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The Modern Period

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Chapter Summary

The Netherlands' first involvement with Indonesia dates from the last decade of the sixteenth century, slightly later than the beginning of the academic study of eastern languages. In contrast to what one might expect, the Arabists at the universities showed little interest in the languages, cultures and religions of the Islamic areas of the 'East Indies'. The man who, all on his own, introduced colonial Islamic studies into the academic world was Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. The first subject in which the young Snouck Hurgronje proved himself to be a master of polemics was fiqh, the extensive system of Islamic rules of law which he never regarded as laws but as a 'doctrine of duties'. Snouck Hurgronje turned his notes into his two-volume magnum opus, written in German and published in The Hague at the behest of the Royal Institute for the Language, Geography and Ethnography of the Dutch East Indies.

Keywords: Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje; colonial Islamic studies; magnum opus



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