by Robert Day McAmis
Since 9/11, Islam has dominated the news and interest of the world. The war on terror has only increased the world’s awareness of the Middle East and the religion associated with that region.
Eerdmans Publishing, 255 Jefferson Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503, 2002, 173 pages, $20.00.
— Reviewed by A. Sue Russell, associate professor of Anthropology, Biola University, La Mirada, Calif.
Since 9/11, Islam has dominated the news and interest of the world. The war on terror has only increased the world’s awareness of the Middle East and the religion associated with that region. Since 9/11, Islam has dominated the news and interest of the world. The war on terror has only increased the world’s awareness of the Middle East and the religion associated with that region. Islam and Arab are synonymous in the minds of many. However, living in the shadow of the Middle Eastern Muslims who dominate the press is the largest and least understood Muslim population in the world, the Malays of South East Asia. In his book, Robert Day McAmis seeks to help the reader understand these unique Muslims.
The book begins with a historical orientation of the spread of Islam in the region, providing an excellent background to understand the development and uniqueness of Islam in Southeast Asia. Following this is a description of the history of contact with Christianity and Muslim attitudes that developed toward Western Christianity.
After providing a historical orientation, McAmis describes the variations in traditions and practices among Malay Muslims. Of particular significant interest is his discussion of the influence of Hinduism and animism on Malay Muslim practices and the role of Adat in the daily lives of Malays.
Mc Amis’ focus is the resurgence of Islam in Southeast Asia and a Christian response to it. The rise of fundamentalism and in some cases the loss of religious freedom for non-Muslims has led to tension between Muslims and non-Muslims who must live together. The book emphasizes a need for Malaysian Christians to better understand their Malay neighbors to work together in nation building. He argues that mutual understanding and cooperation are not only necessary, but possible through Christian-Muslim dialogue. He suggests that through dialogue Christians and Muslims in Southeast Asia can work together to provide economic development and promote social justice for all people living in Southeast Asia.
Malay Muslims is a must read for anyone working in Southeast Asia. It provides a good historical background for understanding the role of Islam in the present political situation. It also provides the readers with insight into the uniqueness of Malay Islam.
However, the reader who is seeking an in-depth understanding of these practices or an apologetic book will be disappointed. The book’s purpose is not to instruct the reader on how to convert Malays but rather it is an appeal for Christians to understand their Malay neighbors in order to live and work together to bring prosperity and peace to the region. May the Lord provide many with “ears to hear.”
Check these titles:
Raymer, Steve. 2002. Living Faith: Inside the Muslim World of Southeast Asia.
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