I found the article on the (In)compatibility of Human Rights and the Islamic Doctrine by Matthew Machowski conscientiously written and enlightening. My criticism towards the article is that, like the contemporary discourse on Islam, it is Middle Eastern centric. To be fair, the writer's research focus is on the Middle East, North Africa and Europe (like most scholars, journalists and commentators post 9/11 and/or the Clash of Civilisations).
I understand that the focus on Middle East is a result of a long history between the 'East and the West', international politics and power play, and, of course, oil. What I criticise is the denomination of the 'Islamic world' - as if muslims form a homogenous, unified and collective identity synonymous to Middle Eastern culture. All the more important for Asian thinkers (South, Southeast, East, Central, Asia Pacific) to write about socio-cultural practices of Islam, the implication of international politics and transnational movements in the region.
62% of the world's muslims live in Asia; Indonesia being the country with the most muslim population in the world (195.272.000) with Pakistan (160.829.450), India (154.500.000) and Bangladesh (129.681.509) coming in second, third and fourth respectively.
So why then, when one mentions Islam, the image that comes to mind is a mullah with a beard and a turban?
In spite of being home to the world's largest muslim population, Indonesia is not an Islamic state. The violent acts conducted by extremists are so far proven to be transnational movements aligned with Al Qaeda. There is a current trend of moderation done by mainstream muslim civil societies in Indonesia, relatively supported by the media and even more so with social media, to counter radicalisation. Democracy, with all its weaknesses in theory and practice, is continually being shaped by pragmatic, secular politics, a critical press, a commercial media system, idealist educational elites and a silent majority.
Yesterday, while interviewing a script writer of Islamic programmes for my thesis, he asked me why I chose this topic (Islam, national identity and the television industry). I have always been reserved towards revealing my own ideological position - perhaps for a lack of having one.
But I suppose I have revealed it pretty clearly here.
Oh, and here.