Friday, June 27, 2008

Islam in Asia


Executive Summary: On April 16, 1999 the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) held a one-day seminar entitled “Islam in Asia.” The purpose of the seminar was to assess the current and likely future role of Islam (especially Islamic political parties, organizations and movements) in key countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, the seminar focused on Pakistan and South Asia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. The following is a brief overview of some key findings:

Islam and Security: Islam's implications for security in Asia at the national or country level come in the form of political stability and ability to accommodate minorities where Islam is the majority religion. At the regional level, Islam's role in security appears to be its relevance to either promoting cooperation or creating tensions. At the international level, a major issue is Asian Islam's role in international Islamic movements and organizations particularly relations with the Middle East. At none of these levels (national, regional or international) does Islam in Asia pose a serious or immediate security problem. Only in South Asia, given Islam's growing role in Pakistan's domestic politics and its response to Hindu nationalism, is Islam a major element affecting both domestic and regional security. Longer-term issues include the restiveness of some of China's Muslims and the shifting social, economic and political roles of Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Islam and Governance: A major debate within and without the Islamic community is the compatibility of the faith with democracy. Though the seminar hardly settled the debate, it did note that Muslims certainly participate in democracies (e.g., India and Pakistan) and that Islamic parties are playing a role in possible transitions to democracy (e.g., Indonesia). In essence, at least in practical as opposed to theological or philosophical terms, Islam and democracy are not incompatible. One of many complexities of this debate is the different attitudes of Sunnis and Shiias toward democracy.

Islam and the Militaries: The role of Islam in the militaries of the Asia-Pacific countries represented at the meeting obviously differed considerably. In Indonesia, for example, it was noted that while the military has long had uneasy relations with Islamic political parties and movements, this relationship is less troubled today. Regarding Pakistan, concern was expressed that lower and middle level officers were becoming more supportive of Islamic groups.
The Middle East Connection: There are considerable connections between the Islams of Asia and Islam in the Middle East. The primary reason of course is that Islam originated in the Arabian peninsula and the faith’s holy places, to which every Muslim is enjoined to journey at least once in his or her life, are there. More concretely, countries in Asia depend on energy resources from the Middle East, rely on remittances from laborers, and find common cause on certain international political matters. There are also overlaps between Asian and Middle Eastern countries in organizations such as the OIC, OPEC, and NAM.

Islam(S) and Asia(S): There is neither a monolithic Asia nor a monolithic Islam. The many schisms in Islam emanate from doctrinal issues (e.g. Sunni vs. Shi’ia), history (e.g., maritime vs. land arrival of Islam), demographics (e.g., minority vs. majority Islam) and political ideology (e.g., secular states vs. religious-proclaimed states). Asia, of course, is a diverse region and Islam across its breadth has taken on different forms, meanings and implications.

Distinguishing between Religion and Ethnicity: In many of the countries of the region it was clear that there was a distinction between ethnic identity and religious identity. For example, some Chinese ethnic minorities, though they share Islam as a common faith, emphasize their ethnic identities over their common religion with other ethnicities, i.e., Muslim Uygur do not necessarily share close affinities to the Muslim Kazalchs in China. In South Asia, for example, Muslim Bengalis chose independence from Pakistan despite being co-religionists with West Pakistani Punjabis, Sindhis, and Baluchis.

The end of the Cold War has led to new thinking about the forces that shape international relations. Among the forces receiving greater attention is religion. Though religion, organized and otherwise, has always played an important part in international affairs, it is only in the past few years that there has been a rush of academic and policy writing on the role of religion in international relations.

[1] The precise reasons why religion is becoming a subject of greater concern to those engaged in the study of societies and relations among them are complex. The end of the Cold War, of course, has been a key factor. The purported end of ideological rivalry, as suggested by Francis Fukuyama, has shifted the focus of potential friction to religion or, as in the view of Professor Samuel Huntington, religion expressed as civilization. But theories about the shape of things to come are not the only sources for religion’s revival in the study of international relations. The actual phenomenon of religion’s revival has been critical too. A central paradox of our increasingly material globe, is that religion is making a comeback.
Whatever the reasons for the increased interest in and attention to the role of religion, the link between religion and geopolitics, foreign policy and state security is still yet another leap. Though religious activism or revival has been evident in numerous faiths (e.g., Hinduism in India), it is fair to say that “the current wave of religious activism was first associated with Islam.”

[2] And it is partially for this reason that the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies undertook to examine the role of Islam in Asia, and particularly the security implications of Islam in the region. Asia, where most of the world's Muslims live, is today an especially appropriate place to examine Islam's status and direction. Across the region, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, domestic political dynamics are highlighting the possible future role of Islam. While there are significant historical and current differences in the role played by Islam in these countries (and hence its future role will differ as well), each of these countries is to a greater or lesser extent searching for an accommodation involving organized Islam.
The objective of the symposium is to develop a fuller understanding of the current and likely future role of Islam in key countries of the Asia-Pacific region. To this end, we invited experts from Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, as well as bringing to the table experts from the United States.

Several key questions were addressed through the course of the day concerning the following issues:

· The role of Islamic organizations and political parties in the politics and societies of key Asian countries;

· The nature of links between Islamic organizations and political parties across the region;

· The attitudes and policies of key Islamic organizations and political parties towards regional security, including regional institutions;

· The role of Islam in the militaries of key Asian countries;

· The ways Islamic countries in the region view United States' strategic policy in the region; and

· The nature of "Islamic" responses to economic, social, and political aspects of globalization?

The following report summarizes the presentations and discussions that occurred during the day. It also draws on a wider range of literature to set the presentations and discussions in context.

Islam in Pakistan
Pakistan occupies a unique place in the Muslim world. It is the only state explicitly established in the name of Islam, and yet fifty years after its independence, the role and place of Islam in the country remains unresolved. The basic divide regarding the relationship between religion and the state pits those who see the existence of Pakistan as necessary to protect the social, political and economic rights of Muslims, and those who see it as an Islamic religious state. During the past fifty years, the public has resoundingly rejected Islamic political parties in every general election.

A combination of domestic and international developments over the past two decades, however, appears to be pushing Pakistan in the direction of a more explicitly religious state. Just in the last year, for example, the government of Pakistan has introduced strict Sharia laws and there has been a rise in Shia-Sunni violence. Some analysts have even begun to consider the prospect of a Talibanized Pakistan. The shift from liberalism to a more overt religious character for the country has been affected by developments in neighboring Iran, Afghanistan and India.
Two major factors have been primarily responsible for keeping religion separate from the business of the state in Pakistan until now. First, the way in which Islam spread through the subcontinent has been important. Contrary to the view that Islam was spread in the subcontinent by Islamic conquerors, in fact it spread through the preaching of Muslim Sufi saints. The Sufis practice a type of Islam that contrasts with the more conservative styles and values prevalent in some countries of the Middle East and even Afghanistan. Moreover, most Muslims in the subcontinent are Hindu converts. For these former Hindus, the basic reference point, despite choosing the Islamic faith, was South Asia and not the Arab lands to the west where more conservative approaches to Islam are practiced. And in South Asia the indigenous social and religious practices were more amenable to a “softer” kind of Islam. Indeed, nearly 85% of South Asia’s Sunni Muslims are said to follow the Barelvi school, closer to Sufism. The remaining 15% of Sunnis follow the Deobandi school, more closely related to the conservative practice of Islam. Most Shiites in the subcontinent also tend to be influenced by the Sufis. The bottom line is that Pakistan’s Muslims, like other Muslims in the region, tend to follow a school of Islam which is less conservative, and hence the support for strongly and overtly religious parties has been minimal.

A second reason why formal religion has been kept at arms length from state politics in Pakistan is that Muslim scholars and leaders in South Asia were essentially “liberals” or “reformists” rather than “conservatives” or “fundamentalists.” Muslims leaders such as the great educationist Syed Ahmed Khan or the poet-philosopher Allama Mohammed Iqbal attracted, through their teachings, Muslim intellectuals and even religious leaders (Ulema) who were modernists and reformers.

In the initial two decades after Pakistan’s creation, religion rarely came in the way of state policies. This was largely because the state apparatus was dominated by a combination of feudal or western-educated politicians and the civil servants who had been trained under the system run by the former British rulers of the subcontinent. This state apparatus had little interest in pushing a religious agenda. Moreover, the middle class, that in a country like Pakistan tends to be a repository of conservatism, was non-existent and the poorest of society had little representative voice. An episode that highlights the commitment of Pakistan in the early years to religious tolerance occurred in the early 1950s. A violent campaign started by groups representing Sunni Muslims against a minority sect of Ahmedi Muslims was forcefully crushed by the government. Key Sunni religious leaders, including the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Maulana Mawdoodi, were given death sentences. Though these were never carried out, the strong reaction to the attack on the minority Muslim sect and the subsequent harsh sentences symbolized that the state would not allow religious intolerance.

Just twenty years later, however, when another major violent campaign was launched against the Ahmedi community, the state acted quite differently. The irony was that the government then in power, headed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was strongly socialist and secular in its ideology. Moreover, it had come to power in the country’s first and truly free and fair elections in which Islamic parties contesting the polls had been roundly trounced. Despite this, then-Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto took the unprecedented decision of using the parliament to amend the constitution in the early 1970s to declare the Ahmedi community as non-Muslim. Some religious conservatives in Pakistan saw this decision as their first major victory.

The Rise of Islamic Conservatism in Pakistan
In the past two decades or so, there has been an even greater increase in the power of Islamic conservatives in Pakistan and communal violence and intolerance. Several factors appear to have contributed to this trend:

· The coming into power of a highly conservative military ruler, General Zia-ul-Haq, in the late 1970s;

· The Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran;

· The emergence of the Islamic mujahideen in Afghanistan; and

· The rise of Hindu nationalism in India.

Moreover, the largely negative attitudes and actions of the West towards the Muslim world have helped to push forward the agenda of the Islamic conservatives.
General Zia al-Haq and the Rise of Islamic Conservatism

During General Zia’s rule from 1977-1988, the state took a leading role in supporting Islamic conservatives and their values. In addition to changing electoral laws in order to deprive non-Muslim minorities open participation in general elections and tightening laws to curtail women and minority rights, a major effort was launched to encourage and support the setting up of Islamic madrassas (theological schools). These schools have been used by Islamic conservatives
to support militant movements not just in Pakistan, but in other parts of the world.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the Rise of Sectarian Violence in Pakistan
The Iranian revolution had a particular impact on neighboring Pakistan. At first, much of Pakistani society welcomed the Iranian revolution because it overthrew the brutal regime of the Shah. Some mainstream Islamic parties welcomed the event as a true Islamic revolution. However, as Iran began to support the export of its revolution, it lost favor amongst Pakistani's majority Sunni community, but found some support amongst the conservative Shiite groups in Pakistan. To complicate and exacerbate matters further, conservative Sunni regimes in the Gulf countries began to support Pakistan’s Sunni groups who now began to oppose the Iranian revolution and its allies within Pakistan. This situation exacerbated tensions between Sunnis and Shiites within Pakistan. Additionally, the free flow of arms from the war in Afghanistan and funding from Iran and the Gulf regimes for their respective clients led to the start of organized sectarian violence in Pakistan. This proxy war between the divergent Islamic orthodoxies of revolutionary Iran on one side and the conservative Gulf sheikhdoms on the other essentially used Pakistan as the battlefield.

