Islamic Societies in Southeast Asia

Mark Woodward

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Southeast Asia is home to a large variety of Islamic societies and cultures, including those in the world's largest Muslim country, Indonesia. A basic distinction can be drawn between the cultures of the Southeast Asian islands and the mainland. Malay-speaking Muslims numerically and culturally dominate much of insular Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines. Quite different cultural traditions are found in the diverse Muslim minority communities of mainland Southeast Asia in Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia. Islam is virtually absent in Vietnam and Laos. In Indonesia, almost 90 percent of its population of more than 200 million profess some form of Islam. During the period of British rule, large numbers of South Asian Muslims migrated to Rangoon, Mandalay, and other Burmese urban centers. This article discusses Islamic societies in Southeast Asia, focusing on the Malay world. It examines Islam and politics in the Malay world, Muslim minorities in Southeast Asia, and Islam and ethnicity in Southeast Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Global Religions
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199892129
ISBN (Print)9780195137989
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009


  • Ethnicity
  • Indonesia
  • Islam
  • Malaysia
  • Minorities
  • Muslims
  • Politics
  • Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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