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R. Michael Feener

Abstract

This paper addresses issues relating to the adaptation of notions of hybridity from contemporary Diaspora Studies to the study of Hadhrami migration to Southeast Asia. It also presents a series of short biographies of prominent figures in the networks of Muslim scholarship that spanned the Indian Ocean from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries from perspectives that highlight intersections of religion, language, and ethnicity during that time. Integrating this historical data into the inter-disciplinary theoretical frameworks of contemporary Diaspora Studies approaches provides an opportunity for reflecting on changing conceptions of identity under processes of modernization.

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Muslim Religious Authority in Modern Asia

Established Patterns and Evolving Profiles

R. Michael Feener

The social, economic, and political transformations of the past two centuries have been rapid and dramatic, resulting in complex reconfigurations of religious authority in many Muslim societies. These changes have involved not only the emergence of distinctly new profiles of leadership, but also the persistence and adaptation of the models established by the ulama of the classical period. The challenges of modernizing reform at the turn of the twentieth century struck at the very heart of traditions that had bolstered established religious authority for a thousand years. In the modern period, ulama find themselves in increasingly crowded and highly contested public spheres in which they can no longer hold any kind of monopoly. Contemporary debates in Muslim public spheres are characterized by the emergence of complex new discursive formulations on issues of religious belief and practice, individual rights and responsibilities, and proper standards of public morality. This essay provides an historical introduction to the emergence of diverse models of Muslim religious authority in modern Asia.

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A Wall in the Woods

Note on the Recently Discovered Site at Kreung Jeureungeh, North Aceh

R. Michael Feener

This short note presents a preliminary report on a recently discovered site in North Aceh. It presents some initial information and illustrations of an usual stone formation, and communicates some potential readings of it drawing on perspectives from geography, vulcanology, and the broader archaeological and historical contexts of northern Sumatra.

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R. Michael Feener

Abstract

This study of the contemporary Islamic legal system in Aceh, Indonesia argues for new attention to be paid to the ways in which contemporary Muslim agendas for the implementation of Islamic law can be read as projects for future-oriented social transformation—rather than as a series of reactive measures to perceived 'crises of modernity' and/or the political machinations of rival elites in contesting control of state power. In doing so it highlights the ways in which the ideals of, and institutional formations developed by, proponents of Islamic law are configured in relation to a broad range of non-Muslim modernist projects, including European and American theories of the sociology of law. Through examinations of these influences on discussions of Islamic law in Aceh, this essay demonstrates the degrees to which contemporary Sharīa implementation is inextricably linked to broader configurations of law, moral authority, and state power in the modern global order.

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R. Michael Feener

Abstract

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.

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R. Michael Feener

Abstract

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.