The Civil War in Afghanistan and Its Impact on Pakistan
The war in Afghanistan further exacerbated internal religious tensions and weakened Pakistani society. Not only did the war lead to an increase in the flow of arms, drugs and money into the country, but it also caused a major shift in the attitude of religious conservatives in Pakistan. Islamic conservatives in Pakistan paid close attention to events in Afghanistan and began to play a more and more active role in the conflict (partly backed by the West and Pakistan’s intelligence services). Many saw the situation in Afghanistan as an opportunity to press their agenda beyond Pakistan.

There were other specific impacts of the Afghan civil war on the security of South Asia. For example, the fact that many of the most committed Muslim conservatives had fought in Afghanistan created a pool of militants for other conflicts. One such conflict was Kashmir. Though the origins of the conflict lie elsewhere, the availability of a pool of dedicated, well-trained, seasoned and sometimes well-equipped fighters certainly exacerbated the fighting in Kashmir. Moreover, given the role of these fighters and the availability of Afghanistan as a sanctuary and training ground for militants, the Kashmir insurgency moved from one in which there was support for self-determination to one in which there was a new agenda of Islamic conservatism and even extremism.

Finally, the rise of the Taliban phenomenon owes a great deal to the situation not only within Afghanistan, but also within Pakistan. It is clear that the rise in religious conservatism in Pakistan provided the basis for the rise of the movement. More specifically, the Islamic madrassa network that General Zia had encouraged provided a steady stream of committed warriors for the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Today, some Islamic conservatives within Pakistan see the Taliban as a source of inspiration and support for their own cause in Pakistan.

The Rise of Hindu Nationalism
Consolidating the trend towards Islamic conservatism in Pakistan has been the rise of Hindu conservatism or chauvinism in next-door India. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in the northern India town of Ayodhya in 1992 marked the high-point of contemporary Hindu zealotry. In addition to alienating many of India's Muslims, this event further marginalized the tiny Hindu minority in Pakistan. Dozens of large and small Hindu temples were attacked by Muslim zealots in Pakistan as revenge for the destruction of Babri Masjid. The election of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in India has further strengthened the hand of Islamic conservatives in Pakistan. They have used such developments to argue against any settlement of disputes with India and branded Pakistani supporters of a peace process as anti-Muslim.

Pakistan’s Islamic Political Parties and Militant Movements
The most potent and organized Islamic group in Pakistan is the Jamaat-e-Islami. The Jamaat is both a political party and an activist organization. It has contested Pakistan’s general elections, but fared poorly. In the most recent 1997 general elections the Jamaat boycotted the process, arguing that the present parliamentary system in the country is corrupt. Though it has failed to garner support at the polls, there are indications that it may be gaining power as the mainstream political parties falter and fail to deliver on socio-economic development and law and order concerns of the Pakistani populace.

There are several other religio-political forces in Pakistan. One such is the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) that has two factions. It too has contested elections but with almost no success. On the whole, Pakistan’s Islamic political parties and movements appear to be turning away from organized politics to more activist stands and in some cases militancy. Especially worrying to some is the link between various Islamic extremist organizations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Can Pakistan Become a Fundamentalist State?
Pakistan over the past fifty plus years has rejected the option of becoming a fundamentalist Islamic state. However, there are signs that the hand of the Islamists may be growing stronger. Recently, in parts of certain Pakistani provinces such as the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), extremist or conservative elements have pressed for the application of Islamic Shariah law. The central government is seen by some as having caved into these pressures. At the same time, the government has tried to counter the Islamist trend by itself amending the constitution to introduce more Islamic laws. This attempt to undermine more extremist demands may in fact backfire if the Islamic movement interprets the government’s move as a sign of weakness.
On the whole, the likelihood of a Taliban-type uprising in Pakistan is slim, mainly because Pakistan has neither gone through the same turmoil as was witnessed in Afghanistan, nor is it a monolithic society with a strong base for believers of fundamentalist Islamic views. One great danger that might spur radical Islamic groups to power is the collapse of the present democratic system. This could happen if it is discredited by inefficiency and corruption. The tumult and chaos that might follow such an event could give an opening to radical Islamic groups to take power, especially if there can be some form of coalition amongst the various Islamic groups. They realize, based on defeats in past elections, that there is little room for them in the current parliamentary democracy. Therefore, they may wish to help in the collapse of the present system, and they could do it through street protests and other extra-parliamentary activities. If the present system collapses, it will be in the interest of Islamic conservatives in the country. When a wave of Islamic militancy begins in a country like Pakistan, it is likely to take on strong anti-Western and anti-American tendencies.

The one critical institution that could stand between any collapse of parliamentary democracy and extremist Islamic elements is the Pakistani military. In the past, the military could be counted on to crush any Islamic-oriented uprising because the military has generally been a secularist force in the Pakistan context. Indeed, even today, many of the top officers of the Pakistan armed services are seen as “liberal” on religious matters. It has been suggested that the October 1999 takeover of power by Pakistan’s military was at least partly motivated by a desire to counteract Prime Minister Sharif’s perceived move towards the conservative religious parties and his endorsement of the Sharia law. However, as in other aspects of Pakistani society, over the past two decades there has been a growing Islamization of the Pakistan military, especially in the lower ranks. For this reason, it is difficult to predict what stance the military will take if the present political system were to collapse and if Islamic parties were to make a bid for power.

Pakistan's political future is more uncertain than ever. However, the rise of Islamic forces is indisputable. How many years it will take for Islamic hard-liners to coalesce and pose a real and imminent challenge to the existing political order is a key question. But, the massive failures of Pakistan's feudal-democratic system give little confidence that intolerance and liberalism can persist. This would suggest that Islamists could come to power sooner rather than later.

Islam and South Asia
South Asia is home to the second, third, and fourth largest Islamic countries in the world. Roughly 400 million Muslims live in the region though the distribution varies greatly; for example, there are some 300,000 Muslims in the Maldives and 137.7 million in India. Indeed, India’s Muslim population, though only about 14% of its total, is larger than that of the two declared Islamic countries in the region, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A useful way of considering the security implications or aspects of Islam in the subcontinent is to take a national, regional and international approach to the analysis.

Islam at the National Level in South Asia
At the national or country-level in South Asia, Islam has an important impact on political stability. Pakistan's situation has been discussed in detail above. In the case of India, the most compelling domestic security issue is the prospect of widespread and destabilizing Hindu-Muslim violence.

[3] India is an extraordinarily diverse country. There are schisms of every kind; religion, ethnicity and language. But the Hindu-Muslim division is really the only one that could rip apart the entire country. One reason for this is that Muslims are not confined to just one part of India. They live amongst the Hindu majority throughout the country. Moreover, Muslims tend to be concentrated in urban centers, constituting up to a third or fourth of the populations of major cities in all parts of India. It is empirically true that Hindu-Muslim violence has been on the rise since the late 1970s. During the period between 1950 (after the bloody Partition when India and Pakistan became independent in 1947) and 1977, there was a relatively low and stable rate of violence between the two communities. This was largely due to good governance and the fact that the dominant Congress party represented well the interests of Muslims. Moreover, India’s leadership (particularly Jawaharlal Nehru) was decidedly secular, and did little to use religious and other sensitive symbols for political purposes.
The growth in Hindu-Muslim violence since the late 1970s is worrying, but so far it has been contained to local violence concentrated in specific places, rather than spreading, dangerously, to the national level. Just eight cities in India account for over 50% of total deaths resulting from Hindu-Muslim violence.

[4] Preliminary research suggests that where a healthy civil society in which there are inter-communal associations exists, there is less violence between the two communities. At least for now, Hindu-Muslim violence does not appear to be an internal security concern threatening to the entire country. It has been suggested that the rise of the BJP along with its fundamentalist Hindu supporters has increased the possibility of a major breakdown in Hindu-Muslim relations in India. Though the destruction of a mosque in 1992 and acts of violence by extremist supporters of the BJP heightened these fears, it now appears that a BJP government will not lead to wide-scale Hindu-Muslim violence.

Islam at the Regional Level in South Asia
At the regional level in South Asia, there is one issue in which the role of Islam may be considered to have implications for security. This is of course India-Pakistan relations and specifically the dispute over Kashmir. While the history of Hindu-Muslim relations had a major impact on the creation of two independent states after the British withdrew, today the India-Pakistan dispute has expanded far beyond animosity between Muslims and Hindus. As noted earlier, there are nearly as many Muslims in India as there are in Pakistan. Rather than Islam, the main causes of the India-Pakistan disputes are competing nationalisms and the asymmetries of power between the two states. Similarly, the Kashmir dispute is not about the relationship between Islam and Hinduism but rather an outgrowth of these competing nationalisms. The Hindu-Muslim narrative works as a popularizing mechanism to whip up antagonisms in both countries.

Islam at the International Level in South Asia
South Asian Islam’s relevance to international security rests on its relations with the wider Islamic community. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, given their huge Muslim populations, geographical positions and economic and energy needs, have a great interest in and connection to the wider Islamic world. For South Asia’s Muslim countries, membership in Islamic organizations and relations with other Muslim countries, whether in the Middle East or Asia, have always been seen as important to their foreign and security policies.

Islam in the Philippines
The role of Islam in the Philippines centers on the minority Muslim community of the Moros living in the southern part of the country. This group has resisted what it deems to be outside political and economic forces challenging its way of life. The resistance has used governance and identity as the two main pillars of its campaign.

Sociohistorical Background of the Moros
The Filipino Muslims now known as the Moros constitute approximately 5% of the total population of Filipinos were converted to Islam before the majority of the Philippines were converted to Christianity. The name Moros derives from the word “Moors”. Both were coined by the Spanish; the former to refer to Muslim converts in the Philippines and the latter to refer to the Muslim inhabitants of southern Spain and North Africa. While the Moros share a faith, they do not share a language; at least 13 distinct ethnolinguistic communities of Moros exist. Amongst the various groups of Moros, two are most prominent; the Tausugs of Sulu and the Magindanaons of the Cotabato-Pulangi region. The legacy of these distinctions persists in the context of the modern Moro movement. The core leadership of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), under Nur Misuari, is largely Tausug while that of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Hashim Salamat gravitates around the Magindanaons.
Much of the population of the Philippines underwent religious conversion, with the inhabitants of the northern islands (Luzon and the Visayas) becoming Christians and the southerners (Mindanao and Sulu) becoming Muslims. An underlying ethnic commonality thus became layered with two distinct religious identities. The rivalry between the two faiths' converters surely contributed to complicating the relationship between the converted communities in the Philippines.

