Libmonster ID: SE-374
Author(s) of the publication: M. GUSEV

Recently, there has been renewed speculation - and even more serious evidence -that certain Muslim circles in Southeast Asia have not abandoned their intention to turn Indonesia into a Sharia state, with the subsequent creation of a "new Asian caliphate." According to their plans, it could include Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the southern parts of the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar. According to Western intelligence agencies, the role of the main "engine" and direct executor of such intentions now belongs to the Jama'a Islamiya terrorist organization operating in Southeast Asia, which is closely linked to the infamous Al-Qaeda. Jama'a Islamiyah's criminal activities have already caused considerable loss of life, sowed fear in the region and made the whole world talk about another unpredictable front in the fight against terrorism - in Southeast Asia.

Plans to establish a "state of Islam" in Southeast Asia emerged more than half a century ago. So, it is known that even before the declaration of independence of Indonesia in August 1945, its future first President Sukarno and his associates - supporters of secularism, who advocated the secular nature of the republic, had to wage an ideological struggle with the supporters of the idea of the "Islamic state". At that time, the committee drafting the current Constitution adopted the Jakarta Charter as a concession to Islamist sentiments, which primarily proclaimed the principle of faith in God and the mandatory observance of Sharia law by all Muslims in the country. True, adherence to religion was required to be observed without violating the principles of" just and civilized " humanity. The country's Constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of religion and worship. But even in this interpretation, a number of Indonesian Muslim figures tried to use the provisions of both the Jakarta Charter and the Constitution to justify the country's transformation into a Sharia state. After the coup d'etat of September 30, 1965 The Suharto regime also refused to accept the demands of Muslim circles to recognize Islam as the state religion, and Sharia as the legal basis of the state structure.


In the subsequent period, the world perception and religious consciousness of Muslims in Indonesia (as in other countries of the region) is increasingly influenced by social shifts generated by the development of capitalist relations. At the same time, the number of secularists also increased. Taken together, this significantly reduces the freedom of maneuver of supporters of the creation of a Sharia state. The initiators and leaders of reformism are representatives of the bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, who call for a revision of religious dogmas and cults, liberation from the archaic Middle Ages, which hinder the country's progressive development. A significant role in the process of reforming Islam was played by the practical needs of the capitalist development of the countries of the region, which is especially characteristic of Indonesia, as, indeed, of Malaysia that followed it.

It is also worth noting such a way of weakening the positions of Islamists as attracting representatives of Muslim parties to participate in various parts of the state apparatus by the authorities. The confrontation between the leaders of rival parties involved in this process gave the supporters of secular statehood the opportunity to control the situation, while neutralizing the Muslim opposition. In addition, the entry of a clergyman into the path of a state official exposed him to the temptations of corruption and bribery, which he could not always resist. As a result, the process of social stratification of religious servants intensified, while the level of religious zeal of the mass of Muslims decreased. This most affected the liberal-bourgeois strata, the intelligentsia close to them, and the student youth. The worldview of the first part of this triad was particularly influenced by such factors as their transition to modern forms of doing business, finding a business partner or political ally outside the Muslim environment. Thus, the "perestroika of consciousness" in

page 58

In the Muslim world, it was not only a result of reformism, but also the breaking of traditional attitudes to religion, which is taking place on the basis of economic and social shifts in society.

According to the Russian orientalist A. I. Ionova, " in relation to Muslim activism, the systems of Sharia legal proceedings, Islamic education and training, and finally, political organization and mass mobilization had the greatest regulatory capabilities... The general trend was that the further the Islamic community advanced in its social development, the more obvious were the symptoms of a decline in the prestige and real significance of Islamic methods of political regulation. " 1 In fact, as the society transformed, the "regulatory capabilities" of Islam, as the experience of Southeast Asian countries also shows, underwent significant changes. The area of jurisdiction of the Sharia court was increasingly limited to regulating family and marriage issues. As they became involved in capitalist relations, Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean Muslims increasingly preferred to appeal to State courts as "more authoritative and competent", while not hesitating to criticize Sharia law for its lack of conformity with the spirit of the times. The Islamic education system was even more sharply criticized. Its lag in general education and insufficient quality of knowledge were noted. In general, the above-mentioned changes in the Muslim communities of the region's countries resulted in the adoption (albeit to varying degrees) of the principles of secular statehood.

