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The Cambodian state is unique in Southeast Asia, due to its official recognition of two distinct Islamic religious communities, whose separate existence is entirely unrelated to the Sunni-Shia divide characterizing Muslim sectarian relations in many countries of the Middle East. Whereas the great majority of Cambodian Muslims, which primarily consist of ethnic Chams, is represented by the Mufti of Cambodia, a second officially recognized Islamic community has been placed under the authority of the Oknha Khnour, as leader of the so-called Islamic Community of Imam San (Kan Imam San), since 1998. The Kan Imam San regard themselves as practicing a distinctively Cambodian Cham form of Islam, and account for roughly 10 percent of the country's Muslim population. The present contribution will shed light on the genesis of the community by elucidating its distinguishing features, defining practices, cultural icons, self-perception, self-representation and selective approaches to history as well as the internal and external mechanisms behind its formation. Specific attention will be paid to the way in which the Kan Imam San relies on vernacular manuscript culture and local traditions of saint and ancestor worship to make its case for cultural and religious authenticity in the face of an overall espousal of Malay and other models of Islamic religiosity and scholarship by the majority of Cambodian Muslims since the mid-nineteeth century.


As far as the administration of Islam is concerned, Buddhist Cambodia represents a unique case in Southeast Asia. Indeed, the most intriguing feature of Cambodia's Muslims, estimated in 2010 at 340,450 people (or roughly 2.5 percent of the general population) living in over 450 villages, (1) is that they are split into two distinct, officially recognized Islamic communities. This bifurcation is all the more striking, as it neither falls into the category of Sunni-Shiite differences nor fully accords with the ethnic make-up of the community, which consists of an 80 percent majority of ethnic Chams. Their language is of the Austronesian family and they are descendants of migrants from former Cham kingdoms in present-day coastal Central and Southern Vietnam who arrived in Cambodia between the late fifteenth and early nineteeth centuries. The remaining 20 percent are known as Chvea. They speak the national Khmer language and claim descent from unions between Malay settlers and local women. (2) What lies at the root of the split within the country's Muslim community is a divide between competing strands primarily regarding themselves as either forming a part of wider Southeast Asian or even global Islam, or conversely as representing distinctly vernacular traditions. Thus, whereas the great majority of the Cambodian Muslim community is represented by the Mufti of Cambodia, the latter now has an officially recognized counterpart in the figure of the Ong Gnur (venerable master, or Oknha Khnour in official Khmer nomenclature) as leader of the so-called Islamic Community of Imam San (Kan Imam San, henceforth KIS) since 1998.

The latter community, which regards itself as practicing a distinctively Cambodian Cham form of Islam, accounts for roughly 10 percent of the country's Muslim population. The present contribution will shed light on the genesis of the community by elucidating its distinguishing features, defining practices, cultural icons, self-perception, self-representation, and selective approaches to history as well as the internal and external mechanisms behind its construction. Among these, historical factors such as Cambodian political history and voluntary as well as involuntary settlement patterns of the past 150 years have featured prominently, just as have more recent developments, such as the reverberations of the Khmers Rouges genocide and the increasing influence of transnational Islamic movements. Specific attention will be paid, however, to the way in which KIS emphasizes vernacular manuscript culture and traditions of saint and ancestor worship to make its case for cultural and religious authenticity in the face of an overall espousal of Malay and other models of Islamic religiosity and scholarship by the majority Cambodian Muslims since the mid-nineteenth century.

The present approach, seeking to trace and explain the formation of KIS as a distinct Islamic community, relies on two conceptual tools that may well be unfamiliar to readers. First, it departs from the basic assumption that the great majority of Muslims in Cambodia has from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards undergone a sweeping process of cultural and religious change, which I have chosen to refer to as Jawization. Indeed, the late nineteenth century witnessed a considerable expansion of usage of the Malay language and its adaptation of the Arabic script, known as the Jawi language and script respectively, as the main language of Islamic instruction and scholarship in Cambodia. As elsewhere in Southeast Asia at that time, this greatly enhanced role of Malay both accompanied and provided a necessary basis for an unprecedented expansion of Islamic schooling. Moreover, it symbolized the full immersion of a steadily growing segment of Cambodia's Muslims in an emerging trans-Southeast Asian Muslim scholarly culture with its social manifestations predicated on the common usage of Jawi. It is this historical process of religious change that is here referred to as Jawization. As will be shown, however, Jawization was far from uncontested at the local level. Indeed, the formation of KIS must be regarded as a long-term result of local resistance to Jawization and the related erosion of contending vernacular Islamic traditions.

Secondly, it will be argued that the institutionalization of this resistance in the form of KIS, an unlikely outcome, given the eventual overall dominance of Jawi models, depended on the "entitivity" of specific groups of discontents of Jawization. This concept was introduced by Stewart in connection with debates about religious purity, mixture, and syncretism, and was briefly defined as "the quality of forming a discrete entity." (3) Contrary to this approach, entitivity will be used subsequently in the additional sense of a set of cultural, religious, and social resources endowing a group of people with the capacity to form a discrete entity, thereby potentially turning an aggregate of more or less like-minded individuals into a distinctive group. It is therefore clearly linked to the notion of entitativity in social psychology, which is used to measure the extent to which a given aggregate of individuals can be perceived as a coherent social unit. (4) Such perception can be of an either emic (i.e., internal) or etic (i.e., external) nature. (5) The entitivity behind the formation of KIS is also of a reflexive nature. It refers both to the emerging self-perception of KIS as a distinctive Islamic community and to its external perception as a "collective other" by the majority of Cambodian Muslims and the state.


As the Cambodian Ministry of Cults appointed the representatives of two distinct Islamic communities in 1996 and 1998 respectively, it gave official sanction and provided a congregational framework to a split within Cambodian Islam, which had been latent for at least a century. To get an indication of the differences between the two Islamic communities, it is sufficient to take a look at the religious educational backgrounds of their appointed leaders. On the one hand, there is Sos Kamry (b. 1950), the Mufti of Cambodia, who heads the Cambodian Highest Council of Islamic Affairs. Kamry, who acquired his religious schooling almost exclusively from local teachers in his native village of Speu in Eastern Cambodia's Kampong Cham province, (6) is the product of a local Islamic educational system, which, even though supported primarily by Cham-speakers, used to rely almost exclusively on Malay-language books written in Jawi script (i.e. the Malay adaptation of Arabic script) from the late nine-teenth century onwards. Conversely, the Ong Gnur Kai Tam of KIS, likewise educated in his native village of Sre Prey (Au Russey commune) in Kampong Chhnang in Central Cambodia, (7) was reared in a scholarly culture grounded in the use of Cham-language manuscripts employing the Cham script, which had been developed out of South Indian scripts from the third to fourth centuries onwards. (8)

The split within Cambodian Islam, epitomized by these two religious leaders with their vastly different backgrounds of Islamic education and institutionalized with their official recognition as heads of separate Islamic congregations in the late 1990s, is the result of a long history of local intra-religious change. This change was most decisively shaped by the gravitation to and participation in a homogenizing trans-Southeast Asian Islamic discursive tradition by a continually increasing proportion of Cambodian Muslims between the late nine-teenth century and the early 1970s. Thus, the local Muslim communities largely began to orient themselves towards an evolving, overarching, scholarly and social world of Southeast Asian Islam, aptly defined as the "Jawi ecumene" by Michael Laffan. (9) This Southeast Asian ecumene linked the different Muslim peoples from the Southern Philippines and Eastern Indonesia in the East to those of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra in the West through the Malay language and the Jawi script as the common media of transmission and communication, and as the "expression of a Jawi identity." (10)

By becoming Jawi, Cambodian Muslims became closely linked to their co-religionists throughout much of Southeast Asia, and particularly to those of southern Thailand and northeastern Malaysia. Yet, this process has gradually also resulted--for the majority of Cham Muslims in Cambodia--in a growing and eventually irreversible disjuncture from older, more localized, Cham Islamic traditions. Due to the full espousal of Jawi script and literature, and the rise of Malay to the status of preferred language of religious instruction and scholarship, ancient Cham script generally fell into disuse and its Islamic manuscript tradition, as well as the conceptions of religious practice and history associated with it, practically died out. (11) Even though writing in the Cham language has not ceased altogether, it is an adaptation of Jawi (Cham Jawi), which came to be used to write the local language. (12) Due to its intimate connection to the spread of Malay language and the Jawi script, this process of intra-religious change among Cambodian Muslims is--as was outlined above--referred to as Jawization in the following discussion.

