Alijah Gordon (ed.) (2001) The Propagation of Islam in the Indonesian-Malay Archipelago. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Sociological Research Institute (MSRI). 472pp. ISBN 9–83998–662–7.
As Muslims in Southeast Asia, we always wonder how our forefathers were converted to Islam after thousands of years of being steeped in Hindu-Buddhist and animist beliefs. Why did they decide to switch to a new religion and change their ways of life? How long did the process of conversion took? What were the strategies that the early missionaries used to convert the Malays to Islam?
This collection of essays provides some explanations to the factors that had brought about Malay conversion to Islam. The editor, Alijah Gordon has done us a great service by carefully selecting of the works of European scholars who are sympathetic to Islam.
The first section of the book consists of three essays. First among these is a short intellectual biography of a prominent historian and scholar of Malay Studies, Rudolf Aernoud Kern written by G.W.J. Drewes. Drewes’ essay sheds much needed light on the man, his personality and the circumstances that brought him to a serious study of the Malay world. Kern’s writings, especially in the later part of his life, according to Drewes, demonstrates his varied scholarly capabilities and interests.