Yew Wai Heng, Chinese Ways of Being Muslim : Negotiating Ethnicity and Religiosity in Indonesia, NIAS Press, 2017
Many recent works on Muslim societies have pointed to the development of ‘de-culturalization’ and ‘purification’ of Islamic practices. Instead, by exploring architectural designs, preaching activities, cultural celebrations, social participations and everyday practices, this book describes and analyses the formation and contestation of Chinese Muslim cultural identities in today’s Indonesia. Chinese Muslim leaders strategically promote their unique identities by rearticulating their histories and cultivating ties with Muslims in China. Yet, their intentional mixing of Chineseness and Islam does not reflect all aspects of the multilayered and multifaceted identities of ordinary Chinese Muslims – there is not a single ‘Chinese way of being Muslim’ in Indonesia. Moreover, the assertion of Chinese identity and Islamic religiosity does not necessarily imply racial segregation and religious exclusion, but can act against them.
The study thus helps us to understand better the cultural politics of Muslim and Chinese identities in Indonesia, and gives insights into the possibilities and limitations of ethnic and religious cosmopolitanism in contemporary societies.