The response to encroaching colonialism also has had an important impact in increasing the distinction between Christian and Muslim Filipinos. Some of the Muslims of the south credit their faith for their having successfully resisted Dutch, British and especially Spanish colonial efforts. The American role in the region, including the imposition of military rule from 1899 to 1903, contributed to the Moros’ dissatisfaction. The fact that American rule in the country led to the Christian Filipinization of the administrative apparatus in Mindanao provoked further resentment amongst the Moros and laid the basis for the Moro rebellion.

The Moro Rebellion
The Moro rebellion was essentially aimed at regaining lost rights over the people and territories deemed to be traditionally Moro. The costs of this struggle have been large with some 60,000 deaths and some 200,000 refugees in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gained some international leverage against the Philippine government through its efforts at international Islamic forums such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). At the fourth meeting of the OIC in Libya in 1973 a Quadripartite Commission including representatives of Libya, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Somalia was dispatched to the Philippines on a fact-finding mission. At the following OIC summit a resolution calling for a political settlement of the rebellion was approved. The resolution passed by the OIC called on the government of the Philippines

“to find a political and peaceful solution through negotiation with Muslim leaders, particularly with the representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front, in order to arrive at a just solution to the plight of Filipino Muslims within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.”

It was in the context of this international Islamic engagement with the issue of the Moro rebellion that an agreement, the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, was reached. At its core, the Tripoli agreement contained two critical parts or phases. The first was an agreement in principle to establish a region of autonomy. The second stage was the mechanisms and modalities of the implementation of the autonomy plan. However, the second stage of the Tripoli Agreement was not signed until 20 years later in 1996 by Philippine President Fidel Ramos. Attempts were made to implement the autonomy plan under Presidents Marcos and President Aquino, but their efforts were rejected by the MNLF. The creation of a number of political institutions to meet Moro demands for greater autonomy is now in place in the region. These institutions include the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD), the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) and a Consultative Assembly (CA). The MNLF leader Nur Misuari was persuaded to accept the framework of agreement that allowed him to hold leadership positions in the new institutions but also remain at the head of the MNLF. A three-year transition plan is now underway to transform these interim institutions into a Regional Autonomous Government. The specifics of the final settlement will depend on a planned plebiscite agreed to by all parties. Politically, the principle of autonomy under the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines has been accepted by all the relevant parties. A larger question relates to the question of cultural integration. It appears that the commitment by all parties to political autonomy (rather than secession) will allow for the development of a non-assimilationist or pluralist model on cultural matters. The Christian majority also seems to support such an approach to national integration, hence reducing the fears of some Moros that there will be further pressure on them to assimilate into the larger Filipino society.

The Moro Issue, International Islam and ASEAN
It is clear that the issue of Islam in the Philippines, in the form of the Moro issue, has connections with the wider Islamic world and particularly with the Islamic countries of Southeast Asia. It should be noted for example that the signing of the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 that laid the basis for the end of the Moro rebellion was derived from discussion in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Indeed, all the signatories of the Agreement with the exception of the Philippine representative were Muslims. Moreover, the Islamic members of ASEAN, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia have, at various points, lent their good offices to the search for a political solution to the Moro rebellion. Already a grouping, BIMP-EAGA,[5] has been formed to promote increased inter-island and inter-regional trade and tourism that would cover the proposed autonomous region.

Islam in Malaysia
Islam in Malaysia, embraced by about 55% of the country’s 22 million people, is both a religion and ethnic identity because most Muslims in the country are also Malays. Though Islam is the religion of half the country’s population, its influence in Malaysian life is central given the political and cultural pre-dominance of the Malay-Muslim population. The remaining population of Malaysia is comprised of ethnic Chinese (35%), ethnic Indians (8%) and small indigenous groups (2%). These latter groups are mostly non-Muslim. Islam in Malaysia is not the same as that of the Middle East. The practice of Islam in Malaysia, as in other places where the religion is practiced, is embedded in the local cultures. In particular, Buddhism and Hinduism have been important pre-Islamic influences in Malaysia.

The Politics of Islam in Malaysia
The Malay ethnic group has been divided politically, and therefore they require the support of either Chinese or Indians in order to gain political dominance. This situation leads to a central fact in the country’s political life: Malay-Muslim dominance has always been negotiated amongst various forces. Inter-ethnic and inter-religious coalition parties, whether in opposition or ruling parties, have dominated the country’s electoral politics in post-independence politics.
The background of contemporary politics in Malaysia is critical to understanding the present. By the 14th century, as Islam made its way through Indian and Chinese merchants into the area of today’s Malaysia, Buddhist and Hindu influences gave way. Islam became the source of legitimacy for the Malay feudal rulers. It was during this period that Islam and Malay identity combined together, but many Hindu and pre-Hindu customs and practices remained part of the cultural and social mix. The coming of British colonialism in the 18th century fundamentally altered the composition of Malaysian society. To work the millions of acres of tropical forests for the production of rubber, palm oil and coffee, the British imported in thousands of laborers from India and China.

The Japanese occupation between 1941-1945 touched off ethnic and religious conflicts. Though a faction of the Malay nationalist movement welcomed the Japanese occupation, other Malays joined with the British in an anti-Japanese front. Almost all Chinese inhabitants of Malaysia at the time were strongly anti-Japanese due to the massacres of Chinese by Japanese troops. With the end of WWII, the divisions of the war period took a violent turn with Malays who were seen as having collaborated with the Japanese fighting with Chinese.

The British, still the colonial rulers of Malaysia after the war, sought to contain the ethnic conflict by attempting to establish a unitary state where feudalism would be abolished and equal citizenship granted to all. However, this attempt at a unitary state failed and in 1948 a federation was formed. It is this federation system that persists today as the government structure for the country. The constitution establishing the Federation of Malaysia was not, however, enough to prevent further ethnic conflict. Indeed, the worst riots took place in May 1969 and led to a new set of policies that were to give further strength to Malay-Muslim dominance.

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was initiated in 1971 in response to the 1969 riots. The policy was designed to be a pro-Malay affirmative action policy. Its direct effect was to lead to an Islamic resurgence, especially amongst Malay Muslim youth. While in its initial years the NEP concentrated on redressing socio-economic imbalances, today it is also concerned with issues of identity and culture with Islam at the core. The NEP has not only wrought major economic and social changes in Malaysia, but also redefined its politics. Islam in Malaysia is today more visible than ever before. And it is a modern, “consuming Islam” as evidenced by the proliferation of Muslim financial institutions, medical centers, and social work organizations as well as tourist agencies and supermarkets. Moderate Islam has become uncontested in Malaysia. The country’s main Islamic party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, remains the credible alternative definer of Malayness. Since Islam enjoys a general appeal across class lines amongst the Malay community, it is difficult to identify a specific ideological interpretation, voice, or personality that dominates.

One complication is that the increased emphasis on Malay and Islamic identity in economic and public life has exacerbated the problematic of relations between Malay-Muslims and non-Malay non-Muslims. The idea of Malaysia as an united nation-state, or Bangsa Malaysia, has been challenged. Still, most religious and ethnic minorities have decided to remain Malaysian and enjoy the benefits of the relatively strong economy of the country. It is noteworthy, for example, that the recent economic crisis did not lead to an out-migration of Chinese and Indians as witnessed in some of the other countries hit by the financial crisis. In fact, these minorities have at time's openly supported the troubled Mahathir government. The main reason for this support may be a desire to assure a stable political system that will ensure the safety of their economic interests.

Indeed, a large proportion of Malay-Muslims have been perceived as being sympathetic to the ousted former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim who was removed from his position in September 1998. Some observers feared that because Mr. Ibrahim had been leader of the Islamic youth movement in the 1970s, the political uncertainty brought to the fore by his removal could lead to Islam becoming a destabilizing factor. In fact, however, the moderate, revivalist type of Islam supported by Mr. Ibrahim may instead be shaping the formation of a truly non-communal politics in Malaysia. In essence, Islam of the kind that has come to prominence in Malaysia since the 1970s may be the most progressive element in contemporary Malaysian society. This progressive Islam had led the civil society movement and efforts to protect human rights under the broader effort to achieve “social justice.”
Islam in Malaysia and Security Issues

Two possible security implications of Islam in Malaysia relate to the country's political stability and regional relationships. Questions have been raised as to whether Mr. Ibrahim's Islamic ties (he once headed Malaysia's Islamic youth movement) will be used in the struggle with Dr. Mahathir. However, the general view was that these ties would not have a determining impact on the country's stability. Moreover, it was suggested that no matter who emerges victorious in the current political struggle between Mr. Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir, there is not likely to be any
fundamental change in the country's governing structures.

A second possible aspect of security involving Islam relates to Singapore-Malaysia relations. Singaporeans sometimes describe themselves, worriedly, as a Chinese enclave in a Muslim sea. However, there is widespread agreement that recent Singapore-Malaysia tensions derive from state-to-state disagreements and have almost nothing to do with Islam.
Islam in Indonesia

Indonesia, where nearly 90% of the populace is Muslim, is the world’s largest Islamic country. However, Islam has never played a central role in the country’s politics. Nevertheless, there has been a persistent tension between those advocates of a more prominent and formal role for Islam in the country, and those who resist making Islam an organized political actor.
In the late 1980s, under the now defunct New Order era of former President Suharto, there was an effort to reach out to Muslims and Islam in a more explicit way. The main reason for this was President Suharto’s desire to widen his power base beyond the military and the secular ruling political party, Golkar. A symbolic indication of this effort was President Suharto’s decision in 1990 to make his first trip or Hajj to Mecca. Other steps on the path to Islamization of the New Order regime included reversing the ban on the wearing of jilbab (head covering) for female students in state-run schools and the founding of the country’s first Islamic bank.
Roughly a decade after Suharto’s attempt to encompass Islam in the political sphere, the New Order collapsed. On 21 May 1998, President Suharto resigned. In essence, the effort by Suharto to widen his political base by reaching out to Islam did not prevent the fall of his regime. While Suharto’s efforts in the preceding several years to cultivate Islam may have re-invigorated Islamic groups and organizations, the current evolving role of Islam in the politics and policy-making of post-Suharto Indonesia is likely to be more sustainable then it was at the beginning of Suharto’s New Order era. A major reason for this expectation is that there has been, over the past decades, a surge in religious consciousness among many circles within the
Indonesian Muslim community.

Islam and the State in Indonesia
A central point about the Islam in Indonesia is that it is not monolithic. A key divide, other than the differences between “traditionalists”, “modernists” and “fundamentalists”, is that between those working for the Islamization of Indonesia and those who wish to Indonesianize Islam. In some measure, the debates over the role of Islam in Indonesia have been between santri (devout Muslims) and the abangan (nominal Muslims). The New Order era largely succeeded in suppressing this basic (and overly simplified) dichotomy.

In the immediate post-independence period of parliamentary democracy, Muslim political parties did in fact play an important role in politics. A number of the Prime Ministers of the period were from the largest Muslim political party, Masjumi. But divisions and differences amongst the various elements that comprised the party led to the weakening of political Islam in Indonesia.

