Conventional wisdom tells us that it is Muslim intellectuals who engage in projects of Islamic reform and that Western academics merely analyze their reformist ideas and movements. This paper presents two important cases of cross-discursive engagement that challenge this presumed binary between so-called Muslim “insiders” and academic “outsiders” in 20th century Indonesia. First, I examine how Mohammad Natsir drew on the writings of European orientalists, especially those of H.A.R. Gibb, to articulate his vision for Islamic politics in the 1930s-1950s. Second, I trace the substantial role that Canadian orientalist Wilfred Cantwell Smith and his Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University played in shaping the higher Islamic education system in Indonesia. Taken together, these cases hint at the extent to which Western academics have become entangled in Islamic reform and the degree to which a diverse range of Muslim intellectuals have, in turn, embraced academic methods and values. Ultimately, I suggest that the Western university has emerged as a significant site for the production of Islamic knowledge and Muslim religious authority over the course of the last century – a change that has far-reaching repercussions for Indonesian Muslims as well as for the state of Islamic studies as an academic discipline.