The interaction of these Malays and Pathans will create new sacred spaces…the meeting and subsequent interaction of Maulana Maududi and Natsir created Medina in Pakistan and IndonesiaMian Maqsood Ahmad Deputy Secretary General, Jama'at-i Islami Pakistan
It was Mian Maqsood Ahmad who first drew my attention to a madrasa in the North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, where Malay teachers “educated illiterate Pathans about true Islam”. Through a series of interviews with Islamists from bodies such as the Jama‘at-i Islami Pakistan (JIP) and the Deobandis at Dar Uloom, I have become increasingly aware of both the volume and dynamism of modern circulations of students, teachers, texts, and ideas between South and Southeast Asia. This chapter explores some of these connections through an examination of texts produced by South and Southeast Asian Islamists such as Muhammad Iqbal, Abul Ala Maududi, Hussein Alatas, and Mohammad Natsir. As diverse as these thinkers were, they were bound together across differences of culture and citizenship by shared sentiments for the establishment of a new and reinvigorated Islamic order for the modern world.
Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938) has been hailed as one of the greatest Urdu poets, and celebrated as Muffakir-i Pakistan (“Thinker of Pakistan”). While he was not part of the class of professional politicians emerging from opportunities accorded by the 1909 Morley-Minto reforms in colonial India, Iqbal chastised intellectuals who stood aloof from politics and referred to his own work as nala-i jung (songs of war). As a post-colonial critic and activist, Hussein Alatas (1928–2007) held a number of academic positions in Singapore and Malaysia, and participated as an opposition leader in Malaysian politics. He also edited a short-lived but influential journal entitled Progressive Islam (1954–55) that “endeavored to conform to the true spirit of Islam”. Combining the reflections of scholars such as the aforementioned Islamists with prominent Indonesian politicians such as Mohammed Roem and Muhammad Hatta, and Pakistani critics such as J.W. Syed and Hamidullah Siddiqi, this journal reflected post-colonial concerns in Indonesia and Pakistan over the Islamic system and competing ideologies. The term “South-East Asia” appeared in Progressive Islam to emphasize the post-colonial revival of religious and ideational connections between South and Southeast Asia that had been impeded by European colonialism. Maududi (1903–79) and Natsir (1908–93) had emerged as the “most prominent voices of Islamist opposition” in Pakistan and Indonesia respectively.