The Muslim community has been invariably portrayed as a marginal community in modern Cambodia. A casual bibliographic survey of recent works on Cambodia will immediately reveal the incredible lack of recognition given to the Muslims as a national minority in the kingdom. Existing academic works either ignore them or have only given them a peripheral place in Cambodia. My contention, based on my own field work and research, is that the Muslims in Cambodia have a far more significant role than that has been hitherto attributed to them. Historically, culturally, ethnically, numerically and even politically the Muslims have assumed a role in Cambodia which has, apparently, not been fully recognized and appreciated.
The objective of my research is to try to correct the above imbalance as I believe that the recent history of Cambodia cannot possibly be adequately appreciated or understood without examining the role of the Muslims within it. Essentially I would like to trace the role of Islam in Cambodia in the post-UNTAC era. My main focus will be on how the re-organization of Islam has been undertaken in Cambodia and how that process has affected the role of the Muslims in the modern Cambodian polity. The contextual factors that have facilitated the above development such as the aftermath of more than two decades of civil war, the attempts at the genocide of the Muslims, the impact of the intervention of the United Nations, the re-construction of the Cambodian polity, democratic politics and the role of Cambodian Muslim refugees and international Muslim organizations will be highlighted to demonstrate that the re-organization of Islam in Cambodia has also been a function of the structural changes that have taken place in Cambodia inasmuch it represents the phenomenon of Islamic revivalism in the kingdom itself.
The rehabilitation of the Muslims in Cambodia following the end of the civil war has been quickly accompanied by the reconstruction of mosques all over the kingdom. Quranic education and Islamic schools have been revived and a new generation of Islamic teachers and students created. Islamic activities including tabligh and dakwah have intensified. Inspired and supported by royal, official and political patronage, individual philanthropists, Muslim NGOs, the international Islamic community and Cambodian Muslim expatriates abroad, the socio-religious life of the Muslim community in Cambodia has been gradually restored paving the way for the re-emergence of organized Islam in the public sphere of Cambodia, with all its ramifications.