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What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics, 85) Paperback – June 22, 2021

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Editorial Reviews


"Through this highly original study of such articulatory labours in Java, Alatas has written one of the most important books on Islam in Indonesia in years, and crafted a work that deserves to become a central reference for all scholars of Islam and Islamic authority."---Robert W. Hefner, Journal of Islamic Studies

"Successfully argues that what is known as “Islam the universal religion” does not reside in the consistency of its teachings. However, one aspect of Islam that is universal is the work of congregational building."
---Hasan Mustapa, International Journal of Asian Studies

"Provides rich insights for readers who wish to gain a better understanding of comparative Islamic authority. The author’s success in blending historical, anthropological and political analyses together makes this book a worthwhile read and a useful source of reference for scholars interested in Islam in Indonesia." ―
Contemporary Southeast Asia


“An extraordinary accomplishment. Alatas possesses a singular vision, informed by the historian’s deep sense of the past and the ethnographer’s nuanced insight into the present. He has accomplished a rare feat, doing justice to both the universal claims of prophecy and the thoroughly human struggle to realize them.”―Webb Keane, author of Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories

"A pleasure to read. Alatas places Java in a web of relations that connects the Islamized Indian Ocean, bringing Java to the forefront while telling a much broader history."
―Chiara Formichi, author of Islam and Asia: A History

"This pathbreaking book develops a unique analytical approach to understanding the ongoing processes through which Muslim communities are established by authoritative persons acting within broader political and cultural contexts.
What Is Religious Authority? is destined to become a classic."―Magnus Marsden, author of Trading Worlds: Afghan Merchants across Modern Frontiers
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press (June 22, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0691204314
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0691204314
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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Ismail Fajrie Alatas is an Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He is also an associate editor of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an M.A. in History from the National University of Singapore. He is the author of What is Religious Authority? Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2021). He has published articles in leading disciplinary and Islamic studies journals, among others in Comparative Studies in Society and History, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Islamic Law and Society, Journal of Islamic Studies, and Die Welt des Islams. His research interest revolves around questions of religious authority, mobility, social imaginary, and Sufi practices and institutions in historical and contemporary Southeast Asia and South Arabia.

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