Thursday, November 10, 2011

Islam, civil society and democratization : the case of Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama in post-Suharto Indonesia

Tanthowi, Pramono Ubaid. 2008. Islam, civil society and democratization : the case of Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama in post-Suharto Indonesia. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008.

Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) are two largest Islamic organizations in Indonesia. Long active as both religious and political organizations during 1950s and 1960s, they withdraw from formal political arena and declared their disenggagement from any political parties in the 1970s and 1980s that enabled them to survive under the repressive Suharto regime and consequently develop nascent civil society movements.

This thesis examines the relation between those Muslim civil society organizations and democratization in the post-Suharto Indonesia: how they defend their positions as autonomous entities beyond state and simultaneously intensely involve in political arena. It also studies their roles in the process of democratization.

The study reveals a great deal about their participation in the political system, where they are now an important part of the political leadership and their interests are now well represented. However, the problem is that, in reality, there is a significant degree of overlap between civil society and political society as well as between civil society and the state.

This study also shows the role of those Muslim civil society organizations in the democratization process. These mass-based religious organizations seemed to be consequential in all stages of democratization: they sought to broaden the free public sphere and combined their efforts, along with other pro-democracy movements, in de-legitimating and bringing the authoritarian Suharto regime down. They also join forces in encouraging political participation, monitoring the elections, forcing the government to be more accountable and transparent, and spreading the ideas of religious tolerance.

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