Spiced Islam and Textual Circulations

Spiced Islam and Textual Circulations:

India, Indonesia, and the Indian Ocean

Universitas Islam Negeri Jakarta & Leiden Centre for Indian Ocean Studies

28-29 November, 2022

Conveners: Jajat Burhanudin & Mahmood Kooria


Across the spice routes of the Indian Ocean world, religious and cultural connections between South and Southeast Asia are often told in a unidirectional way. South Asian cultures, religions, polities influenced Southeast Asia, yet the influence of the latter on the former is hardly acknowledged. This is more so in the existing historiography of Islam, one of the most followed religions in both subcontinents.

There are diverse accounts of South Asian Muslim preachers, scholars and merchants arriving in Southeast Asian polities and spreading Islam through different engagements. One dated yet significant trend in historiography thus had asserts the origin of Islam in Southeast Asia to the Indian Muslim itinerants, particularly from Gujarat, Bengal, Coromandel and/or Malabar. Some pseudo-historical figures with origins in South Asia provide inputs for related narratives on the expansion and endurance of Islam in the archipelago. Some of these narratives are clearly anachronistic and have yet to be verified on the basis of solid historical evidence. A few fragmentary tombstones and inscriptions do offer concrete evidence for Islamic connections from the thirteenth century onward, as much as they also bestow some potential insights into Southeast Asian influence on South Asia. This dimension is important as the reverse journeys of the same figures or the Malay, Javanese, Makassarese or Acehnese scholars to the Indian subcontinent are yet to be explored in detail.

The Islamic exchanges between both subcontinents intensified at an unprecedented pace through religious and intellectual exchanges from the fifteenth century onward. There was a growing presence of South Asians in Southeast Asia, as much as more and more Southeast Asians arrived in South Asia as travellers, traders, teachers, preachers, pilgrims, exiles, scholars, authors, sailors and soldiers. This movement of people between both subcontinents had implications for the circulation of ideas and features of Islam in both regions. In this conference, we aim to explore such multidirectional peregrinations of Muslims across the Indian Ocean, instead of seeing them in a unidirectional framework. We pay special attention to historical texts, as they provide compact evidences on the intellectual and religious developments through their productions, receptions and circulations.

In the Islamic texts produced in India and Indonesia, we can notice particular disciplinary and intellectual streams that facilitated their mobility through standard forms of legal, mystical, theological, ethical cultures. The Shāfiʿī school of law, Shaṭṭāriya of Sufism and Ashʿarī school of theology are significant in this regard. In both subcontinents, these doctrinal scaffolds delivered overarching historical frameworks and vocabularies with varying degrees of presence and influence. The Shaṭṭāriya order was followed in the coastal belts of Gujarat, Malabar and Konkan, along with other mystical orders, including Qādiriyya,

Naqshabandiyya, and Kāzarūniyya, many of which also found followers in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. The Shāfiʿī school dominated the coasts of both subcontinents along with several other parts of the Indian Ocean littoral, with the ideas and texts of the school becoming apparent in scholarly exchanges. The Ashʿarī theology also found substantial following through the texts produced and used in the pedagogical and polemical discourses. These shared vocabularies are evident in the books used and produced in both subcontinents, as we see Indonesian scholars writing commentaries on Indian authors’ texts or Indian teachers utilizing texts produced by Indonesian scholars in the traditional centres of Islamic learning. These textbooks, widely popular in Indonesia as kitab kuning (yellow books), enlighten us on the nuanced engagements of Muslims in both South and Southeast Asian with their religion through the structures of a legal school, a mystical order and a theological creed that they followed.

While these textual corpora provided a universal vocabulary, often adopted from the Middle Eastern circles, the South and Southeast Asian Muslims also found ways to vernacularise their religion through critical commentaries, abridgements, translations, etc. In these vernacularization attempts too, we can see transregional exchanges between people from both regions as, for example, the first Malay text of Islamic law being produced by a Gujarati scholar or an Acehnese scholar producing a mystical text in Arwi (Tamil written in Arabic script). In other words, while the kitab kuning addressed the universal considerations of the Indonesian religious scholars, the so-called kitab malay expressed their attempts to vernacularise the same tradition. The Indian contexts lack such definite categories, yet any close observant can notice similar historical processes in the textual production and reception.