Such a transition was not devoid of friction. Already the first decades of the twentieth century have witnessed periods of factional strife over the question of Malay influence. According to Marcel Ner, who observed Islamic factionalism in Cambodia in the 1930s, its beginnings dated back to the late nineteenth century. By his time, the dominant group, locally known as trimeu, was, according to him, "characterized by the place accorded to Malay in religious instruction, the explication of the Quran and in Muslim rites themselves," (13) thereby epitomizing our concept of Jawization. Conversely, their opponents, called kobuol, "accorded no room whatsoever to Malay" in their religious affairs, (14) and "claimed religious superiority for themselves, due to their fidelity to the language of the prophet (i.e. Arabic), which they only knew vaguely... repeating formulas while hardly understanding them." (15) Leaving aside Ner's disparaging statements, it is evident that the so-called kobuol relied on Arabic texts and the local languages in religious ritual and instruction and--certainly due to the trimeu challenge--had developed a stance, which could be described as anti-Jawization. We will encounter this latter trait in an even more pronounced form among the KIS of today. The dynamic of Jawization versus anti-Jawization is also clearly borne out in the names accorded to the two local Islamic factions of the 1930s, as trimeu and kobuol are obviously derived from Malay Terima and Arabic Qabul respectively, both of which are signifying "acceptance," as featured in ritual formulas during Muslim wedding ceremonies.

It will thus be argued that the establishment of KIS was but the last step in a century-long contest between different orientations within Cambodian Islam. In what follows, we shall attempt to present a comprehensive overview of the groups particularities and the dynamics of its institutionalization as a distinct and officially recognized Muslim community. That it was able to constitute itself as such, and thereby also receive protection by the state, has to be regarded as a highly significant development. Similar attempts by localized Southeast Asian Islamic groups at odds with the doctrines and/or organizational structures of state-supported or state-controlled religious administrative bodies, such as Wetu Telu Islam on Lombok or various other Indonesian Islamic groups commonly subsumed under the labels Kebatinan (i.e. esotericism, from Arabic/Malay batin--"hidden, inner"), Kepercayaan (literally "belief," as opposed to agama--"religion") or Kejawen ("Javanism"), have all been frustrated. (16) Undoubtedly, it was a combination of many factors and not a self-evident development that led to this result. The apparently most decisive of these factors will be briefly discussed below as the dynamics behind the formation of KIS will be traced.


Currently, KIS consists of approximately 38,000 members in around forty villages with fifty affiliated mosques and suraw in five different provinces, though the strongest concentration is found in Kampong Tralach district of Kampong Chhnang. When broken down to the provincial level, the following picture emerges for the fifty KIS establishments: twelve in Kampong Chhnang, ten in Pursat, fifteen in Battambang, one in Kendal, and twelve in Kampot. The KIS villages in Kampot are the only ones not lying on an axis stretching west of the Tonle Sap River from Kampong Tralach to Southern Battambang province. (17) They joined KIS a few years after its founding and therefore represent a specific case. The majority of affiliated villages exhibit a more or less coherent religious identity with specific constitutive practices and omissions, shared temporalities, and a common imaginary regarding Muslim (and specifically Cham) culture in Cambodia, (18) which is clearly at variance with the historically evolved culture of Jawization among Cambodia's Muslim mainstream. Many of these defining practices or rather--from the perspective of most other Islamic groups in Cambodia--omissions have been prevalent elsewhere in Cambodia (and in the Chams' ancestral homeland of Champa for that matter), but have been obliterated in most places in the course of Jawization. Meanwhile, other practices appear to have only acquired a standardized form and relevance as points of distinction through the ongoing struggle between Jawization and anti-Jawization.

The most emblematic and controversial of these practices and omissions that clearly differentiates KIS from the Muslim mainstream in the country, is their practice of only praying once a week, i.e. at the time of the congregational Friday prayer. This single weekly prayer is strikingly reminiscent of the practices of the Cham Bani, the Muslims still residing in the former Cham realm of Panduranga in today's Vietnam, and of Wetu Telu Islam on Lombok. (19) In the KIS center of Au Russey, the ceremony features, instead of a sermon proper, a lecture out of one of three different manuscript scrolls (katepa) in all Arabic, kept specifically for that purpose. The pilgrimage to Mecca is not considered a religious obligation by the group. Instead, pilgrimages to the annual mawlid (birthday) celebrations at the shrine of the eponymous Imam San (d. late nine-teenth century), which is located on a hill near the old Khmer capital of Oudong (Kendal province), function as the most important religious festivity of the far-flung community. In line with its self-proclaimed status as cam sot ("Pure Chams"), Jawi script, Malay language, its literature and religious practices associated with it are roundly rejected. The group heralds its position as last preservers of old Islamic manuscripts written in Cham script. Indeed, the latter have developed into the community's most highly valued cultural artifacts as well as into prime tools of communal identity formation. (20)

We will return to this pronounced trait of anti-Jawization shortly. Before that it must also be noted that a strong link to the Cham past in Panduranga is conspicuously maintained by the on-going correspondence with ancestor spirits (muk kei) by way of mediums particularly relied upon for healing rituals. The latter practices have received a strong impetus from the atrocities during the rule of the Khmers Rouges (1975-1979), the following civil war (1979-1997), and the omnipresence of physical and mental suffering in the aftermath. In fact, there has been an unprecedented revival of these possession cults. (21) In addition, the muk kei have to be invited to the rija dance ritual, (22) which commemorates the coming of Islam to Cham lands. (23) Already practiced in Panduranga and subsequently also in Cambodia, it now appears to be the exclusive domain of KIS (and recent breakaway) villages. (24) Another such ritual particularity among KIS is--befittingly, given its place in trimeu/kobuol factionalism--the wedding ceremony, as will be shown below. Notwithstanding these similarities to Cham Bani practices, KIS cannot be equated with Bani Islam in Vietnam. Apart from the fact that the history and makeup of the community is obviously more complex than that, there is no complementary Cham Brahmanist community in Cambodia, interaction with which is evidently an important aspect of Bani identity in former Panduranga, where Cham Muslims are outnumbered by non-Muslim Chams. (25) Moreover, there exists no Imam San, or any comparable figure, among the Bani.

