Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Talk: The Two Verandahs of Mecca: Islamic Education in Aceh, Indonesia and Kelantan, Malaysia

  • Was Nusantara Study Group
  • Wann 18.11.2014 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften
  • iCal

by Azmil Tayeb
(Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University)

Tuesday, 18th of November, 2014 18:00- 20:00, Room 117

Institute for Asian and African Studies

Department for Southeast History and Society

Invalidenstraße 118, 10115 Berlin


The Two Verandahs of Mecca: Islamic Education in Aceh, Indonesia and Kelantan, Malaysia
The presentation will be based on a chapter of my PhD dissertation entitled “Shaping Minds, Saving Souls: The State and Islamic Education in Indonesia and Malaysia.” This chapter deals with Islamic education in the province of Aceh in Indonesia and the state of Kelantan in Malaysia. Both places are known as Serambi Mekah (Verandah of Mecca) due to their strong Islamic traditions. In particular, I am looking at several parallels between the two areas, namely their traditional Islamic education system (called dayah in Aceh and pondok in Kelantan) and their often-fraught political relationship with the central government in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya, respectively. Dayah education, along with its pesantren counterpart in Java, has managed to persist and withstand the changes brought upon by various socio-political upheavals over the past one hundred years or so. The same cannot be said for the pondok education in Kelantan, which has steadily faded into obscurity during the same period of time. In this chapter I argue, from a historical point of view, that inter-relations between the ulamas, the traditional elites (sultan and local lords) and the commoners has assumed a pivotal role in determining the nature and direction of Islamic education in Aceh and Kelantan. I am also looking at the continuity of the historical dynamics between major social groups and the present-day role played by the central government in Islamic education in the areas of state capacity, local autonomy, and institutional identity. State capacity in this context is defined as the varying ability of the relevant national agency (Ministry of Religious Affairs in Indonesia and Ministry of Education in Malaysia) and its provincial/state offices to implement and enforce its policies, and how the local schools deal with the pressure from above, especially in interpreting the national curriculum. Related to state capacity, both Aceh and Kelantan are autonomous in the management of Islamic affairs within their borders, which leads to the question of how much control can the central government exert when it comes to Islamic education in light of local autonomy and the propagation of Islamic orthodoxy from the center. Finally, I find the notion of institutional identity to be useful in partly explaining why provincial/state offices of a national agency sometimes act in contravention to the diktat from above or to the popular practices on the local level. By adapting a theoretical framework established by writings on institutionalism, I attempt to trace the formative trajectory of institutional identity and why this identity manages to set roots in some places but not others. In short, this paper tries to analyze the reasons why the Islamic education in Aceh and Kelantan has ended up on a divergent course despite their shared heritage of strong Islamic traditions.