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Aspiring for Islamic Reform: Southeast Asian Requests for Fatwās in al-Manār

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Against the general background of the transmission of Muhammad 'Abduh's ideas about reform to Southeast Asia, as reflected in al-Manār, I examine requests for fatwās relating to affairs in the archipelago. These requests emanated from three groups: Southeast Asian students in the Middle East, Arabs living in Southeast Asia, and indigenous Southeast Asian readers of al-Manār. The fatwās examined here relate to three themes: Islam and modernity, religious practices, and aspirations for religious reform. I conclude that al-Manār created a new mode of discourse for Southeast Asian Islam in which the mustaftī and the muftī were not pupils and teachers but fellow discussants of reform in societies undergoing similar challenges.


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