Sunday, January 21, 2007


I have been enjoying writing my dissertation since I have started in early 2005 . I am very excited doing this, although I get bored sometimes sitting in the front of my laptop, with my tiring eyes. So I have taken breaks, watching movies, relaxing on the beach, visiting bookstores, and so forth. I am happy Hawaii gives me everything.

This dissertation is both an obligation and opportunity to develop my ideas thouroughly, systematically, and brightly. My dissertation has come to a good shape now. The general topic was the transmission of Islamic knowledge and power relations in twentieth century Indonesia (South Sulawesi) and Malaysia (Kelantan). At this point, I wanted to limit the period to the colonial era (the Dutch, the British and the Japanese administration): how these administrations shaped Islamic knowledge. My main argument is that the relationship between imperialism and Islam was not always in contradiction; there were some interactions, ambivalences, indifferences, and collaborations. Although there were certainly resistances, these took place not simply because of colonialism as such, but because of discriminary policies and colonial failure of providing some of the promises such as religious freedom and non-interference in Islamic affairs. The other side of the argument is that Islam knowledge is both religious and historical. Power relations, not only of politics, but also of inter-religious interactions, shaped the Islamic institutions and knowledge. The fixity and change in part of what is considered to be "Islamic: knowledge should be understood contextually. I have some other points, but I will tell more about these later.

While doing this dissertation, I have also been doing other things: writting articles to newspapers, journals, doing radio interviews, teaching courses, making proposals and syllabi for future employment, doing job interviews and talks, welcoming and guiding guests, visitin and helping friends, and so on; I have enjoying doing all of these. I am happy that there are people who put trust on me and I don't want to lose such trust. Everyone needs trust. I have stopped writing articles for the Jakarta Post and journals for the last two months. I have always been tempted to write, expressing my ideas into articles everytime I read news or simply have ideas. I think so I exist, I write so I live. But I have reminded myself of my own priority this time, and of my appointment: to write my dissertation to my best, which definitely takes time, energy, and intellectual preparedness and brightness. I have promised to myself to produce a high-class research-based dissertation worth publishing in the United States for global readership. This should be my master piece, although I have planned to write many other articles and books afterwards. I will keep my promise. And wish me luck!

Hale Manoa, January 21, 2007


Yati Paseng said...

Hmmm, this makes me think about the roles of CNN in shaping the superficial knowledge about Islam in this country.

Muhamad Ali said...

That is right, Mbak Yati. Foucault says Power creates knowledge, and knowledge is power. The knowledge of anyting including Islam by the present media is powerful in shaping the people's minds.Sometimes it is argued that media provides democratically any knowledge, but media also construct knowledge, knowledge about Islam, about Muslims, about terrorism, etc. The only way to challenge the constructed knowledge is to also use the media but more wisely, more balanced, more educationally. That is why,I believe, although education is another technology of power, a democratic inclusive education is what we need now if we want to live a good and peace live.

am said...

Bung Ali,
Salam kenal ya. Bulan ini saya akan presentasi paper di tempat Anda. Saya sudah kirim email. Tapi nggak tahu apa Anda sudah menerimanya atau belum. I would love to meet you down there.

Muhamad Ali said...

Halo Arif,
Salam kenal. Senang sekali bisa ketemu Anda di Honolulu. Saya belum terima emailnya. Email saya
Saya tunggu infonya,


apple! said...

Reading your enthusiasm is very inspiring, Ali. I'm a doctoral student just like you and I'm having hard time enjoying it. I can only wish I had the motivation and drive you have. Good luck with everything!

Muhamad Ali said...

Dear "apple",
Thanks for the nice words. Everyone struggles in his or her own way; I believe you also have the same drive to make a difference. Best wishes to your doctoral program and other endeavors. And please share your ideas and experiences anytime.


Oman tea said...

Hi,'s nice to be ur friend, a young smart guy, I am proud of u...good luck for ur dissertation, keep writing...

Muhamad Ali said...

Thank you so much, Kak Oman. Wishing you success and luck in Germany too.

Anonymous said...

great for you mr ali, i wish i can study in hawai. however i suggest you to studi ibnu arabi and shadra thought, very inspiringable, and open multidimension of islam

godluck i like to be your friends