Muhammadiyah Scholars and Democratic Transition in Post-New Order Indonesia: The Critical Response of Muhammadiyah Scholars to Radical Islamist Movements
K U L T U R, The Indonesian Journal for Muslim Cultures
Volume 5, Number 1, 2010, pp. 47-62
M. Hilaly Basya*
* M. Hilaly Basya is a lecturer at the Master Program of Islamic Studies, the University
of Muhammadiyah Jakarta
Following the fall of Suharto’s New Order regime in Indonesia, the nation is experiencing a transition to democracy. This very democracy is, however, threatened by the rapid growth of Islamist movements which aspire to the implementation of shari’a throughout Indonesia and the establishment of an Islamic State. In its most extreme form, the contest is between theocracy and democracy. In this contestation of ideologies the voice of Muhammadiyah, as one of the country’s leading mass religious organizations, carries considerable weight. This article reviews and discusses the perceptions of a number of influential Muhammadiyah scholars. It finds that Muhammadiyah encompasses both progressive and conservative wings, and that there is heated debate between them over issues of religion and state. This can be seen in their attitudes towards Salafism and secularism, and is reflected by their two distinctly different approaches to tackling radical Islamic movements – the political approach and the cultural approach. The heart of the debate lies in the ability and/or willingness of Muslim leaders generally and Muhammadiyah scholars in particular to contextualize the values of Islam within modern social and political theories, and align them with the growth and consolidation of democracy in Indonesia.
Radical Islam, Muhammadiyah, moderate progressive, democratic transition, youth movement