Seminar Report

Book Review of Islamic Studies in Southeast Asia

Date: September 4th (Saturday) 1999

Place: Sophia University, Yotsuya campus

Theme: Harry J BENDA, The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation 1942-1945 (W. van Hoeve Ltd., The Hague and Bandung 1958)

Reviewer: Yoko AOKI (Waseda University Graduate School)

Discussant: Yasuko KOBAYASHI (Aichi-Gakusen University)


Reviewed in this workshop was the book by Henry BENDA, depicting the emergence of Islam in Indonesian politics around the time of the Japanese military administration. BENDA's work has been highly esteemed for its analysis of the impact of the Japanese military administration upon Indonesian society. The reviewer AOKI, who researches the conversion of Chinese Indonesians to Islam, pointed out that it is also of great value in its understanding of Islam as an independent force. It is from this vantage point that she led discussions on details of the text.

The political and social activities of Islamic power in Indonesia have lately been of great interest. KOBAYASHI argued that historical perspectives and studies were critical in addressing such issues. He maintained that the merit of BENDA's work was in his way of looking at Islam, that is, his understanding of Islam as an autonomous existence which had been developing on its own initiative. BENDA asserts that the Indonesian Muslims greatly contributed to the expansion of the Santri civilization, whereas Clifford GEERTZ views Islam in a more static way as represented in his classification of Islam in Java in the three variants.

All who attended this seminar were researchers of Southeast Asia. The discussions could have benefitted greatly from contributions of researchers of other regions such as the Middle East. We hope in future to gain the cooperation of young scholars from various fields, thereby enabling an even more effective discussion.