Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Gender Equality and Islamic Authenticity in Southeast Asia: Postcolonial Realities and the Paradoxes of Multiple Modernities

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Wilson B, Mezzanine Level

This paper demonstrates that the paradox of multiple modernities has been more advantageous to the ‘traditionalists’ rather than the ‘progressives’ contending for Islamic authenticity in Southeast Asia. Progressive Islamic groups promoting women’s rights include Fahmina, Puan Amal Hayati, Rahimah and KUPI (Congress on Islamic Women Ulama) in Indonesia, Sisters in Islam and the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) in Malaysia, and Women and Law in Islam (WALI) and the Reading Group in Singapore. The traditionalist groups which focus on women and society represent fatwa-making bodies and civil actors such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Indonesia, Muslim Solidarity (ISMA) in Malaysia and PERGAS (Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association) in Singapore. The progressive standpoint appears to resonate with liberal positions on human rights, gender equality and personal liberty, while the ‘traditionalist’ standpoint echoes the conservative, pro-family and patriarchal narratives of modern society. While all these movements are making claims of Islamic authenticity, the progressives are usually marginalized in public discourse and politically persecuted. In this sense, the complications of postcolonial realities witness the rise of multiple, selective and authoritarian modernities. In the contest for state power and the control over Syariah law-making, the deployment of the ‘divinity’ narrative, the valorization of piety, and exceptionalism in favour of ‘non-Western’ symbols of authority have lent legitimacy to a monolithic Islamic controlling class. Though by no means unitary, this ‘traditionalist’ class has been successful in decrying ‘secularism’ while simultaneously using the instruments of modernization (particularly the rule of law) to delegitimize its contenders. 

Maznah Binti Mohamad

National University of Singapore, Not Applicable, Singapore

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3 - Gender Equality and Islamic Authenticity in Southeast Asia: Postcolonial Realities and the Paradoxes of Multiple Modernities



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Send Email for Gender Equality and Islamic Authenticity in Southeast Asia: Postcolonial Realities and the Paradoxes of Multiple Modernities