In addition to these predominant disciplinary, scholarly pursuits, scholars in both regions also engaged with similar concerns of ethics, war, peace, conflict, customs, etc. These are evident in diverse chronicles, travel accounts, biographies, polemics and poems produced in both South and Southeast Asia in the royal courts, religious institutions, social gatherings, etc. Such historical exchanges between both subcontinents have been largely forgotten. Yet, a comparative reading of the historical sources and ethnographic observations of the contemporary societies help understand similar intellectual and religious trajectories along the maritime Spice Route. Accordingly, the Islamic texts and their thematic orientations demonstrate the ways in which Indian and Indonesian Muslims interacted with one another knowingly or unknowingly over centuries. The texts produced or used in both regions provided a stepping stone for itinerants to share their understanding of Islam with their hosting communities, future coreligionists, and even nascent opponents.

This conference aims to be a stepping stone in long-term conversations between colleagues and institutions from both countries. We welcome a wide range of contributions about the intellectual and textual circulations of religion across the Indian Ocean world. We aim for the event to be a transdisciplinary platform and therefore invite papers from historians, philologists, anthropologists, scholars of religions and regions, and others whose research is related to the Islamic connections between South and Southeast Asia with an emphasis on how texts played a role in the socio-cultural formations and transformations.



The conference will be hybrid conference and does not have a registration fee. The venue of this conference will be at the Faculty of Adab and Humaniora, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University. At the end of the event, we aim to publish an edited volume/special issue of a peer-reviewed journal as an outcome. Therefore, we encourage those who are interested in publishing to submit their full paper of no more than 10,000 words by 15 December, 2022. 



Please indicate your abstract should contain:

  • no more than 500 words.
  • your proposed title, name, and institution/affiliation
  • short-bio (approximately 150 words)

You can register by sending your abstract until 10 November 2022 to:

mahmoodpana@gmail.com (cc: j.burhanudin@uinjkt.ac.id)



Day 1: Monday, November 28, 2022

08.30 to 08.45: Opening Session:

Welcoming and Opening:
Saiful Umam
(Dean, Faculty of Adab & Humanities, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta,

Jajat Burhanudin & Mahmood Kooria
(Conference Conveners)
08.45 to 10.45: Panel 1 | Chair: Mahmood Kooria

Sri Margana (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia), “Vernacularizing the Cosmopolis Islam in Javanese Literature: The Case of Serat Jaka Semangun”.

Nia Deliana (Indonesian International Islamic University, Indonesia), “Between Indian Ocean and Indonesia: South Indians in Maritime Circulations and Religio-Intellectual Connections”.

Daniel Majchrowicz (Northwestern University, United States), “Twentieth Century Narrations of Islamic Exchange between South and Southeast Asia in Mecca and Medina”.
10.45 to 11.00: Coffee Break
11.00 to 13.00: Panel 2 | Chair: Endi Aulia Garadian

Oman Fathurahman (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta, Indonesia), “Islamic Manuscripts and the Malay World Connections”.

Abdul Jaleel PKM (Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore), “Inter-Texting Anti-Wahhabi Polemics: Counter Circuits of Traditional Scholarship”.

Saiful Umam (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta, Indonesia), "Comparing Jawi dan Pegon Translation of Arabic Terms in Early Printed Islamic Texts"
13.00 to 14.00: Lunch Break
14.00 to 16.00: Panel 3 | Chair: Amirul Hadi

Mulaika Hijjas (SOAS University of London, United Kingdom), “Books Bought in Arabia? Manuscripts Found in Southeast Asia but Made in the Middle East and South Asia”.

Mahmood Kooria (Leiden University, the Netherlands), “A Malay Manuscript from Malabar: Between the Lines of a Multi-Text Manuscript”.

