I had to read this book for a class entitled "Islam in the Modern World". It was the first time the teacher had used this book for the course and even she apologized for the difficulty of the text.
First of all - I rated this book only three stars to average out the following points:
-The information and research within easily merits five stars - there's likely no better book that would top this particularly specific subject matter (it's been printed more than one time - a testament to its relevance and value in academia)
-It's SO BORING and DRY! And for it's less-than-accessible presentation (particularly to the lay-reader) I give this book one or two stars. So I averaged out my review to three stars.
The text itself is very well written and it is quite clear that the author, John Bowen, knows the subject matter extensively. He conducted thorough and years-long research in Indonesia and offers not his opinion about the title of the book but rather reports his findings instead.
Be prepared for an exhausting, dry and boring read - it is what it is. The book is written by a scholar FOR scholars - this is no casual read if you simply have an interest in the way Islam is practiced in Indonesia.
In a nutshell, Bowen explains the contrasting dichotomy between Islamic law and civil law in Indonesia. From inheritance to marriage and divorce Bowen's book gives an broad account of how many aspects of a Muslim's life in Indonesia can prove difficult when determining the most appropriate and proper response to a situation - situations that represent the current times and not the times of the Qur'an fourteen centuries ago.
It's informative but so boring to read - read this only if you must or absolutely need to know the subject matter of the title for whatever reason. This is why I gave it only three stars.