultural dimensions of analysis. In this article these issues are raised in the course of reflections on recent work in mapping an intellectual history of Islam in modern Indonesia.