Neighboring in Muslim Southeast Asia

Screenshot 2015-11-18 13.36.27Neighboring in Muslim Southeast Asia

This course is designed for young people of faith concerned to more confidently connect, and engage with Muslim neighbors, classmates, and colleagues. It fills a number of gaps identified by tertiary institutions where students prepare to make positive contributions in today’s increasingly multi-religious, and (hyper)connected world. When neighbors neither know nor understand each other, it is bad for any neighborhood. More than merely informing heads, this course seeks to form hearts. Students should expect to be challenged and transformed, and to learn as much about their own faith as that of their neighbors. This is not an introduction to the religion of Islam, but to Muslims as people. Like us, they possess some unique cultural preferences and blind spots.

The first four weeks of this exposure to Muslim Southeast Asia overlaps with the fasting month of Ramadan where a daily rhythms of feasting and fasting are observed. No academic prerequisites are necessary, and students interested in gaining academic credit can specify this in their application. References will be required by all applicants, and some will be invited to be interviewed (over Skype). Students can choose between three tracks. These differ in length, location, and focus, but all will be led by experienced practitioners of inter-religious engagement.

Course Objectives and Key Outcomes

• Revisit the radical nature of the command to “love your neighbor, as yourself”

• Consider the significance of 1st century Galilee, and 21st century Southeast Asia both being culturally and religiously diverse regions where conflict was rife

• Evaluate models of inter-religious engagement in Muslim Southeast Asia

• Increase awareness about Muslim cultural norms, and religious sensitivities

• Introduce ways of building mutually transformative relationships with Muslim neighbors


Course Tracks, Phases, Locations, and Dates

Students can choose from one of the following tracks for the course:

Track 1 (2 weeks / $1500USD)

Phase 1: 2-week course in South Thailand (June 6-18)

Students enrolling in Track 1 will spend two weeks in South Thailand. The first will be spent in the classroom where they will be introduced to this course’s key concepts, concerns, and contentions. During the second week, students leave the classroom, to make daily visits to a variety of Muslim communities and sites of historical significance.
Track 2
 (4 weeks / $3000USD – $1500USD per phase)

Phase 1: 2-week course in South Thailand (June 6-18)

………Phase 2: 2-week guided road trip (June 20-July 2)

Phase 2 builds on the previous two weeks in South Thailand by exposing students to a bewilderingly wide range of Muslim communities in Sumatra (Indonesia), and Malaysia. No planes will be used while on this guided road trip. All travel will be a local ferries, buses, and vans, and students will have many opportunities to experience – perhaps for the first time – Muslim hospitality. Please note: Phase 2 requires a minimum of 7 participants and all phases are to be taken sequentially.
Track 3 (8 weeks / $4500USD – $1500USD per phase)

Phase 1: 2-week course in South Thailand (June 6-18)

………Phase 2: 2-week guided road trip (June 20-July 2)

……………Phase 3: 4-week internship in Mindanao (Southern Philippines) (July 3-Aug 1)

Phase 3 begins with a change of location. Students begin by traveling to the southern Philippines where they will take part in an internship program run by a local CBO (community-based organization). They will participate in end of Ramadan festivities, and will be introduced to a range of faith-based approaches to community development and peace-building. Please note: Phase 3 requires a minimum of 7 participants and all phases are to be taken sequentially.


Dr. Christopher M. Joll is a New Zealand anthropologist who has lived, studied, and worked in Muslim Southeast Asia for 16 years. A decade after completing a post-graduate degree in religious studies and theology, he received a PhD from the National University of Malaysia. He is the author of Muslim Merit-making in Thailand’s Far-south and has published a number of book chapters and journal articles.


Click here to download the course application form. All applications close on April 15, and places are limited.

Contact Us

More information about course fees and other specific details will be coming soon. If you have questions please contact IRCP at or contact Chris Joll directly at +66-89-465-9082 or on Skype at chris.joll.

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Phase Dates Weeks Where What
1 June 5 – June 18 2 Southern Thailand Classroom and community-based exposure and instruction
2 June 20 – July 2 2 Southern Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra Guided overland/sea tour of Muslim Southeast Asia, where they will be exposed to individuals, and initiatives
3 July 3 – August 1 4 Southern Philippines, (Cotabato, Mindanao) Internship with Centre for Research on Inter-cultural Studies (CRUIS)