RESCUING HISTORY FROM THE ORIENTALISTS: SYED MUHAMMAD NAQUIB AL-ATTAS AND THE HISTORY OF ISLAM IN THE MALAY WORLD

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Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied

Abstract

Exploring Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas’s interventions into debates regarding the history of Islam and the processes of Islamisation in the Malay World, this article argues that al-attas’s unique contribution to the Malay-Islamic historiography could only be fully understood by directing our attention to the problems of orientalism which al-Attas has sought to address. Al-Attas is critical of prevailing paradigms and methods of analysis adopted by orientalists which, to him, have obscured the circumstances that led to the venture of Islam in early modern Malay world. Aside from scrutinising al-Attas’s attempts to correct and expose the errors committed by a select group of scholars and intellectuals, the article illuminates the new pathways that al-Attas explored to expand the frontiers of the history of Islam in the Malay World.

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