In the opposite direction, the Muslim world was affected by the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Southeast Asia was no exception. In the region, demands for the restoration of "authentic" Islam and the spread of its influence on all aspects of life began to grow. Proponents of Islamism proposed it as an alternative to the political, economic, social and cultural systems already established in the countries of the region. As a result, the issue of establishing a State of "legal Islam" is not off the agenda in Indonesia, Malaysia and several provinces of the Philippines. Clearly not without the influence of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the struggle for votes of supporters in the elections between the main party of the ruling coalition of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO) and the leading opposition All-Malaysian Islamic Party (VIL), better known in English as PAS, escalated (for example, in Malaysia). Both parties claim a monopoly on the "correct understanding" of Islam in relation to the very difficult ethno-confessional conditions of Malaysia. Founded in 1951, the PACE initially focused its activities on the national issue. With a replacement in the early 80's. in its leadership of the "old guard" of nationalists on the representatives of the clergy and the proclamation of the course for the Islamization of the country and the participation of the PACE in the parliamentary elections of 1982, the politicization of Islam in Malaysia takes on an institutional form. The party's leadership insists on introducing the Islamic Criminal Code (hudud) in the country, as the only correct principle not only in passing sentences in court, including the most severe ones, but also in regulating the entire life of society. It remains unclear whether certain Malay circles ' support for PAS means that they really want to live in a Sharia state, since even for many "hardline" Muslims, including the clergy, the very concept of an Islamic state is very vague.

PACE is not able to give a clear outline of such a state even to Muslims, let alone adherents of other religions, who number in Malaysia only slightly less than half of the population. But in the eyes of many Muslims in Malaysia, the PACE looks like a champion of the purity of faith and a champion of justice, opposing itself to OMNO, whose leadership has been compromised by numerous cases of corruption and greed. It is possible that the main goal of the PACE in this confrontation is the desire to occupy the dominant position in the Malay community, and in Malaysian society as a whole, which now belongs to OMNO.

There is a well-founded view that the general crisis of Muslim civilization underlies the growth of Islamic extremism in the Middle East. The path to radicalism in Southeast Asia seems to have a different character. The pendulum of Islamist sentiments, for example, in Malaysia, often swings not under the influence of deep processes taking place in society: its fluctuations may be the result of opportunistic or episodic reasons. Thus, the surge in the popularity and influence of PAS in the 1999 elections was caused by the unprecedented act of the former prime Minister, who sent to prison in 1998 his then young deputy, Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, whom public opinion already considered a likely successor to Mahathir Mohamad long before the prime minister himself spoke about it. The confrontation that arose between them on this basis resulted in the trial of Anwar Ibrahim. Although the prosecution case was highly controversial, he was sentenced to a long prison term for corruption and homosexuality, which is a serious crime in a country where Islam is recognized as the state religion. Since the fall of 1998. The Malaysian opposition, especially PACE activists, launched a broad campaign accusing Mahathir Mohamad of "ruining his gifted political heir"in fear of losing his post. Organized shortly before the 1999 parliamentary elections, this campaign greatly complicated the situation. Although the ruling National Front (NF) coalition won, PAS also won a record number of seats - 27 (14%), which was largely won from OMNO; PAS also began to control the situation in another state besides Kelantan - Terengganu. In its 43 years of existence, OMNO was the most attractive party for Malay youth, who voted for it, hoping for its support for their career aspirations. In the 1999 elections, large sections of young people preferred PAS. It also included many former UMNO supporters from among educated and professionally qualified Malays-intellectuals, oil engineers, doctors; 70% of these segments of the population voted for the opposition .2

page 59

The parliamentary elections in Malaysia on March 21, 2004 were marked by the imminent resignation of Mahathir Mohamad. The result was a convincing victory for the National Front and its leading party, OMNO, which "snatched" the votes lost in the previous 1999 elections from the PACE. Now the PACE has only 7 seats in the parliament. Following the results of the parliamentary elections, observers concluded that the position of supporters of moderate Islam, led by the new Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was strengthened. In their comments, it was also noted that such a significant success was largely ensured by distancing the new leadership of the country from the previous one, which was involved in politicking, fraud, corruption, nepotism, and "money politics". The new prime Minister's declaration of an irreconcilable war on corruption was a decisive factor that determined the election results, the balance of political forces in the country, and the change in the ratio of supporters of radical Islamism and moderate Islam in favor of the latter.


The events of September 11, 2001 had a huge impact on the activation of Islamism in the Southeast Asian countries. This tragedy and its consequences, including the US counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan and military operations in Iraq, have further radicalized Islamist circles in the region. In the Philippines, this was reflected in the intensification of armed struggle in all provinces of the Muslim south, the resumption of military activity of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Russian researcher Yu. O. Levtonova points out that in the 70s and 80s, the primary goal of the Philippine Muslim movement was the implementation of separatist plans, and it was not too concerned with the problems of orthodox political Islam and fundamentalism. It is no coincidence that the program of the MILF does not contain clear wording on the subordination of the future social and social structure of the Moro Republic to Sharia norms. As noted by Yu. Levtonova, with the radicalization of the Muslim movement in the Philippines, there is an increase in the civilizational factor, inter-confessional conflict, and "identity confrontation" 3 .

