Author: Azyumardi Azra
Institution: Carroll College w Montanie (USA)
Year of publication: 2007
Source: Show
Pages: 53-61
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/ap200704
PDF: ap/10/ap1004.pdf

INDONESIAN ISLAM, MAINSTREAM MUSLIMS AND POLITICS

Indonesian Islam is rather moderate and accommodative, and can be called “Islam with a smiling face”. In general, Islam is compatible with modernity, democracy, and pluralism, and it is true in Indonesia as well. The general elections of 1999 and 2004 prove that Moslems do not have any problem with democracy.
Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the world and the world’s largest Muslim country, but neither is Indonesia an Islamic state, nor is Islam its official state religion. It is the Pancasila (Five Pillars) state that recognizes importance of religion and accepts belief in One Supreme God as the first pillar. It is neither theocratic nor secular state. For mainstream Muslims the Pancasila state is Islamic enough, although there are groups who want to transform Indonesia into an Islamic state either through constitutional change or by illegal means.
Women play much more important role there than in the countries adherent to the Arabised version of Islam. It is a traditional distinctive feature confirmed by the election of Megawati Soekarnoputri to the presidency. The bulk majority of Indonesian Muslims and their parties supported her. The activity of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, and many other mainstream Muslim organisations is another distinctive feature of Indonesian Islam. They are non-political, and operate not only as religious organisations, but also as social, cultural, and educational. They own thousands of schools from elementary to university levels. As civil organisations they play an important role as mediating and bridging forces between society and the state.

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