Despite the important place of the shrine of Imam San in Oudong, the undisputed center of the community is Au Russey in Kampong Chhnang's Kampong Tralach district, and has been so for the nucleus of the community since the late nineteenth or early twentieth century at the latest. The foundation of Cham villages in the commune dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, when substantial numbers of Chams, deported to the area from Kampong Cham after a rebellion against King Ang Duong (r. 1843-1860), settled there. (26) Later it was the seat of one out of a number of Muslim dignitaries accorded the honorary oknha title by the Cambodian court. Already in the late nine-teenth century the area represented a rare repository of Cham script manuscripts and people able to read and copy them, (27) as they still do today. After visiting Au Russey in the 1930s, Marcel Ner labelled its inhabitants as "hyper-traditionalists" in order to differentiate them from the larger group of opponents of Malay religious influence (e.g., the kobuol), whom he labelled simply as "traditionalist." (28) Nevertheless, a few pertinent observations are in order concerning how it could develop into the center of a newly established and quite far-flung formally organized religious community. Tracing at least some of the mechanisms of and preconditions for this development should be particularly desirable given Stewart's suggestion that, rather than studying ostensible purities and mixtures, we should focus on the crucial moments in which people begin to claim purity as well as on the specific backgrounds and timeframes of such developments or, in other words, on their entitivity, (29) their capacity to form a discreet entity.


Firstly, the geographical distribution of KIS communities is relevant. With the exception of the villages in Kampot, the whole array of KIS villages is located along a northwestern axis stretching from Oudong (Kendal province) and Kampong Tralach (Kampong Chhnang province) to Battambang. Intriguingly, these are all areas in which Ner had in the 1930s either observed trimeu/kobuol intra-religious factionalism, or noted the presence of "hyper-traditionalists." (30) While the individual villages are in no way identical, the overall area in which KIS villages have emerged largely corresponds to the local geography of intra-religious conflict charted by Ner. It may thus be reasonably assumed that, apart from Au Russey itself, Ner only came to visit those Muslim villages in the region more strongly exposed to Jawization, where such exposure first led to kobuolltrimeu conflict and then finally to the eclipse of the kobuol. Other villages, however, were presumably not challenged to the same degree by or were markedly less responsive to Jawization. Thus it seems likely that Au Russey, by becoming a spiritual center, was able to draw such communities traditionally skeptical of Jawization into its orbit, despite the presence of villages pertaining to the Muslim mainstream in their vicinity. Yet this applies only to this specific area West of the Tonle Sap Lake and River, which has remained somewhat detached from the other centers of Muslim life in Cambodia, particularly the major settlements and centers of religious learning in the Phnom Penh area and in Kampong Cham province, all of which developed into centers of Jawi education. Accordingly, both locations are--like most other provinces--devoid of KIS affiliates. Au Russey, with its reputation as the last bastion of traditional Cham scholarship and religious culture, must have lent itself quite well as a rallying point in times of intra-community strife and crisis. This is especially true for those at odds with forms of Islam associated with Jawi models and who were cultivating a discourse centered on allegedly pure contending traditions: e.g., kobuol anti-Jawization.


The Au Russey community and its leader had not only preserved a tangible connection to the Cham homeland via a specific manuscript tradition. Indeed, the Ong Gnur's role was initially a political as well as religious one, and is now-adays (again) effectively reclaimed as such. In fact, the Khmer title, Oknha Khnour is said to have been bestowed by Ang Duong on the head of the local Chams, who had been relocated to the area despite their loyalty towards the king during the Cham rebellion of 1858-1859. (31) By the 1920s, this position represented official authority over a specific group, defined by religious practice and not geographical distribution. Such authority seems to have been a special case among the Cambodian Muslim dignitaries holding the oknha title, as these were, save for the precursor of today's mufti as supreme leader of all Cambodian Muslims, commonly attached to individual village mosques. (32) Conversely, Katep Kak, nominated as new Oknha Khnour in 1926, was to "administer the Chams belonging to the mosque of Au Russey East and those of the same religion, who are practicing the religious rites of their Cham master San." (33) The reference to the "mosque of Au Russey East" clearly implies that even within this single commune religious practice was not uniform at that time. A preceding document tellingly cites different prayer rites prevailing in the two "pagodas" of Au Russey as the reason for restricting the mandate of the Oknha Khnour to the Eastern mosque on the one hand, and extending it towards other believers following the same rites on the other. (34) The latter is, of course, certainly a reference to the practice of praying only on Friday. Naturally, also the mentioning of the "Cham master San" (Iman San) is conspicuous.

It is doubtful whether the Oknha Khnour was still an officially nominated position after Cambodian independence in 1955. We may therefore regard it as a dormant resource, which could, however, be reactivated and reclaimed by the (now no longer state-sanctioned) incumbents and their followers. The current community leader Kai Tam claims to be the eighth incumbent since the offices institution. (35) In his oral genealogy of ong gnurs, all of which have resided in Au Russey commune, the Katep Kak of French documents features as the fifth holder of the title. The tenure of Kak's successor Sam Saly already fell into independent Cambodia, as he was met by a French anthropologist in the 1960s. (36) Kai Tarn's predecessor, the first officially recognized KIS leader, was his uncle Ly Man. For the formation of the community under Ly Man, the tragic history of Khmers Rouges Cambodia appears to have played an important role, as scores of displaced Chams from the region felt drawn to the traditional--now revived--regional Cham center after the Vietnamese invasion in 1979. Subsequently, those who had lingered there acquired prestige within the nascent community, (37) to the formation of which the same people have undoubtedly greatly contributed.


Similarly, the aforementioned expansion of muk kei possession cults is related to these particular circumstances. In the 1960s, Au Russey was allegedly the last commune with a coherent system of muk kei mediums, although remnants were still found in other Muslim communities across Cambodia. (38) It does not come as a surprise therefore that a revival of the cult started there. Even though the Ong Gnur and the imams keep a certain distance from these rituals, which take place outside the mosques, they nonetheless seem to take place with implicit religious approval. The unifying potential of these practices, which tie in well with the groups claim to purely Cham traditions, was certainly not lost on the religious leadership. Indeed, the muk kei rituals are, besides the mawlid of Imam San, one of the main features linking Au Russey to distant villages in Pursat and Battambang province, as mediums are called upon to hold healing ceremonies in distant villages. As was already noted, the atrocities of the Khmers Rouges period and the preceding and ensuing civil wars propelled the revival of the muk kei. After 1979 there remained only five mediums, four of which hailed from Au Russey. Yet, subsequent years saw new initiations for the first time in decades. (39) Whereas Baccot, who stayed in Au Russey during the 1960s, reported explicit disbelief in and even hostility towards these rituals by the local imams, (40) there seems to have emerged a new leniency towards and even (re)appropriation of them, which is certainly, at least in part, owing to considerations of group cohesion. (41)


Further, there are the issues of Cham script, elsewhere the most illustrative casualty of Jawization, the preservation of manuscripts and the particular style of education associated with them. In the 1960s, there were, apart from the Ong Gnur, very few people literate in Cham script even in Au Russey. (42) Starting, most probably, soon after the Vietnamese ousting of the Pol Pot regime, and greatly boosted by the struggle for official state recognition, the community is currently in the midst of an unprecedented revival of interest and education in the script under the direction of the Ong Gnur. The latter is significantly aided in these endeavors by extra-community actors such as the US embassy in Cambodia and the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM), both of which are involved in manuscript preservation, the distribution of digitized copies and--in the embassy's case--schemes for instruction in Cham script, including the production of textbooks.

