History of Muslim Nations in Southeast Asia

Research and Publication

Research projects focusing on the history of Muslim nations were incorporated in the Centre’s very first work program (1981), where reference was made to Southeast Asia as one of the regions to be covered within this framework. As a result of the steps taken and contacts established with the relevant authorities and institutions of the region, activities in this field saw a steady progress starting from the mid 1980s.

One of these activities was a large scale research project which was conducted in cooperation with the governments of Negara Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, with IRCICA as the research coordinator. The objective of the project was to publish a reference work on Islamic culture and civilisation in the Malay world. The idea of this research project was put forward by the Director General of IRCICA in the early years of the Centre and Raja Fuziah Bte. Raja Tun Uda, who was then Assistant Director General of IRCICA, approached the government of Malaysia on behalf of the Centre and contacts and meetings were held with Malaysian authorities. Ihsanoglu brought the project proposal to the Third Meeting of IRCICA Governing Board (November 1984) which was adopted, and subsequently approved by the Fifteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Sana’a, November 1984). In January 1985, IRCICA made the first official contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia and established working relations with the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. IRCICA’s Director General visited the three countries concerned, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia, to establish collaboration and cooperation on this project. It was planned that regional workshops would convene for periodical appraisal of the progress of the project. The first workshop met in September 1985 in Malaysia and was attended by IRCICA and the national working groups from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Decisions were taken regarding the project papers, the administrative and financial aspects of the project. Meanwhile, The international seminar on Islamic Civilisation in the Malay World, jointly organised by IRCICA and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Negara Brunei Darussalam, was held in June 1989, the papers of which provided valuable data for the project.

Subsequent regional workshops were organised in the intervening years in the three countries, the last one being in June 1994 in Malaysia. The project was directed by Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, while Prof. Dr. Mohd. Taib Osman, an eminent scholar from Malaysia, was appointed Editor-in-Chief. Raja Fuziah Bte. Raja Tun Uda, as the Project Coordinator, closely supervised the project from its initiation to its end. Dr. Aziz Deraman, the Director General of "Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka" (DBP), Malaysia, guided the Regional Secretariat established within the Bureau’s structure, and Ms. Rohani Rustam from DBP directed the Regional Secretariat. The authors selected from among the scholars of the three nations were invited to write the chapters which would compose the book.

Ultimately, a comprehensive book entitled Islamic Civilization in the Malay World was published in 1997. The Introduction by Prof. Mohd. Taib Osman is followed by eight chapters, written by Hussin Mutalib on "Islamic Malay Polity in Southeast Asia", Zainal Kling on "Social Structure: The Practices of Malay Religiosity", Shaharil Talib and Mohammad Raduan on "Economic Life: From Ruling the Waves to Toiling the Land", Azyumardi Azra on "Education, Law, Mysticism: Constructing Social Realities", Ismail Hamid on "Kitab Jawi: Intellectualizing Literary Tradition", Kamaruddin Mohd. Ali on "Architecture: Unity of the Sacred and the Profane", Raja Fuziah Bte. Raja Tun Uda and Abdul Rahman Al-Ahmadi on "Malay Arts and Crafts: Islamic Inspiration in Creativity", and Nasir Tamara on "The Ummah: Rising to the Challenges with Special Reference to Indonesia".

Translation projects are included in IRCICA’s work program for the years 2000 and 2001 to prepare and publish Arabic, Persian and Turkish editions of this book.


The international seminar on Islamic Civilisation in the Malay World was jointly organised by IRCICA and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Negara Brunei Darussalam, on 1-5 June 1989, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

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