Asep N. Musadad (Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University of Yogyakarta, Indonesia) & Ahmad Farih Dzakiy (Islamic College Khazinatul ‘Ulum Blora, Indonesia), “Zayn al-Din al
Malibari’s Hidayat al-Azkiya in the Javanese Islamic History: A Study on Ronggowarsito’s Serat Centhini and Salih Darat’s Minhaj al-Atqiya”.
16.00 to 16.15: Coffee Break
16.15 to 18.15: Panel 4 | Chair: Dadi Darmadi

Annabel Teh Gallop (The British Library, United Kingdom), “Qur’an Manuscripts from Southeast Asia: A Preliminary Note on Chronological Developments, 1600-1900”.

Joel Blecher (George Washington University, United States), “Did Islamic Ethics Mediate the Spice-Trade?: Evidence from 15th-century Malacca”.

Niyas Ashraf (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), “Printed Texts, Translated Ideas, Intellectual Encounters: Shaping Arabo-Islamic Print Cosmopolis in South-West Indian Ocean”.
19.00: Conference Dinner (only for speakers) at RM Pagi Sore Alam Sutra

Day 2: Tuesday, November 29, 2022

08.30 to 10.30: Panel 5 | Chair: Jajat Burhanudin

Yusuf Umrethwala (Columbia University, United States), “The Bridge Towards al-ʿArabiyya”: The History of Migrations of the Dawoodi Bohras to South East Asia, Lisān al-Daʿwa, and Textual Transmission”.

Ahmad Suaedy and A. Ginanjar Sha’ban (Nahdlatul Ulama University of Indonesia, Indonesia), “From al-Malîbârî to al-Bantanî: Circulation of Texts, Crossing Relationships and the Indian Ulama Network & Archipelago of the 16-19 Century”.

Awalia Rahma (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta, Indonesia), “Holy Text and Family Genealogy: A Preliminary Research on the Use of the Qur’an as a Historical Source among Mira Nina Descendants in Java”.
10.30-10.45: Coffee Break
10.45 to 12.45: Panel 6 | Chair: Awalia Rahma

Tom Hoogervorst (KITLV, The Netherlands), “Connected Islamic Foodways in South and Southeast Asia”.

Jajat Burhanudin (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta, Indonesia), “Through the Indian Ocean: Historiography of Islamization in the Malay Archipelago”.

Zacky Umam (SOAS University of London, United Kingdom), “Persian Ethics in Malay Contexts: Revealing Textual Transmissions ca. 1600”.
12.45 to 14.00: Lunch Break
14.00 to 16.00: Panel 7 | Chair: Fuad Jabali

Hakan Çoruh (Charles Sturt University, Australia), “An Overview of Islamic Theoretical Traditions in Early Period of Indian Ocean Region”.

Muhammad Yunus Anis (Sebelas Maret University of Surakarta, Indonesia), “A Comparative Study of Theosophical Sufism in Syarah Al-Hikam by Kyai Sholeh Darat and Shaykh Abdullah Gangohi: Systemic Functional Linguistic Analysis”.

Abdurrauf Said and Ilvia Navisah (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta, Indonesia), “Lontara Sakke' Attoriolong Bone Revisited: Mughal Historiography Elements in Bugis Chronicle?”.
16.00 to 16.15: Coffee Break
16.15 to 17.00: Closing Discussion | Jajat Burhanudin and Mahmood Kooria
19.00: Conference Dinner (only for speakers) at the Des & Dan - Bintaro

Booklet International Conference – Spiced Islam


Topic: Day 1_International Conference: "Spiced Islam and Textual Circulation India, Indonesia and Indian Ocean"
Time: Nov 28, 2022 08:30 Jakarta

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Meeting ID: 918 6328 7638
Passcode: IC2022
Topic: Day 2_International Conference: "Spiced Islam and Textual Circulation India, Indonesia and Indian Ocean"
Time: Nov 29, 2022 08:30 Jakarta

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For those who want to participate this event offline, you can register on the spot. Should you have any inquiries, please contact Endi Aulia Garadian (endi.garadian@uinjkt.ac.id)/(WA: +62 812 9899 8504)