A year ago William Roff, author of ‘The Origins of Malay Nationalism’ died. A substantial body of work on the question of Islam followed his PhD thesis on the politics of the Peninsular. Sumit Mandal studied under Roff at Columbia University. He presents Roff’s essay “Islam obscured ? Some Reflections on Studies of Islam & Society in Southeast Asia” published in the journal Archipel in 1985.