Islam and the Muslims in Thailand

Photo by Praphol ChattharakulTearing Apart The Land IconIslam in Modern Thailand IconSexual Culture Among Young Migrant MuslimsIconBuddhist Fury IconIslam in Modern ThailandIslam in Modern Thailand: Faith, Philanthropy and Politics
by Rajeswary Ampalavanar Brown
Published by Routledge, 2013

This book addresses the complexity of Islam in Thailand, by focusing on Islamic charities and institutions affiliated to the mosque. By extrapolating through Islam and the waqf (Islamic charity) in different regions of Thailand the diversity in races and institutions, it demonstrates the regional contrasts within Thai Islam. The book also underlines the importance of the internal histories of these separate spaces, and the processes by which institutions and ideologies become entrenched. It goes on to look at the socio economic transformation that is taking place within the context of trading networks through Islamic institutions and civil networks linked to mosques, madrasahs and regional power brokers.

Brown casts this study of private Islamic welfare as strengthening rather than weakening relations with the secular Thai state. The current regime’s effectiveness in coopting these Muslim elites, including Lutfi and Wisoot, into state bureaucracies assists in widening their popular base in the south, in the north-east, and in Bangkok. Such appointments were efficacious in reinforcing the elite’s Islamic identity within a modern, secular, literate, and cosmopolitan Thai culture. In challenging existing studies of Thai Muslims as furtive protest minorities, this book diverts our attention to how Islamic philanthropy provides the logic and dynamism behind the creation of autonomous spaces for these independent groups, affording unusual insights into their economic, political and social histories

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Sexual Culture Among Young Migrant Muslims in BangkokSexual Culture among Young Migrant Muslims in Bangkok
by Amporn Marddent
Published by Silkworm Books, 2007

Sexual Culture among Young Migrant Muslims in Bangkok examines the dynamics of Islamic discourse on sexuality and young Thai Muslims’ interactions with modern urban Thai culture. Focusing on Ramkhamhaeng, a Muslim community in Bangkok, the study vividly illustrates young Thai Muslims’ struggles to reconcile their traditional religious beliefs with the surrounding manifestations of modernization, globalization, consumerism, changing sexual mores, and gay rights. Amporn Marddent is a lecturer in the cultural studies program at the Institute of Liberal Arts, Walailak University in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Thailand.

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The Life of This World- Negotiated Muslim Lives in Thai SocietyThe Life of This World: Negotiated Muslim Lives in Thai Society
by Chaiwat Satha-Anand
Published by Cavendish Square Publishing, 2005

Islam in Asia is an ongoing series that features high-quality original works on Islam and the Muslims in Asia by regional scholars and other specialists. Focusing on both empirical studies as well as those that address the whole range of contemporary issues affecting the Muslim communities within and across national frontiers in the region, the areas of discussion include the ongoing discourses on Islam and political violence, Muslim diversity, international Islamic networks, the role of Muslim minorities, the role of Islam in pluralistic societies and Islam and inter-religion dialogues. Monographs on selected themes may be focused on a single country or on the region as a whole. The Life of This World focuses on the ways in which Muslims in predominantly non-Muslim Thailand negotiate their lives as a minority group, using different sites where their identities as Muslims are contested while facing various challenges that call into question their connectedness with the local, national, and the global.

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Buddhist FuryBuddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand
by Michael K. Jerryson
Published by Oxford University Press, 2011

Buddhist violence is not a well-known concept. In fact, it is generally considered an oxymoron. An image of a Buddhist monk holding a handgun or the idea of a militarized Buddhist monastery tends to stretch the imagination; yet these sights exist throughout southern Thailand. Michael Jerryson offers an extensive examination of one of the least known but longest-running conflicts of Southeast Asia. Part of this conflict, based primarily in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, is fueled by religious divisions. Thailand’s total population is over 92 percent Buddhist, but over 85 percent of the people in the southernmost provinces are Muslim. Since 2004, the Thai government has imposed martial law over the territory and combatted a grass-roots militant Malay Muslim insurgency.

Buddhist Fury reveals the Buddhist parameters of the conflict within a global context. Through fieldwork in the conflict area, Jerryson chronicles the habits of Buddhist monks in the militarized zone. Many Buddhist practices remain unchanged. Buddhist monks continue to chant, counsel the laity, and accrue merit. Yet at the same time, monks zealously advocate Buddhist nationalism, act as covert military officers, and equip themselves with guns. Buddhist Fury displays the methods by which religion alters the nature of the conflict and shows the dangers of this transformation.

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Tearing Apart The LandTearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand
by Duncan McCargo
Published by Cornell University Press, 2008

Since January 2004, a violent separatist insurgency has raged in southern Thailand, resulting in more than three thousand deaths. Though largely unnoticed outside Southeast Asia, the rebellion in Pattani and neighboring provinces and the Thai government’s harsh crackdown have resulted in a full-scale crisis. Tearing Apart the Land by Duncan McCargo, one of the world’s leading scholars of contemporary Thai politics, is the first fieldwork-based book about this conflict. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of the region, hundreds of interviews conducted during a year’s research in the troubled area, and unpublished Thai-language sources that range from anonymous leaflets to confessions extracted by Thai security forces, McCargo locates the roots of the conflict in the context of the troubled power relations between Bangkok and the Muslim-majority “deep South.” McCargo describes how Bangkok tried to establish legitimacy by co-opting local religious and political elites. This successful strategy was upset when Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister in 2001 and set out to reorganize power in the region. Before Thaksin was overthrown in a 2006 military coup, his repressive policies had exposed the precariousness of the Bangkok government’s influence. A rejuvenated militant movement had emerged, invoking Islamic rhetoric to challenge the authority of local leaders obedient to Bangkok.

For readers interested in contemporary Southeast Asia, insurgency and counterinsurgency, Islam, politics, and questions of political violence, Tearing Apart the Land is a powerful account of the changing nature of Islam on the Malay peninsula, the legitimacy of the central Thai government and the failures of its security policy, the composition of the militant movement, and the conflict’s disastrous impact on daily life in the deep South. Carefully distinguishing the uprising in southern Thailand from other Muslim rebellions, McCargo suggests that the conflict can be ended only if a more participatory mode of governance is adopted in the region.

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