The makers of these textbooks are trying to avoid religious content--which they admit to be very difficult to achieve, given the culturally-cum-religiously loaded quality of most extant Cham script texts--because their programs are not exclusively targeting the KIS community. (43) However, the development of the textbooks has nevertheless yielded important results for religious education. Thus, a self-produced edition of an important Cham manuscript, which was scanned and afterwards photocopied and cheaply bound, was distributed to all KIS villages, where religious classes are held. (44) Such self-made books are also used for the mawlid ceremony celebrating the memory of Imam San. (45) Large portions of the former text edition are in Arabic and not Cham. These include, for example, an enumeration of the Arabic letters, all the short surahs of the Quran (Q 1, Q 78-114, and Q 36), the formulas to be uttered during canonical prayer, and other basic devotional formulas. (46) It therefore clearly represents a Cham script variant of the type of manuals of elementary religious instruction, known as muqaddam (or introductory) books or "little Qurans" throughout Southeast Asia.

The text used for the mawlid of Imam San at his shrine (as well as for the one of the prophet, which is celebrated in the villages at the appropriate date), is all in Arabic and nothing else but the famous mawlid panegyric Sharaf al-anam (with its name transformed into peul nam). (47) The latter is of course a widely distributed text in Muslim Southeast Asia and was also among the first Islamic texts to be printed in the region. (48)

More peculiar to KIS are, however, the fifteen Cham script texts of a massive (947 pages) 2011 edition of digitized manuscripts published by KIS with aid from the US embassy. All of these texts, many of which are stories revolving around ancestors or prophets, contain only very few insertions in Arabic or, more often, none at all (save for the basmala). All but one of the original manuscripts were drawn from collections in the communes of Au Russey and Chhouk Sar (both in Kampong Tralach district in Kampong Chhnang), whereas the remaining one has been preserved in a village of Southern Battambang province. (49) This not only testifies to the important role of Kampong Tralach district, where texts are also still kept in the former KIS village of Svay Pakao in Ta Ches commune, (50) as a major repository of Cham manuscripts. Indeed, this development testifies to the instrumental role of these manuscripts and their script in community formation. Serving as highly valued cultural artifacts of a distinct religious community, a number of manuscripts have also resurfaced in other affiliated villages. A particular ritual usage of Cham texts is their role in Au Russey s annual Mamun festival. On this occasion the descendants of Panduranganpo families (i.e. families claiming descent from the Cham royal line) stage a possession ritual associated with the reading of Cham royal chronicles and remembrance of the homeland and the migration to Cambodia. (51)


Finally, the way the figure of Imam San has been appropriated by the community now named after him, and the combination of this appropriation with the claims to traditional authority just described, are noteworthy. Attendance at the mawlid at the shrine of Imam San nowadays serves as a criteria for belonging in KIS. (52) In the past, however, the mawlid seems to have linked believers from disparate Muslim communities all over Cambodia, and was therefore clearly not the exclusive domain of the future KIS. Yet, judging from historical reports and oral traditions, Imam San was nevertheless a figure that was specifically associated with Muslim tradition in the crucial area to the west of the Tonle Sap. Intriguingly, however, the Muslims of far-away Kampot in coastal Cambodia also appear to have had a special relationship with the saint and his shrine.

Indeed, we are left with two quite different images of Imam San. On the one hand, there is the presently pervasive KIS narrative, the (Cham) Imam San of which came together with the first Ong Gnur Ban from Champa (i.e. Panduranga). (53) On the other hand, there also exists an almost forgotten narrative about Imam San, recorded by a Cham researcher in the 1960s, which presents him as a Malay scholar and ascetic, born in Ligor (Southern Thailand), who had at first settled in Kampot and then moved on to the Oudong area. (54) Both traditions correspond in ascribing royal favor to Imam San, the factuality of which is, of course, also testified to by the location of his shrine near the graves and stupas of several Khmer kings in Oudong. KIS traditions, however, are much more elaborate in their descriptions of the wonders worked by Imam San before and for the king. (55) The earliest French report, still dating to the saints lifetime, clearly supports claims about his alleged Malay origins. Thus, Moura, who had met "Ta-San" on the "hill of Oudong" in 1874 (and noted his continued presence there in 1877), reported that he was "a Malay saint," who had long been living among Chams. (56)

The comparable detachment of both the areas of the kobuol/future KIS axis and Kampot from Muslim affairs in centers, such as Phnom Penh or the Muslim villages along the Mekong in Kampong Cham, seems to have played a part in their not having been fully drawn in by expanding Jawization. Even if the non-KIS narrative of Imam San, which has him staying initially at Kampot, should be considered spurious, it is noteworthy that the region had been marked by practices associated with local Muslim saints, and particularly ascetics, way into the twentieth century. (57) These practices most probably also provided a strong link to the shrine of Imam San in Oudong. Indeed, visiting the mawlid near Oudong seems to have been of particular centrality in the ritual life of certain Muslim communities in Kampot and their counterparts along the northwestern axis running from Oudong to Battambang. Even though lesser numbers of pilgrims from Phnom Penh and even Kampong Cham still made the annual trip to Oudong in the 1960s, it was only among the Au Russey group that it appeared to constitute a central practice.58 This disproportionate involvement of Au Russey and other villages with similar tendencies that subsequently formed part of the KIS community, surely influenced the way rites were conducted, thus further alienating Cambodian Muslims already exposed to the countercurrent of Jawization.

Even today, however, the mawlid phnom (hill mawlid) constitutes almost the sole occasion, at which the adherents of KIS are engaging--in a religious framework--with other Cambodian Muslims who still attend the festivity. (59) Thus, for the group the choice of Imam San--the Muslim saint recognized even beyond the increasingly rigid boundaries of the community--as official eponym and historical point of reference, seems to serve as a claim to a distinctively Islamic legitimacy. That is, it is one not merely grounded in the cam sot narrative of faithful preservation of traditions connected to the former Cham homeland, but in a shared history of Islam in Cambodia. One account of Imam Sans life, given by Au Russey villagers in 1998, i.e. in the year of KIS' official constitution, is instructive in this regard. By emphasizing that--after the foundation of his mosque in Oudong--"[a]ll the Chams, particularly those who lived near Oudong, and at Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, and Battambang provinces have respected San ever since," (60) it presents Imam San as a saint accepted as such by all Cambodian Muslims, but at the same time maps out the geography of KIS at that time.

It is, moreover, quite striking that the community claims that its particular form of marriage ritual had been introduced by no one else but Imam San. It will be remembered in this regard that debates about the proper performance of marriage rituals evidently played a crucial and highly emblematic role in kobuol/trimeu conflict, and that even the names by which the contending orientations eventually came to be known were directly derived from them. Therefore, this explicit attribution to the eponymous figure of the community is certainly an echo of these earlier discussions. It is clear that the KIS ritual, which is entirely in Cham, is much closer to the kobuol than the trimeu model. What is more, KIS has also preserved the intriguing feature of the usage of Ali and Fatima as ceremonial names for groom and bride, which has been documented among the Cham Bani in Vietnam, (61) but fell victim to Jawization and war-induced obliteration in most Cambodian Muslim communities. (62) Thus, it also seems that the historical memory of the controversies surrounding the marriage ritual formed part of the mechanisms by which a larger group of opponents of Jawization was drawn into the fold of the nascent community centered on Au Russey, instead of taking the majority's course of steadily--if slowly and unevenly--gravitating towards the sphere of strongly Malay-influenced Cambodian Islam.


As far as the timeframe for the formation of the community is concerned, the following can be stated. Instances of a cautious (re)assertiveness of Au Russey as a religious center, and of positive responses to these overtures from different villages, were already noted in the late 1960s, in connection with the construction of the village mosque of Kendal in Au Russey commune. The Ong Gnur was very pleased that money for the endeavor not only originated from the commune under his direct authority, but also from other more or less distant villages. (63) This episode seems to testify to the beginnings of the formations leading to the establishment of the later formalized community. Yet, many of the specific conditions described above were only generated by the tragic history of Cambodia from 1970 into the 1990s and its aftermath.