As Sukarno issued in the era of guided democracy, the fortunes of almost all political parties began to flounder. The Masjumi was banned in 1960 on the basis of allegations that its leaders were active in a regional rebellion. Other Islamic groups also began to come under Sukarno’s control. The rise of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and Sukarno’s growing support for it put Islamic parties and groups even more on the defensive. However, given Islamic cooperation with the military in the context of the fall of Sukarno in 1965, it appeared that Islam might yet again play a stronger role in the country’s politics. This did not materialize however. As Rizal Sukma has written:

However, that coalition was in fact only temporary in nature and the brief period of honeymoon between Islam and the military-backed Suharto’s government soon came to a close. The early years of the New Order marked the beginning of a long and difficult period for political Islam in Indonesia. Muslim groups found that their expectation and hope for a renewed political role was pushed aside by a number of policies introduced by Suharto’s New Order government. Political Islam soon became subject to the process of marginalisation, and the strength of Islam as a political force was reduced remarkably due to a number of measures undertaken by the government.

[6] While working to diminish the role of Islam in the politics of the New Order, at the same time the government encouraged Islamic religious and ritual activities to flourish. Such encouragement took the form of government-sponsored proselytizing, the increase in Islamic publications and the construction of mosques. In essence, Suharto’s New Order took a dual-track approach to Islam. On the one hand, it resisted any political role for Islam while on the other it promoted Islam as a private religion.

Between the political and the private, a third dimension of Islam in Indonesia has been its societal role. In this realm, Islam retained an important, and in fact increasingly influential position. For example, Islamic organizations as mass-based movements focussing on social and educational activities remained important aspects of the Indonesian landscape. However, as the two largest Muslim organizations, the Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama suggest, even as a social force Islam in Indonesia is not monolithic. Still three developments arising out of the societal role of Islam in the last decade or so of Suharto’s rule have set the background to the role of Islam in the country today. First, members of the Muslim middle class are now culturally and intellectually more self-confident than their predecessors. Second, the Muslim middle class, while accepting that religion and society cannot be separated, including government and politics, does not support an Islamic state. Finally, there is a growing religious awareness amongst the middle class of Indonesia. The contemporary significance of such developments is that the long-standing distinctions between santri and abangan and between modernism and traditionalism is now giving way to a more complicated picture of Islam’s role in Indonesian society.

Islam and the Military in Indonesia
Relations between Islam and the Indonesian military have been problematic. Many reasons have been offered to explain the troubled, and at times mutually suspicious relationship. First, some in the military elite have been unhappy with what they regard as the factious and rebellious nature of the Islamic community. Specifically, the military elite have suspected that Islam has been a motivating force in regional rebellions in West Java, Aceh and South Sulawesi to name but a few. Second, the military leadership has tended to be dominated by either the abangan Javanese or secular nationalists. The non-Muslims in the military have tended to shy away from defining national identity in religious terms. Even more, the military leadership, in perceiving its role as the guardian of national unity in an ethnically and religiously diverse society, have tended to regard attempts by Muslims to express political interests through protests on economic and cultural grievances with hostility. Third, in terms of power politics, ABRI was inclined to deny a formal role to Islam out of concern that it would challenge the military’s prominent position in the New Order system of government. However, in the early 1990s and since, there appear to be the makings of a greater accommodation between Islamists and the ABRI. The ABRI’s suspicion about the Islamic community’s rebelliousness and tendency towards factionalism appears to have abated.

The Foreign Relations of Indonesia’s Islam
In general, Islam has not had an important role in shaping Indonesia’s foreign policy. There are two main reasons. First, foreign-policy making has been dominated by state institutions, and non-governmental forces have not been allowed to tread on the government’s authority in this area. Second, Muslims leaders themselves have been concerned with a relatively narrow range of international issues; particularly those that have explicit Islamic dimensions or involve the Islamic world or the Middle East. This too may be changing. Emerging leaders in the new political climate of post-Suharto Indonesia such as Amien Rais, leader of the political party PAN, are raising questions about Indonesia’s foreign policy. Two compelling issues for these persons are the international identity of the state and the country’s place in the Islamic world. Related to these questions is the issue of Indonesia’s relationship with the West. It is clear that new voices are emerging in terms of views on foreign and security policy in the new political climate, but it is not clear what these voices will have to say. However, it does not seem likely that the Islamic factor will emerge as a major factor or determinant of Indonesia’s foreign or security policy.
Conclusions about Islam in Indonesia

Islam has not been a monolithic force in the politics of Indonesia. There have been divergent views amongst several Islamic organizations and movements, most prominently the NU and the Muhammadiyah. The New Order government’s policy of diminishing the role of political parties combined with the military’s suspicion of Islam, led Islamic organizations to concentrate on religious, social and educational activities rather than politics. This very shift in emphasis led to Indonesian society becoming more Islamicized, including the rise of a Muslim middle class that entered both the government and the military. These changes in part led the military to reassess its view of Islam’s role in Indonesia. Moreover, in the post-Suharto context of Indonesian politics, Islam has emerged as perhaps the most important force. Islam is likely to be a major force in the politics of Indonesia for the foreseeable future.

Islam in the People's Republic of China
Muslims in East Asia live as minority communities amid a sea of people, in their view, who are largely pork-eating, polytheist, secularist, and kafir ("heathen"). Nevertheless, many of their small and isolated communities have survived in rather inhospitable circumstances for over a millennium. Though small in population percentage (about 2% in China, 1% in Japan, and less than 1% in Korea), their numbers are nevertheless large in comparison with other Muslim states. For example, there are more Muslims in China than Malaysia, and more than every Middle Eastern Muslim nation except Iran, Turkey, and Egypt. East Asia is also increasingly depending on mainly Muslim nations for energy and cheap labor, thus raising the importance of its Muslim diasporic communities for international and domestic relations. Japan has a rather small resident Muslim community, estimated to be less than 10,000, however, recent waves of Middle Eastern and South Asian migrant laborers to Japan's large industrial cities suggest that the total Muslim population in Japan could be nearing the 1 million mark. Though these communities are temporary in terms of residency, they are have as strong an impact on Japan's rather insular society as the Turkish and Kurdish populations in the Scandinavian heartlands (which now have surpassed 10 percent). As Jonathan Lipman insightfully noted, these long-term Muslim communities have often been the "familiar strangers" found in small enclaves throughout Asia.

[7] And if Kosovo and Bosnia are to serve as lessons, failure to accommodate Muslim minorities can lead to national dismemberment and international intervention. Indeed, China's primary objection to NATO involvement in Kosovo centered on its fear that this might encourage the aiding and abetting of separatists, with independence groups in Xinjiang, Tibet, and perhaps Taiwan, clearly a major Chinese concern.

China contains the largest Muslim population in East Asia, and China’s Muslims are clearly the most important in terms of national security concerns. The lessons gleaned from the situation of China’s Muslims may be useful for other Muslim communities in East Asia, and perhaps elsewhere in Asia as well. Successful Muslim accommodation to minority status in East Asia can be seen to be a measure of the extent to which Muslim groups allow the reconciliation of the dictates of Islamic culture to their host culture, be it Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or other. Islam in the diaspora is not inherently rebellious and Muslim minorities need not be problematic to the security of a non-Muslim state.

Islam in China has primarily been propagated over the last 1300 years among the people now known as Hui, but many of the issues confronting them are relevant to the Turkic and Indo-European Muslims on China’s Inner Asian frontier. According to a 1990 census, the total Muslim population of China is about 17.6 million. It is important to note, however, that the Chinese census registers people by nationality, not religious affiliation, so the actual number of Muslims is still unknown.

Though Hui speak a number of non-Chinese languages, most Hui are closer to Han Chinese than other Muslim nationalities in terms of demographic proximity and cultural accommodation. The attempt to adapt many of their Muslim practices to the Han way of life has led to criticisms amongst Muslim reformers. The Hui are unique among the 55 identified nationalities in China in that they are the only nationality for whom religion (Islam) is the only unifying category of identity, even though many members of the Hui nationality may not practice Islam. As a result of Islamic reform movements that have swept across China, the Hui continue to subscribe to a wide spectrum of Islamic belief.

Many Muslims supported the earliest communist call for equality, autonomy, freedom of religion, and recognized nationality status, and were active in the early establishment of the People’s Republic of China. However, many of these Muslims became disenchanted by growing critiques of religious practice during several periods in the PRC beginning in 1957. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Muslims became the focus for both anti-religious and anti-ethnic nationalism critiques, leading to widespread persecutions, mosque closings, and at least one large massacre of 1,000 Hui following a 1975 uprising in Yunnan province. Since Deng Xiaoping’s post-1978 reforms, Muslims have sought to take advantage of liberalized economic and religious policies, while keeping a watchful eye on the ever-swinging pendulum of Chinese radical politics. There are now more mosques open in China than there were prior to 1949, and Muslims travel freely on the Hajj to Mecca, as well as engaging in cross-border trade with co-religionists in Central Asia, the Middle East, and increasingly, southeast Asia.
Increasing Muslim political activism on a national scale and rapid state response indicates the growing importance Beijing attaches to Muslim-related issues. In 1986 Uygurs in Xinjiang marched through the streets of Urumqi protesting against a wide range of issues, including the environmental degradation of the Zungharian plain, nuclear testing in the Taklamakan, increased Han immigration to Xinjiang, and ethnic insults at Xinjiang University. Muslims throughout China protested the publication of a Chinese book Sexual Customs in May 1989, and a children’s book in October 1993, that portrayed Muslims, particularly their restriction against pork, in a derogatory fashion. In each case, the government responded quickly, meeting most of the Muslims’ demands, condemning the publications and arresting the authors, and closing down the printing houses. These protests have continued well into the late-1990s, with intermittent terrorist attacks and popular protests occurring in Xinjiang, extending even to Beijing with a widely publicized bus-bombing in the Spring of 1997 claimed by Uygur separatists worldwide. Significantly, this claim has never been verified, and many of China's Uyghurs deny support for terrorist acts, indicating a widely divergent view regarding Muslim separatism in China.
China's Muslims are anything but unified vis-à-vis their relationship with the Beijing government. Regional and factional struggles continue to divide China’s Muslims internally, especially as increased travel to the Middle East prompts criticism of Muslim practices at home and exposes China’s Muslims to new, often politically radical, Islamic ideals. In February 1994, four Naqshbandi Sufi leaders were sentenced to long-term imprisonment for their support of internal factional disputes in southern Ningxia Region that had led to at least 60 deaths on both sides and People’s Liberation Army intervention. Throughout the summer and fall of 1993 bombs exploded in several towns in Xinjiang, indicating the growing demands of organizations pressing for an “independent East Turkestan.” In February 1997, a major uprising in Ili led to the deaths of at least 13 Uyghur and the arrests of hundreds. Beijing has responded with increased military presence, particularly in Kashgar and Urumqi, as well as diplomatic efforts in the Central Asian states and Turkey to discourage foreign support for separatist movements. It is clear that Hui and Kazakh Muslims are critical of these separatist actions among the Uyghur, and it is not yet clear how much support even among the Uyghur there is for the violent acts, especially one recent attempt to assassinate a “collaborating” Imam in Kashgar. At the same time, cross-border trade between Xinjiang and Central Asia has grown tremendously, especially due to the reopening in 1991 of the Eurasian Railroad, linking Urumqi and Almaty with markets in China and Eastern Europe. Overland travel between Xinjiang and Pakistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan has also increased dramatically with the relaxation of travel restrictions based on Deng Xiaoping’s prioritization of trade over security interests in the area. The "Shanghai Five" agreement of April 1998 between China, Russia, and the three key bordering Central Asian States (Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan), has secured border security for the region. The government’s policy of seeking to buy support through stimulating the local economy seems to be working at the present. Income levels in Xinjiang are often far higher than those across the border, yet increased Han migration to participate in the region’s lucrative oil and mining industries continues to exacerbate ethnic tensions. Muslim areas in northern and central China, however, continue to be left behind as China’s rapid economic growth expands unevenly, enriching the southern coastal areas far beyond that of the interior.
While further restricting Islamic freedoms in the border regions, at the same time the Chinese state has become more keenly aware of the importance foreign Muslim governments place on China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities as a factor in China’s lucrative trade and military agreements. The establishment of full diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia in 1991 and increasing military and technical trade with Middle Eastern Muslim states enhances the economic and political salience of China’s treatment of its internal Muslim minority population. The increased transnationalism of China’s Muslims will be an important factor in their ethnic expression as well as practiced accommodation to Chinese culture and state authority.
Islam and Chinese Nationalism

