For centuries, Islam in Southeast Asia was well known for its ability to adapt to local practices and religious tolerance. In the past three decades, things have changed with fundamentalist Muslims attempting to homogenize the practice of Islam. This process of homogenization and increasing conservatism — what some call the “Arabization” of Islam — has been fueled by Wahhabism, an austere interpretation of Islam promoted by the Saudi Arabian government and other gulf states.
What does it mean for Malaysia and Indonesia’s reputations as moderate Muslim countries? We discuss the increasing “Arabization” of moderate Southeast Asian Muslim countries and how it’s affecting the political culture in these countries with Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, an associate professor of political science in University Sains Malaysia.