In that respect, two further issues should be considered. Firstly, following the UN-monitored elections of 1993, which largely restored peace to the country after more than two decades of armed conflicts and isolation, Cambodia witnessed a significant influx of transnational Islamic charities and movements from the Arabian Peninsula, Malaysia, and South Asia. Primarily investing their capital in the establishment of mosques and religious schools and often vigorously promoting their own Islamic agendas, the pressure on allegedly deviant groups greatly increased. (64) Against this background, those Cambodian Muslims regarding their beliefs and practices as being threatened had reason to join forces. However, this unity was achieved only after arduous lobbying, which involved considerable resources, and eventual official recognition by the state. This goal required tangible resources, such as the preservation of a distinct script and literary heritage, and the appropriation of a historical figure, taken by the court as epitomizing the historically amicable relationship between Khmers and Chams.

Secondly, a Buddhist precedent may have also played a role in this regard, as the return of the monarchy as a stakeholder in the affairs of the country's religious administration was accompanied by the renewed official recognition of the two different strands of Cambodian Buddhism. Thus, King Sihanouk appointed new Supreme Patriarchs for the Mahanikay and Thommayuth Buddhist Orders in 1991, (65) just as was done regarding the Mufti and the Oknha Khnour in 1996 and 1998, respectively. Likewise, the National Assembly member, Kong Sam Oul (b. 1936), from the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party was also critical to the successful quest for official recognition. (66) In close contact with the leadership in Au Russey, and certainly fully aware of the fact that the supporters of the future KIS were not a negligible constituency, he lobbied for the nascent community's cause in the government. (67) It has, moreover, been noted--though with reference to Cambodian Buddhism--that in the years immediately following the major transformations following the UN mission and the re-opening of the country, "the state was not entirely clear about what its role should be in relation to... new nongovernmental bodies," including religious ones. (68) This prevailing confusion, combined with a new consideration of issues of rights, made the 1990s the ideal time to argue for a separate religious identity, as was successfully done by KIS.

As elsewhere, the reification of formal organizations introduced greater rigidness and more clearly defined boundaries between both parties concerned, and, among KIS, a new formalized orthodoxy and orthopraxy as well as mechanisms to safeguard it. At present, the community is virtually endogamous as far as intermarriage with the Cambodian Muslim mainstream is concerned. Despite such measures, the group has since its inception faced the breakaway of entire villages, often due to the efforts of local and foreign Muslim NGOs, which are at times explicitly tying financial aid to demanded changes in ritual observance (e.g., discarding the defining practice of praying only once a week). (69) Cases in point are a number of villages in Kampong Chhnang and Battambang provinces. Not far from Au Russey, the village of Svay Pakao broke away from KIS, as the inhabitants followed the example of the hakem (i.e., the village leader), who had earlier been invited on the hajj by an Arab NGO. (70)

On the other hand, there has also occurred an unexpected growth in affiliation to the community. Responsible for this were the twelve villages in Kampot, which joined the young community a few years after its consolidation. This is particularly striking, as the Muslims of Kampot, who are in their majority Khmer-speaking Chvea and not Chams, would hardly have appeared likely candidates for an alliance with a group claiming to be "pure Chams" (cam sot). Moreover, not even all of the concerned villages are following the otherwise defining practice of the single weekly prayer, although many of them do. (71) Undoubtedly, however, a number of shared practices, the historical local prominence of Sufi ascetics, and the common history of lesser exposure or even active resistance to Jawization have provided a suitable basis for this alliance. Moreover, the joint ritual practices at Oudong have certainly facilitated exchanges between those involved.

Thus, this case provides a window into similar mechanisms at work during the earlier formation of KIS. In fact, it seems that it was mostly disaffection with the rapid post-1992 changes among the Cambodian Muslim mainstream, going far beyond the earlier dynamics of Jawization, which brought about the turn towards the newly assertive Ong Gnur and his community. Such disaffection in the face of large-scale religious change was presumably also an important factor in the earlier joining of the Au Russey group and remnants of the kobuol in the region west of the Tonle Sap.


That KIS is characterized by a strong degree of anti-Tawization--not just in a metaphorical but in a literal sense--can be easily illustrated by a few concrete examples, which again point to the significant and emblematic role played by language use and script choice by the different factions. Indeed, as a corollary to its understanding as representing pure (Cambodian) Cham Islamic tradition, the KIS leadership has explicitly charged the Cambodian Muslim mainstream for having abandoned Cham ways and adopted "the custom of the Jawi" instead. In this respect, particularly the adoption of Jawi script and the consequential loss of Cham script has been identified as "the most important indication of this rejection of Cham custom" and as undermining their identity. (72)

This bemoaned loss has a factual basis. Whereas at least individual Cham script texts were still preserved in Kampong Cham in the 1960s, (73) no surviving manuscripts are presently known to exist--save for one battered specimen from Roka Po Pram, with a script that makes it inaccessible to the villagers, (74) outside the domain of the KIS northwestern axis. In Vietnam's Mekong Delta and Tay Ninh regions, where a number of manuscripts of Cham Jawi renderings of earlier Cham script texts are still preserved, and the teaching of Cham Jawi has been (optionally) pursued in public schooling with approval from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education since the late 1990s, many Chams nowadays reportedly refuse to recognize Cham script, and claim Jawi as their original script instead. (75) Unsurprisingly, Jawization also had linguistic consequences among Cambodian Cham-speakers. Presently, the adherents of KIS are regarded as a separate dialect group within Cambodian (or Western) Cham, naturally not least due to its lesser usage of Malay loanwords. (76) The KIS narrative of cultural loss and departure from Cham Islam due to changes of script and language in religious education and scholarship also informs the assertion that Cham translations of its religious texts were made exclusively of Arabic and never of Malay originals. (77) This resonates with past kobuol claims that their religious education had always consisted entirely of Cham (or Khmer) and Arabic instruction.

This view epitomizes anti-Jawization in its idiosyncratic attempt to extricate any element of Malay influence from the evolution of Islamic literature in Cham script. Yet, it has much less factual basis. Indeed, there is significant evidence to the contrary, even if one leaves aside the fact that many Cham texts, such as most of the akayet (i.e., epics) genre, appear to have been derived from earlier Malay versions. (78) Only two examples shall be referred to here in this respect. Firstly, KIS has inter alia preserved Cham script versions of the type of texts known throughout Muslim Southeast Asia as sifat dua puluh ("twenty attributes"). It was already noted in the 1960s that Sam Saly, the then Oknha Khnour at Au Russey, had such a manuscript in his possession. (79) Likewise, the hakem of Svay Pakao, a village until recently affiliated with KIS, owns such a manuscript. (80) As the sifat dua puluh literature seems to be a distinctively Southeast Asian (jawi) genre of texts, inspired by and built on the Arabic fifteenth century catechism Umm al-barahin, (81) it would seem highly improbable that the Cham Siphuat dua pluh should have been derived from an Arabic original. Also, the summary of the text given to me by one of its possessors suggests otherwise. (82)

