Understanding the Processes of Social Change in Muslim Societies and Cultures

Processes of Change in Muslim Societies and Cultures

​Like other parts of the world, Muslim societies are undergoing rapid political, demographic, technological and cultural transformations, which are shaping intra- and inter-national relationships, power relations, self-perceptions and religious sensibilities. The study of the processes and forces that drive these changes – both in Muslim majority societies and Western countries with Muslim populations – is a fundamental aspect of the challenge that the Institute has set for itself. While the focus of research will be on Muslim contexts, such a project is not possible without taking into account change in the global context; indeed Muslim cultures and societies are integrally linked to, and embedded in, the processes and impacts of globalization and transnational exchanges.

The contemporary social sciences and humanities provide powerful intellectual tools to study the range of ways in which Muslim populations participate in and engage with local and global transformations and change. In its research and educational programmes, the Institute encourages a gendered, ethical and pluralistic perspective for analysis in addition to more conventional political, social and economic approaches. The Institute adopts interdisciplinary approaches to address questions pertaining to social change, development and new forms of socio-economic, political and cultural practices and differentiation in Muslim contexts.

This multi-tiered research area concentrates on the production, negotiations and expressions of social, political, and religious forms and practices in relation to the processes of change in Muslim cultures and societies. It reveals the ways in which state, legal and educational institutions appropriate – and are appropriated by – local and global forces and processes.

Processes of Change: Research Questions

Currently, the Institute’s research and teaching in this area is guided by the following questions:

How do global forces interact with local processes and social structures, and with what impact on institutions and policy?

Current AKU-ISMC research projects related to this question include:

  • “Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Late Industrialisation in Malaysia”  - Jeff Tan
  • “Privatisation, Regulation and Service Delivery: Water Sector Reforms in Malaysia” - Jeff Tan
  • Islamic Bioethics Research Initiative”  - collaboration between Farid Panjwani, Arskal Salim and AKU Bioethics group

What roles do Muslim legal norms and institution play, and to what extent and in what ways do they influence and/or are shaped by Muslim practices?

Current AKU-ISMC research projects related to this question include:

  • “The Revival of Custom (Adat) in the Changing and Plural Constellations in Aceh” - Arskal Salim
  • Arskal Salim. “Shari`a in Disputes: Struggles against and for Islamic Lawmaking in Indonesia” - Arskal Salim

How are Muslim populations in Western contexts shaping and shaped by Western state, legal and educational structures and institutions?

Current AKU-ISMC research projects related to this question include:

  • “Young Shias in the West” (URC funded project) - Kathryn Spellman-Poots
  • “Converts/Reverts to Islam in the UK with a Focus on the Educational Sector and Gender Dynamics” -  Farid Panjwani and Kathryn Spellman-Poots
  • “Swahili Women in Britain: Empowerment or Assimilation” -  Farouk Topan

What is the relationship between education, nation-state and globalization in Muslim societies? What future implications can be drawn from this relationship?

Current AKU-ISMC research projects related to this question include:

  • “Rethinking the Educational Case for Schools with Muslim Religious Character: a Critical Analysis of the Conceptions of Knowledge and Autonomy”  - Farid Panjwani

Processes of Change: MA Dissertations

Recent MA dissertations in the area of Processes of Change  include:

  • “Habitus through the Prism of Marriage Practices: A Comparative Analysis of Mirpuris Living in Bradford, UK” - Mehr Agha
  • “Nikah Sirri between Local Women and Middle Eastern Tourists in Kampung Sampay, Puncak, West Java: An Exploration of Marriage and its Meaning” - Ika Arika
  • “Women’s Empowerment in Ethnic Communities: A Case Study of Bericho” - Hina Baz

Related Research Activities and Projects