China is not immune from the new tide of ethnic nationalism and “primordial politics” sweeping Europe, Africa, and Asia in the post-Cold War period. Much of it is clearly a response to globalization in terms of localization: an increasing nationalism arising from the organization of the world into nation-states. No longer content to sit on the sidelines, the nations within these states are playing a greater role in the public sphere. In most of these nationalist movements, religion, culture, and racialization plays a privileged role in defining the boundaries of the nation. In China, and perhaps much of Muslim Asia, Islam will continue to play an important role in defining the nation, especially in countries where nationality is defined by a mix of religion and ethnicity (i.e., China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines).

Muslim activism in China cannot but be nationalistic, but a nationalism that may often transcend the boundaries of the contemporary nation-state, via mass communications, increased travel, and the internet. Previous Islam movements in China were precipitated by China’s opening to the outside world. A new movement may now be washing across China’s terrain. No matter what conservative leaders in the government might wish, China’s Muslims politics have reached a new stage of openness. If China wants to participate in an international political sphere of nation-states, this is unavoidable. With the opening to the West in recent years, travel to and from the Islamic heartlands has dramatically increased in China. Throughout the first 30 years of the PRC, only a handful of Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca. In 1984, over 1400 Muslims left China to go on the Hajj. This number increased to over 2000 in 1987, representing a return to pre-1949 levels. Several Hui students are presently enrolled in Islamic and Arabic studies at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

Encouraged by the Chinese state, relations between Muslims in China and the Middle East are becoming stronger and more frequent, partly from a desire to establish trading partners for arms, commodities, and currency exchanges, and partly by China’s traditional view of itself as a leader of the Third World. Delegations of foreign Muslims regularly travel to prominent Islamic sites in China, in a kind of state-sponsored religious tourism, and donations are encouraged. While the state hopes that private Islamic investment will assist economic development, the vast majority of grants by visiting foreign Muslims have been donated to the rebuilding of Islamic mosques, schools, and hospitals. As Hui in China are further exposed to Islamic internationalism, and they return from studies and pilgrimages abroad, traditional Hui identities will once again be reshaped and called into question, giving rise to a fourth tide of Islam in China. Global Islam is thus localized into Hui Islam, finding its expression as a range of accommodations between Chineseness and Muslimness as defined in each local community.

These accommodations of China’s Muslims are not unlike those made on a daily basis among other Muslim minorities in Asia. The only difference may be the increasingly post-modern contraction of time and space: accommodations that took over a millenia in China are now being required of Muslim diasporic communities in a matter of hours or days. For Hui in China, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers in Tokyo and Seoul, and the wider diaspora, Muslims may becoming increasingly “unfamiliar strangers.” This does not bode well for the future integration of Muslims into the East Asian Leviathan, China.

The Security Dimensions of Islam in Asia
For most Americans, Islam is a faith from and of the Middle East. Islam’s security implications therefore tend to be seen as emanating from the vexing problems of that region including, but not limited to, the Israeli-Palestinian/Arab dispute, the Iranian revolution, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and its illicit nuclear weapons program, oil embargoes and terrorism. The dramatic events of the past two decades in that region have only served to confirm the links between Islam, the Middle East and security problems in the American popular imagination.
In part for these reasons, Islam’s changing role in Asia has been largely missed. To be sure, developments regarding Islam in Asia, with exception of the invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union and the continuing civil war in that country, have been far less dramatic and directly threatening to the interests of the United States and its allies. Hence, the relatively little attention paid to them. But there have been important, if more “distant” and at times nuanced developments affecting Islam in Asia. These developments include:

· the takeover of power in Pakistan by General Zia Al-Haq and the increased Islamization of that country;
· the rise of Hindu nationalism in India and its implications for relations with its Islamic neighbors;
· the restiveness of China’s Muslims partly resulting from their wider ties to the world;
· shifting social, economic and political roles of Islam in the politics of Malaysia and Indonesia; and
· the mostly localized Moro rebellion in the Philippines.

While all of these trends and developments are important, they simply have not been able to compete with the jarring scenes visible in the Middle East, including most recently the Persian Gulf War. How, then, based on the reviews of the status and roles of Islam in key Asian countries provided above, can one think about Islam’s security implications in Asia? And, more specifically, what if any, implications might the changing roles of Islam in Asia have for the United States? At the national or country-level, Islam’s implications for security come in the form of political stability and ability to accommodate minorities where Islam is the majority religion. At the regional level, Islam’s role in security appears to be its relevance to either promoting cooperation or creating tensions. At the international level, a major issue is Asian Islam’s role in international Islamic movements and organizations and particularly relations with the Middle East.

Islam and Domestic Political Stability in Asia
The presentations on the roles of Islam in Pakistan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and China suggests that, with the exception of the Philippines where an Islamic rebellion is all but over, Islam’s role in the politics, societies and economies has grown. Despite the growing role of Islam and the rise of more activist and religious Muslim middle classes,

[8] there appear to be few signs of an Islamic fundamentalist trend in Asia. The point was made repeatedly that Islam in most of Asia must compete with other identities, most notably ethnicity. Moreover, Islam in Asia generally is built on pre-Islamic influences such as Hinduism and Buddhism still persists. All of these factors tend to make Islam in Asia of a variety different from the more doctrinaire influences of the Arabian peninsula.

Only in one country, Pakistan, does it appear that Islam is threatening to take an extra-parliamentary role towards politics. Islamic politics of the street intended to undermine Pakistan’s barely functioning democracy is possibly a real danger to the political stability of the country. Just how serious a threat Islam poses to Pakistan’s political system, and how soon, is a matter of speculation. But what is not beyond doubt is that factional fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Pakistan has grown, and so too has intolerance against the country’s minority communities whether they be Christian, Hindu or Ahmadi.

In India, it is not the rise of Islam, but rather the rise of majority Hinduism that has raised concerns about political stability. In particular, the destruction in 1992 of the Babri Masjid, a mosque in northern India claimed by Hindus as the birthplace of the god Ram, led to some of the worst Hindu-Muslim rioting in post-independence India. Some observers have wondered whether such incidents bode a long-term trend in serious Hindu-Muslim violence that will lead to undermining the stability of the Indian state. The victory, once again, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its coalition partners, in the most recent national elections suggests that political Hinduism is now pre-eminent. Still, the prospect of an all-India conflagration between Hindus and Muslims does not appear likely.

In Indonesia and Malaysia, where Islamic identity and activity in social, economic and political dimensions has been on the increase, political stability arising from Islam’s role is not the critical issue. Rather, the compelling issues appear to be accommodating Islamic activism in the emerging politics of the two countries and protecting the rights of minorities. The New Order of Suharto’s Indonesia did not collapse because of Islamic activism, and Islam is not behind the rough political dynamics of Malaysia during the past two years. But, as both countries move through an era of political change, Islam will certainly be one if not the most critical of the many factors shaping the future.

All in all, it appears that none of the Asian countries considered in this seminar, with the possible exception or Pakistan, are in danger of being thrown into turmoil and instability due to an Islamic revolution. There are ways in which the role of Islam may affect the stability of the some of these states, however; such as incorporating Islamic political parties in the new dispensation in Indonesia or ensuring the confidence and safety of non-Muslim minorities in Malaysia and Indonesia. In India and Philippines non-Muslim majorities must work to ensure that confidence and safety of the minority Muslim community. There are also legitimate questions about the degree to which Islam will affect the definition of nationalism in Muslim-majority countries of the region.

Islam and Asian Regional Politics in Asia
The role of Islam in Asian regional politics is extraordinarily complicated and differs from sub-region to sub-region not to mention across Asia. In South Asia for example, Islam has not proved to be a tie that binds as indicated by the separation of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) from co-religionist West Pakistan in 1971. (The majority-Hindu states of India and Nepal certainly have not always had good relations either). Intra-regional relations in South Asia are certainly complicated by religion (whether Islam or Hinduism, or for that matter Buddhism) but religion does not shape these relations. Nationalism, power politics, and ethnic identities are much stronger factors in intra-regional relations.

Similarly, in Southeast Asia, intra-regional relations are only partly affected by religion. There has been intra-regional cooperation on problems with an Islamic dimension such as the Moro rebellion. In that case, both Malaysia and Indonesia played a moderating and facilitating role. In other instances, however, the Islam “factor” appears to have different implications for regional relations. For example, several Southeast Asian leaders came to the defense of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim after he was removed from office by Prime Minster Mahaithir. At least one report has noted that Mr. Ibrahim’s most vocal supporters were, like him, moderate Muslims and implied that a network of moderate Muslims was rising to power in Southeast Asia.

[9] The only problem with such a view of course is that the person who put Mr. Ibrahim in prison is also a fellow moderate Muslim, and another of Mr. Ibrahim’s strongest supporters is the Catholic President of the Philippines Mr. Estrada. Again, religion, whether Islam or any other, seems to be the less compelling variable in shaping intra-regional cooperation or tensions compared to other factors.

In terms of regional organizations, Islam seems to play an important organizational role in bringing together non-governmental groups for the purposes of youth exchanges, education and other social types of engagement (e.g., the World Assembly of Muslim Youth). But when it comes to governments and government policies, the regional organizations deemed most important at the regional or sub-regional level have almost nothing to do with any faith (e.g., the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The bottom line regarding Islam at the regional or sub-regional level in Asia is that it has little direct or determining power in either promoting cooperation or in creating tensions. Hence, Islam’s role in regional security is limited.