In Indonesia, the radicalization of Islamism caused by external factors almost coincided with the country's exit from the 30-year period of military-totalitarian regime, under which calls for Islamization of the country were considered a crime. The subsequent democratization of an unprepared society following the fall of the Suharto regime resulted in the rise of a wave of Islamism. At the same time, a significant role in this rise was played by the increased interest in religion on the part of moderate Muslims. Concerned about the decline of moral values, corruption and the resulting social consequences, society sees reliance on religion and its organizational structures as a means to solve pressing material and moral problems. In a number of districts and provinces seeking greater autonomy, Islamists are pushing for a greater role for sharia law in these territories. In West Java, a stronghold of Islamism in Indonesia, the head of the local administration won the election due to the fact that he promised to legalize Sharia law.


It is significant that the most active supporters of radical Islam are often not marginal people whose standard of living borders on the poverty line or even falls below it, but representatives of the middle class, including those who received education in the West. One of the representatives of this part of the society, published in the press, is characteristic: "The country is deprived of order, because the government adheres to the wrong policy towards Islam... People like me look to religion as a means of improving our lives. " 4 Such a statement is not entirely unexpected, given that Indonesia has done little to make life easier for the majority of the population since the establishment of democracy in 1998, while rising prices and rampant corruption continue. At the same time, in the context of political liberalization, the ban on propaganda of Islamism has been practically lifted. Therefore, we should not be surprised by the results of one study conducted in 2002 by the Jakarta Center for the Study of Islam, when 61% of respondents approved of the idea of introducing Sharia norms into everyday life , 5 while more than half of them admitted that in 1999 they had accepted the idea of introducing Sharia norms into their daily lives. in the parliamentary elections, they supported parties that supported a secular state .6 Meanwhile, in August 2002

page 60

In the People's Consultative Congress, the highest legislative body in Indonesia, the Islamists ' proposal to include in state legislation the requirement of mandatory implementation of Sharia law by all Muslims of the country did not pass.

But the struggle between radicals and moderates does not end there. Islamists continue to insist on including in the legislation provisions that comply with such Sharia norms as the ban on cohabitation and sexual relations outside of marriage, the sin of sodom, etc. The health care bill they are promoting includes a ban on Muslims using the services of non-Muslim doctors. Moderate Muslims are also concerned about proposals to ban marriage with non-Believers and adoption of non-Believers. At the same time, Amin Rais, a very popular researcher on Islamic issues in Indonesia, speaker of the People's Consultative Congress, assessed these plans as unrealistic, saying that " it is impossible to transform Indonesia into a Sharia state. The vote for this will not pass. " 7

The parliamentary elections held in Indonesia in April 2004 brought a definite result to the confrontation between Islamists and moderate Muslims, at least for the current period. Of all the Muslim parties, only one - Unity and Development (by no means extremely Islamist) managed to make a serious statement, taking fourth place with 8.15% of the vote .8 In response, supporters of sharia law say that it is necessary to start not with the parliament, but to seek support at the local level. But even on the ground, the situation is ambiguous, and something is happening that was almost impossible until recently-Muslim women are opposed to a number of existing provisions of Sharia law. In Indonesia, one of the reasons for their dissatisfaction is the practice of dividing property by inheritance, when the daughter gets half as much as the son .9 In Malaysia, a coalition of 12 women's associations opposed polygamy after the announcement in several states of the authorities ' intention to ease the regulation of polygamy. The head of the coalition, Zaina Anwar, said: "Our position is that polygamy is not an absolute law for Islam. Monogamy is the norm. " 10 Religious education is increasingly criticized as being inconsistent with the needs of the economy and the dictates of the time in general. With a shortage of qualified engineering and medical personnel, as well as representatives of other professions in Malaysia, there are 44 thousand unemployed graduates of religious educational institutions in the country. It is noted that spiritual education is provided at the expense of funds intended for secular education .11

It should be noted that the proponents of creating a Sharia state themselves cannot hide the complexity and inconsistency of the tasks they face. This was clearly demonstrated in the rebellious province of Aceh in northern Sumatra, which is demanding secession from Indonesia in order to create an Islamic state there. This province is becoming a kind of laboratory for the widespread legalization of Sharia law. But according to the head of the religious court in Aceh, Sofian Saleh, this process is long and complex, and its solution is possible only if there is a consensus among the four million people of Aceh . The case for the supporters of the Islamic state is complicated by the fact that they do not have a clear program of action, a theoretical basis and a developed structure of the state they are "designing". That is why their leaders avoid making programmatic statements, limiting themselves to "declaring intentions." Thus, the situation in Indonesia is not very different from that in Malaysia. Much the same can be said for the Philippines.

