The Islamization of Southern Kalimantan: Sufi Spiritualism, Ethnic Identity, Political Activism
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Religion is generally a key component of ethnic identity in Southeast Asia. This is particularly the case in both Malaysian and Indonesian parts of Borneo, where conversion usually involves a change in ethnicity: converts to Islam undergo a process known as masuk Melayu, "entering Malaydom". However, in southern Kalimantan the close affinity between Islam and Malayness has become more fluid in recent decades. Many Dayaks now identify as Muslim, while many in the Banjarese-Malay community now proudly proclaim their Dayak ancestry. This article explores the theological implications of this changing relationship between ethnicity and religion. Although Islam remains a central element in the identity of the Banjarese, there is evidence that this change in ethnic identity has diluted the form of Sufi Islam to which most Banjarese adhere. Further, I suggest that the growing popularity of Islam within the Dayak community has accelerated the process of "renewal" within the faith, taking it away from local variants and towards more universal norms.
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