Constructing Ideological Authority: A Study on the Radical and Moderate Muslim Middle Classes in the Contemporary Politics of Indonesian Islam

Abdul Aziz

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This dissertation discusses the ideology of the radical and moderate Muslim middle class in the contemporary politics of Indonesian Islam. Specifically, it examines the extent to which these classes construct and capitalize on their ideological authority based on Muslim radicalism and moderatism. The phenomenon of “Conservative Turn” that is experienced by Indonesian Islam has backgrounded the importance of this study. The emergence of the “Conservative Turn” leads to the ideological division of Indonesian Islam, especially that is experienced by mainstream Muslim organizations such as NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) and Muhammadiyah. In turn, this ideological division leads to ideological competition among competing groups within the traditionalist and modernist Muslim communities. This study combines the literature review and case studies. The literature review aimed at producing information and data dealing with the concept of ideological authority, which then served as the cornerstone in formulating the (new) concept of the Muslim middle class. In addition, the literature investigation aimed at collecting information and data from literature related to the concept of Muslim radicalism and moderatism as well as the origins of Muslim radicalism and the Muslim middle class in Indonesian Islam.

The case study investigates information and data dealing with the ideological practices of the radical Muslim middle class and the moderate Muslim middle class as well as Muslim radicalism and moderatism in their empirical settings. From the traditionalist Muslim circles, this study focusses on the ideological phenomenon of the FPI (Front Pembela Islam - Islamic Defender Front), which represents the interests of the radical Muslim middle class. From the modernist Muslim ones, this study focusses on the ideological phenomenon of JIMM (Jaringan Intelektual Muda Muhammadiyah - Muhammadiyah Young Intellectual Network), which represents the interests of the moderate Muslim middle class. The selection of FPI as the first case departs from the fact that as an element of the radical Muslim middle class, the FPI was the antithesis of Muslim moderatism. However, the FPI’s radicalism grew alongside Muslim traditionalism in Indonesian Islam, in which Muslim traditionalism was considered a manifestation of NU’s moderatism. Meanwhile, the emergence of JIMM has become a decisive polarizing factor in the modernist Muslim communities. As a moderate Muslim middle class, JIMM is an expression of the antithesis of Muslim radicalism. However, JIMM’s moderatism grew as a form of resistance to the strengthening of Muslim conservatism among modernist Muslims. Meanwhile, in Indonesian Islam, Muslim modernism has been considered a manifestation of Muhammadiyah’s moderatism.

From the perspective of ideological authority, Islam and the interpretation of Islamic teachings reflect symbolic power and legitimacy that cannot be separated from its nature as an ideology. The formation of this ideology is strongly influenced by the interests of its adherents, especially those of different Muslim organizations and classes. By applying the concept of ideological authority, this book fills in a gap in the existing theories of the middle class, especially in the context of the diversity of Muslim cultures and ideologies in Indonesia. Therefore, this book offers a new formulation in understanding the concept of the Indonesian Muslim middle class, particularly in understanding the practices and problems of Muslim radicalism and Muslim moderatism in the contemporary politics of Indonesian Islam.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Beck, Herman, Promotor
  • de Ruiter, Jan Jaap, Co-promotor
Award date5 Apr 2023
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Indonesian Islam
  • Muslim middle class
  • Radical
  • Moderate
  • Religious Authority
  • Ideological Authority
  • Salafism

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