"There is no book that does what this volume accomplishes. . . . [a] unique contribution . . . to scholarship regarding the political, economic, and especially intellectual influences and linkages. Fred von der Mehden is among the very few social scientists with a long, regular, and intimate knowledge of the area."--John L. Esposito, College of the Holy Cross
"One of the most valuable aspects of this analysis is that it covers economic, diplomatic, political, and intellectual dimensions of the relationships with equal skill [and] provides important coverage of evenly high quality in all of these areas."--John Voll, University of New Hampshire
In the first extensive effort to assess the changing nature of relations between these two important Islamic regions, the author investigates the degree to which common religion has influenced economic ties, the extent of Southeast Asian political involvement in the Middle East and of Middle East interest in Southeast Asia, and the character and amount of foreign religious thought reaching Muslims in Southeast Asia.
"As the great majority of Muslims have become increasingly non-Arab and as modern communications have allowed more frequent interaction within the ummah," Von der Mehden writes, the Middle Eastern perception that other Muslims are "less knowledgeable about Islam and more tainted with non-Islamic traditional beliefs . . . needs rethinking."
The author examines Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Gulf states, and Pakistan. In Southeast Asia he examines those states where most of the population is Muslim--Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei--as well as the Philippines, Thailand, and Burma.
Von der Mehden finds that common religious ties have not brought the economic rewards Southeast Asian Muslims expected, that the character of Southeast Asian official involvement in the Middle East is heavily influenced by domestic factors in each country, and that considerably more, and more varied, Islamic religious thought has permeated Southeast Asia in recent decades.
Although Islamic resurgence is a vital element in contemporary Malaysia and Indonesia, the author predicts that neither will be "another Iran."
This volume will be of primary interest to policy makers and to scholars and students of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and international and political relations.
Fred R. von der Mehden is Albert Thomas Professor of Political Science at Rice University. His most recent of a number of books and monographs on Southeast Asia is Religion and Modernization in Southeast Asia.
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