Dr Khairudin Aljunied

Associate Professor of Intellectual and Social History of the Malay World

Rethinking Raffles: A Study of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles’ Discourse on Religions amongst Malays

Based on a study of Sir Stamford Raffles’ letters and related documents, the book argues that Raffles had a variety of opinions about the religions observed amongst the Malays that he encountered during his tour of duty in the Malay Archipelago. These religions included Islam, Hinduism-Buddhism, Paganism and Christianity.” “The common idea running through these opinions that the author had identified was Raffles’ unwillingness to accept that the Malays should continue to maintain the religious beliefs which he observed amongst them.

The author further argues that Raffles had an ambivalent stance with regard to these religions, an attitude that would attest to the ‘shades of alterity’ lingering in his mind and perhaps in the minds of most Europeans at that time.” “Another objective of this book is to uncover some of Raffles’ ideas on what constitutes the term ‘religion’. The author asserts that Raffles’ unequal and inconsistent accounts of the religions were an outcome of his repeated emphasis on several features that he considered were essential to any religion.