Things are even more obvious with respect to another comparably widely distributed Cham text. Thus, one of the manuscripts gathered by Jaspan in Phum Trea (Kampong Cham) in the late 1960s is highly illustrative of the transition from Cham script to Malay jawi, as it is the only known Cambodian manuscript containing both a main text in the former and an appendix (by a different hand) in the latter. (83) The main body of the manuscript, which is most likely from the mid-nineteenth century and thus the early phase of Jawization, consists of an unidentified Sufi treatise. (84) It is of course significant that this testimony about the transition from one script and scholarly culture to another was acquired nowhere else but in Phum Trea, the main center of Jawi education in Cambodia in the first half of the twentieth century. (85) After showing copies of the manuscript to the Ong Gnur and other Cham script-literate scholars in Kampong Tralach, it has, however, become evident that it is not (as far as the main text is concerned) a unique manuscript. Much to the contrary, it was instantly identified by my respondents as a work entitled Bayan Syarik. (86) Numerous Jawi Malay conjunctions and particles, such as (karena) katanya ("[because] it is said"), artinya ("which means") or dan ("and") and maka (employed to introduce a new sentence) are distributed throughout the text, in particular following Arabic insertions or quotations, (87) thus providing us with firm evidence of a Malay and not an Arabic original. (88) Finally, the aforementioned appendix, which is entirely in Jawi Malay, consists of notes on the opening chapter of the Quran and the question of fard al-aym/al-kifaya (individual and collective duties). (89)

Moreover, upon closer inspection even one of the texts collected for the 2011 KIS collection of digitized manuscripts, which were certainly selected due to their perceived specifically Pandurangan background, was found to contain Jawi Malay insertions, though perhaps held to be Arabic by its present users, including one introducing a translated quotation from al-Ghazali's (d. 1111) famous Ihya ulum al-din (The Revival of the Religious Sciences). (90) Thus, the anti-Jawization stance of KIS clearly necessitates the deliberate obliteration of perceived Malay pollutions of pure Cham Islam, just as Jawization precipitated the purging of Cambodian Islam of many of its local particularities in its drive for homogenization within the jawi ecumene.


This paper has traced and analyzed the formation of the Kan Imam San as an officially recognized Islamic religious community in Cambodia, as well as the mechanisms behind it. Although only formed in 1998, the constitution of KIS in its present form has its roots in major religious transformations within Cambodian Islam since at least the late nineteenth century. Thus, it has been argued that the emergence of KIS represents a long-term result of the gradual expansion of a trans-Southeast Asian Islamic religious and scholarly tradition, predicated on the shared usage of the Malay language and the Jawi script, into Cambodia in the form of a process referred to as Jawization. Whereas the latter would clearly become the dominant orientation among Cambodian Muslims in the course of the twentieth century, there remained several pockets of resistance, adopting a more or less explicit stance of anti-Jawization, as well as certain areas, which were, for various reasons, much less exposed to the dynamics of Jawization than others. Colonial observers have framed factional strife between the proponents and opponents of Jawization in the 1930s primarily in modernist-traditionalist terms. This dichotomy still resonates today as KIS is frequently described as representing traditional Cambodian Islam. Yet, it would perhaps be more adequate to label, for instance, the kobuol of the 1930s, pre-sentist rather than traditionalist. Clearly, both kobuol and trimeu laid claim to a specific Islamic tradition with local roots. Yet, by way of rephrasing a statement and quotation used by Edwards to describe the stance of the opponents of the Buddhist reformist wing within the Cambodian Mahanikay order, the kobuol "were driven not by an intellectual death wish, but by a desire 'to keep alive a life-form'" (91) that hinged on different aspirations and assumptions of what it meant to be a Muslim (and what it may take to become a better one) than was the case with trimeu, for whom an evolution towards Jawi models was a priority.

Thus, also concerning KIS, questions of purity and the authenticity of specific traditions shall not detain us here. The focus of our enquiry should rather turn on how the forces of anti-Jawization in Cambodia eventually managed to achieve their late institutionalization and state recognition in the form of KIS, whereas similar Southeast Asian groups such as Lombok's wetu telu have failed to do so, or have in the course of the second half of the twentieth century largely lost their sociological relevance as distinctive groups altogether, such as Java's abangan Muslims. (92) It is the concept of entitivity, or the ability to form a discreet entity, which is crucial here. Many different factors contribute to the existence or absence of the quality of entitivity, and throughout this study we have been able to identify several factors underpinning the entitivity of KIS.

Firstly, geographical distribution was important, as the great majority of KIS villages are located in the only areas that had already seen more or less organized and interconnected resistance towards Jawization in the 1930s. Secondly, with the commune of Au Russey, the emerging community also had a potential spiritual center. Despite the fact that Au Russey had actually remained at the sidelines of the factional conflicts of the early twentieth century, due to its particularly localized religious orientation at that time, it has managed to fully unleash its potential for several reasons. It has served, inter alia, as last repository of elsewhere forfeited literary and ritual traditions, and has preserved the living memory of a position of traditional leadership, able to convincingly lay claim to a form of religious authority going back to the mid-nineteenth century and historically validated as much by the local Chams as by the Khmer (and French) rulers. All of these factors have greatly enhanced the entitivity of Cambodia's forces of anti-Jawization, just as they have in turn strengthened the role of Au Russey in shaping the renewed formalization of anti-Jawization in accordance with their own resources, imaginaries, and agendas. Hereby, one important aspect was the successful monopolization of the legacy of Iman San, the Sufi saint formerly widely revered across Cambodia, by the Ong Grus, hence his role as eponym of the new community. Finally, the preservation of the Cham script literary tradition, including in its physical form as manuscripts, turned the Ong Grus and the Au Russey community into the natural spearheads for the discontents of Jawization.


(1.) Kok-Thay Eng, "From the Khmer Rouge to Hambali: Cham Identities in a Global Age," (unpublished PhD diss., Rutgers University, 2013), 34f.

(2.) Ibid.,36f.

(3.) Charles Stewart, "Creolization, Ritual and Syncretism: From Mixture to Crystallization," in Rituale als Ausdruck von Kulturkontakt: "Synkretismus" zwischen Negation und Neudefinition, ed. Andreas H. Pries, Laetitia Martzolff, Robert Langer, and Claus Ambos (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013), 10.

(4.) Donald T. Campbell, "Common Fate, Similarity, and Other Indices of the Status of Aggregates of Persons as Social Entities," Behavioral Science 3 (1958): 14-21.

(5.) Charles Stangor, Social Groups in Action and Interaction (New York: Psychology Press, 2004), 21-24.

(6.) "Sos Kamry Personal Background," Highest Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Cambodia, accessed August 6, 2016,

(7.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tarn (Sre Prey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009).

(8.) Gerard Moussay, Grammaire de la langue Cam (Paris: Les indes savants, 2006), 10.

(9.) Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The Umma Below the Winds (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 2-3.

(10.) Ibid., 25.

(11.) These developments are traced and analyzed at length in my forthcoming Cambodia's Muslims and the Malay World: Malay Language, Jawi Script, and Islamic Factionalism from the 19th Century to the Present (Leiden: Brill), from which the present contribution derives.

(12.) Omar Farouk Bajunid, "The Place of Jam in Contemporary Cambodia," Journal of Sophia Asian Studies 20 (2002): 124-47.

(13.) Marcel Ner, "Les Musulmans de l'Indochine Francaise," Bulletin de I'Ecole Francaise de l'Extreme-Orient 41 (1941): 187.

(14.) Ibid., 166.

(15.) Ibid., 169.

(16.) David D. Harnish, Bridges to the Ancestors: Music, Myth, and Cultural Politics at an Indonesian Festival (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2006), 32-35; M. C. Ricklefs, Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java: A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2012), 132-138, 383-392; Asfa Widiyanto, Ritual and Leadership in the Subud Brotherhood and the Tariqa Qadiriyya wa Naqshbandiyya (Berlin: EB-Verlag, 2012), 60f.

