在近代，印度尼西亚、马来西亚、文莱等东南亚主要国家是穆斯林人口众多的国家，其中印度尼西亚穆斯林人口最多(Wilbur 1999, 115-145)。这些人是阿拉伯人的祖先，他们来到这些地区寻找香料，最后定居在那里。在20世纪初，学校和运动开始在这个地区引入改革和重新激活宗教。在印度尼西亚，Nahdlatul Ulama和Muhammidiyah的大型穆斯林组织与这些问题有关。Muhammidiyah有大约2000万会员，成立于1912年，以现代主义原则为基础。它在东南亚不同地区传播伊斯兰教教育和文化方面发挥着重要作用。
1998年5月，随着印尼苏哈托政权独裁政体的垮台，一批以伊斯兰教为指导思想和政党纲领的新政治团体的成立，推动了印尼的民主改革。这些政党在1999年和2004年的选举中迅速发展，在2009年的议会选举中取得的成绩有所缓和。可以说，宗教对东南亚人民的影响是相当大的，尤其是在印度尼西亚(Wilbur 1999,115 -145)。
The rich spices that are grown in different parts of Southeast Asia from time to time drew several outside traders. While these traders exchanged goods to buy spices in different countries of Southeast Asia. They also in turn passed their ideas and practices, which got mixed with the traditions and practices of this region. While Hinduism and Buddhism passed from India, their art and culture and concepts of government formation, politics and spiritualism also got transferred in many parts of Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the Chinese soldiers introduced Chinese culture in this region which travelled through Vietnam during the thousand year’s rule of the Chinese in Vietnam. The Vietnamese has adopted Chinese writing style and their way of government formation and also adopted Confucian tradition. The ethnic communities of China and India are scattered throughout the different regions of Southeast Asia in the present time especially in locations like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Brunei. Around 76 % of the population of Singapore is having ethnic Chinese ancestry. Moreover, due to cheap labour cost, China today has become the hub of manufacturing for a vast range of products that are not only sold in Southeast Asian countries but also to other parts of the world.
In modern period, the major countries of the Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei are home to a large population of Muslims with Indonesia having the largest number of Muslim population (Wilbur 1999, 115-145). These people are the decedents of the Arabs who came to these regions in search of spices and finally settled there. At the beginning of the 20th century, schools and movements began in order to bring in reform and re-energise the religion in this region. In Indonesia, large Muslim organizations of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammidiyah are connected with these concerns. Muhammidiyah have a membership of approximately 20 million and was founded in the year 1912 based on Modernist principles. It plays a vital role in spreading Islamic education and culture in different parts of Southeast Asia.
With the fall of the authoritarian system of government of Suharto regime in Indonesia in May 1998, the democratic reforms got encouragement with the formation of a number of new political groups, many of which included Islam as their guiding principles and party platforms. The rapid development of these political parties in the elections held during 1999 and 2004 and in the 2009 in the parliamentary election the gains moderated. It can be said that the religion have a substantial amount of influence on the people of Southeast Asia especially in Indonesia (Wilbur 1999, 115-145).