Asian Islam and the World
Islam has always been an internationalist religion, but with a special connection to the holy places in the Middle East where the faith has its origins. Muslims, like Christians, Jews and others, will always be concerned with the fate of co-religionists around the world. Whether that will lead governments to take particular policy actions is less certain. For example, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan certainly created much concern in the Islamic world, but few Muslim countries cut-off relations with the Soviet Union. Muslims also watched with great care the world response to the situation in Kosovo. Many Muslim countries were heartened that the United States and other Western countries had acted to assist Muslims on humanitarian grounds. Other governments with large Muslim minorities (e.g., China and India) were very critical, however, of the West’s actions in Kosovo.

Another international issue affecting the Muslims of Asia is globalization.[10] The trend towards globalization allows increased contacts amongst Muslims. This has had an especially important, and perhaps ultimately destabilizing, impact in countries where Muslims have been relatively isolated from co-religionists elsewhere, as in China.

International Islamic organizations such as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) offer an important venue for Islamic country representatives to share views and work towards common stances on issues. As with other non-faith-based international organizations however, there is no guarantee that the OIC will act with consensus. Indeed, individual Islamic countries within the OIC have often taken strongly divergent policies on issues. One example is the Moro rebellion; an issue on which Indonesia and Malaysia worked to moderate Libya’s strongly critical stance of the Philippines in OIC deliberations and actions. Nor can the OIC be counted upon to support its fellow members fully or generously. It has been reported that the OIC offered to Pakistan only $20 million in assistance following its May 1998 nuclear tests and the sanctions that brought Pakistan’s economy to the brink of collapse.

A final aspect of Asian Islam’s international links relates to the Middle East. The Middle East is important to Asian Islam not only as the home of the faith’s holiest sites, to which every Muslim is enjoined to travel at least once in his or her lifetime, but also for more earthly reasons. Asian Islamic countries rely on the Middle East for oil supplies, for markets for goods, for remittances from their workers stationed there, and for economic assistance. There are also, of course, overlaps between Asian and Middle Eastern countries in organizations such as the OIC, OPEC, NAM and the United Nations. These overlapping memberships do not, as indicated, guarantee anything like common cause on all issues, but they are important avenues for dialogue and consultations on issues of common interest.

Islam in Asia and the United States
As this summary of the seminar presentations and discussions suggests, Islam in Asia is highly complex. Its implications for security at the national, regional and international level are limited. United States' interests in Asia will be affected by developments regarding the role of Islam in the regional countries themselves more than by a concerted Islam in the region or the world. In essence, Islam itself poses no monolithic challenge to United States interests. If the United States were to treat Islam as an enemy, it might become one. Recent events, most notably in Kosovo, have reduced some suspicions about the United States’ and other western countries’ hostile attitudes about Islam and Muslims.

This report was authored by Dr. Satu Limaye, Chief, Research Division, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. For more information, please contact him at 808-971-4054.
Mr. Zaffar AbbasHerald Magazine
Professor Tamara AlbertiniUniversity of Hawaii
Professor Roger T. AmesUniversity of Hawaii
Mr. Richard BakerEast West Center
Dr. Donald L. BerlinAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Dr. Eric CasinoHawaii Pacific University
Dr. Dru C. GladneyAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Professor P. Bion GriffinUniversity of Hawaii
Lieutenant Colonel Charles GrossAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Major Randall KoehlmoosU.S. Army
Lieutenant Colonel Mel C. LabradorU.S. Pacific Command
Dr. Satu P. LimayeAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Professor Michael J. MontesanoAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Mr. Thomas PetermanAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Professor Amri Baharuddin ShamsulUniversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Captain Robert SpeerAsia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Dr. Rizal SukmaCentre for Strategic and International Studies

Camroux, David. "State Responses to Islamic Resurgence in Malaysia: Accommodation, Co-Option, and Confrontation," Asian Survey, v. XXXVI, no. 9, September 1996.
Esposito, John L. "Islam in Asia: An Introduction," Islam in Asia: Religion, Politics, and Society, John L. Esposito (ed)., 1987.
Gladney, Dru C. "Clashed Civilizations? Muslim and Chinese Identities in the PRC," Making Majorities, Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, 1998
Liddle, William R. "The Islamic Turn in Indonesia: A Political Explanation," Journal of Asian Studies, August 1996.
Newsom, David D. "Islam in Asia: Ally or Adversary?" Islam in Asia: Religion, Politics, and Society, John L. Esposito (ed), 1987.
Piscatori, James. "Asian Islam: International Linkages and Their Impact on International Relations," Islam in Asia: Religion, Politics and Society, John L. Esposito (ed), 1987.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Speech - Argumentative speech

150 Argumentative Speech Topics

Argumentative speech topics how to's, tips and more than 150 public speaking speech ideas. Learn how to develop strong points and to deal with the opposition. Before you scan the list of argument speech topics, I will describe the basics for this kind of public speaking. They regard debate topics for speech class as well as argumentation speeches for every other speech writing ocassion.

An argumentation speech is a form of persuasive public speaking. The speaker presents a personal opinion, judgment or idea about a controversial and current issue, problem, value or dispute in a way that the opinion of the audience will change in favor of his or her side.

Argumentative speech ideas are controversial and refer to current political, social, business, religious issues, disputes, policies and values.

A few argumentative speech topics examples to start with:Education - Reduce tuition for those students who maintained an A average during the previous yearSmoking - Sale of cigarettes must be outlawed for the public healthWomen in the military - There is no reason why women can't fill all jobs in the military to include combat

Classic Appeals In An Argumentative Speech
Argument speech topics are characterized by the classic appeals to logos, pathos and ethos in the pro and contra arguments.

LOGOS - Prove that we need a change in thinking, beliefs and behavior by appealing to reason and the rational intellect. Find common ground between you and your audience. Give some background they may need to fully understand the argumentative speech topic and your arguments. State your point of view. That's an effective way to create credibility and to persuade that you are reasonable.

PATHOS - Anticipate and accommodate the ethical, religious, social, or political beliefs and feelings of your listeners. Appeal to emotion, to their passions and deeply held values. Be passionate, but don't overdo your argumentation.

ETHOS - Appeal to character, the sense of right and wrong, the sense of justice and fair play of your audience. Persuade the listener to identify himself with these traits and acknowledge that this is exactly how he feels.

Mix these pure rhetorical public speaking appeals in your speech topics.
Scan my list of examples of argumentative speech topics. Of course they have to be narrowed, but first pick out the issues of your concern. Or modify the argumentation topics of the list till they match your interests and concerns. Consider it just as a start, of course this list is not exhaustive. And: these are not my personal opinions, these are just examples!
Which are the argumentative speech topics you have some knowledge about?
Which argument speech topics you think are important for public discussion?
What are my concerns, attitudes, beliefs, and values?
What are my principles that shape my attitudes and beliefs in relation to the speech topic?
Why do I think this argumentative speech topic is very important for public discussion?
What argumentative speech ideas are appropriate to the ocassion and to the audience?
The Argumentative Speech Topics Assignment
Study the rules and the do's and don'ts of the occassion very carefully. These are possible checks:

A debate?
An argumentative speech assignment for college?
Or you need debate topics for speech class?
Where, when and how long do I have to speak?
Is there an opponent speaker? Who is it?

Who Are Your Listeners?
Know who your listeners are. Keep their interests and attitude in mind. Because some listeners already are on your side, others will agree with your contentious speech, and sometimes there are people who will not share you opinions. Ask yourself:

Who are they?
A debating society?
Community members or complete strangers?
What are their needs and interests?
State An Argumentative Speech Topic Proposition
You need a clear proposition to state the topic and purpose of your argumentative speech topics. Write down just one major idea, in one single sentence. That declarative statement, claim, or assumption has to summarize the importance of your idea and fit with your interests and the needs and wishes of your audience. Use a positively and often forcefully tone. So, to put it shortly:

What is it that you want your audience to reconsider or agree with?
What do my listeners must remember?
How To Develop Arguments
Develop convincing and reasoned arguments that address the proposition and that prove your proposition. Prove that you are right in your ideas about the topic.
Offer appropriate background facts and figures, and give new information. Just consider yourself as the likeable who will show The Way.
Construct fair, informed, and credible arguments, which are sustained by evidence and reasonable thoughts.

Deal With Opposing Arguments
Defend yourself against the main oppositional arguments when you prepare your argumentative speech topics. If the majority of your listeners is against you, then be extra careful how you deal with the opposing arguments. Don't enhance their animosity, don't step on toes! Get your audience to admit your argumentative speech has a point. Here's how:
List and explore the opposing arguments well-mannered, polite, full of understanding.
Give much details in a way the oppositional listeners acknowledge their side of the question.

Admit you understand the main opposing arguments and why.
Then show delicately how your view is more reasonable, why it is the right one.

Final Tips For Argumentative Speech Topics

By now you have learned how to choose, narrow the focus, develop arguments, and deal with the opposition for this kind of speech writing. Consider my writing tips while you're developing argumentative speech topics:

Use relevant transition words and phrases. Let your arguments flow smoothly.
Present and analyze the opposing views first.

Than introduce and advocate the arguments of your argumentative speech topics.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Islam In Asia

Islam in Asia

History, culture and identity
The first issue that surfaced in our discussion was: How are we to deal with the Muslim claim that God is the God of all life? This means that no realm of human concern is outside the purview of religion. In spite of this high claim, which has been articulated over and over again by Muslims, we are all well aware that the way this functions is quite different in different places. This caveat, however, does diminish the serious challenge this Muslim claim poses to Christians. In certain Christian circles there has been an attempt to take seriously a similar claim made by some Christians, in the various liberation theologies, for instance, and their attempts to keep religion and politics in a creative tension. But it must be said that we will either have to scrutinize the validity of this Muslim claim in light of our Christian faith or reject it at the cost of bifurcating our mutual claim to faith in God. So this challenge has a certain ambiguity for the Christian community. Thus, we will have to give some serious consideration to the issue of religion and politics on the basis of our Christian faith in the sovereignty of God.

This should further force us to look at the situation of Christians and Muslims in the Asian countries. We must pay special heed to the particular history of each country in question, so that we are able to lay out the genealogy of the problems in each country with accuracy and sympathy. For example in the Philippines, the whole issue of Christian-Muslim relations has a special character. The Philippines is the only country in Asia where the Christian population is in the majority and where the Muslim minority has been struggling for its rights for many years. This history of Christian-Muslim relations in the Philippines has been seriously affected by the Spanish-American colonial history, and there is a deep suspicion on the side of the Muslims against the Christians. In order to overcome this problem, certain members of both groups are reviewing this history. In doing so, there is a growing realization that both groups are victims of some of the same problems. Both groups are searching for the right of self-determination, and this has created a way of coming together on a few common grounds for the struggle for justice and participatory nation-building.