Not all manifestations of Islamist radicalism in Southeast Asia should be considered as measures to establish a Sharia state, as is often the case in a number of publications. In particular, the explosion on the island of Bali, which claimed more than 200 lives, was a shock to Indonesian society and could not but cause a negative perception in the Muslim community. After all, the vast majority of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslims, mostly belonging to the moderate trend in Islam. Obviously, terrorist acts in some cases are committed by adherents of " another branch of Islam - radical Islamists, and are designed more for the "external consumer". First of all, of course, the Americans, as evidenced by the nationality of the victims of these acts, or at least their orientation. This is one of the forms of manifestation of anti - Americanism, or rather anti-hegemonism, spreading all over the world, associated with the behavior of the "only superpower" and the idea that America seeks not only to dominate the whole world, but also to impose its values and way of life on all peoples, depriving others of the right to identity. In this situation, Islam is seen by its radical followers as the only force capable of resisting US imperial policy and American-style globalism. In this regard, Abdul Gim, a popular Muslim preacher in Indonesia, said: "America has nothing to fear except the consequences of its own policies." 13..

Summing up, we can draw the following conclusion. The political activities of radical Islamists in South-East Asian countries, especially large-scale terrorist activities, disguised under the slogans of Islam, pose a threat to security and stability in individual countries, the region as a whole, and even beyond its borders. But since the plans to build a "state of Islam", a "new caliphate" run counter to the vital interests of the majority of the population of the region's countries, they are ultimately doomed to failure.

Popova A.M. 1 Islam in South-East Asia: Problems of Modern ideological evolution, Moscow, 1981, p. 69.

2 "Far Eastern Economic Review", Hongkong. 22.08.2002, p. 12.

3 South-East Asia in 2001: Actual problems of development, Moscow, 2002, p. 182.

4 "Far Eastern Economic Review", 11.12.2003, p. 55.

5 Ibid, 22.08.2002, p. 12.

6 Ibid, 11.12.2003, p. 57.

7 Ibid.

8 Kommersant, 6.05.2004.

9 "Far Eastern Economic Review", 22.08.2002, p.13.

10 "Straits Times", 17.03.2003.

11 Ibid.

12 "Far Eastern Economic Review", 22.08.2002, p. 15.

13 Ibid, 11.12.2003, p. 56.


Permanent link to this publication:

Similar publications: LSweden LWorld Y G


Vera LindContacts and other materials (articles, photo, files etc)

Author's official page at Libmonster:

Find other author's materials at: Libmonster (all the World)GoogleYandex

Permanent link for scientific papers (for citations):

M. GUSEV, Politics, economics. SOUTH-EAST ASIA. COULD A "NEW ASIAN CALIPHATE" EMERGE? // Stockholm: Swedish Digital Library (LIBRARY.SE). Updated: 24.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 22.07.2024).

Publication author(s) - M. GUSEV:

M. GUSEV → other publications, search: Libmonster SwedenLibmonster WorldGoogleYandex


Reviews of professional authors
Order by: 
Per page: 
  • There are no comments yet
Related topics
Vera Lind
Uppsala, Sweden
66 views rating
24.06.2024 (29 days ago)
0 subscribers
0 votes
Related Articles
Catalog: Bibliology History 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
V. A. MELYANTSEV. DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING COUNTRIES IN AN ERA OF CHANGE. (Comparative assessment of growth efficiency in the 1980s and 2000s)
Catalog: Bibliology Economics 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
Catalog: Science 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
Catalog: Science 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
Catalog: Bibliology 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
Catalog: Medicine Science 
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
2 days ago · From Vera Lind
2 days ago · From Vera Lind

New publications:

Popular with readers:

News from other countries:

LIBRARY.SE - Swedish Digital Library

Create your author's collection of articles, books, author's works, biographies, photographic documents, files. Save forever your author's legacy in digital form. Click here to register as an author.
Library Partners


Editorial Contacts
Chat for Authors: SE LIVE: We are in social networks:

About · News · For Advertisers

Swedish Digital Library ® All rights reserved.
2014-2024, LIBRARY.SE is a part of Libmonster, international library network (open map)
Keeping the heritage of Serbia


US-Great Britain Sweden Serbia
Russia Belarus Ukraine Kazakhstan Moldova Tajikistan Estonia Russia-2 Belarus-2

Create and store your author's collection at Libmonster: articles, books, studies. Libmonster will spread your heritage all over the world (through a network of affiliates, partner libraries, search engines, social networks). You will be able to share a link to your profile with colleagues, students, readers and other interested parties, in order to acquaint them with your copyright heritage. Once you register, you have more than 100 tools at your disposal to build your own author collection. It's free: it was, it is, and it always will be.

Download app for Android