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A History of Islam in Indonesia

Unity in Diversity

Carool Kersten

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Explores the history of Islam in the largest Muslim nation state in the world

Located on the eastern periphery of the historical Muslim world, as a political entity Indonesia is barely a century old. Yet with close to a quarter of a billion followers of Islam it is now the largest and most populous Muslim country in the world. As the greatest political power in Southeast Asia, and a growing player on the world scene, Indonesia presents itself as a bridge country between Asia, the wider Muslim world and the West.

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A note on translation and transliteration
1. The arrival of Islam
2. Network Islam
3. Islam as resistance
4. Islam and nation-building
5. An Indonesian Islam?

About the Author

Carool Kersten is Reader in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World at King’s College London and a Research Associate at the Centre of South East Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He is the author of Cosmopolitans and Heretics: New Muslim Intellectuals and the Study of Islam (2011), Dr. Muller’s Asian Journey: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Yunnan (1907-1909) (2005) and Strange Events in the Kingdoms of Cambodia and Laos (1635-1644) (2003). His latest publications include Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values (2015) and a three-volume anthology, The Caliphate and Islamic Statehood.


Elegantly written, carefully crafted, and solidly grounded in scholarly sources and debates, this book provides an excellent synthetic account of the history of Islam in Indonesia. Carool Kersten’s erudition, astute and judicious readings of the specialist literature, and his skills as a writer are all in ample evidence in this magisterial survey.

- John T. Sidel, London School of Economics and Political Science

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