(17.) Ser Sayana, So Farina, and Eng Kok-Thay, Cambodia: The Cham Identities (Phnom Penh: DC-Cam, 2011), 23; speak of forty villages and fifty-three mosques/suraw in 2011, based on an interview with Ong Gnur Kai Tam in 2010. He himself gave the number of thirty-eight villages in 2009 and the above provincial breakdown of fifty KIS establishments in 2012. Personal communication with the author (Sre Prey village, Au Russey commune, July 11, 2009 and May 13, 2012).

(18.) "The 'imaginary' of an individual, a social group, or a nation is the collection of images carried by that culture about itself or another culture." Mohammed Arkoun, Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994), 6.

(19.) Etienne Aymonier, "The Chams and Their Religions," in Cham Sculpture of the Tourane Museum: Religious Ceremonies and Superstitions of Champa, ed. Henri Parmentier, Paul Mus, and Etienne Aymonier, trans. Walter E. J. Tips (Bangkok: White Lotus, 2001), 51f; G.-H. Bousquet, "Recherches sur les deux sectes musulmanes (<< Waktou Telous >> et << Waktou Lima >>) de Lombok," Revue des Etudes Islamiques 13 (1939): 160f; Harnish, Bridges to the Ancestors, 30.

(20.) Agnes De Feo, "Les Chams sot, dissidence de l'islam cambodgien," Les Cahiers de l'Orient 78 (2005): 226-235.

(21.) Ing-Britt Trankell, "Songs of Our Spirits: Possession and Historical Imagination among the Cham in Cambodia," Asian Ethnicity 4 (2003): 31-46; Jan Ovesen and Ing-Britt Trankell, Cambodians and their Doctors: A Medical Anthropology of Colonial and Post-Colonial Cambodia (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2010), 124f.

(22.) Thanh Phan, "Kut (Cemeteries) of the Cham in Ninh Thuan Province," in The Cham of Vietnam: History, Society and Art, ed. Tran Ky Phuong and Bruce M. Lockhart (Singapore: NUS Press, 2011), 338.

(23.) Po Dharma, "Deux princes malais au Campa: Leur role dans la vie socio-politique et religieuse de ce pays," in Monde Indochinoise et Peninsule Malaise (Kuala Lumpur: Kementerian Kebudayaan, Kesenian dan Pelancongan Malaysia, 1990), 19-27.

(24.) Aymonier, "The Chams and Their Religions," 55-58; Po Dharma, "Notes sur les Cam du Cambodge: Religion et Organisation," Seksa Khmer 5 (1982): 107-111; Personal communication with KIS-breakaway hakem (village leader) Kai Tarn (Svay Pakao, Ta Ches, Kampong Tralach, May 13, 2012) and with former vice-mufti Tuon Him (Chrang Chamres, Phnom Penh, May 8, 2012).

(25.) Philipp Bruckmayr, "Between Institutionalized Syncretism and Official Particularism: Religion among the Chams of Vietnam and Cambodia" in Rituale als Ausdruck von Kulturkontakt. "Synkretismus" zwischen Negation und Neudefinition, ed. Andreas H. Pries, Laetitia Martzolff, Robert Langer, and Claus Ambos (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013), 15-25; Yashimoto Yasuko, "A Study of the Almanac of the Cham in South-Central Vietnam" in The Cham of Vietnam. History, Society and Art, ed. Tran Ky Phuong and Bruce M. Lockhart (Singapore: NUS Press, 2011), 323-336.

(26.) Mohamad Zain Musa, Cam-Melayu Abad Ke-19 Pemberontokan dan Diaspora (Pulau Pinang: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, 2012), 101, 166-176; Nicolas Weber, Histoire de la diaspora Cam (Paris: Les Indes savantes, 2014), 50-53.

(27.) Jean Moura, he royaume du Cambodge (Paris: E. Leroux, 1883), I, 465f; Pierre-Bernard Lafont, Po Dharma & Nara Vija, Catalogue des manuscrits cam des bibliotheques francaises (Paris: PEFEO, 1977): 21.

(28.) Ner, "Musulmans de lTndochine," 187f.

(29.) Stewart, "Creolization, Ritual and Syncretism", 10.

(30.) Ner, "Musulmans de lTndochine," 165-171.

(31.) Weber, Histoire de la diaspora Cam, 44-53.

(32.) cf., for instance, "Liste des dignitaires cham nommes par Ordonnance Royale et par Arrete Ministeriel" (1936), Archives Nationales du Cambodge--Resident Superieur de Cambodge 28319 (henceforth abbreviated as ANC-RSC).

(33.) ANC-RSC 25336, June 21, 1926. Emphasis added.

(34.) ANC-RSC 25336, May 27, 1926.

(35.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tarn (Sre Prey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009).

(36.) She refers to him as Saly Sem. Julliet Baccot, On G'nur et Cay a O Russey: Syncretisme religieux dans un village cham du Cambodge (unpublished PhD diss., Universite de Paris, 1968) 72.

(37.) Trankell, "Songs of Our Spirits," 39.

(38.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 112.

(39.) Trankell, "Songs of Our Spirits," 42-43.

(40.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 115, 120.

(41.) Personal communication with Alberto Perez-Perreiro, researcher of the Cambodian Center for Cham Studies and director of the Cham script education project of the US embassy (Phnom Penh, May 2, 2012).

(42.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 8.

(43.) Personal communication with project director Alberto Perez-Perreiro (Phnom Penh, May 2, 2012).

(44.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tarn (Sre Prey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009).

(45.) Ser Sayana, So Farina, and Eng Kok-Thay, Cambodia: Cham Identities, 24-26.

(46.) Kai Tarn, ed., Git (Au Russey: Kan Imam San, 2009).

(47.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tarn (Sre Prey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009) and Abdul Halim Ahmad (Chrang Chamres, Phnom Penh, May 1, 2012). On the text see Marion Holmes Katz, The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam (New York: Routledge, 2007), 52f.

(48.) Nico Kaptein, "An Arab Printer in Surabaya in 1853," Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 149 (1993): 356f; Ian Proudfoot, Early Malay Printed Books. A Provisional Account of Materials Published in the Singapore-Malaysia Area up to 1920, Noting Holdings in Major Public Collections (Kuala Lumpur: Academy of Malay Studies and the Library, University of Malaya, 1993), 340f.

(49.) Kitap Saong Takai Chanau (Sre Brey: Islamic Community Kan Imam-San of Cambodia, 2011), i.

(50.) Personal observation and communication with hakem Kai Tam at Svay Pakao and Ong Gnur Kai Tam and his son Yousos Turn at Sre Brey (Au Russey), July 9, 2009 and May 13, 2012.

(51.) Emiko Stock, "Parce que Champa et Cambodge ne faisaient qu'un... Lorsque les esprits s'emmelent pour tisser la trame d'une histoire passee sur le metier d'une 'integration' presente," Udaya 8 (2007), 243-277.

(52.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tam at (Sre Brey, Au Russey), July 9, 2009 and May 13, 2012.

(53.) Ibid., May 13, 2012.

(54.) Abdullah bin Mohamed (Nakula), "Keturunan Melayu di Kemboja dan Vietnam: Hubungannya dengan Semenanjung dengan Tumpuan Khas kepada Negeri Kelantan," Warisan Kelantan 8 (1989): 28.

(55.) William Collins, "The Muslims of Cambodia," in Ethnic Groups in Cambodia, ed. Hean Sokhom (Phnom Penh: Center for Advanced Study, 2009), 63f; Ysa Osman, Navigating the Rift: Muslim-Buddhist Intermarriage in Cambodia (n.p.: n.p., 2010), 24.

