In contrast to many recent works on Muslim societies, which point to an increasing 'de-culturalization' and 'purification' of Islamic practices, this engaging study probes deeply into the nexus between religion and ethnicity. By exploring architectural designs, preaching activities, cultural celebrations, social participation and everyday practices, this book explores the formation and contestation of Chinese Muslim cultural identities in today's Indonesia. Here, for instance, it scrutinizes Chinese Muslim leaders who strategically promote their unique identities by rearticulating their histories and cultivating ties with Muslims in China. Yet, their intentional mixing of Chineseness and Islam does not reflect all aspects of the multi-layered and multifaceted identities of ordinary Chinese Muslims - there is no single 'Chinese way of being Muslim' in Indonesia. Moreover, asserting Chinese identity and Islamic religiosity need not imply racial segregation and religious exclusion; it can act against them.
The study thus helps us to understand better the cultural politics of Muslim and Chinese identities in Indonesia, giving insights into current possibilities and limitations of ethnic and religious cosmopolitanism. In so doing, Chinese Ways of Being Muslim offers unique insights into the cultural politics of Muslim and Chinese identity in Southeast Asia today.
Hew Wai Weng is a Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (IKMAS, UKM), working on Chinese Muslim identities, Hui migration patterns, and urban middle-class Muslim aspirations in Malaysia and Indonesia.