What we constantly encounter in Christian-Muslim relations is the memory of certain past events which may have happened long ago, but are remembered as if they had taken place only recently. With this kind of memory structure, the genealogical approach to undo some of the suspicion, and the problems posed by Christian-Muslim relations become all the more important and urgent. Christians and Muslims alike forget how badly they have treated each other in history and both present the other as the historical culprit. This tendency creates psychological and historical barriers for developing genuine relations. In order to overcome these barriers, an honest historical re-appraisal, preferably together, is essential. This can create the much needed atmosphere for genuine repentance and forgiveness. But the possibility of this kind of working relations is also affected by the majority/minority situation of Christians and Muslims. In those countries where both are minorities such a task might be relatively easy when concerns are jointly perceived, but where one is a majority and the other is a minority the task tends to be more difficult and complex.

The manner in which Muslims perceive the relations of religion and politics differs from country to country. One of the major factors influencing this difference is whether the Muslims are a majority or a minority in a given country. Generally, where the Muslims are a minority, they tend to push for a secular state, as is the case in India. Whereas, where the Muslims are in the majority, they want to see the legislative and judiciary subservient to the shari'ah rule, as is the case in Pakistan. This possibility of interpretive variation and its full appreciation allows the dialogue with Muslims on the issues of religion and politics to be more significant than working with a monolithic assumption.

The recent change that we are witnessing, both in the Christian and the Muslim communities in their attitude towards outside structures, reflects an interesting shift. Earlier, it was the Christians in Asia who had an outside connection with the West (e.g. Europe or North America) and they looked towards this connection with the West as providing the main source for the churches' development in Asia. This attitude has changed considerably, and more and more Christians are fighting for their indigenous identity and right for self-determination. The picture is quite reversed for the Muslims in recent times. After seeing themselves for centuries as being part of the local indigenous reality, Asian Muslims have recently begun to see the main source of their identity located outside, in the "West" (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey) also. For both, Christians and Muslims, the financial aspect has played a major role. In spite of the fact that the Asian churches are still largely dependent on Western sources for their survival, their struggle for independence and self-determination gives them certain insights for the indigenization process which is crucial for their identity today. But the shift taking place among the Muslims makes it harder and harder for Christian-Muslim relations to develop in a proper way; however, it does provide Christians with an opportunity to share some of the indigenization concerns.

This new change in Islam in Asia has a different character than the earlier movements such as Pan-Islamism (and even Pan-Arabism). So while there is a growing development in the Islamic consciousness, it has not acquired the more accessible symbol of Pan-Islamism which may provide some clues to the other aspect of the identity question, perhaps still lying below the surface in the new quest for an overall Islamic identity. One of the central characteristics of this new Islamic consciousness is the contrasting quality it reflects vis-à-vis the West, whereas the ecumenical movement in Christianity, which now has quite a long history, has begun to develop its identity not as being "over against others" but in the context of relations with other members of the bodies and even with other faiths. With the Islamic identity still being posed in the "over and against others" manner, we need to stretch out our hand to Muslims as they struggle to redefine their identity.

In our own earlier ecumenical movement, there was an emphasis on shared unity or communality which was introduced from the West. In due course this emphasis prepared the way for a rediscovery of our plurality with the goal of achieving a shared unity. In the most recent phase of the ecumenical movement the concern is for maintaining a shared identity without negating diversity or pluriformity within ecumenical relations. Thus we have begun to explore seriously the relationship between gospel and culture, and have become more open to diverse cultural perceptions of Christ. This shifting emphasis gives us an insight we should be able to share with Muslims in such a way that they continue to maintain creative relations with us while maintaining their religio-cultural identity and difference.

On the surface, it seems that we are in principle committed to the development of indigenous theology, but in practice this has not always been the case, and we have been thoroughly depending on outside sources. On the other hand, it seems that the Muslims in principle have no such commitment to an indigenous theology, given the centrality of ummah in their theology, but in practice they have been able to achieve more substantial cultural adaptation or assimilation. This is how the situation has been explained generally on the basis of appearance, but when one digs a little deeper, on the bases of the attitude towards revelation and sacred text, one gets a different picture. The Islamic notion of revelation and sacred text has an acceptance of plurality built into it as a central doctrine with the notion of Ahl-al-Kitab. This concept of Ahl-al-Kitab was expanded beyond the Torah, zabur and ingil to include the sacred texts of the Zoroastrians in Iran, and later was even used by some scholars for Hindu texts in India. This plurality, however, does not mean that the Muslims accept these sacred texts and the revelation of the non-Muslims as maintained and professed by the latter; these texts must always go through the filter of the Qur'an and Islamic understanding. In spite of this caution, the simple fact that the plurality of sacred texts is accepted gives Islam a theoretical as well as a practical possibility of cultural and social assimilation; this has been variously expressed by such terms as urf and adaat which allow the acceptance of another source of law in many areas of life. In Christianity, the exclusive claim to sacred text does not always give the best possibility of indigenization, but by not having a fixed code or legal system, like the Islamic shari'ah, the Christians have a possibility of adaptation which is quite fertile.

On all the above grounds there is a unique quality about Islam and Christian-Muslim relations in Asia. Unlike its manifestation in the Arab context, and in Africa and Europe, the matrix here has a multi-religious context which demands that any consideration on both these aspects must heed the other religious communities present who also act as partners in this dialogue.


Contemporary perceptions
In our discussions on contemporary perceptions in Christian-Muslim relations, we were conscious of the problem that the use of labels such as "fundamentalism" or "liberalism" is hardly conducive to dialogue and understanding. Even if such terms are intended to be descriptive, they are often loaded with evaluative sentiment and thus seldom accepted by those labelled.

Within the Christian family, we use terms like "liberal" or fundamentalist" in order to denounce theologies that we do not understand or with which we disagree. Even worse, we do not stop at criticizing ideas, but all too often extend our condemnation to the persons who embrace them. True communication is impeded by such over-simplified labelling with which we define other people without allowing them to define themselves.

The problem becomes even more complex when we meet people of other faiths, e.g. Muslims. True, within the Muslim world there exist labels such as salafiyya, mu'tazila and usuliyya to denote different - even conflicting - lines of theological thinking. But for a non-Muslim to adopt these labels, or to introduce new labels from the outside, is not fruitful, especially not in situations of human encounter.

The term "fundamentalist" (Arabic usuliyya), for instance, has as many connotations and interpretations in Islam as in Christianity. It can be used with self-assurance: "We believe in the Qur'an and the sunnah of the Prophet as the sole sources of theology"; it can be used by others in a derogatory way: "Those fundamentalists claim they alone possess the whole truth; they seem to say: we have it all - take it or leave it."

Historically speaking, we may say that among Muslims in Asia, there have been "fundamentalist" movements (in the former sense of strict adherence to the Qur'an and sunnah) ever since the Nqshibandi reaction to Adbar's Din-I-Ilahi.

Non-Muslim observers have used terms such as "resurgent Islam" or "militant Islam" to describe political upheavals in the Muslim world. One has to be careful with such usage; if political activism among Muslims is related by analysts to one particular form of Islamic thought, namely "fundamentalism" (or Khomeinism" or "the Muslim Brotherhood"), then misunderstandings are bound to occur. In fact, very few currents of Islamic thought have encouraged believers to stay away from politics; on the contrary, as we noted earlier, political life is generally regarded as an integral part of Islam.

Among Christians in Asia, the story again is different. Some missionaries from Europe brought with them an attitude to Christian life often labelled "pietism". Out of this heritage, we may say, a form of "fundamentalism" emerged in Asia, which tended to encourage a withdrawal from active involvement in politics and promoted an otherwordly spirituality.

The most important lesson to be drawn from the history of mutual labelling (often equivalent to mutual denouncement) is that no dialogue will bear fruit, if we do not allow each other to define ourselves.


Relations in Asia
Demographic factors
In exploring Christian relations with Muslim neighbours in the Asian context, we need to be aware of the demographic situation in each country, particularly the majority/minority status of the respective community. The majority/minority status of the respective dichotomies may not be applicable everywhere in Asia. In Indonesia, because of the ideology of Pancasila, reputedly there is no such thing as minority or majority. All are equal in the eyes of the state. In other countries, however, like Malaysia and Pakistan, Christians are made to feel they are in the minority. Examples of the difficulties faced by Christian minorities living in the Philippine city of Marawi and some parts of West Malaysia could be illustrative. In Marawi, Christians are reportedly harassed, kidnapped and even killed by Moro (i.e., Muslim Filipino) terrorists. In some parts of West Malaysia, Chinese and Indian Christians have allegedly been subjected to religious pressures and often been harassed. When discussing Christian-Muslim relations with a view to improving them, the general consensus was that we should place our conversation in its proper perspective and avoid pronouncing quick and easy judgements. For example, we would avoid loosely using the words "good" and "bad" when referring to a person or group of persons, as this could be taken to mean the entire ethnic or religious group. Also, we would need to define issues so that we could have a focus for our dialogues with Muslims or peoples of other faiths.

We have recognized the helpful appeal of the present prime minister of Bangladesh when she recently addressed the citizens of her country: "Let us come to build the country." This appeal has emphasized one important issue common to all Asians, namely, the need for a meaningful community development that will benefit all. Examples from various Asian countries were cited where the coming together of Muslims and Christians for finding solutions to common problems had resulted in cooperation, and in the process, had improved relationships. These experiences underscore the need for Christians and Muslims alike (and for members of other religious groups as well) to show solidarity with each other when facing a common future, and when helping to build their nation. In our discussions, also the historical dimension was emphasized, especially as in many Asian situations the community that has benefited most from the colonial domination in the past is the Christian. In the context of the search for cultural and national identity, what should Christians say to that situation? As citizens of independent Asian countries, Christians should not remain mentally captive to the past, but rather should learn the lessons of history and project a new vision for the future. There is a need, in other words, to minimize the negative elements of the past and to accentuate the positive that may be useful for building the future.

The urgent need today is to become free of our dependence on the past - culturally and psychologically. We must overcome our personal prejudices against Muslims.

Cooperation and dialogue
We strongly recognized the need to cooperate with Muslims in the struggle against colonialism or forms of neocolonialism, economic oppression, and to work for reconciliation and peace. However, we felt that ideological issues, such as capitalism, communism, etc., that have often preoccupied many Christians and Muslims (so that they missed dealing with important issues relating to the betterment of Christian-Muslim relations) should not be ignored, We are, however, aware that religion can be used, and in fact, has been used as an ideology. To a certain degree, religion has often become a political tool. A few political leaders have used religion to support political policies, not necessarily for the good of the nation, but more for narrow, personal or vested interests.

Dialogue should therefore bear on economic problems, social justice, and community building/formation. We, as Christians, should be conscious of our identity in relation to our religious neighbours. To study Islam is advisable and necessary for understanding Muslims; but we must also strengthen our Christian faith and character as we converse with peoples of other faiths. Insecurity about one's own basis of faith often leads to fear, aggressiveness and fanaticism.

