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Buehler, Michael and Muhtada, Dani (2016) 'Democratization and the Diffusion of Shari'a Law: Comparative Insights from Indonesia.' South East Asia Research, 24 (2). pp. 261-282.

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The democratization of politics has been accompanied by a rise of Islamic laws in many Muslim-majority countries. Despite a growing interest in the phenomenon, the Islamization of politics in democratizing Muslim-majority countries is rarely understood as a process that unfolds across space and time. Based on an original dataset established during years of field research in Indonesia, this article analyzes the spread of shari’a regulations across the world’s largest Muslim-majority democracy since 1998. The article shows that shari’a regulations in Indonesia diffused unevenly across space and time. Explanations put forward in the literature on the diffusion of morality policies in other countries such as geographic proximity, institutions, intergovernmental relations and economic conditions did not explain the patterns in the diffusion of shari’a regulations in Indonesia well. Instead, shari’a regulations in Indonesia were most likely to spread across jurisdictions where local Islamist groups situated outside the party system had an established presence. In short, the Islamization of politics was highly contingent on local conditions. Future research will need to pay more attention to local Islamist activists and networks situated outside formal politics as potential causes for the diffusion of shari’a law in democratizing Muslim-majority countries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Democratization, Indonesia, Islamic law, Islamization, policy diffusion, shari’a
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISSN: 20436874
Copyright Statement: © SOAS 2016. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by SAGE in South East Asia Research, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2016 16:03

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