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Localizing Islamic orthodoxy in northern coastal Java in the late 19th and early 20th centuries : a study of pegon Islamic texts

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Title: Localizing Islamic orthodoxy in northern coastal Java in the late 19th and early 20th centuries : a study of pegon Islamic texts
Authors: Umam, Saiful
Keywords: Islam
Issue Date: Aug 2011
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2011]
Abstract: This dissertation examines the localization of Islam in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the northern coastal areas of Java, Indonesia. It focuses on a unique type of Islamic texts, Kitab Pegon, which are books on Islam in the Javanese language using Arabic script. Written by local ulama (religious scholars), Pegon books discuss various branches of Islamic knowledge. Their intended audience is commoners, and therefore they were composed in the vernacular language employing the lower stratified Javanese, ngoko. An assessment on this type of sources reveals that despite their adoption of local cultures and ideas, their contents conformed to Sunni orthodox teachings.
Muhammad Salih Darat (1820-1903 CE) paved the way for the popularity of Pegon Islamic texts in Java. Differentiating between the universality of Islam and locality of Arabic, Salih defended the authority of Pegon books and argued that they provided no less significant role than Arabic ones in advancing Islamic knowledge among Muslims. Based on this argument, Salih employed Javanese terms and concepts for explaining Islamic tenets in order to make them more intelligible among commoners. This practice has been followed by many Javanese ulama in the twentieth century.
The introduction of Pegon Islamic texts and their availability in great quantity due to the adoption of print technology have contributed significantly to the increasing Islamic orthodoxy among the Javanese people. Having learned to read the Qur'an at an early age, the Javanese were usually familiar with the Arabic script, which greatly facilitated their ability to read Pegon texts. The Pegon texts also proved useful for local ulama who continue to teach Islamic knowledge to ordinary adults at prayer houses and mosques.
Contrary to the widely-held belief that Javanese Islam was syncretic and heavily influenced by pre-Islamic ideas, this dissertation argues that orthodox ideas had been present since the sixteenth century and became increasingly prominent since the nineteenth century as a result of the publication of Islamic texts in Pegon. This dissertation hopefully contributes to debates on the localization of world religions, by providing a case study in which orthodoxy was clearly maintained within a process of localization.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - History
Ph.D. - History

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