This book examines some of the myriad ways in which Islam is being expressed in contemporary Indonesian life and politics. Authored by leading authorities on Indonesian Islam, it gives fascinating insights into such topics as the marketisation of Islam, contemporary pilgrimage, the rise of mass preachers, gender and Islamic politics, online fatwa, current trends among Islamist vigilante and criminal groups, and recent developments in Islamic banking and microfinance.
•Greg Fealy is Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian Politics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies and Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.
•Sally White is Visiting Fellow, Division of Pacific and Asian History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.
Democratic in the early 1950s and with rich precedents for tolerance and civility, Indonesia succumbed to violence. In 1965, Muslim parties were drawn into the slaughter of half a million communists. In the aftermath of this bloodshed, a "New Order" regime came to power, suppressing democratic forces and instituting dictatorial controls that held for decades. Yet from this maelstrom of violence, repressed by the state and denounced by conservative Muslims, an Islamic democracy movement emerged, strengthened, and played a central role in the 1998 overthrow of the Soeharto regime. In 1999, Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid was elected President of a reformist, civilian government.
In explaining how this achievement was possible, Robert Hefner emphasizes the importance of civil institutions and public civility, but argues that neither democracy nor civil society is possible without a civilized state. Against portrayals of Islam as inherently antipluralist and undemocratic, he shows that Indonesia's Islamic reform movement repudiated the goal of an Islamic state, mobilized religiously ecumenical support, promoted women's rights, and championed democratic ideals. This broadly interdisciplinary and timely work heightens our awareness of democracy's necessary pluralism, and places Indonesia at the center of our efforts to understand what makes democracy work.