(56.) Jean Moura, Royaume du Cambodge, 1, 462f.

(57.) See my The Contentious Pull of the Malay Logosphere: Jawization and Factionalism among Cambodian Muslims (late 19th to early 21st centuries), (unpublished PhD diss., University of Vienna, 2014), 167-176.

(58.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 323-326.

(59.) Personal communication with Kai Tam (Sre Brey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009); Tourman ('Abd al-Rahman) and his wife (Prey Thnorng, Kampot, May 5, 2012); Sam Sou, at Thvi (Kampot), May 6, 2012; Kul Ahmad (Kampot, May 6, 2012).

(60.) Ysa Osman, Navigating the Rift, 24-26.

(61.) Aymonier, "The Chams and Their Religions," 54.

(62.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 232-234; In Svay Pakao, which recently broke away from KIS, this was practiced until the advent of Khmers Rouges rule. In other villages, who had abandoned it, it was probably revived in the course of the establishment of KIS. Personal communication with hakem Kai Tam (Svay Pakao, May 13, 2012).

(63.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 89-90.

(64.) Agnes De Feo, "Le royaume bouddhique face au renouveau islamique," Les Cahiers de l'Orient 78 (2005): 99-114; Philipp Bruckmayr, "The Cham Muslims of Cambodia: From Forgotten Minority to Focal Point of Islamic Internationalism," American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 23 (2006): 1-23.

(65.) Venerable Khy Sovanratana, "Buddhist Education Today: Progress and Challenges," in People of Virtue. Reconfiguring Religion, Power and Moral Order in Cambodia Today, ed. Alexandra Kent and David Chandler (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2008), 258f.

(66.) Kong Sam Oul was one of the first prominent non-socialist members of the CPP. He was elected to the National Assembly for Kampong Chhnang in 1993 and then again in 1998; Michael Vickery, Kampuchea: Politics, Economics and Society (London: Pinter, 1986), 49; Justin Corfield and Laura Summers, Historical Dictionary of Cambodia (Oxford: Scarecrow Press, 2003), 231f.

(67.) Personal communication with Abdul Halim Ahmad (Phnom Penh, April 28, 2012).

(68.) John Marston, "Clay into Stone: A Modern-Day Tapas," in History, Buddhism, and New Religious Movements in Cambodia, ed. John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2004), 190.

(69.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tam (July 11, 2009).

(70.) Personal communication with hakem Kai Tam & Mon Kriya (Svay Pakao, Kampong Chhnang province, July 11, 2009).

(71.) Personal communication with Ong Gnur Kai Tam (Sre Brey, Au Russey, July 11, 2009); Tourman (Abd al-Rahman) and his wife (Prey Thnorng, Kampot, May 5, 2012); Sam Sou, at Thvi (Kampot), May 6, 2012.

(72.) Collins, "Muslims of Cambodia," 63-68.

(73.) Three manuscripts were collected at that time in Phum Trea by M. A. Jaspan and are now held at the Hull History Centre. A fourth manuscript was shown to him in Koh Roka. Merle C. Ricklefs and Petrus Voorhoeve, Indonesian Manuscripts in Great Britain.

A Catalogue of Manuscripts in Indonesian Languages in British Public Collections (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 41; Merle C. Ricklefs and Petrus Voorhoeve, "Indonesian Manuscripts in Great Britain: Addenda et Corrigenda," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 45 (1982): 306; M. A. Jaspan, "Cambodian Cham: Rokaa--General Evaluation (2) & (3)," typescript, December 19, 1966, Jaspan Papers, Hull History Centre, DJA (2)/l/3.

(74.) Agnes De Feo, "Les Chams, l'islam et la revendication identitaire," (unpublished memoire de DEA, Ecole pratique des hautes etudes, Paris, 2004), 71.

(75.) Phu Van Han, "The Development of the Jawi-Cam Script in South-West Vietnam Cam Communities," in Kertaskerja Seminar Antarabangsa Manuskrip Melayu- Campa yang berlangsung pada 6-7 Disember 2004 di Kuala Lumpur, 2f.

(76.) Jean-Michel Filippi, Recherches Preliminaire sur les langues des minorites du Cambodge (Phnom Penh: UNESCO, 2008), 51; Kaori Ueki, Prosody and Intonation in Western Cham (unpublished PhD diss., University of Hawai'i, Manoa, 2011), 31-33.

(77.) Personal communication with Hakem Kai Tam (Svay Pakao, Kampong Chhnang province, July 11, 2009).

(78.) Henri Chambert-Loir, "Notes sur les relations historiques et litteraires entre campa et monde malais," in Actes du Seminaire sur le Campa organise a Wniversite de Copenhague, le 23 mai 1987 (Paris: Centre d'histoire et civilisations de la peninsule indochinoise, 1988), 95-106; Po Dharma, "Les relations entre la litterature cam et la litterature malaise," in D'un orient a lautre: Actes des troisiemes journees de l'orient. Bordeaux, 2-4 octobre 2002, ed. J.-L. Bacque-Grammont, A. Pino, and S. Khoury (Paris-Louvain: Peeters, 2005), 383-395.

(79.) Baccot, On G'nur et Cay, 102.

(80.) Personal observation at Svay Pakao (Kampong Tralach, Kampong Chhnang), July 11, 2009.

(81.) See my "The sharh/hashiya phenomenon in Southeast Asia: From al-Sanusis Umm al-barahin to Malay sifat dua puluh literature," Melanges de l'Institut Dominicain d'Etudes Orientales du Caire 32 (forthcoming).

(82.) Personal communication with Hakem Kai Tam (Svay Pakao, Kampong Chhnang), July 11, 2009.

(83.) Hull History Centre, SEA 39.

(84.) Ricklefs and Voorhoeve, Indonesian Manuscripts in Great Britain, 41; Ricklefs and Voorhoeve, "Indonesian Manuscripts in Great Britain: Addenda et Corrigenda", 306.

(85.) Ner, "Musulmans de l'Indochine," 177-178.

(86.) Personal observation and communication with hakem Kai Tarn at Svay Pakao and Ong Gnur Kai Tarn and his son Yousos Turn at (Sre Brey, Au Russey), May 13, 2012.

(87.) Hull History Centre, SEA 39, fols. 3v-93r passim.

(88.) A probable candidate, due its similarity in title and--as far as could be inferred from a summary by Abdullah--content, would be Bayan syirk, composed by the Malay scholar Abdallah ibn Abd al-Wahhab Siantan in 1813, and characterized as "explaining the nature of shirk [i.e., ascribing partners to the divine] and tawhid [divine oneness] according to the opinions of the people of truth in Sufism." Oleh Wan Mohd and Shaghir Abdullah, "Syeikh Abdullah Muhammad Siantan," Utusan Online, September 17th 2007, last accessed April 6, 2014).

(89.) Hull History Centre, SEA 39, fols. 93v-94r.

(90.) "Kitap niang malah," in Kitap Saong Takai Chanau, 606.

(91.) Penny Edwards, "Making a Religion of the Nation and its Language: The French Protectorate (1863-1954) and the Dhammakay" in History, Buddhism, and New Religious Movements in Cambodia, ed. John Marston and Elizabeth Guthrie (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2004), 66.

(92.) Ricklefs, Islamisation and Its Opponents, 268-273.

PHILIPP BRUCKMAYR is in the Institute for Oriental Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria. His email address is
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Author:Bruckmayr, Philipp
Publication:Journal of Global South Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CAMB
Date:Sep 22, 2017

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