We also need to listen to those who do not agree or cooperate with us. A process of education that promotes mutual understanding should be initiated. We must help Muslims to understand us better, let them know our motives, our central affirmations. As Christians we cannot omit our witness, both as persons and as participants in the community, but it is important that we Christians seek to embody the gospel in the midst of Muslim neighbours.

Concerning the suggestion that the use of retribution or retaliation may, at times, be necessary, the participants of this meeting were unanimous in saying "No" to this option. As there is some truth to the claim that present antipathy of Muslims to Christians has its basis in historical and economic factors, it is necessary to accept this historical dimension of economic exploitation. The present problems of many Asian countries are directly related to the colonial past. Christian-Muslim dialogue therefore must concentrate on building mutual trust and commitment to a common future.

Reconciliation and peace
We recognize that reconciliation and peace between Christians and Muslims are already a fact on many personal and local, community levels. The role of Christians in bringing about peace in situations of conflict, even between representatives of religious communities other than the Christian (for instance, during the communal riots between Hindus and Muslims in India) is noteworthy. It is, however, lamentable to point out that it is relatively easy to be in good and close relationship with a Muslim neighbour on the personal level. But when the group identity is concerned, especially when there are larger issues involved, this improved personal relationship is often side-tracked.

It is helpful that Christians made use of every opportunity to develop closer relations between these two religious groups. We recognize, however, that there is a difficulty in Malaysia, for instance, where the Bumiputra issue is a sensitive one and tends to isolate Malays from other ethnic groups.

With regard to religio-ethnic exclusivism, it is necessary to explore new avenues in overcoming negative relations. Christians should contact committed Muslim intellectuals, groups and communities as partners for change, and to foster better relations.

Human rights and obligations
Human rights and obligations have a universal dimension. Christians and Muslims should recognize that and work together for their enforcement. This means that stronger groups should not try to impose their understanding of right and justice on weaker groups. Christians could learn a lesson from the experience of plurality in Indonesia which is a major part of the social consciousness, especially as expressed in the national effort to build the country together. However, Asian Christians should continue to be concerned with the conditions of the poor and with the social, historical and economic factors that make them remain poor and exploited. Thus, Christians should not be content with analyzing poverty from a merely sociological point of view, treating it as a structural problem only, and tending to ignore the real suffering of human beings.

We should stress the following as burning issues on human rights and obligations: First, we recognize the need to emphasize the responsibility of governments to safeguard or guarantee proper living conditions for all citizens of the Asian countries, especially the poor, oppressed and exploited. Secondly, we also see the need to underscore legal equality for all, especially where Muslims are dominant in a given country. Christians and Muslims alike should strive to ensure legal protection for all ethnic and religious minorities. The imposition of shari'ah in Pakistan, for instance, has provoked certain fears among Christians in that country, while the implications of this decision for the future are not at all clear. Christian attitudes toward the State, particularly when it is religiously oriented, need to be carefully reviewed. Christians should see it as a challenge constantly to reassess their roles in society. Thus, among others, programmes of political education should evolve, that could help them develop a more responsible stance towards the State.

Community development and community organizing
Community development, together with community organizing, is an effective project engaged in by Christians in many Asian countries. In Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, for example, people have worked together for the improvement of Christian-Muslim relations by joining hands to solve common social and economic problems in the communities where they live. In the process, they have realized some successes in the protection of workers' rights and the rights of others.

We believe that the stronger communities should become more sensitive to the aspirations of the weaker communities, and help them to give expression to their aspirations.

Examples from Asian countries are varied: in Bangladesh, there are successful cooperative projects, family planning, self-help development projects and agricultural projects. In Indonesia, people motivate and encourage each other as they demand their own rights. In the process, they have become closer to each other, without any reference to religion being made. Economic and political issues dominate relations in the struggle towards a common future. In the Philippines, community development for all - in urban as well as in rural areas - have given some hope to the poor and exploited.

In East Malaysia, it is possible to do community work among the poor, because there are fewer Muslims than Christians and people of other religious groups. However, in West Malaysia, community development projects are a problem because of the sensitivity of the Bumiputra issue. The Malaysian Government is wary of the motives and effects of community development projects and raises the question whether these are not a means to convert Malays. The issue for the churches in Asia is: What is the Christian role in community development as a legitimate response to human needs in Malaysia and in other countries?

The role of women in Christian-Muslim relations
Women have a vital role to play in Asian societies and a special position in traditional Asia. Socio-cultural changes through the years, however, have made their position and role a matter of concern for Christians. Current Islamic law in effect in some Asian countries and the pressures of the community that are made to bear on Asian women - especially as these laws also affect Christian women who have married Muslims - greatly preoccupies Christians, as this generally restricts the rights of women in Asia. However, the fact that both Christian and Muslim women in Asia are now beginning to assert their rights gives cause of hope. They should be encouraged in this, as all women are facing the same problems. Opportunities for women to work for the betterment of Christian-Muslim relations should be provided.

Both Christians and Muslims are to be urged to reassess the roles they traditionally assign to women in their communities. To some extent this process has already begun and must be vigorously pursued. The fact that both in Pakistan and Bangladesh women have been elected to the office of prime minister is a significant testimony to the transformations already occurring in some predominantly Muslim countries.

In highlighting the issue of women's rights, we recognize that insufficient attention has so far been paid to the role that women may play in strengthening Christian-Muslim relations. This is a theme that requires further attention in the future.


Priority concerns
In our discussions, repeatedly reference was made to the relationship between religion and ideology. Contemporary Islam in some parts of Asia is increasingly becoming a State ideology; this has become a major concern for Christians. When religion is made into a political ideology, the community will suffer, whether the ideology be Islamic or Christian. In such cases, religion may either become a cementing or a dividing factor (e.g., Malaysia, southern Thailand, Mindanao). In this regard, the implications for the rest of Asia of the recent imposition of the shari'ah in Pakistan will be worth studying. Where Christians are a demographic minority in a predominantly Muslim country, considerable fears are aroused among Christians, especially as they are often treated as second-class citizens (dhimmi). The same fears are prevalent when State policies promote forced integration of minority religious communities into the main stream. Such attempts at integration have been perceived as a threat to the cultural and religious identity of people (e.g., Muslims in Thailand and in the Philippines).

It is therefore imperative that priority be given to closer interaction between Muslim and Christian communities. In Asia, both communities generally tend to be exclusive or are entirely closed to each other. With a few exceptions, social interaction between the two communities is limited or difficult, even in situations where both are minority communities within a nation. We feel that Christians should take the initiative in breaking down existing barriers between the two communities, for example by joining Muslims in their observance of fast and in celebrating feasts. Christians and churches should seek to cooperate with Muslims in common endeavours to solve local, concrete problems. In situations where there are religious tensions (e.g. between Muslims and Hindus), Christians are to play an active role in bringing about reconciliation and peace.

All this points to the necessity of raising Christian awareness of Muslim concerns. It is important therefore that efforts to initiate dialogue and programmes (religious as well as political) involving both communities, the Christian and the Muslim, should be encouraged.


General recommendation
We urge the Asian churches, the Christian study centres on Islam, and the larger Christian communities to develop an understanding of "pro-existence" (in contrast to a mere co-existence) as a manifestation of their Christian faith to create a situation of mutual trust and welfare.

Recommendations to the study centres
We specially commend the activities of the following institutions in Asia:

Christian Study Centre, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan;
The Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, in Hyderbad, India;
Immanuel Student Centre, Indonesia;
Peter Gowing Memorial Institute, Philippines.
We recommend that they

prepare literature (handbooks, as far as possible with Muslim cooperation) for the use of the churches and the Muslim community in order to correct mutual misunderstandings;
see it their task to reinterpret the scriptures in the light of our contemporary pluralistic situation and develop contextual theologies;
share their resources and personnel (south-south cooperation) wherever needed.
Recommendations to the churches in Asia
We urge the Asian churches to take full cognizance of the existence of the large number of Muslims in their midst.
Particularly, we urge our church leaders to give priority and importance to establishing good relationships between Muslims and Christians in the interests of both communities.
We recommend that theological schools and institutions adapt their curricula so as to meet the needs of their religiously plural countries. We encourage that courses in Islamic history, theology and culture become an essential requirement for graduation.
We recommend that possibilities of south-south cooperation in the Asian setting - student/faculty exchange in the area of Islamic studies - be sought.
Recommendations to churches at large
To learn from the lessons of the past and to express a clearer solidarity with neighbours of other faiths.
To try to develop a deeper concern for social ethics; to work together with members of other religious communities.
To cultivate a sense of love and concern for Muslim neighbours, to follow the power of love rather than to seek the love of power, when they, as Christians, are facing difficulties.
To encourage a more positive and true knowledge of Islam in order to remove apathy or antipathy and to build a relationship based on friendship; to pay attention to the needs of Muslims and not to ignore their problems, to realize that aggression is often a reaction to neglect and deprivation.

To view human rights and obligations as a universal concern and therefore to work together with adherents of other faiths for their implementation, especially the concern of the world community for the faithful adherence to the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights. Christian churches in the West are urged to extend their hospitality to Muslim migrants and refugees.

To be or to become pioneers in their societies in treating women as equals and granting them the same opportunities and responsibilities in the church as to men.
To recognize the importance of Islamic study centres and to support them financially.
To evaluate their own educational programmes, and to include education that fosters political consciousness and transformation.
To be attentive to the mass media's projection of Islam; to try to challenge and/or correct any prejudiced attitude towards Islam.
To enter into dialogue with conservative Christians and groups who target the Muslim community as a community for proselytism and conversion, and who often bypass the local churches.

In societies where Muslim communities are growing new religious communities, to be sensitive to their religious, social and cultural needs, specially in the Christian institutions.

Dr Andreas D'Souza (India)
Sister M. Eugenia (Bangladesh)
Rev. Dr Hilario Gomez (Philippines)
Rev. Dr J. Haafkens (Kenya)
Mr Dag Hedin (Sweden)
Mr Jan Henningsson (Sweden)
Rev. Chanajit Ismalji (Thailand)
Rev. N. Stanley Jeyaraj (Sri Lanka)
Rev. Dr Sint Kimhachandra (Thailand)
Rev. Ng, N Kiok Nam (West Malaysia)
Ms Ulla Kuisma (Thailand)
Rev. P. Madhussodhanan (India)
Mrs Wilawan Manaboon (Thailand)
Dr Robert McAmis and
Mrs Nonie McAmis (Philippines)
Rev. Dr Roland E. Miller (Canada)
Rev. Kjell Sandvik (Thailand)
Prof. Dr Olaf Schumann (Germany)
Rev. Einar Sitompul (Indonesia)
Rev. Dr Jan Slomp (The Netherlands)
Rev. M.S. Widdissoeli (Indonesia)

LWF Staff:
Mrs Corinna Ascher
Rev. Dr J Paul Rajashekar
Lutheran World Federation, Geneva
Department for Theology and Studies

Warc Staff:
Rev. Dr HS Wilson
World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Geneva
Department of Theology